News and Thoughts:
I know we're all tired of talking about the economy so I will give you a break. Instead I want to look back on a year of networking in particular at the Rental & Staging Roadshow. We began the Roadshow season in Orlando at the home office of Technilux in February. We had great weather and an impressive turnout for our first Florida show. This was a good networking event with folks from most of the staging companies in town as well as the major hotel AV companies, Disney, Universal, and several schools. Roadshow sponsor Barco Events had just introduced a new entry-level digital scaling switcher (the DCS 100) and there was much discussion about how it would quickly supplant the Presentation Pro as the industry standard for meeting room switchers.
The next big networking event of the year was Barco's Rental Partner Meeting in Miami in March. I have often said this is the best place to see the movers and shakers in the industry and I stand by that statement. Much of the discussion was how busy everyone seemed to be and the surprising growth in business over 2007. Lots of new equipment was being considered and more than one executive was looking to hire key personnel right away. The big news was the new wave of HD native projectors and there was a lot of anticipation about the next generation of professional HD cameras. Most of the folks who planned on going to NAB (a notoriously mediocre networking opportunity) were looking for a replacement for their NTSC show cameras.
Fast forward to InfoComm in June for a serious dose of elbow rubbing. It started with the opening night reception and rolled right into the Rental & Staging Forum and Reception. We saw a huge turnout this year as more and more folks look forward to the panel discussion. The reception was bigger than ever and we may need to make it longer next year because no one was leaving even after the food was gone and the bar closed. A lot of the talk was about taking companies to the next level. With 2008 being somewhat of a windfall for many firms, figuring out how to expand sales reach was becoming a high priority. This began my quest to develop a Sales Training Seminar (www.trstimson.com/training).
The Roadshow returned to New York in July and once again was hosted by the fine folks at Altman Lighting. We had great weather and the biggest turnout to date for the Roadshow. We had several new exhibitors and everyone was impressed with the event's content and attendees. There were lots of side conversations about branding and marketing, which are very important in the competitive Northeast.
The LDI Show was in Las Vegas in October and for those of us AV folks who have found its networking opportunities to be lacking, InfoComm came to the rescue with the second annual Rental & Staging Reception. We had a fantastically larger turnout than expected and packed the bar at Piero's Restaurant for over two hours. There were great discussions about training and I got some updates about the progress that several of my clients have made this past year - what a great feeling to know you've made a difference.
In November we had the first Chicago Roadshow at Production Plus - the day after the national elections. Franklin Moore of AV Stumpfl was exhibiting in his hometown (AV Stumpfl has been one of our most loyal Roadshow supporters) and regaled us with his experiences at Grant Park the night before where he heard Obama's acceptance speech in person. The quality of attendee was right on the mark as exhibitors got some quality face time with key customers and prospects. One of the highlights of the show was Thomson Grass Valley exhibiting a new HD production camera from their Infinity series. We were just talking about this back at the Orlando show. This was a fun show made even better by our host's stellar support. I got to speak from a real dais with proper mic'ing and lights!
The last Roadshow of the year was in Burbank this month. We were able to use the IATSE Local 80 soundstage, which was the perfect venue. Attendance was fantastic and there were many, many old friends and colleagues who got to catch up with each other. The conversation was often about the economy, but in general the outlook was very positive. It was a great way to finish up the year!
Stay tuned for next year's schedule of events.
A newsletter I regularly read is Springwise. I will occasionally write about some cool marketing technique or innovative product their spotters have discovered. This recent issue (http://springwise.com/weekly/2008-12-10.htm) had two killer ideas that are not directly connected to what our readers do - but gave me some good ideas. Here's how my mind works:
Springwise Discovery 1: A pizza chain in Paris will deliver your pizza to your picnic location. You just stop by the store on your way there, place your order, and they will give you a pink helium balloon to take to the location you describe. Their delivery personnel are on foot or bicycle and will look for the balloon. Spot someone with a pink balloon in Paris and they might be waiting on a pizza.
My Idea 1: Send your customers a branded lapel pin to wear on showsite that indicates he/she is your VIP. It reminds your team that this person is high priority and primary contact. It also tells the venue that you are as serious about customer service as they (claim they) are. Perhaps this is part of a welcome package you send when the customer confirms the project?
Springwise Discovery 2: A church in the UK is converting its sermons to text in real time to email to parishioners around the world. They use a product called Spinvox.
My Idea 2: Would your customers like a transcript of their presentation? Wouldn't this be a great service for teleprompting companies to provide for those increasingly unscripted speakers? Instead of typing the speech for them to read, give them a transcript of what they said.
My point is simple - look outside your world to find innovative ideas and apply your creativity to see if you can fit some of those ideas to your business. Maybe my ideas will trigger even better innovations from you.
The New Year is upon us and with all the uncertainty it brings; I offer you this thought from another of my favorite web pages http://www.quotationspage.com/.
"Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for." - Epicurus (341 BC - 270 BC)