The annual ALA Conference has always been a greatly anticipated meeting of the (lighting) minds, but perhaps at no other time has strength in numbers been more valuable than during this uncertain economy. Join your fellow lighting industry members in brainstorming solutions to combat the business problems of today and tomorrow together. With the theme “Ride the Wave to Success,” the 2011 ALA Conference promises to deliver innovative tools, proven techniques, and incomparable networking opportunities to its membership. Among the hot topics on the roster are discovering the leading design trends, social media tactics, and methods for differentiating your company from the competition. We asked several ALA members what they are looking forward to most at this month’s meet-up at the historic Breakers resort.
“I have always enjoyed attending the ALA Conference (previously with Prestige Products and now with Boston Retail). There is no better venue for networking with various segments of the lighting community in a non-competitive environment. There’s simply not much opportunity to spend concentrated time with your peers and share ideas during a busy trade show. “Last year I attended the conference as a member of the Boston Retail team, but did not have a booth. We were so pleased with the attention that our display product line for lighting showrooms and manufacturers received just from word of mouth and networking that we opted to have a booth in the common area during the conference this year where we’ll be able to more formally answer questions, show samples of our designs, and provide product literature.” Frank Hays, Boston Retail
“As a lighting showroom owner, I find being a member of ALA to be of great value. I get quick, up-to-date information on new energy laws that affect my business – which is extremely important since I am located in California [where there is a lot of legislation]. In addition, the education and marketing tools available to me as a member have been invaluable! “I’m looking forward to the seminar ‘New Revenue in a World of Declining Margins.’ With all of the Internet selling and the consumer calling the pricing shots, it has been a challenge to make money. The economy has created this buying mentality and it has caused retail distribution to sell to the consumer at unheard of prices. This further erodes the margins and is driving product value into the ground. I hope this seminar will shed a little ‘light’ on the situation and offer suggestions on how to deal with this new challenge.” Judy Ziccardi
“I love coming to the ALA Conference because it is such a great networking opportunity! Where else can you talk to other people from all over the country who work in the same niche job as you? I always take pages and pages of notes of great ideas to try back home. I also love getting the free House Beautiful magazines, the Bright Ideas newsletter, and all of the educational support the ALA gives to the retailers. My whole staff is ALA-certified and we try to attend the ALA’s monthly Webinars.“The Conference seminars ‘Marketing Locally on the Internet,’ ‘ Relationship Marketing & How to Grow Your Business,’ and ‘Harnessing Technology to Sell More Lighting Products’ sound so good that I talked our marketing director, Patty Jordan, into joining us at the Conference for the first time this year. Another favorite part of the Conference is the Manufacturers’ Exhibits. It’s my number one opportunity to get an audience with the manufacturers. They are often way too busy to spend time with you in Dallas, but they are totally available at the ALA Conference.” Catherine Schlawin, Dominion Electric Supply
“The educational seminars at the Conference are extremely beneficial to my business in many ways. I especially get a lot of value from John Arnold’s sessions on Web site design, e-marketing, and search engine optimization. The ALA offers educational classes online all year as well; they’re an easy way for a salesperson to look like an expert in the eyes of a customer. Best of all, the Webinars are scheduled at various times to accommodate the different schedules of my staff members. “The industry networking that I do at each ALA Conference is invaluable. I get to hear the best practices and innovative ideas that apply precisely to my business. Who wants to reinvent the wheel? Since the rules of the Conference are not to conduct actual business, it puts everyone in a setting that is relaxed and free-flowing. The ALA Conference must be experienced to actually understand the true benefit!” Bruce Bellwood, Tuthill Lighting