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KIH #56 – Help us help you

  • M-unique? Another Munich show, here are common observations again which next year might help certain exhibitors. In no particular sequence, here goes:

    1/ missing wo/man syndrome. This is in effect when a room with no inside or outside provisions for a sit-down has one or two exhibitors looked inside. Visitors with questions need to either be crass rudniks and talk right above folks who listen to music (unless the room is empty at the time); or somehow compel one of the exhibitors to step outside. Actually, there’s no need for two inside space-manners. Whoever is the iPad DJ has full control over the music and basic people interactions. The one with all the answers to all the questions should stand outside and be clearly identified as being with the company. A show badge alone can be invisible if said person is already engaged in a chat.

    “Howdy, sorry, could you turn around so I can see your badge and figure out whether you’re the guy/gal I need to talk to?” That relies on people having the requisite stones to ask. Others could give up and just walk on by. A T-shirt with the company name boldly across back and front is an easy remedy. Or a small table with two chairs clearly identified as belonging to the same exhibit. Three company folks per room seems to be a sane minimum to cover most eventualities. Anything less becomes stressful and misses opportunities.

    2/ if you’re new and must make a quick impression to cut through glazed-eye stupor from sensory overload which happens to everyone no matter how veteran, remember the elevator pitch. You’ve got maximally three minutes to make your point. This pitch should be scripted, tweaked, honed and perfected long before show time so that when you need to deliver it, all of the basic talking points have become second nature. Now you can deliver them in a semi-improv manner and dazzle the barbarian hordes. Alas, this tends to not be for the nerdy engineering types. They can cater to matching inquiries if further depth is required than the people-person marketing director is capable of.

    The message must always be about your USP aka the unique selling proposition. Why should I (as the consumer-by-proxy press or an actual end user) give of my very limited time to you and your spiel? You must hook me right away. In the endless glut of near-sameness, that’s bloody hard to do. So, define and refine your message and practice it until it requires zero thinking on your part. Giving anyone 10 minutes only to still be confused about their USP is a waste of time for all parties involved!

    3/ assuming that you want photographic press coverage, you should assume that not everyone is a competent picture snapper with a tripod and massive ceiling flash. If your room is too dark; unequally lit or lit in garish colours; with a very bright window somewhere that messes up auto exposure settings… you can pretty much take it the bank that a large percentage of photos taken will be unusable despite their takers’ best intentions.

    The smart money opts for a neutral well-lit presentation that allows even the most basic of drive-by iPhone shooters to take home perfect pix. Aren’t those what you hope to see in sundry show reports and blogs? So cut out the crappy nightclub vibe already and crank up die Lichter, ja?

    4/ punters love full-colour printed brochures. Those become totemic items of focused desire which can incite obsession to lead to actual sales. Press members hate them for their weight and size. Micro USB sticks or memory cards are the antidotes which easily contain 300dpi pix, press releases, the full display breakdown by brand, model, specs and price – in short, the works.

    5/ swag is hip with the punters but with the press, you can pretty much assume that they know who you are without an engraved pen to remind them. That’s an unnecessary expense on your part.

    6/ dissing competitors whilst making your pitch is very bad form. It’s never a good idea so just don’t go there, ever!

    7/ if you room-share to save costs, make sure that every participant ends up in the show listing, catalogue, on the outside signage and on the inside posters. It’s grievously unfair to take someone’s money and then render them invisible to the hoped-for audience. Loudspeakers and high-mass turntables are easy attention grabbers, cables, racks and certain gear not so much. Just so, if your room partners make any of that stuff, they deserve equal visibility and play. This also means verbal pitches if those are part of your presentation. Imagine being a showgoer wanting to see a particular brand but not being able to find them on any listing. It’s infuriating for them and you. What a waste of time and energy!

    8/ as an addendum to 7, it’s imperative to show up on time on setup day to not leave the rest of the crew hanging and stressing. Little is less professional than showing up at 19:00 hours one day before the doors open to force everyone else to set up and dial in throughout the night. That’s a really bad way to get started! If for some reason you can’t attend, communicate instantly and get involved in whatever is necessary to rectify potential fall-out. 2018 had a horrible incident of one room sharer neither showing up nor bringing their gear to leave their colleagues in a lurch. That’s just criminal.

    9/ factor on a brash Uncle Murphy visit including shipping mishaps. Things can get lost or hung up in customs limbo. Having to frantically ring your EU dealer network to overnight whatever hardware inventory you have to replace in the last minute is stressful in any event but less so if you’ve accounted for it with a ‘plan B’. If you don’t yet have a fall-back dealer network, put your own factory in standby with everything ready to go in case it’s needed.

    10/ the same goes for replacement parts like tweeters and the necessary tools to install them. Why risk shutting down your exhibit for the duration just because a part went bad? That’s just stupid.

    11/ if you’re reasonably well-known already, seriously consider a passive display. Rather than play endless DJ whilst opening yourself up to attendees and forum posters complaining about less-than-perfect sound from a temporary installation in a sonically compromised environment, passive displays weed all of it out. They focus down on doing actual business, be it order taking, organizing reviews or just explaining tech and approach in far more detail than any dog-n-pony room demo ever could. It’s cheaper, less stressful and far more effective. And yes, it doesn’t really work if you’re brand new and nobody has ever heard your wares before; or not with sufficient exposure yet to have become somewhat of a known quantity.

    12/ prep your show success with a pre-event news blitz to generate excitement and let us in the press know where you’ll be and what you’ll have. The same goes for prospective distributors and desired key dealers.

    13/ in case we still missed you, follow up with a post-show blitz to recapitulate your news. Also, provide links to 300dpi pix in case ours didn’t come out. That might be just the thing to get some free publicity you’d otherwise lose out on.

    14/ if you’re new, it’s helpful to at least know the names of the major publications and their key personnel so that when you’re handed a card or see a badge, you have a general idea of who is talking to you. If anyone with a 10-year or more history generates a blank stare, you’re off to a wobbly start. It communicates that you have paid little attention to this industry. Given just how huge the Munich show has become, nearly everyone is in a rush. That’s a good recipe for missed opportunities. Preparedness goes a long way toward mitigating those and means a lot more than just showing up with hardware and making sound.

    15/ whilst the ubiquitous booth babes had thankfully become a thing of mostly the past this year, one exhibitor still had a very attractive young lady in a skirt so short that one couldn’t look in her direction unless one be flashed. That kind of thing is really counter-productive and in bad taste.

    16/ Not helpful either is having a room crew so happy on champagne before closing hour that they’re pretty much useless to serious inquiries and attempts to learn more. It’s a bit disrespectful also to all visitors who are there on their own nickel and time often from quite abroad when basic rules of professional conduct aren’t in place. Being relaxed, easy-going and inviting is a very different thing from being plain tipsy or sloshed. Leave that for after hours as long as you can be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed the next morning again.

    None of the above is any news of course nor anything I’ve not written about before. Still, incidents which disregarded some of these common-sense basics continued on unabated so perhaps repeating them here might be useful for 2019’s HighEnd Munich instalment? Cheers to that.


    Srajan’s Munich 2018 report – all eight pages of it – can be read on 6moons here.

    Srajan Ebaen

    Written by Srajan Ebaen

    Srajan is the owner and publisher of 6moons. He used to play clarinet at the conservatory. Later he worked in audio retail, then marketing for three different hifi manufacturers. Writing about hifi and music came next, then launching his own mag. Today he lives with his wife Ivette and Nori and Chai the Bengal cats in a very small village on Ireland’s west coast, between the holy mountain Croagh Patrick and the Atlantic ocean of Clew Bay in County Mayo’s Westport area. Srajan derives his income from the ad revenues of 6moons but contributes to DAR pro bono.

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