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Mar 2012 - Vol 7, Issue 3
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Welcome Back!
I am just back from Washington DC for the first ever InfoComm Live event. What an inspiring meeting! It was great to see so many of you there and a tremendous honor to have been a presenter. Weren't invited? Couldn't attend? No problem! Four of the keynote presentations were recorded and are online now including my workshop on Value Propositions. You can learn more about the event in the first article below.

Also in this issue of AV Matters, a follow-up to last month's Marketing 101, cleverly named Marketing 201. It focuses on websites - and with good reason. There are far too many really bad websites out there! C'mon it's 2012 and the Internet has been around since before your younger employees were born. It is time to pay attention to your most important first impression.


By the way, a special shout-out to my friends at Azure Marketing for my new Keynote Template. These are the folks responsible for my website too. Without Azure, I would not be able to practice what I preach.


Thanks for Reading,
Tom Stimson
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InfoComm Live
IC Live
Inaugural Event for Rental-Stagers

A Long List of Takeaways for Industry's Top CEO's

Next year's InfoComm Live may have established itself as the best networking event available for Audiovisual Rental and Staging leaders. The summit was designed to deliver thought-provoking content and discussions on the current state and the future of the Live Event industry. I think the real value was the opportunity for so many influential leaders to chat about business, swap stories, and solve problems. I am looking forward to read attendee Joel Rollins' blog as he shares his insights.

The event was built around five keynote presentations. Many thanks to InfoComm and the good folks at Mediasite for capturing and streaming Thursday's presentations. This year's topics included strategic social media by David Nour, how to work with multiple generations by Seth Mattison, a panel discussion on hyrbid meetings by Stephen Nold, and the future of sustainability in meetings by InfoComm's Allen Weidman. Yours truly was very privileged to present the hot topic of value propositions. Whether you were at the event or not (or worse - invited and did not attend!) it pays to think about some of the takeaways cited by the attendees as the event adjourned:


You can view the agenda, learn about the presenters, and link to the stream archive here. If you would like to view my presentation, just click on the title slide below:

VP Session on Demand



InfoComm 2012
IC2012 InfoComm '12 Registration Opens
Tom Stimson to present two business seminars

InfoComm 2012 Registration is now open! It is not too early to plan your trip to Las Vegas. The Conference is June 9-15 and Exhibits are June 13-15. I strongly recommend that you look at the Tuesday sessions for in-depth seminars on key topics. Tom Stimson will return with two business track seminars:

Systems Integration Business Survival Kit
IS066 - Thursday, 6/16/2011 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM 
This course will present real challenges and applied solutions for systems integration and contracting companies. In this session we will redefine the enterprise sale, explore practical diversification and how it affects sales and operations, and the Top Ten ways that Being Cheap hurts your bottom line.

Rental & Staging Business Survival Kit
IS067 - Thursday, 6/16/2011 12:30PM - 2:00PM
This course will present real challenges and applied solutions for rental and staging companies. This year we will take an updated look at job costing and commissions. how to make money at project management, and the Top Ten out-of-control costs in staging companies.

Best Practices Series
Marketing 201 For AV Geeks  
This Is Your Website Intervention   

Marketing experts can be rather militant in their opinions on what your website can or should do for your business and with good reason: There are now four generations of humanity surfing the Internet and they all want to know the same things: What do you do, where the heck are you really located, and what is your phone number? Like many folks I have not opened a physical phone book in probably ten years and I would not expect to find anything useful in one if I did. The Interwebs on the other hand has everything under the sun. What was once just a flashy billboard for commercial businesses (did we forget what the "com" in dot-com stands for?) has become commerce central. And even if you do not need to conduct transactions on your website, you do need to quickly legitimize your existence and you have about ten seconds or less to do it in. (If that ten seconds is wasted on loading a flash animation, then many potential prospects have already moved on!)

Imagine the biggest account you want to penetrate. They have a team of evaluators that have allowed you and nine of your competitors to submit a capabilities proposal. They are going to perform some due diligence on your company that may be as simple as checking out your website and Googling your company name for blog references, but it could go deeper than that. They might call all the "offices" you list and ask to speak to the General Manager. Or, if they are really clever they could do a string search of the text on your "about" page and see who else describes themselves in the same way. What will your website tell them about you before you ever get the opportunity to explain yourself? Will you be invited to an in-person pitch as a viable supplier or comic relief?

Now, imagine the perfect client searching for a supplier that has your unique expertise, geographical footprint, or commitment to customer service. Imagine that they have found your website after someone referred them to you. Will your site live up to that referral? Or, will that customer have to lower their expectations in order to contact you?

[As an aside, consider also that you may have the most wonderful, creative, and compelling website around. Does your company live up to that promise?]

I am not going to make a long entreaty about why you should hire a professional and get your website updated. Do it. What I will ask you to do is perform the same due diligence on potential developers that is conducted when companies evaluate you. Check out your web developer's site, then all the ones they've created for others. Are they trying to look bigger than they are? Do they have more than one or two credits worth noting? Does the owner, principal, or chief executive hide or are they profiled? Can you communicate directly with them? Do they have a philosophy or just tout expertise?

Here's a few things you should expect to hear from a savvy web-developer:
  • A discussion on your goals and objectives for your website
  • A desire to understand your business strategy, customers, and competitors
  • An analysis of your social media strategy and potential tie-ins to your website 
  • A request that you identify at least five of your industry's websites that you like and five that you don't and why
  • An assessment of how much and often your firm is capable or willing to maintain a website  
  • An explanation that they will submit 5-10 preliminary themes and develop the 2-3 that you like the most before you choose one 

In addition, here are a few things that I think should be important to you:

  • A website that you can easily edit, add, or change yourself
  • Strict adherence to only using high resolution photos  
  • Don't be afraid to ditch your tired old letterhead logo and get a web-friendly update
  • Don't fall for gimmick-y web mechanics; focus on delivering customer-centric content
  • Commit to - at a minimum - monthly content updates 
Websites are today's most important first contact between you and your prospects. For many companies, effective online marketing can establish credibility more quickly than any human-powered contact and can pave the way to more effective first meetings. And once a relationship is established, websites have the power to keep customers engaged and informed. There is a tremendous amount of relationship building available to businesses like yours when they implement the right online strategy.

Do you have an opinion or idea to share? Email me.


Closing Thoughts

Here's a few scribbles from the margins:
  • There is no relationship in pennies. Most rental companies have whole dollar prices, then apply discount factors that turn $35 into $25.25. Is that 25 cents important? Is your claim of stellar service discountable? What other petty things do you imply in your proposals? 
  • On the same note, does the equipment come with the people or do the people come with the gear? When technicians become an accessory, the hourly rate is scrutinized. When service passes hardware as the biggest item on the bill, customers start to think your team is more important than the equipment.   
About Thomas R. Stimson, MBA, CTS
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Tom Stimson has thrived for over twenty-five years in the information communications technology industry. As a Consultant, Tom helps companies define their goals and then design a plan that will take them there. For more information visit the website.