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Best Practices for Working with your ETM Partner

What is the best way to maximize your relationship with your Event Technology Management partner?  The most important thing to do is engage your ETM partner as early as possible in your planning process.  Haven’t chosen a venue yet?  Why not invite your ETM partner along on your site visits?  Use their knowledge and expertise to figure out which venue and which room will work best for the kind of technology you want, or need, to use.  Room shape, size, and ceiling heights all play a major role in the design of a stage and what event technology (audio, video, and lighting) can be utilized.

Another great way to best use your ETM partner is to rely on them to figure out what technology is needed… after all it should be what they are experts in.   By sharing with them a clear understanding of the purpose of the event, the desired audience response, and the allocated budget, they will be able to offer a practical, viable, and affordable solution.  For example, perhaps the best way to light the stage is to rig a truss in the ceiling, but your budget doesn’t allow for such an expense.  Your ETM partner can figure out a way to do a ground supported light system that is more affordable.  However, be sure they tell you what you are losing, or what the downsides to that alternative are, so you can decide if it is worth the cost savings. That, once again, speaks to the importance of open and honest communication.

Probably the hardest “best practice” when working with your event technology management team is to trust them.  There is a reason you chose to work with them, so utlize their expertise and trust that they will give you the best show you can have with the money you have to spend.  They should be spending your money as if it were their own… not just adding in technology because it fits the budget, but using what is necessary and what makes sense, and possible saving you some money in the end.

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It’s all about the Customer Experience!

Our staff recently attended InfoComm Live 2015, which is a conference for audiovisual companies in the live event business. One of this year’s speakers focused very intently on the customer experience.  The discussion revolved around the idea that we need to engage our customers on such a level that the experience is not just good, but great.  Here at Advanced we often say that good enough is not good enough, so this discussion was one that we saw a lot of value in.

Walt Disney once said, “Do something so well that people will come to see it again and will bring their friends.”  That is the ultimate goal of a great customer experience… getting them to come back and to tell their friends.

In the Advanced world, we chose to focus our attention on the three primary areas of the event technology… audio, video, and lighting.  By choosing to stick to those three elements and not expand into other areas of the live events world, we are able to not just be good at delivering those services, but great.  That covers the doing “something so well” part.

Time and time again, we have proven that once a client partners with us once, they will come back again and again.  Our people, processes, and equipment combined together make for a recipe for success and one that our clients want to taste again.  That covers the “will come to see it again” part.

Referrals have been, and continue to be, our best sales tactic.  Having a client or partner recommend our services to a friend, a client, or sometimes even their competitor is the best compliment we can get and it is the easiest way to grow our business.  That covers the “bring their friends” part.

What does all this mean?  It means Advanced Staging Productions is just like Disney World!  Okay, maybe not, but it does show that we have set ourselves on a path to great success, just like Mr. Disney.

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“I Can Help You With That!”

The Advanced Way, which all our regular readers know, is the guiding philosophy of what we do and how we do it. We often pick specific aspects of The Advanced Way to dissect in our blog. Something that we have been talking about around the office recently is that we are seen as a resource to all our clients and prospective clients. It is a simple concept of being willing to answer questions, offer guidance, make suggestions, and try to be helpful. Phrases like, “We don’t do that,” or “I can’t help you with that” are ones that are not said around our office.

If a client needs a stage for an event, which we do not technically provide as one of our core services, we still handle getting it for them.  If a client needs tables, chairs, ropes & stanchions, which are quite a stretch beyond our core services, we will still help them by either introducing them to one of our partners, or if it really makes it easier on them, by coordinating the rental on their behalf.

We had a customer call us the other day that we have been trying to partner with.  They were looking for someone to come on site at one of their events and record video footage of their trade show and create a highlights reel/happy face video.  This is a service that we have chosen not to offer as one of our core competencies.  If we told the client, “We don’t do that,” they would call someone else who does and that someone else may very well also provide audio, video, and lighting for live events.  That customer is now gone.  However, when we said, “No problem, we can help you with that,” we became their resource… their partner.

In this day and age, with so many different facets of the events world, and with so many different kinds of companies that handle AV, table rentals, catering, staging, etc., it is vital that companies find a way to stand out.  How do we stand out at Advanced Staging Productions?  We offer a customer experience and a level of service that is parallel to none! That is The Advanced Way!

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Sometimes the solution is just that easy.

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Ever look at a maze, and think, “How could anyone ever get through this?”  Ever read a word problem, or hear a riddle that once you were given the answer, you thought to yourself, “wow, is it really that simple?” Ever have a task set in front of you by your boss that you were certain would take you all day that you ended up finishing in an hour?

We often let our imaginations get ahead of ourselves when faced with certain issues or challenges. We instantly start following paths in the maze to try and make our way to the exit without actually taking a step back and looking at the maze from a logical perspective. Sometimes, as in the picture above, the answer is really right there!

Put this in terms of planning an event and handling all the various details. We are not event planning experts, so forgive us if we don’t mention all the elements… but you have to choose a venue, catering, decorations, handle travel arrangements, develop content, coordinate agendas, and of course… hire an event technology management company. Many of these tasks require a lot of work. Some may not. The point is, it is important to take a step back and look at the whole maze and figure out which paths you need to go down first and which ones you can conquer more easily. Some of the tasks have multiple layers to them and may be easier to navigate if you bring in other resources. That is where, if you reference back to some of our other blogs, you will see why choosing the right partners to work with is so vital to the planning process.

If you look at just the technology needs of an event… Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to worry about the audio, video, or lighting at all? Wouldn’t it be great if at the end of the event, you realize you didn’t deal with anything from a technical standpoint? Wouldn’t it be great if the solution to the maze that is event technology management was as simple as the picture above? We have a secret… it is that simple. It is… The Advanced Way.

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It’s time we start working together!

Client ABC wants to hire an event technology partner for their general session.  They feel that there is no need for more than 4 technicians in the room during the running of the event, and they simply will not pay for more than four techs.

Here is what the general session consists of: Audio support for 300 people, with up to 8 presenters on stage at a time (that’s at least 8 wireless microphones to manage); two screen show with multiple video rolls; basic stage wash with back lighting and some up lighting around the room for decor.  Sounds simple enough and could be operated with 4 techs… except there are also three cameras for IMAG (image magnification) and recording.  Well, unless the cameras are not moving (which will make for a unique shoot), or they are remote controlled (which they are not), three of our four techs will be tied up.  That leaves one tech to run audio, video, and lighting.  Is that possible? Of course it is possible.  Is it likely to be a smooth running, successful event?  Doubtful.

We would like to point out, before we get an influx of angry comments from event planners, that this scenario could easily be flipped, where the event technology company tries to dictate to the client what they have to have in the room from a technology and labor perspective, regardless of what they want or what they can afford.  Just because you can do something, or because it is the best way to do it, doesn’t mean you have to.  Is it nice to fly the technology from the ceiling?  Yes. Is it always necessary or worth the extra expense? No. There are many ways to effectively get your messaging across to your audience using technology. The trick is to work as a team to figure out what equipment and labor meets those needs as well as the needs of the budget. Sometimes concessions and/or compromises will have to be made on both sides, but that is why it’s called a collaboration and what makes it a true partnership.

This is why we have spent years perfecting what we call The Advanced Way. The Advanced Way is a philosophy of doing business that permeates throughout our company.  It is that philosophy that sets the stage for great collaborations and that allows us to be a trusted resource for our clients.

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How Important is Employee Recognition?

Many companies show employee appreciation such as bonuses, extra paid time off, parties, picnics, etc.  However, does your company openly show employee recognition?  Is that something that is important to your employees?

Here at Advanced, we have been giving out employee recognition awards for as long as we can remember.  We give out an Employee of the Quarter award and an Employee of the Year award.  Both awards come with a cash prize and a plaque.  In addition, the award recipients get a reserved parking space at our office.  Seems like a silly concept to some, but it has become quite the coveted perk around our office.

The interesting thing about our awards, is that the entire company votes on the winners, so the winners are truly being chosen by their peers, and not just the management team or even just the president.  This means that winning the award is not a sign from the boss that you are doing a good job, but a sign from the people you are working with day in and day out that your work is appreciated and respected.

This is all well and good, but why is this important?  We feel it is important for two reasons. First, recognizing employees for good work and for their accomplishments is something we feel contributes to their continued success and their continued dedication to the team and the company.  Second, the fact that the winners are chosen by their peers drives them to impress each other and to never let each other down.  It adds another level of accountability to the work they do.

Events come and go. Clients come and go.  At the end of the day, it is our colleagues that we sit across from at the conference table in the post con meeting, or that we eat lunch with in the cafeteria.  Holding each other to high standards and not allowing good enough to be good enough is The Advanced Way.

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It’s Time To Give Thanks!

As we approach Thanksgiving and the holiday season, we feel it is important to take time to reflect on the people in our lives that we should be thankful for. In light of that, we, the management team at Advanced Staging Productions, would like to take this opportunity to thank a few groups of people that have truly had an impact on our lives.

First, we want to thank our clients for their trust and confidence.  Obviously, without you, we would not be here, and the fact that you continue to allow us to collaborate with you is truly appreciated.

We absolutely could not go without thanking all of the members of the Advanced team and all the time and energy you put into your work. The amount of unwavering passion and drive that you all show is astounding and second to none.  We are humbled by your dedication to each other and to this company.

We would like to thank our many partners.  We know that without you, we would not be able to do what we love, which is provide professional and reliable event technology for live events and meetings. You help us deliver consistent, high level solutions to our clients and for that, we are grateful.

Lastly, we want to thank all of the people out there that follow us on our webpage, social media outlets, email blasts, and this blog.  The exposure that you all give us through viewing and sharing our information is an integral piece of our success.  We hope that you continue to find value in our post.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!

Please be sure to use the link below to sign up for our newsletter… 
The next one comes out in December!

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Do you trust your partners?

Whether it is with a friend, spouse, family member, client, or service provider, a true partnership is built on a number of factors… the most important if these is trust.

What does trust look like in a professional relationship, let’s say for instance, your Event Technology Management company. Ask yourself these questions when evaluating whether or not there is trust between the two parties:

1) Can I share my budget with them and feel comfortable knowing that they will spend my money as if it is their own?

2) Can I sleep at night knowing that there is no way they would ever let me down? At the end of the day, execution far outweighs price.

3) When something goes wrong, are they pointing fingers or are they offering solutions to remedy the situation ASAP, even if it is not their area of expertise?

4) Do they trust me?

If you can answer yes to these questions, you probably have a very good partnership and can rest easy that you are getting a quality product for a fair price, and that you are working with someone that is as invested in the project as you are.  Knowing you can trust the people you surround yourself with will not only allow you to be successful, it will save you a lot of energy and stress.

Please be sure to sign up for our newsletter.  The next one comes out in December!

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What is the Difference Between $2,000 and $200,000?

For those of you that do not get our newsletter, here is an article form our latest edition.  If you like what you read, please click the link below to get on the list for future newsletters!  We only send one out every other month, the next one being in December, 2014.

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Lately, we have been posting a series of concepts on Facebook that speak to what The Advanced Way is, since it truly is so much more than AV.  The Advanced Way, besides being a number of processes and procedures that we have put in place to insure successful execution of our Event Technology Management services and the smooth running of events for our clients, is a mindset that permeates throughout our company.  One great example of this, is how our staff sees and treats every show the same.  Regardless of the size of the event, the scope of the work, and the budget, our staff treats every client and every show the same.

You have an event for 40 people?  No problem.  You have an event for 40,000 people?  No problem.  The Advanced Way is what allows us to be scalable to be the right fit for your event.  Our technicians are all highly qualified professionals and all egos are checked at the door, so you get the same treatment and respect you deserve, regardless if you are spending $2,000 or $200,000.

Sound like what every other company says?  Don’t take our word for it, listen to our customers…

“I’m absolutely thrilled that Advanced Staging takes the time to work with customers both large and small – so that even small customers like Main Line Today can look as fabulous as the large ones.”  JB Braun, Publisher of Main Line Today Magazine.

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Why Would an AV Company Hire Someone Else to Produce a Video?

Advanced Staging Productions recently decided to have a new company video produced to be used in our sales and marketing efforts.  The decision was made to hire a long time partner of ours to assist us with this project.  Someone that could develop the concept, write the script, shoot and edit the footage to create a final product.  During this process, we were asked why a technology driven company with a warehouse full of video equipment and a professional staff would choose to pay someone else for a service like this.

The simple answer is, “That’s not what we do.” At the base of all that we do at Advanced, is the underling philosophy that we don’t want to be good at a lot of things… we want to be GREAT at a few things. So what do we strive to be great at?  Providing audio, video, and lighting solutions for live events and meetings. We have spent the better part of three decades working on mastering these services. While we have been working on what we do best, there are a number of other people that have been perfecting the art of producing and editing videos. These people are professionals, and get paid to do what they do, because they are great at it… and that is something that we respect and look for in our partners.

This speaks to more than just us wanting a new marketing video.  In all the events we work on, we are very upfront and clear with our clients about what we do and don’t do.  We do not pretend to be experts in areas that we are not.  We are who we are, and we are very proud of that!

Be sure to sign up for our newsletter by emailing KimPB@Advancedstaging.com!

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