It’s the 21st Century: Have You Seen Your Customer Lately?

Customer engagement is a hot topic.   As companies dive into social media and online strategies, buyers have more opportunity to research and discover information about your company – and about your competitors as well. Customers are smarter, more informed and more focused on their own needs and solutions than ever before. For salespeople this is a big change, and an opportunity as well.

So, if engagement is happening online, where do live customer events fit in a virtual world? What is changing and where are the opportunities for your salespeople to build relationships with the customer….face to face?

I spoke with Roy Sanford, a veteran CMO and Sales leader, about how things have changed and how events need to shift the approach.

 

 


 

An Update on the Carter Center Weekend

What would you bid for a hand-built cabinet made by President Jimmy Carter? The question comes up for those who attend the annual Carter Center Weekend retreat. And it sometimes comes up more than once, as auction winners are known to immediately turn around and re-donate their prize to raise additional funds for the organization. This year’s audience contributed a record $1.5 million to encourage heath, peace and democracy.

IMG_9306aThe 2014 Carter Center Weekend at the Cascade Resort in Vail, CO., attracted the largest turnout in the event’s history. With Wayne Jackson on hand to direct production staff, all preparation and logistics involved went smoothly, despite the need to shift into larger spaces to accommodate audiences. “Every year, more content and programs are being offered,” said Jackson, “and despite the beautiful mountain activities and amenities available, attendees filled rooms to hear about issues and solutions.

Wayne’s relationship with The Carter Center goes back more than ten years, beginning with a chance overlap at a venue hosting the BMI event he was managing. Jay Beck, the Center’s senior event consultant recalls: “I soon realized that Wayne is someone who can handle both high-profile dignitaries and hotel employees with respect and efficiency. We’ve built a relationship that minimizes the headaches involved in event production and makes it easier for me to focus on developing quality programs.”

The Carter Center Weekend helps cement long-term relationships with committed donors, whose gifts keep on giving. Preston is proud to provide the skilled professionals who help make it happen.

WAIT! Don’t pack that!

Sorting, packing, moving, stacking.   That’s enough to start the year, right?  Not for Preston Productions! In the midst of our exciting move to our new space, we have been fortunate enough to work on some really exciting shows for a couple of innovative clients.

In January, our team traveled to Las Vegas, NV to work on Rocket Software’s 2014 World Wide SaRocket SKO Screenles Kick Off event.  This kickoff brought together a sales team from all over the globe to connect on a person-to-person level, while focusing their efforts on the year ahead of them.

Using a screen that was 10 feet high and 30 feet wide, we were able to re-create the whiteboard that Rocket’s CEO uses to plot the direction of his company, and bring his team through his thought process on where they stand currently and where they are heading as a unit.

That wide screen then found its way to Reston, VA to help illustrate Harsco Corporation’s rich history and heritage and to be a backdrop during an exciting transition for the company.  Bringing together three very distinct business units can be challenging, but with a mini-trade show, demonstrations and executive team reports, there was a real sense of cohesiveness amongst the group.

Harsco GLM ScreenWhile our clients play in very different industry arenas and face their own unique communication challenges, the Preston team brings tried and true methods to each, using a combination of media, environment and performance to help leaders communicate effectively and build a following within their company.

Getting a Move On

As comfortable as we had been on St. Martin Drive, last year it was becoming clear that our clients’ growing needs called for an expanded facility. In a new building we could offer capabilities to help customers take advantage of rapid changes taking place in communications technology and practices.  And so we made the decision to pack up and move.

The people at Preston are accustomed to embracing change, and we’d be in trouble if they didn’t. Tremendous advances are taking place with communications platforms and technologies, and the pace of innovation seems to only increase.  They dove into the relocation project, and found opportunities to take our operations to a new level.

At 128 Bartlett Street, we now have better capabilities for our customers: a larger video studio space, with fiber optics to support worldwide webcasting; an improved rehearsal space for presentation services; a shop with more room and higher ceilings to stage shows before sending them on the road; and additional office space to accommodate our growing, talented staff.

All of this will serve, in turn, to help our clients address challenges they are facing. Live connections and real-time interactions are becoming more and more essential in reaching out to employees, shareholders, customers and communities as they navigate change in their businesses. Leaders who can inform and inspire in this environment will excel. Our most forward-looking clients pushed us to stay ahead the curve, and I’m grateful for that.

Preston Productions Shakespeare reminds us that “All the world’s a stage”. Today’s complex and diverse “World Stage” requires a vast array of new tools and techniques. While many companies have struggled to perform over the past five years, those that adapted are expecting a new period of growth and optimism. Our move positioned us to help strong players thrive in a world of new stages, new stories, and constant changes.

 

Preston Productions is now located at 128 Bartlett Street, Marlborough, MA 01752

Being There

While communication technology changes with the times, the times cannot alter the fact that nothing replaces actually “being there.” What has changed is the art of being there.

We have been hearing for years about how Hollywood has been gearing up for 3D out of necessity to keep the movie-going experience relevant. The success of the film Avatar is heavily dependent upon its 3D immersive experience,  though for many 3D may still seem gimmicky.

Avatar succeeds by not only telling you a story about another world, but also putting you in that world.  This heightened sense of immersion allows you to feel the experience as if you were a character, adding a deeper element to the storyline.

Immersion: humans clamor for it.   Tweets, and views and clicks  contribute part of the story, but we want more. We no longer want to observe the show, we want to be in the show.

Living the Experience

The Vancouver Olympics ended on a glorious note last night.  As in the opening ceremonies, the audience, covered in their white ponchos, became part of the canvas.  And for those of us in the “business,” who knew someone was wrong when the fourth leg of the cauldron never materialized on opening night, the “do-over” was simply brilliant.  It was live, and we all experienced it as those present in Vancouver did. It was a show.  It was an event.

Today’s business communication leaders can learn from this. If you need to create an indelible impression on your audience you need to immerse them in it.  You need to invite them in and not be ashamed when you make a mistake. They are watching you as you watch them.  Don’t be afraid of making it a show.  They are clamoring for it.  All the world, after all, is a stage.