Part 1: A Simple Expectation of InfoComm 2021

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We’re fewer than 100 days from InfoComm 2021 week — the first InfoComm since 2019 and the first time two InfoComm shows will be in the same town two times in a row in over 20 years. I don’t think we need to review how and why we came to where we are with this year’s event being in late October in Orlando, Florida but, it’s worth noting how this year’s show will — more than any show in the history of our industry — steer the next two years of our businesses. With that in mind, and a lot of still-unknowns due to the brutally obvious, I have decided to publish a series of recommendations to help us all get the most of our InfoComm 2021 experience — and these will serve both the exhibitors (manufacturers) and the integrators as well as systems designers and distributors, too!

Like it or not, InfoComm 2021 will not be filled with end users. To many manufacturers and exhibitors — and even some attendees — this is good news. Having end users perusing the show floor has been a contentious issue for years; even when I was on the InfoComm Board nearly 20 years ago, it was talked about in nearly every meeting. Some companies don’t like it for simple reasons: the inability to have open and frank discussions about pricing and discounts. But others simply don’t sell to or market to end users; they see InfoComm as an industry-insider show and want to keep it that way.

For me, I am on the side of letting anyone and everyone on to the show floor, as we need to embrace all the potential newcomers to our market so it can expand. For example, I was a huge fan of the now-defunct TIDE program that AVIXA (the association that runs InfoComm) held; I saw it as a giant bridge to the creators and the technology that allows for creation — something no AV show has even been able to do. And, I personally believe its life was cut too short. I think it’s the sort of event that would have driven the ad agencies to attend InfoComm and, as you may or may not know, experiential marketing is the fastest-growing segment of advertising and it’s filled with AV tech. Yet, none of it is served up by AV integrators. It’s served by the manufacturers working directly with ad agencies or the creatives themselves. I’ve worked with countless ad agencies over the past three years on experimental projects and they all have a weirdly unique way to get tech; none of it is through the traditional channels. More see tech as the afterthought. I make a lot of money recommending the afterthought to them. We can do better as an industry.

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Back to InfoComm 2021. With the first-ever fall-based InfoComm being an AV-insider show, this is the opportunity of a lifetime for us to come together as one cohesive industry and help drive our market forward with an all-new agenda. We need to stop being about so-called “feeds and speeds” (and standards) and coordinate — collectively — a campaign to market ourselves outside of ourselves. Too much money and time is being spent marketing to ourselves — let’s push our messaging outside of AV. I have an idea here, but more on that later. I will TRY to get AVIXA to buy off on it first. If that doesn’t work, I know Samsung, Sony, Epson, Legrand and a handful of other manufacturers will work with me to push this idea forward. But, I see AVIXA as the logical platform! Why?

Well, InfoComm rebranded to AVIXA back in 2017 and, although nearly no one can remember what A-V-I-X-A stands for (Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association, by the way), it integrates a nearly perfect word — EXPERIENCE — to describe where we need to move. This industry isn’t about tech; it’s about creating immersion. It’s about creating something memorable. And, as I teach my advertising students at the University of North Carolina, if you can write, create and deliver something that’s recognizable, simple and memorable, you’ll win awards for creative. And you’ll eventually become a creative director.

So, my first piece of advice? Well, when thinking about InfoComm 2021, move toward the simple. This is not the year to overcomplicate your presence and your place in our market. This is the year to be recognizable. InfoComm 2021 is perfectly timed to do this.

This is the first in a series of InfoComm 2021 posts that I’ll write in an attempt to not only help integrators find what they may not know they’re looking for at InfoComm 2021 but, to asset exhibitors in targeting reality at the show.