Identity Crisis

You say “theater,” I say “man cave,” let’s call the whole thing off.
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You say “theater,” I say “man cave,” let’s call the whole thing off.

Are you a “home theater company?” Maybe you call yourselves “systems integration specialists.” Do you design “home theaters” or “multi-purpose AV rooms?” Whichever you choose, the words that you use to describe your work must represent your company’s best skills and appeal universally to potential clients in your unique market. If your region still supports dedicated home theaters, then great, but if it makes more sense to sell a multipurpose “solution” for a family room, then do that well and make sure it contains intuitive control and high-quality components.

One of our newest online editorial contributors is Southtown Audio Video project manager/designer, Heather Sidorowicz. In a recent post, she said that although her upstate New York integration firm used to call itself a “home theater company,” now it rarely ever specs dedicated rooms like that. Her company’s focus is on the middle market, which supports very little high-end home theater. Times have changed, she said, and her market is struggling a bit more than other larger cities.

Although several commenters on Heather’s post, The Man Cave Is Extinct, seemed to take exception to her suggestion that the term “man cave” was past its prime and that a soundbar was a fair substitute for a full surround system, my takeaway from her blog was that our business is still in transition from its boom period and is suffering mightily from an identity crisis that may never be solved.

We’ve never ever really settled on a way to identify ourselves to the outside world. We’re “custom installers,” “dealers,” “integrators,” or “ESCs.” But it goes further than that. By choosing to sell a moving target like technology, we’re not always sure how we should be presenting our services or even what they should be.

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Rich Fregosa, from Fregosa Electronic Interiors, said it best in a comment on Heather’s blog: “The dilemma that we face is not why aren’t we selling more dedicated theaters, but how do we combat the rapid shift of the upcoming generation of consumers who are used to listening and viewing their content on 4-inch to 9-inch screens? Times are changin’, the companies that will be here five years from now are the ones who are looking to adapt, evolve, and profit...”

So let’s go to CEDIA EXPO and do our best to plan for the future without losing sight of what still works today. It won’t be easy, but neither is selling a man-cave to a woman.

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