Spotlight : Marla Suttenberg, Owner, Sapphire Marketing LLC

In my biweekly blog series, I am highlighting some of the incredible people who work for the Audio Video Industry. In this post, we are profiling Marla Suttenberg. Here is her brief introduction.


Marla Suttenberg is the Owner of Sapphire Marketing LLC, a manufacturer’s representative organisation located in Greater New York City, US.

1. Describe your journey in the AV industry? How did it start?

After graduating college and deciding whether or not to go to graduate school, I agreed to help a family friend at a local NYC ‘A/V’ show, handing out brochures (I won’t divulge the year, or the technology that I was representing, because half of your readership probably wasn’t even born yet). At that show, I ended up meeting a manufacturer from the midwest looking to open a sales office in NYC. I was intrigued by the market, accepted a job as the Inside sales coordinator, and the rest is history!

2. What do you think are the challenges that are facing a new person who wants to join the industry? 

With so many products that go on the network now, new (i.e., younger) hires are much more prepared and knowledgeable to navigate the technologies. However, so much of what we do is specialized, custom and not really mainstream. Luckily, colleges and universities that used to only offer what was once referred to as a computer science major, have now branched out and are offering many more practical majors, including e-gaming!

With the proliferation of new workspace environments, I think it’s easier for newcomers to understand and get acclimated to what our industry is all about. Most of us who have been in the industry for a while, have never had prior experience working in a “C” suite boardroom.

Also, after all of these years, I often still struggle trying to explain what I do for a living! 

3. What are the positives of working in this industry?

Lots of progressive manufacturers, interesting applications and interesting and clever people. We all share a strong passion for what we do. Above all, opportunity and promise. This is the greatest industry in the world. Everyone wants and needs us.

[RELATED] : If you have missed any of my previous interviews, please click here.

4. What in your opinion would you change in the industry? What are the negatives that are prevalent?

For newcomers, it’s a challenge to break in/learn because it’s not a mainstream industry.   

There’s so much emphasis on ‘low-bid’ vs. ‘most qualified’ project awards – that end up costing more to ‘fix’. We need to learn how to promote value, and not just price.

Social media has opened the door to “influencers” who’s opinion might not be as informed and/or technically sound or correct but get traction because of their followers. This could lead to poor technology decisions.


5. Describe your ideal client? What do you wish clients to know before hiring you? 

An ideal client appreciates the value of relationships with progressive manufacturers, and the partnership with their chosen integrator. And they understand ‘you get what you pay for,’ and realize that low-bid usually doesn’t necessarily equate to ‘high-quality’. And again, value is very important.

We’ve been calling on many of the dealers, consultants and end-users in the market for years, so since we don’t have a single-transactional relationship, we create long-lasting and symbiotic/consultative relationships.

They should be willing to step out of their comfort zone and consider newer, better solutions. Also, they should be able to work transparently with us — tell us what they need, what doesn’t work for them, what it takes to close a deal and give us valuable feedback on why we won a project or why we lost a project.

6. If you were going to start over, what would you do differently? 

I would start my own business sooner!

7. Describe a typical work day for you. What are your daily disciplines?

5:30 am — wake up and check Salesforce, because that shows me my daily opportunities and directions. Then, check emails, social media and return early emails from my as equally crazy employees and customers.

6:30am — work out, eat a healthy breakfast

7:30-8:00am — check Salesforce and emails again

8:00am — visit customers 3-4 days/week, and spend quality office time other days.

8. Describe the apps and gear that you use daily which makes you more productive? 

Salesforce; LinkedIn; my computer, iPhone and iPad

9. How do you stay relevant in this industry? 

We work hard, and play hard. We represent the best-in-class manufacturers. I hire the best-in-class employees.  We never stop learning – asking questions, taking classes, sponsoring seminars and traveling Sapphire Roadshows.


To know more about her or her business, please connect with her on Linkedin.

Also please drop your questions in the comments below and I will make sure that she sees them.


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