HTSA: It’s Not Just a ‘Buying Group’
Home Technology Specialists of America touts sales training, consumer demand generation, collaboration; approaches 1 million prospect emails.
Julie Jacobson · April 17, 2013
Most of the dealer groups in the custom electronics space swear they’re not just a “buying group,” but Home Technology Specialists of America (HTSA) seems more convincing than ever.
The organization’s recent Spring conference in my home town of San Antonio, Texas, brought together more than 200 dealer and vendor members to “think a little differently, collaborate a little differently,” said managing director Bob Hana.
“It’s sharing that adds more to your bottom line than the discounts you get from the programs,” said Gary Lawson, principal of Century Stereo in San Jose, Calif.
HTSA is “shifting away from what you might traditionally call a buying group” to become more of a “marketing group,” Hana said.
To that end, the organization is investing heavily in building a rich database that generates leads for members.
“Demand generation is our No. 1 goal,” Hana says, adding that the group is “headed towards 1 million eyeballs.”
HTSA for the past few years has focused on marketing and demand generation, but this time it’s different, according to Hana.
“We used to have a lot of campaigns,” he says. “They weren’t all connected. What has taken on a new life is getting everything connected, showing them [members] ROI.”
HTSA is digitizing hundreds of thousands o f leads accumulated over the years – a process that has become easier since social networking sites can link names to email addresses.
HTSA managing director Bob Hana started the meeting saying, “There isn’t a lot of fluff in the agenda.” The bull came later.
Today, the organization has about 600,000 email addresses and 900,000 snail-mail addresses.
“Our goal is to have 1 million emails,” says HTSA marketing director Kathleen Marini.
Furthermore, HTSA is making it easier for dealers to navigate the master database, says Marini: “They can control who gets added to their own database.”
Going forward, HTSA is putting “buttons” within its own content so visitor leads can “go right into the database,” Hana says.
To collect and share more content, HTSA is offering free campaigns to both vendors and dealers to the tune of some $30,000 in free marketing, says Hana: “No more excuses. You have the content, and it’s absolutely free.”
Ultimately, Hana says, HTSA’s goal is for members to enjoy “stronger websites, stronger marketing, stronger search.”
In addition to building its customer database and content library, HTSA is launching or enhancing these initiatives:
Hana notes, “Every year, baseball players to back to spring training. They go back to kindergarten every year. So why aren’t our salespeople going back every year?”
To keep sales skills fresh, HTSA is teaming with Audioquest, URC, Stewart Filmscreen, B&W and Digital Projection to offer a full day of training for dealers. The first half of the day will be dedicated to basic sales training, and the second half for manufacturer-specific training.
HTSA is teaming with the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) to help dealers exploit CEA’s “Demo Days,” taking place this year during the weekends of June 21 and June 28.
CEA is “funding development of all creative elements,” Hana says, including marketing materials co-branded with the participating dealer – a $2,500 value.
HTSA dealers were raving about HTSA’s latest marketing piece, the “Home Technology Guide.”
The 42-page oversized glossy book “speaks to the quality and high-end [nature] that all your solutions help to provide,” Hana says.
More than 22,000 copies were printed in the first run, and HTSA is planning another run.
In other HTSA News
During the spring event, Hana went to great lengths to remind members that HTSA is member owned.
“We funnel every dollar back to the cause,” he says. “It doesn’t go to my Ferrari or harems of wives. That is unlike most other organizations. We’re very proud of that.”
Hana also is proud of the fact that this latest HTSA event drew so many participants: “It’s been a long time since 227 people showed up.”
While not every dealer sold more stuff compared to the previous year, 70% of dealers grew they’re bottom lines, according to Hana.
“They’ve been transitioning their business,” he says, to focus on more profitable installations.
Being smarter about their businesses means the owners don’t have to waste time in the back office, Hana says. “We’re seeing a lot of owners being more the face of the business. It’s important when dealing with CEOs and high-worth clients.”
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at [email protected]
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