Garnering Home-theater Business
Feb 17, 2009 10:22 AM, By Rebecca Day
Building relationships is the new motto among custom electronics integrators as traditional sources of revenue have dried up during the economic crisis. Plummeting new housing starts and the drop off in consumer spending have installation companies exploring new opportunities and taking a back to basics approach to business.
Bill Anderson, president of Genesis Audio & Video in Irvine, Calif., has garnered a profile in the local design community, but now that strategy has taken on a different level of urgency. "We've maintained relationships through my networking in AIA [American Institute of Architects] and ASID [American Society of Interior Designers], with various magazines that excel in the marketplace, and with other businesses that are different from mine," he says, citing open houses and charity functions where networking occurs. "A local jeweler is having a Valentine's Day function, and I wouldn't miss it for the world because I'll have a client or two there, and I'll recognize a designer or two along with a magazine editor. They'll be talking to someone that I'll get to talk to. These are the kinds of things we always should have gone to, and now I don't miss them."
At Absolute Sound in Winter Park, Fla., president Charles O'Meara has shifted from advertising-based promotion to a marketing strategy. The company has teamed up with a local interior design firm whose hybrid custom/retail sales approach meshes with that of Absolute Sound. O'Meara has provided a number of flatpanel displays for various vignettes in the design store and plans a Blu-ray montage that will run on the displays, detailing the one-stop shop benefits of the dream team of retail. The companies plan to pool resources for local co-op advertising, and future plans call for Absolute Sound to add home decor items to its showroom.
O'Meara has also begun offering his showroom to local organizations for after-hours events, hoping to become the go-to place for hot events around town. That included a Super Bowl party, which O'Meara hosted gratis with the hopes that attendeespotential customers he might not have otherwise reachedwill come away with a positive impression of custom electronics and Absolute Sound as a business. The store contacted Universal Remote Control for keychain remote controls for the event and LG tossed in foam footballs. "Everyone left with a door prize," O'Meara says.
The company approached a local magazine to hold its annual best of party at the store a few months back. "We had all the builders and the interior designers ... 80 people were here," O'Meara says. "We had a disc burned so that everywhere you looked you saw a dissolve from one beautiful home to another. They provided wonderful food and drink, had their rewards, and a wonderful time was had by all." The party paid dividends that night for Absolute Sound. A builder that O'Meara had wanted to have an audience with was on the magazine's guest list. "They came to the party so we had a chance in an informal setting to have a one-on-one with them," O'Meara says.
Do events like these create business? "Absolutely," O'Meara says. "Can you see direct results? Possibly." He sees this kind of targeted marketing as much more effective than broadbased advertising promoting the store and home theater. "It also lets people who care about the community know that we do also. When you support a group or charity that they're involved in, they appreciate that."
Next on tap? Race parties with Ferrari and Porsche and an American Idol finale party. The Super Bowl halftime was the genesis of that brainstorm. "When Springsteen came on at halftime, all those theaters were rockin'," O'Meara says. Did he make future customers? Possibly, but at the least he got them excited about home entertainment. "They'll walk out of here and say, 'Wow, what a cool place,'" he says. "When you do parties like this you get to show off all the technology and have fun. That's how we're trying to bring in business."
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