Far too often, the discussion surrounding Ultra HD, or 4K, displays is forward-looking. Predictive. Hopeful, sure, but focused primarily on future potential. In other words, many of us in the systems integration industry are approaching 4K with the same wait-and-see attitude as consumers, at a time when the potential for profit and customer satisfaction is at its height.
Selling 4K right now — to anyone other than the most voracious early adopters — does require a bit of know-how, though. It requires the right knowledge, the right tools, and the right approach to winning over potential customers who may feel that 4K isn’t quite ready for primetime.
But there’s a significant payoff for custom installers to getting into 4K now: it could be more than twice the profit you’re making with 2K solutions, according to Sony, which offers an end-to-end 4K entertainment solution set (see sidebar). So if you want to sell 4K profitably right now, here are five best practices to keep in mind: remember that you’re the expert; dispel the “lack of content” myth ASAP; make 4K personal for the non-technologically motivated decision-maker; focus on the entire entertainment system, not merely the display; and, perhaps most importantly, don’t pass up this opportunity to provide your customers with a premium experience.
1. BE THE EXPERT
The biggest benefit that you, the integrator, have over big box stores is technology knowledge and hands-on experience. As such, you don’t need to wow your customer with marketing buzzwords. Explain the technology in a simple, straightforward way. Focus on the superior detail, enhanced clarity, and more lifelike colors provided by Ultra HD TVs. But most importantly, keep the discussion in concrete terms that literally anyone can understand. Saying that the displays boast four times the resolution is one thing, but saying that you can sit twice as close to a 4K display with no loss of clarity and no visible pixels is something that anyone can grasp.
Moreover, focus on the benefits provided by 4K displays right now; don’t let the customer dwell too much on the relative lack of content compared to plain old HD. Explain to them the benefits of 4K upscaling, and the future-proofing benefits of buying the television of tomorrow, today.
Of course, even the most technologically savvy consumers get stuck in ruts. They adjusted to the increased picture size made possible by the transition from standard-definition television to HD, but they may feel that current seating positions limit them from going much larger. And chances are good that they like their comfy chairs right where they are. Perhaps the biggest benefit that you, the integrator, can provide to potential customers is to give them something they didn’t know they could get: a substantially larger screen in the exact same space. Thanks to the powerful processing capabilities of today’s top-of-the-line Ultra HD displays, even legacy movie formats and live sports broadcasts look positively stunning on a 70-inch display, in rooms that could previously only accommodate a 55-inch TV, allowing you to craft a truly cinematic viewing experience even in the most modestly sized rooms.
2. DISPEL THE CONTENT MYTH
While it may be true that disc-based 4K media won’t make it to market for at least another year, it’s important to remind your customers that we simply don’t live in a wholly disc-based world anymore. Online distribution—both download and streaming—is increasingly becoming the preferred method of TV- and movie-watching at home. And in that arena, 4K content is already here and growing by leaps and bounds every month. Netflix, for example, is already streaming popular shows like House of Cards, Breaking Bad, and Orange Is the New Black in Ultra HD resolutions, along with several recent popular movies, as well. And Amazon is now allowing subscribers to its Prime Instant Video platform with at least 15Mb of bandwidth to access a good selection of TV shows and movies in 4K without any additional charges.
Dedicated media servers, such as Sony’s FMP-X10, also offer a library of literally hundreds of 4K movies, available for download right now. And at least one of the major satellite television providers announced plans to offer 4K video-on-demand services by the end of 2014.
The simple fact of the matter is that 4K content is much more readily available now than high-definition content was at a similar point in its availability on the market. So if your customers ask, “What about the 4K content?” don’t hesitate to remind them just how much of it there is. Better yet, be prepared to demonstrate it. Be prepared to demonstrate 4K content from Netflix and media servers, in addition to upscaled 1080p content. And if you don’t have a dedicated showroom, invest in a good mobile demo system. Seeing, after all, is believing.
3. MAKE IT PERSONAL
Oftentimes, at least one decision-maker in any given family is less technologically motivated than another. They may not be impressed by big explosions and seeing the individual whiskers of the biggest action movie stars. To win over that decision-maker, you need to make 4K more of a lifestyle decision. Ask for some personal photos: wedding pictures, holiday shots of the family. Explain the technology, again, in terms they can relate to: 1080p TVs are barely more than two megapixels, whereas the camera they’re using to document their lives is probably at least eight megapixels—which just so happens to be the resolution of 4K.
Show them not only how much better their family photos look on the latest Ultra HD displays, but also how easy it is to share their personal digital media via USB or the home network. And if for some reason that doesn’t do the trick, it may be worth your while to invest in a new 4K camcorder, so you can demonstrate in real time just how much more vibrant, more detailed, more colorful and true to life their lives’ moments can be captured going forward.
4. FOCUS ON THE COMPLETE SYSTEM
It’s important to remember that the transition to a 4K future (or present, as it were) isn’t merely about the displays themselves. This is also a great opportunity to upgrade the entire entertainment ecosystem, with a 4K-capable surround sound receiver, new media players, and even new networking infrastructure to accommodate the increased bandwidth requirement of UHD streaming and digital distribution.
This is also a fantastic time to reach out to past customers. Demonstrate to an existing client just how much better a new 4K display is than his or her existing 1080p TV or projector, and you’re opening the door to the opportunity to bring that existing system up to the new standards set by 4K. And not just in the video department. It’s also a great chance to upgrade existing audio systems and expand automation systems to handle all of this new gear.
5. SELL THE PREMIUM EXPERIENCE
It’s been true for far too long now that selling TVs wasn’t a profitable business for custom integrators. But that isn’t the case with 4K. Ultra HD displays mean better margins for you, primarily due to the fact that 4K is being delivered right now via premium displays. Latch onto that fact when you’re explaining the benefits of 4K to your potential customers. It isn’t entirely about the greater pixel count. It’s also about superior picture processing, greater dynamic range, more and better features, future-proofed connectivity, and access to more content.
What you’re selling isn’t hardware; it’s an experience. And with today’s top-of-the-line 4K TVs, that experience is unlike anything most customers knew they could get at home. The larger screens and closer seating distances made possible by 4K allow you to deliver an experience that used to require a much more expensive projection system in a dark, dedicated home theater. Now you can deliver that same cinematic experience in a brightly lit family room.
Selling experiences like that, and doing it well, is what will make your customers recommend you to their friends and family. It’s what will make them come back to you time and time again when they’re ready to upgrade. Deliver the premium 4K experience in an effective way, and you won’t have just sold another SKU; you’ll have gained a customer for life.
Sony’s End-to-End 4K Vision
As mentioned above, 4K isn’t merely the latest and greatest display technology; it’s an entire entertainment experience, and no company makes it easier to deliver a complete experience than Sony. From the creation and distribution of 4K content to the manufacturing of displays, 4K media players, 4K-compatible audio solutions, and more, Sony has the entire 4K experience covered from end to end, allowing integrators to confidently sell and install a one-brand solution that does it all, including:
• Future-proof displays that not only sport next-generation HDMI connectivity and HEVC decoding, but also a number of tools aimed specifically at making calibration easier than ever.
• The FMP-X10 4K Ultra HD Media Player, which not only gives consumers access to more than 200 downloadable UHD movies, but also features built-in support for Netflix, as well as personal 4K videos.
• The latest Sony ES receivers, which support next-generation HDCP 2.2 copy protection, along with several time-saving features aimed directly at integrators, including horizontally configured binding posts, magnetic removable faceplates, RS-232 and Ethernet control capabilities, and more. The flagship STR-ZA3000ES even features an integrated 8-port Giga Ethernet Hub with Power over Ethernet capabilities to simplify the networking infrastructure required for the net-connected 4K future.
To get more details about these success strategies, click here or on the thumbnail at left to download this free white paper.
And for information about Sony’s end-to-end 4K display technology and products, here are two additional resources: