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Field of Dreams Marketing in High Performance Audio

Steven Stone looks at why passive marketing at audio shows does not work…

At the most recent Rocky Mountain Audio Fest some rooms were so full of people that it was difficult to get inside while others were so bereft of customers that they were funereal. And why were some rooms at maximum rock and roll while others were being issued their final rights? Marketing.

AR-field1.jpgLets be honest, the differences between the current “hot” products and the also-rans is more often than not about visibility and exposure, not radically better audio quality. But some companies, especially smaller operations, seem to believe that all they need to do for success is show up with a “better” product and, just as in Field of Dreams, if they build it, “they will come.”

I vaguely remember the details of the Movie Field of Dreams, but like everyone else I remember the line, “If you build it they will come.” Because of the movie’s popularity, somehow it became “common knowledge” that if you build a better product the public will embrace it. But, in our modern world, that doesn’t work (and barely worked in the movie). Building a better product isn’t enough for it to be a success – the public (and reviewers) need to be aware that the product exists.

Given the number of exhibitors at RMAF I should have had my email in-box deluged by press releases and invitations from exhibitors in the last weeks before RMAF, but that was not the case. I did receive some notices, and those I did receive were duly noted and included in my pre-show planning, but compared with the total number of exhibitors I’d estimate that it wasn’t any greater than one in seven or eight. That is pretty low. The exhibitors at CANJAM weren’t much better at promotion, but they had the help of the Head-Fi site, which had a 1/2 hour video previewing “the stuff you need to see” at CANJAM.

AR-trade4.pngSome manufacturers, including ModWright and Vinnie Rossi’s LIO, used their presence on the AudioCircle to promote their new offerings at RMAF, which gave many show0goers a head’s up as to what to expect in their rooms – I wish more manufacturers did this. The other thing I wish exhibitors would do as a matter of course is put together a list of the gear in their exhibit rooms. It doesn’t have to be on a piece of paper – a link to a website page would be fine, too. But somewhere there should be a list of gear with prices both for “civilians” and the working press. FYI – if you want to vastly increase the odds of a room getting press coverage you need to have a list. If I have to choose between writing up an exhibitor who supplies me with a list and one who tells me, “I’ll email it to you by mid-week” I choose the one with a list in hand.

Finally, manufacturers should use the time after a show to thank and remind everyone through their email list and on their web page of what a great show they had and what they featured during the show – after all the manufacturers paid for the show expenses, they might as well get maximum benefit from the outlay of time and money that went into putting on a show!

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