Wednesday, September 10, 2008

SpeakerCraft at CEDIA: No Product, But All Show!

What is up with all the controversy surrounding the SpeakerCraft booth at CEDIA? As mentioned in a previous post, the company opted not to feature any products in its booth, focusing instead on helping its dealers remain profitable in a weak economy through some "unconventional" means. This included entertaining them with scantily-clad dancers performing just down-right weird performances that looked like a combination of Cirque de Soleil with Michael Jackson's Thriller video from the '80s. Naturally, many have complained that the move was unprofessional, and a waste of dealer's time and booth space. So why did the company do it?

There are actually some very valid reasons behind it, believe it or not. Rather than focus on product, the company opted to hand out materials and play looped video that offered tips on remaining profitable during these trying times. The booth design also emphasized the importance of environmental consciousness, utilizing recycled materials throughout to create an eye-catching design.

Some feel the booth was insulting to other companies that took the time and effort to set up products and demonstrate them. Others felt it was all a show with no substance. Oh yah, did I mention the booth had seats and free beer? Frankly, I think it was a breath of fresh air. Here's a company that's not afraid to take risks, to be different, and to bring a little bit of fun back into the industry. Granted, as one colleague pointed out to me, people don't pay their staff to go to a trade show to sit in a booth all day long, drink, and watch dancing girls. I don't even need to spell out an obvious analogy to that situation. But I really didn't see any of that perceived sluggish, slacking off attitude at all. In fact, what I did see was a massive group of guys, tired and exhausted from walking the show floor and going through classes, with a smile on their face as they took 10-15 min. to watch the show or chat with friends in the SpeakerCraft "area" (I say area because it was just that when you consider the masses of people that spilled over to the perimeters of the actual booth).

The bottom line is that, if I were a dealer, that booth probably would not have made me pick up the SpeakerCraft line or tout the merits of the company's products to anyone. But if I already sold it, I'd probably be thinking back in the shop "man, those guys are pretty cool." A big part of this industry relies on immeasurable variables like psychology and brand awareness. And sometimes companies forget that it's not just the customer that needs to be aware of your brand, it's also the guys that are selling it.

If you're clueless as to what all this SpeakerCraft booth talk is about, or just want a second (or third, or fourth) look at the daily performance there, check out our video footage, complete with an exclusive interview with SpeakerCraft's V.P. of International Sales, Linda van Zanten. She sheds some light on some of the method behind the booth madness!

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