Local Wine & Design Events Create Connections
August 11, 2014
Wendy Smart, a SitOnIt Seating and IDEON Sales Representative for BLG Reps, is making connections, having fun and driving SitOnIt Seating and IDEON sales thanks to some powerful networking and some fun at Wine & Design events.
The gatherings, which she organizes with members of other design-minded companies including Momentum Group for textiles, Interface for carpet and Fashion Architectural Design for vertical surfaces, help busy A&D professionals get a look at their latest design offerings by bringing products directly to them.
Wendy began after learning how to hold these events in a training session organized by BLG Reps in December. SitOnIt Seating provides “Wine Passport” with information about the wines that will be tasted at the event along with the SOI products that will be on display. Wendy decided that, with the A&D community’s busy schedule, if they couldn’t attend a fun, social event outside the office, the event would come to them. She worked with her partners to come up with a list of A&D firms to approach.
Setting up the shows involved creating vignettes where potential clients could visualize the final look of a product in its environment. Wendy and the rest of the group decided that the organizing principle behind the vignettes would be the color palette. For this event, the group set up three distinct vignettes with carpet, wall covering, fabric and coordinating seating by SOI. They had brochures from each vendor so interested participants could find out more about the products.
This event is designed for fun. Because participants are being invited into spaces, being served wine and chocolate – and because the events are held after work, the atmosphere is casual and friendly. Attendees can explore and ask questions of representatives who have the answers. On arrival, they are handed a wine glass and a wine passport – with SitOnIt Seating and IDEON wine and chair pairings! – and then begin to explore. “This is a great advantage to A&D companies that are busy and don’t have the time to set up meetings or presentations during the work day,” says Wendy. “This way they get to see a variety of products/vendors all at once in a relaxed, social setting.”
The First Time
Getting an event coordinated with multiple vendors – and busy attendees – can initially be complicated. But Wendy attests that once planned and executed the first one, it just got easier to duplicate.
Wendy’s first step was to find partners to share coordination and expenses. The wine is provided by SitOnIt Seating – from Russian River Vineyards. The coordinators, here, Wendy and her three partners, pitch in to buy cheese, fruit and chocolate, so the cost is kept down. When the group began throwing these events, they chose A&D firms where someone had a connection or good relationship. They also chose firms they thought would be excited about hosting a social event. That’s because these events are fun. They’re after work, there’s wine and cheese, and participants get to leisurely explore current trends and products. It’s a great way to show product and a low-stress way for the A&D Community to get to know you.
An Attendee’s Perspective
Liam Keesling, a Designer with Carson Design Associates, was impressed with the event when Wine & Design set up a show right in their office. The event started after work and designers were invited to taste different wines and enjoy appetizers as they explored the color-driven vignettes. Liam was impressed, “it was out of the ordinary, and we had a chance to experience new products and interact with the chairs.”He had heard of SitOnIt Seating and knew the products were affordable, but he’d never been able to see or touch – or sit in – the chairs. It was a game-changer. “Sometimes you think ‘affordable’, ‘low cost’ is going to mean low quality.
But they are great chairs.” These extraordinary events helped the A&D attendees get to know the product, actually test it out and envision it in some of their own projects. And the “good/better/best” scenarios – a piece of collateral available at the event – helped guide customers to the products that fit their needs and their budgets.
When, a week later, a project came in from Olivet Nazarene University, Liam thought of SitOnIt Seating. He specced the project with Amplify highback for offices and midback for conference rooms. They love the chairs. And this is just the beginning of a relationship with the university.
Wendy and her partners have organized nearly a dozen of the Wine & Design events and the success is building on itself. A&D firms – once a tough market to tackle because of their busy schedules – are now places to create personal connections that can lead to business down the road.