Here are some tips on positioning your showroom to get more traction, traffic, and leads.
It’s an undeniable fact that showrooms are back and they’re hotter than ever. Brands, integration firms, and interior designers are partnering in some cases, and rep firms are getting in on the game now, too. Providing experience-rich environments filled with tech is a high priority for many in the channel. Whether they’re called a showroom, experience center, design center, or some other snazzy term, these purpose-built spaces have been carefully curated to cater to the needs of today’s homeowner and provide everything needed to get people from merely considering smart home tech to committing to it.But, how do you go about promoting your showroom, experience center, design center, or snazzy, tech showcase space? Here are some tips and how-to’s you can use to raise awareness of your space and start getting a return on your investment.
Showcase Well-Known “Destination” Brands
Certain brands have an almost cult-like appeal that attracts both audio-video fanatics and luxury lifestyle consumers alike. When you feature these unique, or “statement,” brands in your showroom, you can tap into a new audience and capture new clientele, creating a pipeline of potential opportunities for your company. Integration Controls, for example, recently added Bang & Olufsen to their line card. They are beginning to market the relationship with an SEO-rich blog they will use to promote B&O on social media that will attract local customers with a penchant for the design-forward. Events are planned this summer.
“We are bringing the Bang & Olufsen line of products into St. Louis because we believe it simplifies and enriches the experience of enjoying entertainment at home. At the same time, it provides a unique look and modern aesthetic not found in traditional audio-visual showrooms,” says Jamie Briesemeister, CEO of Integration Controls. This approach differentiates the Integration Controls brand and makes them a go-to in the market for those seeking Bang & Olufsen. Great idea!
Brilliant AV’s new Brilliant Experience Center in Southern California [see this issue’s “Showroom Showcase”] offers one-of-a-kind brand experiences in an easily navigated space filled with vignettes that showcase the many ways tech enhances lifestyles. Also taking the brand-alignment route, Brilliant AV was recently minted as the first company in California designated as an exclusive brand location for a Focal Powered by Naim store. The latest smart home technologies from brand partners like Sonos, Lutron, Control4, Sonance, Samsung, Screen Innovations, Alarm.com, and others are also prominently featured. “Our goal is to provide our visitors with a hands-on experience to see, hear, and feel the benefits of these systems firsthand,” says Matt Walin, CEO of Brilliant AV.
This brand-centric approach differentiates their company and, by partnering with brands to promote the new space, Brilliant AV was able to tap into additional marketing funds and has effectively created a pipeline that will attract new local clientele. More than 150 invited guests attended their recent grand opening soirée, a catered, California casual evening event that included clients, trade partners, and prospects, staff, and supporters. Brilliant AV utilized email marketing and social media marketing to promote the event and tapped into their network of supporters to spread the word. Additional events for interior designers, architects, and consumers are planned.
Paul Bochner of Electronic Concepts has also had great success with marketing unique brands in his New Jersey showroom. “The key to our showroom is having destination brands and experiences that bring end users, potential customers, designers, and builders into our space,” he says. “We try to show off products and solutions that they likely cannot experience any other way.”
Create a Space That Beckons Customers AND Partners
Speaking of attracting trades and partners, sometimes it’s the space itself that does the talking. Matt and Dana DeVance of Texas-based DeVance Electronic Lifestyles designed their showroom to be a spot where they could co-market with other local businesses to execute innovative events that tap into tangential customer bases. See the feature story about DeVance’s showroom to learn more about some of the innovative event marketing they did, including teaming up with a local luxury car dealership for an exclusive event to test drive vehicles. Fun!
Uniquely, Joaquin Rivera and the team at ByDesign Sound & Video Marketing are creating a 4600-square-foot Experience and Training Center in Southern California [see this issue’s “Showroom Showcase”]. To me, this is a great idea for a rep firm, especially one that caters to the design process and offers a great deal of support in this area to integration firms, interior designers, and architects. “It has been our goal to have a design and training center since the inception of ByDesign VSM. We represent high-end, boutique brands that are oftentimes as beautiful to look at as they are to use. Homeowners and our trade partners will be far more likely inclined to say yes to products when they can experience them, and that’s what this space will provide — an opportunity for integration firms, interior designers, architects, and consumers to experience tech in an environment built to showcase their use,” says Rivera.
A Video Speaks a Million Words
Want more foot traffic? Capture and produce video for your website, social media, and marketing efforts to build interest in your space.
“The high-production videos we did 100 percent got us more calls and foot traffic. Yes, we spent a significant amount of time, energy, and money on these videos, but we still get calls and comments that people have or are seeing our videos on social,” says Bochner. “Video is my favorite mode of marketing. If you can create the content, it’s the best move.”
If you’ve read my recent columns here, you know my position on video for marketing. There simply is no more valuable an asset than video.
Need help sorting out a strategy to promote your space or funding it, creatively? Drop me a line or give me a call! Email [email protected] to get the conversation started.
Focus on the Experiential
It’s been talked about ad nauseam, but it always bears repeating. People do not respond to a room full of blinking lights, digital displays, or a variety of content being blasted at them from every direction. They want to know how tech will work and what it will do, and they need to be assured it will be easy to use. Design and deliver a space that provides the overarching experience one can expect and some hands-on aspects. This makes the presentation more tangible and authentic.
Mmmm, cake. You spent hours researching the recipe, shopping for ingredients, buttering the pan, sifting the flour, separating the dry from the wet ingredients, mixing until your arm nearly falls off, and painstakingly decorating that delicious confection. So, are you just going to gobble up one piece and throw the rest away? No way. After you take a few snaps for the ’gram, you will relish a slice or five, share it with your family, take some to your bestie, eat some for breakfast with coffee, and bring anything left for your colleagues to enjoy on Monday. There’s a lot you can do with that cake.
Looking at it that way, cake is a lot like content. At KMB, we hear all too often about companies or brands that have spent gobs of time and/or money painstakingly crafting a perfect piece of content, only to blast it on social media once, park it on their website, and passively hope that people will discover it. We hate to see cake in the trash — and that’s basically what’s happening out there. So sad!
We believe there is so much more to be done with that hard-earned content. You can slice it and dice it to eek every ounce of satisfaction out of it, and all in a way that doesn’t tire your audience. For argument’s sake, let’s follow a piece of content through the gauntlet of maximization to illustrate just how clever you can get with your content repurposing. In fact, there is so much you can do with content that we will only have space to cover half — we’ll get to the second half next issue.
To start, let’s use the ever-popular case study. You write a beautiful case study about your business (or hire someone to do the same) and it’s everything you possibly could desire. It presents a solution to a common problem in a market that you are trying to tap into, complete with glowing quotes, amazing images, and erudite brand storytelling — all tied up in a bow by a talented graphic artist. So, what do you do with it? Get your knives out, it’s time to slice and dice.
Drive Traffic to Your Website
First, there’s the obvious. You need to put the case study — which should be optimized for search — on your website. If you put it as a PDF download, you won’t get all that good SEO richness that draws people to your website in the first place. PDFs can be crawled as though they are web pages by search engines. In most cases, however, they lack tags found on standard web pages — like Title Tags, Meta Descriptions, and Image Alt Attributes — that cue search engines use to index the page. What PDFs are great for is using a form to capture leads before anyone can download the content.
Contrarily, if you put it as text on your website, not only do you lose all that neat and tidy graphic design work we mentioned before, but you lost the dangling carrot of the content download.
The solution? Do both! Put the full case study as free or “ungated” content on your website, but also create a PDF download page that describes the case study and requires people who wants to read it to enter some minimal information, such as their name and email address.
Boom! You have got SEO-rich web copy and a content download that generates leads. You also have destination URLs that allow you to point to this content in your marketing.
For the most part, social media is ephemeral. Think of the way a Tweet is pushed down your feed super-fast as the day goes by. Schedule your organic social media posts for the case study over time instead of one and done! For example, you can use social media software to repeatedly schedule the same post once a day for a week (good for event marketing) or once a month for a year (good for thought leadership content). Set it and forget it to get more miles out of the content. Just remember to revisit your scheduler and feed often to see how the cadence you’ve selected feels. Some platforms (Twitter) can take frequent reposting more palatable than others (Instagram). Adjust as needed.
One thing that helps with promulgating your content via social is to mix up the images and text you use. For example, think of creative ways to link to the same case study. You can create a series of graphics using different images from the case study or even supplementary images that didn’t quite make the cut. Try creating testimonial graphics for social media using quotes from the case study. You can also do a series of posts that show the PDF front cover as a download. Link to the case study on third-party sites such as publications to show credibility.
All are fair game and keep your social feeds from looking stale while still drawing attention to your content asset. And that’s just organic! Paid social is a whole different ballgame and will get your content eyes that may not have seen it otherwise. You can use the case study as a content download offer as we mentioned before, sending new users to your site via paid social for the first time and capturing fresh leads with a form.
Do you have partners who might want to include the case study in their own marketing? Make it easy for them by including a launch kit with prewritten social posts that they can easily put up on their feeds. The more pre-baked work you can do, the better.
Email marketing is yet another way to push your case study out. Consider all the various ways you can do this. You can create a special email that links only to the case study, giving users a clean, simple, and singular call to action. If you send this to your existing database, no need to send them the PDF download link as they are already in your database, and you don’t want them to get turned off by having to fill out yet another form. Instead, send them the link to the text on your website. Include the case study in your monthly newsletter for added exposure.
If your email software is savvy enough, you should be able to resend the email to people who didn’t open it. In that case, it’s always a good idea to change up the subject line. Don’t pester your audience but hit them twice, at an appropriate interval, in case they didn’t see it. Your audience will tire quicker via email than social, so proceed with caution to avoid unsubscribes.
Consider third-party email. Some media outlets, for example, offer the ability to use their database to send out your content. They won’t just hand over their lists, of course, but instead, send out the content for you. It’s a great way to get more exposure for your content if you have extra marketing dollars.
Transform Content Into Different Formats
The case study is written, and you have a slew of images. Is there enough content here to form the basis of, say, a short case study video? Use the case study as an outline for a storyboard and supplement the video with additional interviews from the folks using your product or service. A video case study goes a long way, especially on social. Once you have a few case studies under your belt you can string them together in a broader video about a product or application. We’ve even seen some clients do entire webinars around one case study, inviting the audience to ask questions. This is another great lead-generation activity as information from folks who sign up for the webinar is inherently captured. As an added bonus, leads from webinars are highly qualified. If someone has the time and interest to take time out of their schedule to learn about your product, application, or brand in a webinar, you have someone who is already well down the road to becoming a customer. For that reason, it’s important you have a follow-up plan at the ready, as you will want to strike while the iron is hot!
Don’t forget PR! At KMB, this is our specialty. We help our clients get their message to the right places and in front of the target audience. A case study can be written in the form of a press release if you want coverage that is a bit more widespread. Of course, you can also take the more focused approach and deliver your content to specific media outlets that will delve deeper into the story — beyond what a press release can offer. Be sure you understand the outlet’s exclusivity requirements so you don’t inadvertently step on any toes.
Broadcast to Your Internal Team
Many companies are so focused on external marketing, they forget how important internal comms are. Your team members are your troops on the ground and can serve as one of your loudest megaphones if they have the right tools. For example, send a company-wide alert that said piece of content is available and instruct colleagues on how to use and share it. Don’t forget how valuable this type of content is for your sales channel, too. Share with your sales team and include specific instructions on how they might use it as a sales tool.
Like sharing with business partners, the more work you can do to make sharing easier by your employees, the better. For example, create an email signature with a graphic for the case study and tell employees how to update their signature.
So, out of just that one case study example, there’s an entire content campaign that includes the story itself optimized to attract people via SEO, lead-generating activities, social media posts galore, email blasts, newsletters, internal comms, video, webinars, and public relations.
I could go on, but suffice it to say that getting the most ROI out of your content marketing strategy requires a bit of planning and a focused work effort but is well worth the returns of increased engagement with your brand, actionable leads, loyalty, authority, internal company storytelling, sales, and beyond!
Feeling overwhelmed by this or need help getting your content strategy off-center? Give me a call at 406-446-1283 or email me [email protected]. I’m here to help!
From strategy to upload, here are our top tips for video production.
In my last column, I talked about the general need to embrace marketing through video and the various types of videos that can help you realize your marketing goals. Now that you have a general sense of the types of videos out there and how they can move the needle in different ways, it’s time to start thinking about the execution part of the video equation. In other words, how do you get it done?
Start With Strategy
It might sound simple, but it starts with having a strategy. Making content without a strategy is pointless and a waste of everyone’s time and energy. A strategy can help you get your video production organized so you can execute with fewer unknowns and headaches.
Choose an Audience: You need to choose your audience first. Who are they and where do they spend time? If you haven’t already done the marketing exercise of creating personas around your brand, now is a good time to do that!
Connect with Your Video Team: After you determine your audience, it’s time to connect with your team to align on a plan, objectives, and goals. Do you want to create buzz? Sell something? Educate? Take a look at last month’s column for guidance.
Determine Timeline/Budget: Next, figure out your timeline and budget. Video projects scream out for project management; otherwise, they can get super-expensive and time-consuming. Think about everything you’ll need, such as thumbnails, intro and outro graphics, lower thirds, scripts, talent, and props. There’s more, but this is a good start.
Don’t Forget About SEO: YouTube SEO is becoming just as important as Google SEO, so make sure your video is getting seen by planning for copy and keywords that play to YouTube search results. This could be an entire column in itself, and someday I’ll get to that, but there are best practices out there you can easily find with a Google search.
Rough In Messaging: Next, it’s time to come up with a loose storyboard for your video. Develop the messages you want to convey and refine them. This will come in handy later when it’s time to write the script.
Set Metrics Goals: Finally, figure out the key performance indicators you will use to determine if the video is successful. What are your metrics? Views? Social Sharing? Clickthrough rate? Answering questions like these will put your strategy firmly into view.
Lights, Camera, Action!
Now that you have a plan, it’s time to get moving. The process usually goes something like this:
Create a Script: The first step is to create a script from those messaging points we mentioned earlier. Without a script, you’ll find yourself re-shooting, spending way too much time on editing, and the shoot will take longer and be more expensive. Even if it’s a loose script that seems unscripted, it’s important to have an outline of what you want to talk about and how.
Set Up Your Video Studio: Once you have the script, it’s time to consider the equipment you’ll need for your ongoing video production needs. You’ll probably need a quality tripod, camera, lights, mics, and other audio capture gear. At KMB, we travel all over the place shooting videos for clients, so our kit is, shall we say, extensive. Be careful when you take your equipment on the road, too, because theft happens, especially at events during setup and tear-down.
Prep Your Talent: Once you have your studio setup complete, you’ll need to start preparing those who will be featured in the video. While the pandemic certainly helped people get more comfortable being onscreen and recorded, a lens, bright fill lights, and that little red light often invokes fear in many, still to this day. Practice together and ask that they practice on their own. A lot of your time during video production will be spent ensuring those onscreen are comfortable, relaxed, and, most importantly, speaking to the key messaging points or following the script.
Shoot the Video: There might be a bit of a learning curve for the inexperienced videographer. You’ll want to start experimenting with establishing shots, close-ups, medium shots, and other techniques as time goes on so that your videos are more dynamic than a standard talking head where the camera is static the entire time. Of course, that will require some post-production work to make all these shots work together.
Edit Your Video: Editing is a large portion of the video-production pie and can take longer than the shoot itself! At this time, you’ll layer in music, voice-over, and any other audio you want to include, as well as sew together the best shots from the raw footage. Once the video is final, of course, you’ll want to upload it to the appropriate platform and start marketing it!
Scared yet? Don’t let any of this overwhelm you. It’s a learning process that can be a lot of fun. Of course, there are resources out there (like my firm KMB Communications) who specialize in this line of work and can take the lead or help guide you. You’ll need a budget for this — which I’ve covered in past articles.
Stay tuned for next month’s column where I’ll cover various ways you can slice and dice your content to get more mileage from it. In the meantime, give me a shout if you’d like to learn more about video production options available at [email protected].
Here’s a short guide to help you implement video marketing this year.
In the custom install biz, we typically all share a love of video. Only it’s usually 4K video projected onto a huge UHD screen in a built environment with immersive surround sound, killer acoustics, and super-cushy seating. YouTube and Vimeo? Not so much. However, the time has come for brands and businesses to embrace video from a marketing perspective.
Creating video as part of your marketing strategy takes a lot of time, energy, scripting, shooting, editing, optimizing, uploading, and so forth. Sometimes, the life cycle of a video is short — the ephemeral nature of a tradeshow booth video, for example — making it hard for the small business owner to see the benefit of investing in video.
However, video is how most people on the internet prefer to consume content. In fact, YouTube is now the second-most-popular social media platform behind Facebook, with 2.52 billion active users. Instagram, with 1.39 billion active users, is making more and more video-forward adjustments to its platform, and then, of course, you have TikTok, which personally, I’m not a fan of for brands in our channel unless budgets are such that this can be added and not taken from another platform’s allocated budget. YouTube Shorts are coming in H-O-T, and their connection to Google from an SEO perspective cannot be ignored. You’ve heard me say this before: “Feed the beast,” which is to suggest that using all the tools a platform like Google offers will increase your results.
So, “to video or not to video” is not the question. Because there is no question that video should be part of your marketing plan. The question now is how to produce these videos. This month, we’ll talk about getting started with the types of videos and the various phases of the customer’s so-called “journey” with your brand. Next month, we’ll dig into how to get it done.
Videos That Attract Customers
You’ve heard the analogy before, to get new customers, you have to put some hooks in the water and the more hooks you put in the water, the more nibbles you are going to get. The more nibbles you get, the more likely you are to land more (and more) fish. A good way to start getting nibbles is with SEO, SEM or Google Ads, and Retargeting Ads. These ads are the hooks that will get folks to land on your website. Once they are there, let them know — succinctly — who you are, what you do, and how you can help them instantaneously.
Some brands do this with a video that plays automatically as soon as you land on the home page (be careful with sound here, as you don’t want to annoy your visitors, either). Your website is the spot for videos like an intro to your company or service, a how-to, or a testimonial. These intro-type videos should only be visually appealing, entertaining, and limited to one to no more than two minutes long. Videos should be produced in a square format for use on Instagram and Facebook.
Heads up: Social media platforms, which include YouTube and Vimeo, frequently change sizing parameters so it’s always best to check each platform’s sizing guidelines before uploading your videos. Once you publish a video to YouTube you cannot replace it without losing all the analytics that go along with that content. OUCH! Ask me about some painful and expensive lessons clients have learned by not heeding this warning.
Videos That Engage Customers
Once you’ve attracted the customers to your website and they’ve learned a little bit about your brand, now is your opportunity to engage them more deeply and get them into a sales funnel. This is where social media comes into play in a more robust way. With your intro videos on your website, social media presents the opportunity to do a bit more selling, without being to sales-y. At KMB, we always recommend approaching each video, no matter how hard the sell, with a healthy dose of authenticity. Engaging videos include things like webinars that give your customers further info while allowing you to be the authority on a particular topic. Q&A videos allow the audience to engage with you directly or watch later (make sure live Q&A sessions are archived!). Tutorials/how-tos/behind-the-scenes, and unboxing videos are also extremely popular and helpful, offering the customer a learning opportunity, something far beyond a pitch. You can even experiment with user-generated content, such as a new homeowner showing off his motorized shades or new high-end soundbar.
User-generated content is usually easy to find if you have an active social media following. Make a request that people tag you on social when they post a video (or photo), and you’ll be able to reshare this content or ask the user privately via DM for the raw file, which you can then add your own branding to, edit for length, and so on, depending on permission from the user.
Finally, consider video content that is simply part of great customer relations, such as a thank you video, a funny holiday greeting, a new customer welcome email, a walk-through of a project, a new brand introduction video, providing a quick “hack,” or fun way to use a product — things like that.
Of course, once you have converted someone into a customer, you must continue to please them or you run the risk of either losing them to another provider or them forgetting you exist. Stay in it to win it!
Stay tuned for next month’s column, where we will cover what it takes to properly plan and produce video. KMB has a lot of experience in this regard, having shot videos for clients for years. Give us a shout if you’d like to learn more at [email protected].
Access Networks experts provide network design and installation training at select Snap One partner stores, virtual sales webinars, and in-person ACE Certification for integrators.
LOS ANGELES, CA (February 15, 2023) – Dedicated to providing systems integrators with the expert-level design and installation services and support they need to deploy reliable, stable, high-performance enterprise-grade networks, Access Networks, a Snap One brand, will host a series of informative, practical training sessions starting late February and going through March 2023. Through a combination of in-person training at select Snap One Partner Stores, 30-minute sales webinars, and Access Networks’ popular in-person ACE Sales Training and Certification, technology integrators have several ways to expand their networking knowledge, boost sales, and advance their design, configuration, and installation skills.
Consumer demand for better, faster, more reliable enterprise-grade networks is at an all-time high, requiring integrators to fine-tune their networking businesses through better customer engagement, installation, service, and support. Now is the time for systems integrators to shift their business offerings and build more successful, profitable networking businesses with the help of Access Networks’ team of expert instructors.
“Home networking continues to evolve quickly, making it difficult for integrators to stay abreast of the changes that ultimately impact their businesses. Our mission at Access Networks has always been to provide our Partners with the type of guidance, expertise, and services to help them stay on top of the trends, enhance their networking offerings, and refine their networking design and installation skills,” says Jon Peckman, director of sales at Access Networks. “We made sure our new series of training programs demonstrate to integrators the importance of aligning with a networking provider, like Access Networks, that delivers the level of service and support they need to succeed.”
In-Person Training at Snap One Partner Stores At select Snap One Partner Stores Access Networks will enlighten attendees about current and evolving access point technologies, best practices for deploying robust, reliable networks, and tips on how to effectively market and sell enterprise-grade networking solutions. Also discussed will be the key features and benefits of Access Networks’ award-winning ARCC (Advanced Resilient Cloud Controller) platform and its custom Core System option processes. Also covered will be Access Networks’ Basic Configuration Services, a new program providing integrators with industry-leading in-the-field support and service to help streamline the deployment of small- to medium-size networks. This two-hour in-person course will be presented by Andrew Ward, Access Networks business development manager, at the following Snap One Partner Stores:
Virtual Training Webinars For integrators interested in gaining a high-level view of the vast array of Access Networks solutions to better specify systems to customers, Access Networks will present 30-minute training webinars twice a week for five weeks. These virtual training courses will cover the following topics:
Topic 1: How & Why to Sell Enterprise-Grade Networks
Topic 2: Access Networks Access Point Technology
Topic 3: Benefits of ARCC Cloud-Based Controller
Topic 4: Basic Configuration Services
Topic 5: Core Systems
To save these topics to your calendar, please visit the virtual training site HERE.
ACE Certification Training Lastly, and back by popular demand, is Access Networks’ ACE Training and Certification Program with a new focus on network sales and design. This series guides integrators through proper sales, specification, installation, and troubleshooting techniques of Access Networks products. Integrators who complete this training earn ACE Sales & Design Certification, which signifies they have the skills and technical knowledge to confidently deploy Access Networks enterprise-grade networking systems. ACE Training will be held at the following locations:
Fort Lauderdale, March 14th
Bellevue, WA, March 30th
To register for ACE certification training go HERE.
About Access Networks Access Networks, a Snap One brand, is a trusted provider of enterprise-grade networking solutions for the residential and commercial technology integration markets. Access Networks’ mission is to deliver premier networking solutions that lead to exceptional client experiences while maintaining the highest level of professionalism, integrity, and innovation. This commitment to excellence is leveraged by Access Networks’ superior IT support. From initial design to final configuration, Access Networks’ team of networking specialists is on-hand to help integrators deploy projects with confidence. A clear, well-defined focus on managed services and support, combined with an ever-evolving portfolio of best-in-class networking solutions, positions Access Networks as a leader in the networking industry—enhancing home and business environments through reliable, stable, and secure digital connections to what matters most.To learn more, visit Access Networks online at www.accessnetworks.com and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.