One sign that pro AV is becoming mainstream can be found on page one of the Sept. 21, 2005, edition of The Wall Street Journal.
One sign that pro AV is becoming mainstream can be found on page one of the Sept. 21, 2005, edition of The Wall Street Journal. The article discusses the shift in advertising from network television to in-store digital signage networks. The good news is the unprecedented exposure and promotion of a key (although nascent) pro AV application. The bad news is there's no mention that even remotely ties this application to pro AV.
Two of our industry's trade groups have launched major initiatives to increase the visibility of the pro AV systems integrator in the eyes of AV end-users and influencers. These initiatives come at a critical time when many AV customers continue to confuse AV with IT or home entertainment. For example, the International Communications Industries Association's (ICIA) AVolution initiative includes testimonial ads in a variety of key vertical markets that have reached more than 2 million customers.
The National Systems Contractors Association's (NSCA) efforts have focused on channels and influencers such as architects, engineers, and others in the design and construction industries. The organization's strong involvement with changes in the construction industry's MasterFormat document will also play a role in increasing pro AV industry exposure within the affiliated trades.
These efforts will help, but they're not enough. In the face of increasing competition from other industries attempting to align with some bread-and-butter pro AV applications (such as consumer electronics, retail, IT, and office supply chains), it's time for pro AV systems integrators to speak up and claim the business.
Here's how you can increase your company's exposure to potential customers:
- First, make marketing a priority. Pro AV integrators often focus more on the technical side of their operations, rather than finding the business. Depending on the size of your company, this may require a full-time person.
- Identify niche target(s), and aim your promotions accordingly. AV decision-makers typically belong to their own trade groups, which often have meetings with exhibition opportunities or publications where you can place small, inexpensive ads.
- Build a PR database of successful projects. Word of mouth is key in our industry, and if people are willing to say nice things about your work, it's worth a fortune in publicity.
- Find out if your area has a local business journal. Key business decision makers always read these publications.
Ultimately, it's not just a matter of exposing your business, but also explaining what you do. Face it; if The Wall Street Journal still doesn't get it, we all have some work to do.