I recently participated in the Association for Retail Environment's (A.R.E.'s) 56th convention and summit. The summit brings together approximately 150 executives from leading suppliers to the retail industry (e.g., designers, equipment, fixture companies, etc.) for two days of peer-to-peer learning and networking. The interactive keynote sessions were led by world-class speakers who shared insights and actionable advice on relevant topics ranging from Emerging Trends in Retail Design, Going Global, and Utilizing Social Media to Grow Your Businesses.
It is fair to say that most participants are leveraging emerging technologies to help grow their businesses. Many are using LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to access new customers, generate awareness, and create a buzz around their products and services. Some are using ipads and android devices to arm their sales force with critical information to improve sales effectiveness including customer buying history, product photos, design drawings, and pricing. Several speakers shared details on recent marketing campaigns that used enabling technologies---one of the most innovative and effective was shared by Steve Waltman, VP of Sales and Marketing, Stiles Machinery.
Stiles recently concluded a contest that provided the winning company with complimentary use of a critical piece of machinery for one year (a Weeke Vantech CNC Router). Participating companies submitted videos stating the case for why their organization needed the machine most. The submitted videos were very creative and several might be worthy of a place on Saturday Night Live (please click on the following link for details on the contest and submitted videos http://www.stilesmachinery.com/contest ). 18 companies submitted videos...enabling Stiles to learn more about these very important target customers. Participating companies...as well as the 5,213 of people who followed the contests and the winning company blogs about their experiences with the machine...were able to learn more about how Stiles Machinery can provide them with a competitive advantage. Stiles certainly proved you can have fun and be highly effective at the same time.