Interview – Training days22 September 2010
Established in 2003, Pulse Marketing has carved out an enduring niche in the home cinema segment of the custom installation market, and has distribution responsibilities for brands including AudioControl, D-BOX, Runco and Screen Research. But now the Bishop’s Stortford based company stands on the verge of an exciting new phase of expansion, as founder Mike Beatty tells David Davies.
How did Pulse Marketing come into existence?
I have been working in the CI/AV industry for 20 years now, starting out with Audiofile, before moving on to positions with KEF and Gecko. After that, I decided that I really wanted to go out on my own, and that led me to establish Pulse Marketing.
I knew that it would take some time to realise my vision of a company that could serve as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for custom installers who are serious about home cinema, so for a while I essentially operated as an agent for different brands. The second stage of development began four years ago when I wrote a plan about what I wanted the company to look like, and worked my way back from there in terms of getting the [necessary] people and brands. Four years on, we have those brands and those people, and the business is progressing very nicely.
So if the ‘second phase’ is complete, what happens next?
Over the last few days we have been working hard to determine precisely that! The aim has been to draw up a plan for the next five years and develop what we already have. In addition, we are developing a training company with its own facility in Bishop’s Stortford. The new company will be called On the Pulse, and will offer training and development for our home cinema dealers and installers.
As an industry, I think that we have all been guilty of underselling; that’s why you have the [lingering] perception in the UK of home cinema as a plasma on the wall and a few speakers dotted around it. Slowly, we are all getting to grips with the fact that people are willing to spends tens of thousands – sometimes hundreds of thousands – on home cinema systems. Part of the aim with the new training company is to help dealers to become more confident of specifying bigger and better systems, and to ensure that they ask the right questions that will allow them to deliver the system the client deserves.
We are already 90% through the development of our very own M.I.S.C selling programme for custom installers and dealers, and also an ‘introduction to cinema’ course. We expect to have accreditation to teach ISF Phase 2 in the UK soon. Those courses should launch during the next few months, with another half-a-dozen to follow on from that.
You already have an extensive brand distribution portfolio covering every aspect of home cinema, but should we expect more additions in the near-future?
We are very happy with the brands that we have now, so I don’t think there will be much development there. However, we do fly out to Atlanta this month and will spend a week looking at what’s new in the world of custom, so who knows what we may find?
Our main focus is going to be on helping our current dealer base to find more clients. It is clear that our target audience comprises very wealthy individuals, and we are going to be working very hard over the coming year to help our dealers to locate them. The training initiative is part of that.
I do not wish to underplay the effects of the recession out there in any way, but I am pleased to say that we have continued to grow as a company [throughout the downturn] and even took on three new staff members earlier this year. I think that our focus on high-end cinema as well as giving dealers and custom installers the assistance they need to feel confident about selling bigger and better systems has been a real asset in this regard.
Many recent IE Residential interviewees have alluded to rising activity levels in recent months. Would you go along with that observation?
I would; there has been an upturn in both the value of orders and the number of enquiries. We have ongoing conversations with at least 20 dealers who are about to close sales on big systems, although not all of them have quite managed to secure the client deposit yet. People are more cautious when it comes to ‘pressing the button’ these days, which is why it is so important to undertake all the preparation that I have referred to and ensure that our dealers and installers win the job.