2014 has kicked of with what has been a very successful CES by all accounts. HiFi Pig was not there but we are hoping to make it over the pond very soon.

We are very much looking forward to the Munich High End 2014 show….just around the corner in May.
Now all this talk of shows got me thinking, I’ve been to a few now and noticed the good, the bad……and the ugly!
It got me thinking that a list of dos and don’ts, from the perspective of a show visitor, might be helpful to exhibitors.
So here it is my top ten of what to do and what not to do when exhibiting at a HiFi Show:

1.Crushed velvet….be it black, red or any other colour is just not the right material to display your wares on!
I have witnessed this many times, it looks cheap and it makes your products look cheap…leaves me thinking ‘tart’s boudoir’ not High End HiFi.
t is also a pain in the butt to photograph and generally reflects in a nasty way and makes photos of your kit look bad…..and those photos are going to be on blogs, websites, facebook, pinterest……..
If you need to cover the surface that your kit is being displayed on then go for something more natural and non reflective.

2.People will want to take pictures of your kit (hopefully)! Make it easy for them, I know a balance needs to be struck between atmosphere and practicality in your room but a pitch black or badly lit room will make photo’s difficult to say the least.
Yes the sound is the most important thing, for the people that are there, but for every person actually visiting a show there are many more who can’t be there and they will be drawn to read about your products by images, whether in print or on the web.
Some well placed spot lights can go a long way to help with both the atmosphere and the practical aspects of people getting photos of your kit.

3.Make sure you have music playing. Am I stating the bleeding obvious here?
Maybe, but I have witnessed rooms at big shows with big name kit…silent, and I have walked out of those rooms…and if I do, go figure, so will others.
Yes I know sometimes, kit will be being changed etc, but put up a notice or have someone welcoming people who arrive at your room while it is quiet just to let them know that the music is going to resume shortly, at least engage people…don’t just leave them to wander aimlessly around your room…and then out of the door.
Beautiful looking HiFi in a silent room will only hold peoples’ interest for so long before they go to look and listen elsewhere.

4.And while we are on the subject of welcoming people make sure that you do.
If you make people feel welcome then they are likely to spend more time in your room and identify with your products. A good experience at a show could turn a visitor into a client ….a bad one could turn them off your brand for life.
Treat everyone well and treat everyone the same….do you have a crystal ball? Do you know who is going to want to lash out 100 grand on your products? No you don’t, looks can be deceiving and that quiet looking couple that you just ignored may well have come to the show to compile a shopping list…and now your products are not on there.
Think about it……politeness and niceness cost nothing and arrogance can kill your business.

To the other extreme….don’t just pounce on people and start trying to sell to them, if you can create a welcoming atmosphere it is enough to let people know that you are there and can be approached if they need help. It’s about creating a balance, being too pushy is as bad as being too aloof.

5.Be enthusiastic! This is YOUR brand that you are representing, in a lot of cases it is your life’s work…if you are not excited about it then how on earth do you expect the general public to be?
If you are employing people to represent your brand make sure that they behave as you would and are as enthusiastic as yourself. Make sure that they know your core values and present your brand as you want it to be presented.
Be sure to look after your staff too, if they are enjoying working for you they will do a much better job of promoting your brand.
I have experienced both ends of the spectrum, from teams of people that really engage you to those that stand around chatting amongst themselves whilst ignoring people who desperately try to catch their eye.
Perhaps the worst experience I have had of this was in a room where no music was playing (strike 1), nobody engaged with us (strike 2) the guy running the room sat having a loud conversation on his mobile with no regard for the people who actually wanted to hear what his loudspeakers sounded like (strike 3). Oh dear.

6.The enthusiasm thing does not extend to being lectured at. Yes you want, and need, to impart your knowledge about your products, but this is a HiFi show…not a lecture hall. When your audience is fidgeting in their seats and looking at their watches it may be time to realise that shutting up and playing some tunes would be a better idea all round!
Organising your presentations so that you introduce the products and impart information, whilst interspersing this with music, is much better and more engaging for your audience than just talking at them.
7.Musical variety. Please, lets have a bit of variety. Not everyone listens to classical music, even if you think it best showcases your system be aware that people will want to listen to other genres, if you play a good variety then once again it will engage the audience more…….why not ask people what they would like to hear, or let them play their own music?

8.Be realistic about what will work in your room and how you set the room up.
Visitors need to be able to move around the room and see your products, they need to be able to sit down and hear the system too. Try and make it comfortable, uncluttered and a pleasant place to be. Don’t try and cram in too many chairs or things that are not needed. I remember one room at Munich last year that had so many potted plants in it, it resembled a jungle, not only was it difficult to get to see the kit on offer, I expected David Attenborough to leap out at me at any moment!
Some of the most successful rooms I have been in at shows have had a really cohesive feel with their branding carried through on everything from what the staff wore to the seats. They didn’t try to fill the room with everything they had in their range but selected products carefully. Matching the system that you actually have playing to the size of the room is important too….if you don’t have the space to show off the sound of your biggest speakers use a smaller pair from your range to demonstrate and just have the bigger ones on show.

9.Use the show as an opportunity to meet other people in the business. We have met so many new people at HiFi shows and some have gone on to become really good friends. The world of HiFi is actually quite a small one and everybody knows everybody else so watch your mouth and don’t slag off your competition or word will get out! A show is a great place to make new contacts and form new collaborations; so much more can be achieved from working collaboratively than trying to keep everything to yourself!

10. Have fun! Yes, it is work but a show really should be fun too and if you are clearly enjoying the show and are passionate about what you do it will draw people to you and people will be talking about your brand, for all the right reasons, long after the show has finished!

Linette Smith


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