Keep your competitors close but your contacts closer!
About 15 years ago when I was the MD of a successful integration company in London I met a representative from a distribution company who I am still in contact with today. Although I have moved on to run my own system design business, believe it or not he is still with the same company today.
I have seen this chap, let’s call him Peter, at various trade shows and events over the years and we exchange the usual pleasantries and are always pleased to see each other doing well and in good health.
It wasn’t until ISE earlier this year that we actually got talking about working together and out of this chat we ended up getting invited to the Invision Technology Showcase! This was an event we had talked about exhibiting at previously but one we had never actually attended, and what an event it turned out to be.
Unlike other trade shows where the bigger the budget the bigger the stand, Invision’s Technology Showcase sees each of their partner brands given a similar sized space in which to display their wares. This means no matter how big the brand, each one is represented in a three metre wide space, save for Sony and Samsung of course as some of their products are over three metres wide, but cleverly Invision placed these brands at one end of the space in a more pavilion like environment.
As one of the prerequisites to being at their Technology Showcase, Invision asked us to promote the event across our social media accounts. Through this we received an invitation to meet a representative from Satel, a company we had not come across before who provide intruder alarm systems that integrate fully with all leading control systems.
"I was amazed that this representative was already comfortable enough with what we provide to integrators to recommend us."
As one of our clients who came to the event said, Satel was for him the best thing at the show. After meeting the representative from Satel I learned that they were distributed in the UK by Invision and the representative said he would check out the standards needed for security drawings in the UK and follow up with me the following week, which I am very pleased to say he did. We didn’t learn anything new as the standard to use is the ANSI J-STD 710 but it is good to have this reconfirmed by an expert in security.
Meeting Satel for us is a pretty big deal as it means we can now help our integrators specify and install their own intruder alarm systems, rather than relying on the traditional route of using a local security company to subcontract the work. So it means we are now able to encompass more of the specification and design on a typical project than we were able to previously and it’s great news for our new tender preparation service.
But that wasn’t the only benefit, on the evening of the last day of the show I noticed I was mentioned in a post on LinkedIn by the representative from Satel, with him recommending me to one of his contacts for design services.
I was amazed that this representative was already comfortable enough with what we provide to integrators to recommend us. More interestingly for me, as I was too tired to respond to this post after the show, when I came to look at this LinkedIn post the next day I saw two competitors, I had as yet not come across, who were also putting themselves forward as people who could help with this integrators design needs.
So through this little chat at ISE with someone I have known for years we have a potential new customer and a whole new area of our business we can exploit in 2019, plus two competitors to research and add to our SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) analysis that we didn’t even know existed.
So there is the moral of the story; keep your competitors close but your contacts even closer, you never know when they will come up trumps!
Keith Jones studied Product Design at Central St. Martins where he graduated in 1996. He has had a successful career working in numerous high end audio outlets, culminating in owning his own successful AV installation company from 2001-2008. After a career break he started Jones designs in August 2009 which morphed into limited company designflow, in 2015. Designflow aims to increase awareness of design in AV and help installers win more jobs and create proper documentation for them.