Associations Focus: Let It Grow
Sep 1, 2004 12:00 PM,
Signing up for the AVolution campaign can help your business stand out.
It’s September, and that means it’s time to get back on track with the business goals you set for yourself earlier in the year. How’s your marketing campaign going? Have you implemented all the great ideas you had to develop new business and increase sales? Is your marketing plan collecting dust? Do you have a plan?
Even if you don’t, there are ways to get your message out, create awareness for your company, and earn new business. It’s not complex, but as with any successful endeavor, it requires focus. Approach your business development and marketing campaign one step at a time and build on it every month. There’s still time to implement your ideas to build momentum for your business in 2005.
Here are five ideas you can act on almost immediately to build your business and compete in today’s growing AV marketplace.
Training and experience are critical factors when customers select a provider, even more so as the demand for AV services grows. There is simply no better way to stand out from your competition than getting certified.
Companies can submit informational articles to the ICIA Web site.
When your company becomes a certified audiovisual solutions provider (CAVSP) through ICIA’s certification program, you’ll be recognized for having the best-trained, technologically advanced personnel in the industry. That’s because a certified company earns this special designation based on the percentage of employees who receive and maintain their ICIA certification status.
The way to get started on your company certification is by offering employees the chance to take the individual online certification test. Then, depending on the number of certified staff, your company can apply for one of three levels of corporate certification — general, silver, or gold.
Once your company is certified, then you’re ready to put the distinctive CAVSP brand to use. From press releases to presentations, the CAVSP logo distinguishes your company as a trustworthy, skilled, and knowledgeable source. At a glance, your prospects and customers will know they’re doing business with an industry leader.
Photograph your projects
If you aren’t investing in quality photography of your AV projects, you’re missing a great opportunity to promote your portfolio of work.
First, hire a professional, and whenever possible show people in the photos using the AV technology. This makes the photos more interesting and more useful for advertising and editorial purposes. You’ll also want high-resolution images for printed materials and professionally composed images of your projects. Work with a professional if you’re going to make a serious effort to document your projects. Because there are so many applications for the photos — your Web site, brochures, presentations, case studies, advertisements, trade show booths, and more — negotiate a fee up front that gives you ownership rights to the images.
Book a speaking engagement
Do you have a talented presenter on staff who could represent your company at a targeted trade show or event? If so, think about putting together a speaker’s bureau for your company. To start, think about the expertise you offer and develop a few themes that you could develop into a presentation.
For example, do you work with architects and have good information to share with them about AV applications? Then develop an outline and pitch your idea to your local chapter of the American Institute of Architects, which may be looking for a speaker for its next meeting. An informative presentation that’s not self-serving can serve you well and lead to quality new business.
Once you develop a few topics and audiences, you can launch your own speaker’s bureau, promoting it on your Web site and in mailings to targeted organizations. When your proposal is accepted, you have an opportunity to promote your speaking engagement in a press release or direct mail piece to prospective clients. Similarly, you may want to contribute to educational articles that will promote your company in a subtle fashion. For example, such articles submitted to ICIA are featured on its Web site (www.infocomm.org) along with a link back to your company.
Leverage your professional memberships
Are you leveraging the resources available to you through the professional membership groups you’ve joined? For example, ICIA has a market intelligence (MI) program that offers in-depth reports and surveys about the AV industry. The MI program includes ICIA’s own primary research as well as third-party research conducted by market analyst partners.
You can leverage this data in many ways — in your marketing materials, as justification for your new business development plans, or as validation to receive financial backing.
ICIA’s 2004 AV Market Definition and Strategy study is particularly helpful for these purposes. It sizes the market, projects sales over the next five years, and identifies growth opportunities in terms of products and services. If you have a local perspective on the AV market, you might even consider tailoring a press release citing the ICIA survey (with ICIA’s permission, of course) and release it to your media list.
Join the AVolution campaign
Building your business and growing the AV industry is part of ICIA’s AVolution industry awareness campaign, a movement to mobilize AV professionals to promote their business and serve as advocates for the industry.
ICIA uses the term AVolution to define today’s AV industry, one that’s evolved dramatically. Today’s AV industry generates nearly $19 billion annually in North America.
It’s a good business move to join. There’s no cost, and it’s easy to get involved, whether you belong to ICIA or not. More than 400 AV solutions providers have already lent their name to the campaign by agreeing to ten standards of excellence. When you promote your participation in the campaign, you can inform your clients that you adhere to those standards. You can link back to the AVolution site (www.avolution.info), which has useful and timely information about AV applications, and you can distinguish your business from other AV providers.
When you sign up, your company’s name and Web site are also listed on the campaign site. You can publish your project photos in the site’s photo gallery, and you’ll receive notices about other marketing, trade show, and speaking opportunities. The AVolution campaign works year-round to attract end-users to the Web site through advertising, press relations, and a series of booths at trade shows.
If you’re part of the professional AV industry, you know it’s composed of creative people and exciting AV technology applications. You work hard to make your clients look good. Now is a good time to get recognition for your company and to create awareness for the industry. It starts with telling our stories to educate and to inform potential clients of the endless possibilities AV offers to enhance communications. With many voices, we can make an impact and watch our business grow.
Cheryl Reganis director of industry awareness for ICIA. Contact her at[email protected].
For more information about ICIA and InfoComm, visit www.infocomm.org.
CEDIA: Time for Action
Due to an increase in demand for certification, CEDIA is offering a wider range of certification programs, more often and all over North America. As of late July, CEDIA had awarded more than 2,600 certificates. After partnering with AVAD in 2003, CEDIA was able to offer the Installer Level I review course and exam at AVAD locations twice a month throughout the United States. Since the program began, CEDIA has awarded more than 280 certificates through the AVAD locations (as of late June). CEDIA and AVAD will continue the partnership into 2005, when both the Installer Level I and II review courses and exams will be offered.
Most recently, Canadian subject matter experts developed and launched the Canadian version of the Designer exam at the Canadian Exposition in June 2004. Existing programs are being reevaluated, including the Installer Level II exam. All CEDIA certification exams are subject to review and updates on an ongoing basis to ensure all questions and information are timely and accurate. Rich Green is leading a group of subject matter experts to update the Installer Level II exam. Staying up to date allows the value and integrity of each certification to be held in high regard.
Questions regarding CEDIA certification can be directed to Holly Hart at [email protected].
Five action teams recently were created by the Membership Council to better serve CEDIA’s members: Public Policy, Membership Welcome and Recruitment, Volunteer Development, Membership Requirements, and Industry Best Practices. Each team has specific goals, which are constructed to address current and near-future needs of CEDIA and its members.
Public Policy, headed by Gerry Demple of Ultimate Electronics, monitors upcoming legislation throughout the United States that could affect CEDIA members. When legislation appears that is threatening, CEDIA members in that area are notified and encouraged to take action. A grassroots initiative also exists to police legislation by finding people in the custom electronics industry who have political ties. Visit the grassroots Web site at www.cedia.org/volunteer/legislative_network.php.
Membership Welcome and Recruitment is charged with welcoming new CEDIA members and answering questions. Headed by Jill Kent of Electronic Interiors and Audio Video Systems, the team divides the country into segments and has representatives from those geographic regions personally contact new CEDIA members.
Volunteer Development, under the direction of Chad Modad of AD Systems, is creating a list of people who are interested in volunteering. The team established guidelines, created a volunteer handbook, and is tracking new volunteers. Please visit www.cedia.org/volunteer for more information.
Membership Requirements and Industry Best Practices have temporarily merged because their work is interdependent. The goal of the teams is to make CEDIA membership value increase by strengthening membership requirements and creating industry best standards. Tony Grimani of Performance Media Industries and Hank Finke of ReQuest Multimedia head this team.
Information about CEDIA membership is available at www.cedia.org. To volunteer, fill out an application at www.cedia.org/volunteer/volunteer_form.php, and a member of the CEDIA professional staff will contact you.
CEDIA Education at HomeTech EXPO
September 24-26, Mexico City
Certification Review and Exam at AVAD, Installer Level I
October 12, Salt Lake City
Certification Review and Exam at AVAD, Installer Level I
October 14, Scottsdale, Arizona
CEDIA Boot Camp
October 20-22, Indianapolis
For more information on CEDIA, visit www.cedia.org or call (800) 669-5329.
NSCA: Word to the Wise
NSCA is an organization for the people — it offers products, services, and thought-provoking discussion for the success of its members. Yet that can be a problem. What NSCA provides to one member may not be applicable to another. Or is it? Take systems certification, for example. In talking with many of you, NSCA often hears, “My company works only in audio, so this isn’t applicable to me.” Well, consider the bigger picture — in fact, it could be precisely for you.
First, the key to systems integration isn’t only integration — it’s also systems. Systems don’t always mean integration, at least not for everyone. In fact, few companies consider programming and control part of their core offerings. A more accurate description of our industry’s work is interdisciplinary. The NSCA board of directors has defined systems to mean work with more than one technology. Simply put, systems mean you install, terminate, and test more than one piece of dissimilar equipment. Why would you want to work with more than one technology? It’s like anything — you shouldn’t operate in a vacuum or you risk getting sucked up.
Certainly not every company is interested in building expertise across multiple systems. Some have found great success in focusing on one thing. Generally speaking, a good rule of thumb in any business is to find your niche and do it better than anyone else. But part of doing it better is understanding how your work impacts other technology types — especially now as they will inevitably come to reside on a single network and comprise the “smart building” solution the customer is ultimately buying. Making sure your work doesn’t negatively impact the delivery of something else is a part of your niche — and your responsibility to the customer.
That is especially true this year, with the release of the 2004 CSI MasterFormat. With new, separate divisions for communications, life safety, and building control and automation soon to be ingrained into any given commercial project, our industry is much closer to the decision makers. Thanks largely to many volunteer leaders within NSCA, the industry is sitting at the big-kids’ table. For example, if we’re the systems contractor on the job for communications (division 27) and electronic safety and security (division 28) and provide the voice communications and electronic signage but plan to bring in a partner to handle the video surveillance, no problem. But we had better be prepared to intelligently discuss how the two could impact one another.
Some integrators say, “I work harder than I did only to get what I have always had.” Today’s systems contractor is faced with increased challenges for a variety of reasons, but often it’s because your customers know and want more, which forces you to adapt. Although your company may be the best provider of commercial sound, not being aware of the possible pitfalls with the building’s security system means you may not be the best person for the job. True, knowledge of multiple systems is added work for you and your staff, but think of the rewards your business will reap by adapting accordingly.
NSCA is now full steam ahead on a new certification program designed especially for systems integrators. The certified electronic systems technician exams are being held across the country. The higher level designation for systems integrators will be offered for the first time next spring. Not only will the new certification bring increased credibility in the eyes of other construction professionals they bring a clear-cut career path for technicians.
Some consider a systems integrator to be a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none. NSCA strongly disagrees. Knowing and understanding many technologies leads you to truly master the one that matters most in the eyes of the customer — their system.
Chuck Wilsonis the executive director of NSCA.
For more information about NSCA, visit www.nsca.org or call (800) 446-6722.