This year’s CEDIA Expo will be the re-entry into the physical tradeshow world for many in our community, including exhibitors, home technology integrators, associations, and organizations. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of seeing friends and colleagues you haven’t seen in years and focus on your social dance card instead of your business dealings. I’m right there with you and can’t wait to give big hugs, share drinks and meals, and bask in the glow of togetherness again.
However, we can’t avoid the fact that CEDIA Expo is about the biz of home technology, and it needs to be a mixture of work and play to get the most out of your investment, time, and travel dollars. Here are some of my top tips for attendees to squeeze every ounce of juice out of the plump fruit that an event like CEDIA Expo can be.
- Make Appointments Now. Just like your dance card will fill up, so too will your suppliers’ and others you might want to meet with. Schedule meetings now with those who are fundamentally critical to the success of your business and then start working on other key targets. Make a list with three columns and assign each column a descending priority. Put the name of the person or the company that you need to spend time with or the name of the session you want to attend in the appropriate column. Give each item on the list no less than 30 minutes, more if it’s a workshop or panel session, and fill every hour of the show, giving yourself a lunch break, of course (that’s a great time to network!). Work on this list every week starting right now and be diligent so that you fill it up and can work it like a jobsite punch list when you get to Dallas. This ensures you don’t go home with nothing tangible to show for your trip except for a bag full of swag.
- Strategize Your Meetings. Think about what it is you want to accomplish in your meetings. I’m surprised, for example, that some integrators still aren’t aware that many of their manufacturer partners offer Market Development Funds (MDFs) and other volume-based incentives for integrators to fund their marketing efforts. Talk to your suppliers about co-marketing and what funds or programs are available to you as dealers — you may be surprised. During events like CEDIA Expo, meet with your suppliers and talk about your purchase volume YTD and ask if there are any stretch goals that might apply should you beat your target number. It’s the perfect time to have these conversations, so everyone can start planning for not only the end of the year but the year ahead — budgeting season is now.
- Put Compelling Sessions on Your Calendar. Panel sessions, talks, and workshops are a must for inspiration, education, and business development. Find what’s being offered at CEDIA Expo under the “Education” tab or visit https://cediaexpo.com/education/schedule/ for a schedule. We’re looking forward to “Properly Securing a Residential Network” from Access Networks, since networking is such a hot category right now, and “The Role of Energy Management in the Future Home” from Parks Associates looks very interesting, as does “An Owner’s Guide to the Financial Stuff” from Leslie Shiner, which will talk about running the books behind the scenes. And don’t miss the closing session, “Making the Design+Tech Connection,” taking place on the Smart Stage on Friday starting at 3:30 (which I just so happen to be moderating). Tons of good stuff here, along with the opportunity to learn from your peers, manufacturers, adjacent trades pros, and research analysts.
- Make Delectable and Beneficial Dinner Decisions. Dinners should be fun and tasty, and Dallas can certainly deliver on both accounts. Like the show itself, plan ahead to get the best tables and times. We’ll be reviving our Taste of Texas Blog for 2022 soon and you’ll be able to read up on that at kmbcomm.com/taste-texas-cedia-2022/. Like our other Foodie Blogs, this one will be based on our favorites, some new finds, and recommendations from #AVFoodies like you (follow the hashtag for the scoop on the best eats and drinks at the show).
At KMB, we are ultimately communicators and connectors, and that means we like to fill our evenings with dinners or other types of gatherings that are both fun and productive. Getting people together that we know will click and creating conversation that might provide an opportunity down the road is what I personally live for. So, you may or may not see me at the hottest party of the night, but you’ll certainly find me wrapped up in conversation, helping people connect with those who might help them achieve their dreams. That, to me, is what shows are all about!
Also fro Katye McGregor Bennett: Tradeshow Prep and Planning Tips
Make that list. Check it twice before show time and work it diligently until it’s all done. You’ll come home with a clearer sense of what’s possible with your marketing efforts and can create a plan that’s much more actionable and predictable. Need more guidance? Drop me a line and let’s set time to talk — [email protected]. See you in Dallas, #AVTweeps!