Solid state lighting group launches, SSL Summit picking up speed

A new opportunity to communicate… Solid State Lighting Design has
just launched a Linked-In group (this
, might get you there if you already have a Linked-in account, which
is free, othewise search groups for “solid state lighting” and you’ll
spot our logo). Linked-In seems to be a solid tool of choice among a wide variety
of professionals, and we’re going to use it to assess the value of comments
and interaction, as well as the work load it creates for our organization. We’ve
tied in the RSS feeds that chunk up our current SSL Design news stories, which
should be the basis of the comment threads. Having taken a look at a few other
groups out there, it’s easy to see the value diminshers, including unmoderated
discussion topics which turn into advertisements for companies or services,
some not even directly involved with the industry. The good news is that no
one is anonymous on Linked-In, so offenders only embarrass themselves. The bad
news is that no one is anonymous, so some of the more “gritty” thoughts
we might otherwise get to see won’t find their way into words. It’s a start.
Be sure to check it out.

And for a quick chuckle in about “groups”, we came across one in
the SSL industry that reminded us how exciting the industry is, in the sense
that lots of people might be jumping in without yet having all the tools that
it takes to really be “a lighting company”. The description of the
group sort of speaks for itself (direct cut and paste, misspellings and extra
words as they appeared): The [name removed] group wants to hear from business
professionals who offer some unique talent to the our firm. The market stienks
and securing an opportunity that is geared towards helping the environment that
is lucrative is rough. We are mover and shakers and are on a global mission
to help rid the planet of mercury infested inneficient lighting. If you are
connected and want to contribute, while earning some nice cake, then we look
forward to hearing from you!
I expect the author isn’t the same one putting
together their press releases, and we’ll claim our share of occasional typos,
but when the rubber meets the road there in the sales channel, are lighting
decision makers seeing the consistent professionalism that they need to for
LED lighting to be a credible industry?

Luxeon High Power

SSL Design Summit is picking up momentum… You would be hard pressed
to miss the banners we fly about, so be sure to give a click and check out the
current topic agendas to see what’s coming up in New York/New Jersey Nov 3-4
and then in Los Angeles Dec 1-2. The fact that there are both East and West
coast versions should be a hint that we’re regionalizing the conferences to
better meet the lighting decision maker audiences where they live. We’d also
like to recognize the now-full compliment of co-chairs for the 2009 series,
which include Jeff Miller of Pivotal Lighting
, Kathy Abernathy of Abernathy
Lighting Design
, Randy Sabedra of RS Lighting
and now, Andy Powell of Lighting
Design Alliance
. (Anyone notice a pattern there? Hint: “lighting design”).
Jeff and Kathy are, respectively, the President and President-Elect of the International
Association of Lighting Designers (IALD),
while Randy and Andy are both past presidents of their respective sections of
the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES).
All will be speaking, along with a number of their lighting design/engineer/architect
colleagues, and one is currently even an LED skeptic, having been burned by
some poor quality and service in a somewhat recent attempt to incorporate LED-based
lighting in a project.

The Summit series is all about quality…
Remember that when theory and reality collide, reality always wins. LED
lighting offers the promise of incredible efficiency, capability and performance,
but there can still be a bit of a gap here in the real world. Focus #1 will
be to educate, inform and connect lighting decision makers with quality
LED lighting companies and their thought processes
, in order to equip them
to make the best business decisions concerning the inclusion of solid state
lighting in their projects. To that end, as we’ve always done for our speakers/topics,
we’ll also be vetting the reception evening showcase companies, and even
our sponsors, to assure that products anyone sees live, hears about in a talk,
or companies that are promoted, are pretty highly assured to perform as advertised
(We contend that if the big lighting trade show took this approach, only 20
or so booths there would be showing SSL products… wouldn’t that make the lighting
decision maker’s job easier). Focus #2 will be on educating and informing
luminaire manufacturers (great, good and other) with the real needs of lighting
decision makers
, as well as connecting them to quality enabling technology
providers so they can better access the tools they need to implement quality
products that serve the customer’s needs. Simple enough. For direct conference
links, you can visit the NY/NJ,
LA or

Conferences – Good ones are still incredibly valuable, others aren’t…
Strictly as an illustration, an announcement for a non-LED or SSL industry conference
crossed my desk recently, pronouncing how good things were going, and that if
you hurry here at the last minute, you can “register one, bring one free”. Seems
to us you should get the same deal if you already registered, especially since
you showed the commitment to register early, providing the organizer with oft-needed
cashflow that is used to better promote an event. Makes you wonder if the commitment
of the conference is at all to the industry, or merely to themselves. We always
challenge those evaluating their yearly/quarterly conference plan to ask themselves
a two-part question: “Does the conference deliver well thought out and
organized content, and do they have ‘skin in the game’ in which their success
is linked to helping the industry to succeed , or can they just bail out and
do a conference in some other industry?” Two-for-one or other last minute
discounts are a hint that the underlying value may not be there, and past attendees
are not choosing to be attendees this time around. Exceptions exist of course,
as can be the case if an industry consolidation occurs (simply fewer companies
around) or if it turned out that something else created a calendar or attention
conflict (been there, done that). If those exceptions aren’t applicable, challenge
your assumption of the value.

An often missed value component – the web… Shhhh, it’s a secret: Advertising
and sponsorships are about branding and messaging, not about “click throughs”.
Are TV and radio advertisers so ignorant that they’ve tossed away hundreds of
billions in 30-second ads without a single click-through… or is it maybe really
about branding, recognition and messaging? “Calls to action” happen separately,
based on PR and news reports in an industry such as ours, especially news concerning
a new product introduction or a substantial application/account win. Broadly
speaking, what should you get from a Summit conference sponsorship?

1) Association with an event that demands quality from its high-visibility
participants. It’s a visible testimony to the industry that you are also a company
that values substance and quality of performance over hype. (Brand-building
by association, and proof that you “made the cut”).

2) Branding exposure. While 150-250 people may attend the events, we typically
see 50K-100K page views on the conference websites. Premium sponsors logo’s
and links appear on all of those pages, while smaller sponsors appear on many
of them (at the bottom, but where there is still important content). Between
all of the events, attendees will likely account for 3000 or less of the page
views. The other 47,000-97,000 are still saturated with the branding, and each
one helps solidify that quality-association connection. Not everyone gets that
concept, but we find the most successful companies in the industry sure do.

And what if you are a luminaire manufacturer and don’t (yet) qualify for a
high visibility position? No sweat. There’s a limited number of such positions,
so it’s not a ding against you in anyone’s eyes, and we’re not publicizing who
didn’t qualify. We just can’t offer the implicit endorsement and exposure that
comes with a high profile sponsorship. Your mission is to be there to hear from,
and network with, the decision makers to really understand their needs, and
to grasp the latest from the quality LED and other component suppliers, so you
know the latest about the resources and expertise that you need to in order
to position your product to qualify in the future.

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