When you meet someone at a social gathering and the inevitable “so what do you do?” gets asked, what is your answer? How you respond is critical to how you position your business. You have to not only be consistent in your answer, but you have to convey everything you do (audio, video, networking, home automation) and be sure that each of those things is clear and obvious. Ask 100 people what “home automation” means, and you’ll likely get 100 different answers (OK, maybe 30).
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I’ve been struggling with this ever since I founded The Source Home Theater. I used to say, “I’m an AV guy”, but that isn’t even close to describing what we do today. It doesn’t touch on networking or home automation or even programming universal remotes. I have clients whose minds immediately go to the old-school AV kid in middle-school who wheeled the projector around from classroom to classroom—definitely not the image we want to convey. I have tried “custom Installer,” but again, we do much more than install, so then I toyed with “custom integrator,” but average people have NO IDEA what that means, so I end up seeing a questioning look on their face, instead of interest. Lately I have been saying, “We do AV, networking, and home automation—things like automated lights, thermostats, and shades.” But that is a mouthful, and people are bored by the end. Plus, try fitting that on a business card!
I was recently speaking with CEDIA CEO Vin Bruno, and he said that this is something that CEDIA has been paying attention to as well. The new terminology they propose and will be supporting is “technologist,” which does sum up everything we do in once small word. It tells a lot, but also begs follow-up questions from the listener, which then gives you the opportunity to delve into more detail. I think it is the best of both worlds; it’s informative and memorable, but a bit vague so that it encourages conversation.
There are a lot of great things that CEDIA is working on. Most importantly, they are focusing on delivering on their promises. In the past, they had grand plans, but implementation was a bit weak. Vin has indicated that his focus is on incremental steps that improve the business landscape for everyone in the industry. He wasn’t able to share many details, but I am excited about his strategy and his level-headed approach.
But back to naming ourselves… let me know in the comments section what terminology you and your company use and what you think about technologist.