November 2014 - Vol 9, Issue 11
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Are You Ready for 2015? Think again...

It's amazing what a strong economy does to people. 24 months ago I was focused on getting clients to walk away from price-driven work. This year I am trying to get them to be more open to growth. Potential new business seems to be all around us, but too much of a good thing and I start to see companies putting on the brakes by becoming revenue snobs. See this month's Best Practices Blog to find just how I feel about it.

Speaking of growth, it's time for our annual Forecast Survey. How is 2014 wrapping up and what does 2015 look like?

Last year's report forecast a great deal of growth in 2014:

* 14.3% predict better than 25% improvement in 2014
* An additional 56.1% predict 10% or better growth
* 18.4% expect to be flat
* Only 1.3% predict a drop in revenue
* Only 5.4% don't know what to expect


Let's see how we did. Take the 2015 survey now.  


Results will be available in December's issue of AV-Matters. 



You Asked for More Sales Training  

Stimson Group is hosting a six-part webinar series on Sales and Marketing. Part Two is on Customer-Focused Marketing and airs this Friday at 2pm EST/ 1pm CST. 

If you have already missed a webinar, then just check out the archives at Click on the link, create an AV-Matters Member login, and off you go. Members get access to exclusive content like archived webinars and free episodes of Around the Table with Tom Stimson

Think you have great customer service? Do you feel like price is the only thing keeping you apart from target customers? Then you need to see these stats. Price is not the main reason for customer churn, it is actually due to the overall poor quality of customer service. Check out these statistics and decide if you are chasing customers away....

Great question. Glad you asked. When I created it was to separate my blogging and promotional work from, my consulting business website. So far it has worked well and I am having a lot of fun with the newsletter and new site. As I add content - especially webinars and other cost or time-intensive intellectual properties - I want to make sure I can track who has access. Hence, creating a login ensures I have at least your name and contact information and it also updates your info on my Constant Contact database. AV-Matters doesn't share your contact information with anyone and frankly, I don't use it other than to send you this newsletter, survey invitations, or announcements.

Thanks for Reading!


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Customer-Focused Marketing
How to Pre-Sell Your Value Proposition


Join us for a Webinar on Friday November 14, 2014 at 2:00 PM EDT/1:00 PM CDT


What You Will Learn:

  • The difference between Sales and Marketing
  • How changing Customer expectations should affect your messaging
  • Why and How websites matter
  • Relevant Social Media Activity
  • How to help your customer see themselves doing business with YOU!

What you WON'T learn: Not one single thing will be said about SEO! You are welcome.  


Register now!    


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.


Only REGISTRANTS of AV Matters website will receive access to the video archive, the handout, and the White Paper on this topic. Create your LOGIN now.


Learn More about this and other upcoming webinars here. 


PLASA Events at LDI

PLASABusiness Education Session at LDI

"Turning Chaos Into Order: Five Approaches to Project Management" will take place from 12:00pm-2:00pm, Thursday November 20 and will explore how project management fits into your career, development and management. Moderated by Tom Stimson of Stimson Group, LLC., panelists will include Philip Barrett of Level 2 Design, Mark Fink of Barbizon, Tim Hansen of Oasis Stage Werks, Jules Lauve of Theatre Projects Consultants and Evan Williams of Riverview Systems. The panelists will discuss the definitions of project management and how each has made a career out of turning chaos into order. If you aspire to follow their path or simply want to elevate your company's approach to this skill set, you won't want to miss this session. Registration is $50 for PLASA Members, $80 for non-PLASA Members. Registration is available online at, where members and non-members will need to login to their account, then click on Register for Events. Please note: Panelists are subject to change without advanced notice.


bestpracticesBest Practices Blog
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All Projects Are Created Equal 

My old boss has a saying, "We are in business for fun and profit. If we are not making a profit it's not any fun." All projects start out fun and profitable. What happens next is really up to us.


In my consulting practice I encounter some very creative ways that my clients undermine revenue opportunities by placing unreasonable expectations upon the project. When a new job comes our way, we often project our own image of what the customer wants and how they will revere our work. The project therefore must be completed with the best materials and any obstacle to high quality work should be removed or dismissed. Customers that refuse to make the "right" choices get labeled as "cheap" or "Not someone we want to do business with."


"Customers should come to us only if they want to do things right," is the battle cry of control freaks everywhere - and our industry attracts control freaks like flies to roadkill. The fact is, projects never go right if we use idealistic standards. When customers come to us with a $5,000 budget for something that should cost $10,000, it is not a reflection on what we want to charge. They only have $5,000. We arbitrarily chose a $10,000 solution.


"That's what it will take to do it right. We don't want to do it wrong do we?"


Sigh. AV people can be such snobs. When it comes to technology, all that really matters is whether the customer is happy with the outcome for the price paid. How you prefer to do it is a choice. It's only the right choice if the customer agrees that it is.


"We don't want to be associated with a project that won't look good!"


Big, snobby, snobs. Low budgets do not have to mean schlock work. The implication that the customer is asking for a low quality job is a bit insulting. What they are asking for is a $5,000 solution. Yours may or may not meet their needs.


"We have higher standards than other companies."


Uh, well good for you. Apparently those standards don't include a willingness to research a $5,000 solution for a willing customer. Some customers are price-shoppers that research their options then look for the lowest cost. Most of us don't want to deal with price-shoppers, and that's OK. Other customers have a budget. That budget may not be realistic, but it's their budget. They deserve respect for having one. We can educate them about what that budget will buy, and what a higher budget might afford them, but we can't look down our noses at the project.

If you are a true high standards company with top tier solutions, then that $5,000 budget might not go very far. I suspect that the project would still be profitable, but it may not meet the customer's needs. The guys down the street may have a more cost-effective option: less expensive products or labor, lower overhead, or perhaps they are just more open to using off-brand products or lower technical specifications. If that solution will make the customer happy, then that supplier deserves to win the business.


"They won't be happy with the outcome."


Sour grapes. Unless you take the time to demonstrate the difference in the solutions to the customer to assess what meets their expectations, then you are applying your personal prejudices. Bottom line, if you are going to be a snob then you are just going to have to work harder at proving your point.


Many of my clients will read this and think "Gee, Tom's talking about us." Unfortunately I am talking about a LOT of companies. I run into this all the time and I can assure you, snobbery keeps firms from growing, alienates potential customers, and drives down profits. I find it in Systems Integration and Live Events, and I see it as a consumer. Snobbery manifests itself in project design, product choices, staffing levels, and pricing. When you let your technical team drive the solution, it is almost always more expensive. If you let the same team evaluate potential projects and customers before we do business with them, they will reject most.


How do you change your team's (and your) expectations? Start with the numbers and learn where profit comes from. I doubt you have a line on the P&L called "We are simply better surcharge." We all make money by delivering what we promised for less than what it costs us to do it. What we need to understand is that there is potential profit everywhere. Treat your customer with respect and the project with reverence and you will find that there is more acceptable business out there than you thought.


Tom Stimson, MBA, CTS, is president of Stimson Group LLC, a Dallas-based management consulting firm specializing in strategy, process improvement, and market research for the Audiovisual Industry. Tom is a Past-President of InfoComm International and a current member of InfoComm's Adjunct Faculty.  


Closing Thoughts

Here's a few scribbles from the margins:

"Even an unsteered ship will eventually find land." -Anonymous

"What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important." - Dwight D Eisenhower

See you next month, - Tom   

Who's Tom Anyway?
About Thomas R. Stimson, MBA, CTS

Tom Stimson consults with organizations to improve their performance through strategic planning, process improvement, and team development. The Stimson Group provides coaching and tools to companies in the Audiovisual Industry that enable them to define and reach their strategic goals.

Whether you work in the Live Events or the Systems' Integration segments, or serve those companies as a manufacturer or distributor - The Stimson Group provides unparalleled expertise, industry insight, and market research that drive operational efficiencies and increase profitability. 

For more information visit the website.