Our industry often finds itself performing a delicate dance in the way it markets itself. We want to be forward-looking by promoting new concepts, such as energy management, home healthcare, and even something more trivial (relatively speaking) like the move from home theaters to family-friendly media rooms, yet in the process we might be selling ourselves short.
I chatted with a friend of mine the other day whose current role is selling a category of products designed specifically for dedicated home theaters. I guess you could fault the owners of his company for putting all of their eggs in one basket, but it must be tough when you’ve staked your future on a specific segment of the business, only to find the press, manufacturers, and even your trade association promoting the “next big thing” instead of what you’re doing.
I’m as guilty as the next guy. As a trade publication it’s our job to “reflect” the industry we represent while helping track trends that are on the horizon. Often, however, we get more fixated on the cool new thing, even if the business opportunities for current technology are just as viable right now in the right markets and with the right clients. We talk a good game about “integrating home healthcare AV,” or selling “green AV” or the “smart grid,” but we have to remember that most companies can’t change their business models on a dime and have to stick with what is making money for them right now.
Those of you that have weathered the economic recession thus far have done so by doing what you do best with less help and lower margins than you’re used to having. You’ve likely evolved your offerings gradually, rather than chasing the latest technology fad.
Take, for instance, the subject of our feature Bri-Tech president Brian McAuliff is a gearhead at heart, but he’s never been a sucker for the newest technology trends, just because they’re new. McAuliff told associate editor Lindsey Adler that he bases most of his buying decisions on product reliability. He was initially against iPods and tablets because he is an audiophile, for instance. That attitude had to change, of course, and now all of his systems are fully integrated with mobile devices, and he loves them, he said.
While everyone must adapt to the realities of the home construction market decline, changing technologies, and consumer tastes by selling more multi-purpose rooms, simpler systems, and lower margin offerings, savvy ESCs also know that they can’t completely abandon an industry hallmark like the high-performance dedicated home theater, either. I do believe that when one of your sales evangelists puts his mind to it, he can still sell a client on a no-compromise dedicated theater, even in these challenging times. The money is out there, and so is the demand for quality that is hard to match outside a dedicated space. Try to be multi-dimensional as you evolve for the future, but don’t sell yourself short on what you can do today.