Each year, hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of attendees gather at CEDIA EXPO to learn about all of the great new products and innovations in the custom electronics industry. Upon arriving at CEDIA EXPO, attendees get to marvel at the new introductions in home audio, home automation, networking, video displays, accessories and more, all showcased in great looking booths, or featured in the leading media outlets (like HomeToys!).

However, what attendees rarely get to see are teams of savvy public relations and marketing professionals hard at work to make sure the exhibitors are kept top of mind amongst everyone at the show. These teams, or sometimes individuals, are busy writing press releases, creating booth designs, managing press conferences, attending networking events and so much more. By nature, their jobs require that they stay well in front of industry trends so it’s not uncommon to find marketing and PR professionals to be a go-to resource for the bigger picture of things.

One such individual is industry veteran Coleen Sterns Leith, president of Marketing Matters (http://www.marketingmatters.net), a full-service communications firm that specializes in consumer electronics, technology, high end home goods for B2B and consumer brands. Beyond providing the industry with marketing and PR services, Sterns Leith is passionate about helping the industry grow. She has served as a member of the Consumer Electronics Association Audio Division Board since 2006 and has serves as chairperson for the CEDIA Professional Services Action Team.

To gain some insight into the world of CEDIA and CEDIA EXPO, we took a few moments to catch up with Sterns Leith as she and her team prepare for this year’s show.

Marketing Matters has been involved with CEDIA for a long time, what is the biggest change you have seen over the years in the show?

“One of the biggest changes I’ve seen over the past decade is the professionalism of everyone in attendance, including dealers. As the custom electronics industry has grown, it has also dramatically matured. Over the past 10 years we’ve enjoyed some of the highest highs this industry has ever experienced and also had to weather arguably the toughest economic climate we’ve ever faced. I think through that, dealers have evolved from the “enthusiast turned entrepreneur” lifestyle into legitimate business owners and employees. Dealers used to go to CEDIA EXPO just to party and hang out with old friends, but now dealers who make the wise investment in attending the show go to CEDIA EXPO with a focused approach, looking for new ways to grow their businesses.“

What are the primary features of CEDIA EXPO that you and your clients focus on (i.e. Show floor, training, seminars etc.)?

“As one of the CEDIA channel’s only true full-service, integrated marketing communications agencies, we have a wide range of responsibilities at CEDIA EXPO, but the main objective we work to achieve is driving dealers to our clients at the show. From booth design to wall graphics, public relations activities to brand and product launches, our team’s collective efforts are dedicated to helping our clients get their message in front of their customers.”

What makes CEDIA an important show for your clients?

“CEDIA EXPO has always been a great opportunity for our clients to get valuable face time with existing customers as well as meet new dealers who may not have been previously aware of their company. Each year—and this year is no exception—the show also serves as the platform for a number of great product launches and a venue in which our clients can host product training to keep their customers ahead of the curve.”

Who are you trying to attract at CEDIA and how do you go about it?

“We work with companies involved in every capacity within the CEDIA channel, including distributors, manufacturers, dealers and service professionals. Every business has a need for marketing and over the past 16-plus years, we have entrenched ourselves within the custom and consumer electronics industry, leaning the business inside and out.“

“When we actually go to a show like CEDIA EXPO, beyond assisting our clients, we look to find and meet companies in need of marketing support. Whether it’s a start-up with a limited budget or one of the industry’s biggest brands looking to launch the next great product, we seek to find any company who could benefit from our services. Fortunately for us, CEDIA EXPO has always been a great place for networking. From CEDIA-sponsored receptions to the after-hours parties, there is no shortage of opportunities to get out there an meet people at CEDIA EXPO.”

“In addition to networking, this year, we actually signed up to exhibit on the show floor. We’ll be sharing a booth (#2750) with our great friends at Bedrock Learning and plan on conducting short video interviews with our clients, industry representatives, members of the press and more to offer additional insight into the show.”

What does CEDIA do right and how could they improve?

“As I mentioned before, I think CEDIA has always done a tremendous job organizing networking events throughout the show. These events are a great asset to anyone in attendance because it’s a way to meet new people and conduct business at the show.”

“I think CEDIA has also put a great deal of recent effort into consumer outreach, working hard on behalf of its members to build awareness about the industry. As the custom and consumer electronics industry has quickly evolved, CEDIA is working hard to re-invent itself. I think they are doing a great job to not only stay relevant to the channel, but to step up as a resource for its members.”

Tell us a bit about some of your clients attending CEDIA and what new and exciting products and services the will be showcasing.

“We have six clients exhibiting plus our own company booth so this CEDIA EXPO looks to be incredibly busy for the team at Marketing Matters.”

“For dealers looking for the next opportunities in green technology, the great folks at Energy Squad and RoseWater Energy Group have partnered for one amazing presentation at booth (#426), which Marketing Matters proudly designed!“

“After launching at CEDIA EXPO 2012, Energy Squad, the industry’s first green tech distributor, returns to showcase an ever-growing range of eco-friendly home automation, LED lighting and power management solutions from vendors such as Nest, Cree, Juno Lighting and more.

“RoseWater will use CEDIA EXPO 2013 to introduce the next version of the Residential Energy Storage Hub. Sitting at a fraction of the size of the unit shown at CEDIA EXPO 2012 and offering the flexibility to incorporate a range of different battery storage options, the new RoseWater Hub has the capability to maximize all of the benefits of renewable energy sources and condition all in-coming power supplies for maximum output.”

“One of the most talked-about categories within the CEDIA channel is the home network. Understanding the needs of dealers, our client Access Networks (booth #3329) will give dealers a look behind the scenes of their award winning enterprise-grade network solutions, offering a cool educational opportunity that guides dealers through aspects of specifying, installing and managing enterprise-grade networks.”

“On the home automation side, TiO (#3628) brings its much-talked-about Android-based home automation system to CEDIA EXPO for the first time. Dealers attending CEDIA EXPO will see the TiO ecosystem featuring an impressive lineup of Wi-Fi-configured and controlled streaming, multi-zone audio, wireless lighting and climate control products.”

“If home audio is what a dealer is looking for, AudioXperts (#3326) will introduce a new addition to its 4TV Home Audio Consoles in the form of an ultra-compact single piece 2.1 channel system as well as VIEWS, an elegant and unique on-wall speaker solution that will defy conventional wall-mounted speaker concepts.”

“Metra Home Theater Group (#110) will proudly showcase its new EHD EVOLV cables which combine cool new design techniques, state-of-the-art silicon, and system-specific custom programming functionality for Ultra HD applications.”