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Delivering a Consistent Brand Message With A/V


Despite the myriad choices among today’s retail audio-video systems, they share one common attribute: a/v has the ability to deliver a consistent brand message. Lynn Matson, president and CEO, Pro-Motion Technology Group, Wixom, Mich., which specializes in integrated commercial audio/video solutions, talked with Chain Store Age senior editor Katherine Field about ways to maximize a/v messaging, despite the budget slashing running rampant in the retail industry.

With retailers cutting budgets to the bone, what are some audio/visual tricks and tools that can work within a reduced budget? 

First, it’s important to understand exactly what audio/visual brings to the table. It delivers a consistent message—and one that is reliable, that doesn’t take a vacation or get sick or go out to lunch.

The cost of employing this kind of technology can start very low and escalate to a significant investment. But it isn’t always about the cost—because the right answer is the right message. After all, what is the cost of not having the right message? If you understand your brand, and strategically think through how to underscore and execute it, your a/v will maximize the brand’s impact, and therefore be as cost-effective as possible.

Are you seeing any particular a/v trends in response to the economic conditions? 

Our clients have been cautious to open stores, so that is an obvious effect of the economy. We’re also seeing right-sizing, and customer service is being looked at carefully. Across the board, businesses are losing staff so management is looking internally at how to do the job better, more efficiently, more effectively. But businesses are also looking at reinventing their brands to become bigger and more exciting when they come out the other side. Audio/visual is a part of that.

Initially when the economy took a nosedive, what we saw was fear. Now we are seeing retailers coming out of that state of mind and preparing to unveil who they will be when the economy rebounds.

What are some a/v “must-haves” despite the downturn? 

You cannot afford to erode the brand to the point that it’s dead or even that it’s not dynamic. What a/v can bring is dynamic visuals, dynamic audibles, dynamic sensation. The smart retailers are looking at stimulating the senses and doing it with the right content and the right content mix. And in the world of digital, we are all connected, so updating the content is easy. What you can offer now is real-time messaging. We’re moving into a world in which we are taking full advantage of what technology can offer—and that is immediacy.

What are some cost-effective ways retailers can leverage the technology? 

The fact that digital offers connectivity also means that it provides efficiencies. Multiple points of an operation are resting on the same bandwidths, which allows different components to work together. But it goes deeper than that, into how a company operates. In many organizations, you’ll find that marketing doesn’t communicate with operations, which doesn’t communicate with finance, and so on. Imagine how powerful a business becomes when all the divisions and processes come together and work together. That’s when you own a powerful brand. There should never be different silos, but rather one company with one mission.

What process do you use in order to determine what a retailer needs—whether an entirely new system or an update to an existing system? 

We find out what their goals are. We should never be out there selling, but rather understanding a retailer’s business model. I never propose that a retailer spend for spending’s sake. There must be solid business reasons for investing in new technology. And those business reasons are tied directly to the company objectives.

For example, T.G.I. Friday’s wanted to increase its night-time bar business, which was down even though the company had embarked on a new branding campaign. Beginning this month, following a successful test, we are launching a nationwide deployment of flat panels placed strategically within the chain restaurant’s space.

It’s about finding out exactly what the client’s goals and objectives are and meeting those goals with the right systems.

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