News and Thoughts:
Who is not thinking about the economy? Probably no one. Are you talking about it with your customers and employees? I hope so. With everything going on, I am sure lots of folks have questions, concerns, and outright fears for their jobs, livelihoods, or mortgages. I want to share some thoughts how to face the crisis both in terms of helping yourself, your employees, and your customers. Read more in this month's The Stimson Report.
In the past few weeks I have chatted with dozens of AV industry veterans and the vast majority still report solid revenues through the end of the year. Only a handful has seen project cancellations that were attributed to uncertainty in the economy. That's the good news. What we all need to be concerned about is what happens after the New Year. I will give a more in depth forecast for 2009 in next month's Rental & Staging Systems magazine, but here's a preview:
The bad news is that most AV Stagers will see a downturn in the first half of 2009. Major corporations will hedge their 2009 budgets and may push some meetings to later in the year when they hope the news will be better and their future more predictable. But, many fiscal budgets that cover early '09 are already in place and projects are a 'go'. You only have to watch the news to see that alongside the crash in the lending markets, there are plenty of long-term projects going forward. Major construction is going on in Las Vegas and most large cities have key destination projects in play. Heck, in my home town of Dallas, TX a 1000 room convention hotel is due to break ground any day now.
What should you be doing right now? As soon as you are finished with reading The Stimson Report, call your top five clients and just say hello. Ask them how their firm will be handling the crisis (if it is one for them), and what your firm can do to help. Convey your findings to the rest of your sales and marketing team see if you can find some smart solutions to demonstrate your commitment to value and customer service. Reduce their costs without cutting corners. At the same time you could be taking a hard look at your company's own expenses. Saving a few percentage points off of travel costs or the cell phone bill will add up. Your employees and co-workers often know exactly where to save on expenses and are just waiting for someone to ask.
The most important message I can convey is to not succumb to a recession mentality. Customers know when you are cutting back and it changes their opinion of you - usually for the worse. People want to deal with winners and success stories. You might need to lower your revenue expectations, but never give up your commitment to quality.
André LeJeune, CTS, Named Rental & Staging Staff Instructor
This is huge news for the R&S sector. Andre has the expertise and knowledge to jump start InfoComm’s Rental & Staging education program. There is no official plan coming out of InfoComm this soon after a key hire, but we all look forward to hearing what we can do to help. Those familiar with Andre’s approach know that he likes practical, hands-on education in manageable chunks. He is very savvy with online education, streaming video, and follow-up testing. I know there is a lot of pent-up demand for training in the R&S community. I am sure Andre will be interested in hearing from InfoComm members about their training needs.
Let others keep up with trends for you: I subscribe to several trend enewsletters. This recent post about consumer status and convenience perks from http://trendwatching.com/briefing/ got me to thinking about our services in the events industry. It seems the biggest perk we give our customers is an occasional dinner or golf outing. What all of us need more of is TIME. Challenge your team or co-workers to identify ways you can save your customers time.
Marketing and Video Production
I am often humbled by how poor some of our websites and marketing materials are. We are in the communications business; you would think we could do better. However, I occasionally come across some pretty good efforts. This month I want to highlight several videos created by these AV industry players:
Colortone Staging Rentals hosted an industry event with this clever invitation: http://www.newimagemedia.com/colortone/index2.html
You can tell they had fun, and this is an effective use of the medium. Another good example is PSAV's video introducing their rigging services:
It conveys the importance of safety and represents the goals of the Entertainment Technician Certification Program (ETCP) quite well. The third example is a video produced by Alford Media Services to educate folks on their wide screen production and staging capabilities:
They were also clever enough to put it one YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVFy9Bqrs3E
I especially appreciate their nod to 35mm slide animation and the photos of a very young Steve Alford. YouTube has become a marketing tool for a few AV companies. I came across these submissions by AV Stagers:
AV Actions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYUhNQgrddQ
While you are on YouTube, check out the Comcast Experience. This a huge 80' wide installation of Barco NX-4 LED in the Philadelphia Comcast Center's lobby: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSRcDrCse7c
The content management system actually adjusts what is shown by the time of day, day of week, weather, how the Phillies played, etc... There's 10 megapixels of LED up there making the image photorealistic at a full-field viewing angle. Awesome.
The Rental & Staging Roadshow in coming to Chicago on Wednesday, November 5th! If you have not been able to attend a Roadshow because we haven't been to the middle of the continent - come see what all the talk is about. The Roadshow is your chance to meet new folks, get quality time with key manufacturers and suppliers, and add some knowledge to your mental tool kit. Pre-registration will save you TIME at check-in and help us have enough food and beverages throughout the day. Our hosts are the nice people at Production Plus - don't miss the opportunity to see their facility! See the schedule, exhibitors, and register at http://www.rentalstagingroadshow.com/
LDI Show in Las Vegas is Oct 20-26. The exhibits are open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Plan on attending a reception hosted by InfoComm's Rental & Staging Council on Friday, Oct 24 from 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM at Piero's Italian Restaurant 55 Convention Center Drive - right across from the Convention Center.