What Happened To All The Product Seminars?

By James Carlini | Jul 15, 2017
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Have you noticed the lack of good product seminars from companies making electrical products for buildings and data centers? Companies need to go out to update electrical contractors, project managers and system designers on their products and new systems. You would think there would be seminars every month when you look at all the new products and cabling systems coming out for 21st-century applications.

Recently, I attended a seminar on PDI products that was very informative as well as focused on their updating of certain products and subsystems. It was well-attended by a cross-section of contractors, designers and even some corporate facilities planners. Not only did they give out handbooks on their products, but they also gave some capacity-planning tools for calculating the amount of batteries and generators you would need.

The big question I walked away with had nothing to do with their products. They did a good job informing their audience about the new capabilities of their product lines.

My question was, “Where is everyone else and their product seminars?” What has happened with face-to-face seminars to get people up-to-speed with new products and innovation? Do companies who sell complex products and systems truly think that a one-hour webinar is going to help get the market to understand their products?

What has happened to solid marketing strategies? Are the lack of seminars a result of budget cutbacks? Are they the result of some out-of-touch executive saying, “Let’s bet the farm on social media and one-hour webinars.”

It doesn’t matter. It is the wrong move to eliminate product and system seminars, which help get people in the field more energized and more willing to become more familiar with new product lines.

The amount of personal interactions getting generated at a live seminar is greater than any communications generated in a webinar. A webinar is more detached and does not have the same impact as a live seminar. Questions can be asked in either approach, but more questions and answers get generated in a live seminar where participants can question each other and not just the presenter.

Creating a yardstick to measure capabilities

With more organizations needing mission-critical applications to compete in today’s global markets, the need for reliable and redundant power supplies for data centers as well as corporate facilities has grown.

Potential customers for these products need guidance. They need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the products they are reviewing. If you are a smart company, you provide them with the tools to make that analysis. What types of tools do you build?

I have said this in the past on a project working with AT&T Lucent when they were still selling central offices to the Regional Bell Operating Companies. You need to develop the yardstick that your customers will use to measure your products as well as measuring your competitors’ products.

If the customer gets the yardstick from you to measure products from your competitor, you are always going to be a finalist, if not the winner of the business. If they get the analysis tool from your competitor, you might as well write off getting the business.

You will never measure up to your competitor’s products, if the customer is using their yardstick.

Re-focusing on seminars

If you are a company selling into the high- and low-voltage areas of the electrical industry today, you need to build a good seminar that you can take to all of the major cities to sell your solutions. Relying on social media to do the same job and “save some money” will result in less impact and lower sales. You need to create a real presence in the market. If you are the only one doing live seminars, you are going to be in the position of handing out analysis tools and telling the potential customers, “When you compare capabilities, use this yardstick.”

Customers want ways to compare products. They want shortcuts. If you can develop a good yardstick to measure and compare products, chances are, they are going to use it.

Procurement is an important process to every organization. When it comes to purchasing technology, the more you know about the products, the more informed decision you can make.

Having a solid seminar is one good way to convey a lot of information to the potential buyers. With all of the concepts coming out from the Internet of Things (IoT), to cloud computing, to the use of smartphones for digital wallet applications and cross-marketing of retail venues, the need for reliable and redundant power systems to support these new and mission critical applications is growing in every market.

Another benefit I see in these seminars that companies like PDI have presented, is the immediate feedback the companies get from participants who either give them a positive review on some of the new features they are rolling out or a negative review for something they have failed to include in the latest version of their products. A good company will use that feedback from the field to tailor their products to what the market is looking for.

It sounds so easy, and yet not all companies are following this approach.

About The Author

James Carlini, MBA, is a strategist for mission-critical networks, technology and intelligent infrastructure. He has been the president of Carlini & Associates since 1986. He is author of "LOCATION LOCATION CONNECTIVITY," a visionary book on the convergence of next-generation real estate, intelligent infrastructure, technology, and the global platform for commerce.

His “Platform for Commerce” definition of infrastructure and its impact on economic growth has also been referred to by the US ARMY Corps of Engineers in their Handbook, “Infrastructure and the Operational Art.” (2014)

His firm has been involved with applying advanced business practices, planning and designing mission critical network infrastructures for three decades.

He served as an award-winning adjunct faculty member at Northwestern University’s Executive Masters and undergraduate programs for two decades (1986-2006).  He has been the keynote speaker at national and international conferences.

He also appears in civil and federal courts as well as public utilities commission hearings as an expert witness in mission critical networks, network infrastructure and cabling issues.

He began his career at Bell Telephone Laboratories (real-time software engineering), AT&T (technical marketing & enterprise-wide network design support for major clients) and Arthur Young (now Ernst & Young, Director of Telecommunications & Computer Hardware consulting).

Contact him at [email protected] or 773-370-1888. Follow daily Carlini-isms at





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