Tigerpaw just got back from Total Tech Summit in Forth Worth Texas and wanted to share some insights that may help you to decide on coming (or not) next year.
The format is good for vendors AND guests: The organizers at Total Tech have certainly figured out how to make the event productive for everybody involved. For anybody that’s attended a tradeshow or two, you understand just how hard this can be to accomplish. Some of the things the Total Tech organizers did to nail it:
Sponsors pay for the guests to be there.
A good number of the providers that attend the show are small businesses for whom every dollar counts. Sponsors like Tigerpaw Software ensure that these providers can still enjoy great learning and networking even when budgets are tight. A lot of shows charge both sponsors AND guests and this can stop some folks from doing all they can to better their businesses. It also lets providers know that they matter to the vendors that are vying to provide you solutions. The vendors, after all, are the ones making it possible for them to benefit from all that a good conference can deliver in terms of fresh thinking and new offerings.
Strategically placing sponsor speaking spots for maximum effect.
I’ve spoken at a lot of trade shows, and there are 2 spots you never want: The one following a keynote speaker and the one standing between guests and evening festivities. Tigerpaw Software had a speaking spot at Total Tech and thankfully it was BEFORE the keynote speaker! Tigerpaw had a packed auditorium. We spoke on how to recession-proof your business and it was great that the organizers ensured everybody could soak in this valuable information for the health of their businesses. This isn’t just good for the speakers involved, it’s good for those looking to learn new things and spark innovation within their businesses. Learning is important and how speaking spaces are structured make a huge difference on how much invaluable learning you get an event.
At most trade shows, meeting sponsors is optional. This is bad for a couple of reasons. First, the solutions your business requires to grow may be completely off your radar. Providers get so busy in their day to day lives fighting fires that they often forget to look ahead at things that will help grow their businesses beyond just maintaining existing customers. By having to meet with vendors that aren’t necessarily on your radar, you have a powerful opportunity of discovery that could forever change the way you do business. Discovery is a messy process and requires thinking outside the box. By structuring your meetings to include the unknown you better the odds of staying ahead of the competition. “Aha!” and “Eureka” moments usually arise when you think or act in slightly different ways. Having calendared meetings with new vendors is a great way to light the spark.
As vendors, these events are great places for us to learn too! At Tigerpaw, we’re big on putting the needs of customers first and those needs evolve as the market evolves. By speaking with providers at Total Tech, I garnered some gold nuggets that are useful for providers of all stripes (a little Tiger reference for y’all there!):
Focus on Business Development (get to know builders and architects).
I love asking business level questions of the folks we provide software for. One question I asked everybody I spoke with who said they were growing quickly was “What are you doing differently?” Many of the providers I spoke with said that they spent more time on business development than they had been previously. They said that they started growing relationships with contractors, home builders and architects so that they could become a part of the design process for integration. This is really important. We all know that getting in on the ground floor is when opportunities are most potent. But what if we actually work with builders and architects to design the ground floor? Talk about opportunity!
Look at ways to build recurring revenue models.
The integration industry specific to commercial and residential audio/video/display is one of the last to get on board with building recurring revenue models. On one level it makes sense: Most jobs being conducted have a start date and an end date. Or do they? Some progressive providers I spoke with said that any audio/video work completed needs to be “refreshed” eventually. Technologies change. Screen resolutions improve. Control access solutions evolve. Instead of approaching each of these as unique events with start and end dates, some people are looking at “evergreen” solutions where customers pay monthly for the ability to always have access to the latest and greatest. There is nothing in the world that can’t be offered as a service and talking with providers about this for A/V struck me as having the potential for a revolution in the space.
Nothing holds your business back more than disparate systems, spreadsheets and inefficient use of time and human resources.
If you’ve already invested in a business automation platform like Tigerpaw One, good! If you haven’t, well, change that today. Nothing holds your business back more than disparate systems, spreadsheets and inefficient use of time and human resources. The conversations I had with providers that were looking specifically for new integrations that would make their lives better, those are awesome conversations. The harder conversations are the ones with providers who haven’t moved to a business automation platform in the first place. We can fix that and recommend you do so before looking at any other tools or offerings to grow your business. If you’re looking to grow, the foundation needs to be strong and it all starts with automation of your day to day business processes.
All in all, it was an incredible event and Tigerpaw Software will be sponsoring again next year. The balance of vendor and provider value is a tricky balance and this conference has nailed it. Were you at TotalTech Summit? What were some of the things that you liked about it? Any gold nuggets you’d like to share? Join the conversation and leave your comments below!