Beyond New Products: What You Can Learn About Vendors at InfoComm
We will all be gathering in Orlando next week for pro AV’s largest North American event. Trade shows are wonderful places to see and experience products, and manufacturers make new technology and product announcements a high priority. But as you participate in the show this year, there are other things that you can learn about potential vendors and partners, besides what products they sell and how professional their booths were assembled. Here are some things to be looking for this year that will set you up for success until InfoComm 2014!
Product Breadth: It’s great to see a new product that promises market disruption (who doesn’t like a little gee-whiz, after all, it is a technology show?), but remember you have only so many vendor relationships and partnerships that you can manage, and for optimal support, pricing and flexibility, it is better to pick a few brands to lead with as you approach sales opportunities. This is difficult to do, if your chosen vendor doesn’t have a broad offering. In every category in AV, the breadth might be different, so you must ask yourself if the selection is broad enough to cover the range of applications you encounter and allow you to differentiate your proposals. Likewise, you may find that one of your current vendors has products in categories of which you weren’t aware. InfoComm is a wonderful place to better understand the offerings from your current partners.
Partnering with People: It is not uncommon that AV integrators have one-track relationships with their vendors. Sure, they might have an accounting or credit contact in case of emergency, but most of the relationship is with an account manager or someone in sales. InfoComm is a great time to broaden those relationships. As you set appointments for booth tours and sales meetings at the show, ask to meet with those responsible for product roadmap planning, marketing, technical services or business strategy to deepen your relationships and better understand how your vendors can support you to win more business in 2013 and beyond. Moving from a supplier-customer relationship to a partnership.
Presence Beyond the Physical: There are only so many hours on the exhibit floor and for training sessions at the show, so it is critical that your partners extend their trade show presence and offerings online: to the web and social media. Look for partners with great websites (extra points for vendors who understand that their sites must be mobile-friendly and comprehensive, since they know how much time you spend in the field). Look for partners who equip online applications and videos. Partners who are on social media platforms and provide you blog posts, articles, videos, photos and other assets for you to share as you build your own brand. And don’t forget to do this during the show. Your customers and employees, if they are not accompanying you to Orlando, want to know what you are seeing. News posted on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube are easy to share with the curious back at home.
The innovation engine of the industry is at full throttle and we all expect (and are planning) exciting announcements, amazing interactive experiences and enthusiastic conversations with customers about what is possible. And underlying these conversations are some tenants of partnership that are important not to overlook.
These are just some of the insights that you uncover at InfoComm 2013. I’d love to hear other things you look for at trade shows to help you uncover your best partners. Leave comments below and let’s make sure the pro-AV community is equipped for the best show ever!