Why AV Dealers Suck at Marketing — and How You Can Get Better

Have you ever wondered (or maybe been frustrated edit-shakinghands-0410about) why your company’s marketing efforts are banal, boring and, well, just plain bad?
In fact, in the AV world, sales is way, way better at generating leads than marketing, right?

Why is this the case?

I’ll tell you why!  We’re an industry run by old dudes!
Yep, that’s right, we, as an industry, look a lot like the average politician out there. In fact, statistically, we are over 90 percent males who’ve been in the market for more than 15 years AND, to top that off, our average age is well over 45!

We’re simply not “hip” to the exponential changes occurring in life, in marketing and in connecting to people. In fact, ask the average marketing exec inside a commercial AV dealership about networking techniques for building relationships and they’ll tell you about how cool their last business leader luncheon was or how well the ads do in the local business journal.


The commercial AV market is lagging way behind the average business when it comes to leveraging social media in marketing. Ironically, we are a technology-based industry, but we’re not known for our technological innovative marketing. In fact, most print ads we see in our trade publications are horrifically BORING and no one would dare submit them for an advertising award.

Sure, many of you reading this have added a Facebook logo on your webpage or maybe have even started a Facebook Fan Page, but come on, that’s not innovation!

OK, let’s do a re-set and get on the same page.  Do you agree that most of us have built our businesses from the ground up via a relationship sales and marketing model? We’ve all read books, articles and columns that talk about how to build and maintain sales by building relationships with our customers and clients.

Although we may have, over the years, pitched it in all sorts of ways, the message has always been clear: build relationships with your potential clients so that they see you as “friends” as they would prefer to (and may even feel obligated to) buy from “friends” rather than from people they consider “vendors.”  Right?

And, with that in mind, we conduct sales meetings, direct our account executives and even build our sales plans around the relationships we have with our clients.  Heck, we even invite our best clients (now our friends) to our end of year holiday parties, weddings and birthday celebrations – this is the relationship we strive to attain. Agree?

Well, think of Social Media marketing as the new relationship.  Have you noticed how your kids communicate? It’s VERY, VERY different than the way we do.  We older folks try for the “let’s go to lunch” or the “let’s play a round of golf” approach to building personal relationships.  But, we can’t always do that.  Sometimes, the best we can muster is a regularly timed phone call – just to check in or a friendly email to say hello.  Surely, you agree that although personal, one-on-one contact is preferred to build and maintain a relationship, some sort of contact is always better than nothing?

But have you noticed how our kids don’t do anything like this with their friends?  Sure, “hanging out” is still the mantra of our teens and even 20-somethings, but check it out for yourself – our kids don’t use cell phones to call each other. Look at their phone bills!  They text.  They Facebook chat. When they actually do make a cell phone call, they actually don’t leave a message on voicemail (something they look at as very 1990s-ish).  In fact, if they call someone who doesn’t answer, they actually hang up and then immediately TEXT their friend.  They see that as more personal (and immediate) than even voicemail. Most of you reading this would see this as impersonal – but that’s because you’re old.

You need some Generation-Y’ers.  Seriously!  Do you even know what Generation-Y is? Well, in case you don’t, it’s the generation of20-somethings out there who will literally outnumber the Baby Boomers by April 2010.  Generation Y was raised on the Internet, can pick up and actually play any videogame they try in a matter of minutes, Tweet all the time about stuff you’d think is mundane (but, ironically, has hundreds of random followers who are interested) and hasn’t watched a television commercial in years!

These 20-somethings can and will re-engineer (using a term you oldies out there will understand) your marketing efforts so that they are truly leveraging the new social media marketing tools.

Or, just keep sucking at marketing…

Reprinted with permission from Sound & Communications. Founded in 1955, Sound & Communications is the premiere magazine for AV systems integrators, contractors and consultants. To subscribe or read sample articles, go to http://www.soundandcommunications.com