Driving up to LSI Industries's 160,000-square-foot facility in Houston, Texas, the scene is reminiscent of any industrial park -- sprawling, nondescript buildings and warehouses dot the roadway, in this case, Sommermeyer Street.
But inside the two-story manufacturing plant, where Ohio-based LSI runs lighting, graphics and technology operations, is another picture and one that LSI hopes plays a role in making it memorable when hosting clients.
LSI has a showroom made for presentations. Like most conference rooms, it features a table, television screens and conferencing tools. But that's where the similarities end.
LSI has life-size models of its products as they would appear in retail stores and at gas stations. The 5,000-square-foot room is -- strategically -- packed with scale models of the signs used at gas pumps owned by RUBIS Group and illuminated menu boards it makes for Coldstone Creamery, among others. Its showpiece is a faux elevator, which has been screen printed and displayed on one wall of the room.
"Our customers are always impressed when they enter as it is a pleasant surprise after entering a typical industrial park property," says Patrick White, LSI account executive.
Dubbed the 68th Floor, after the founding year of the Houston site's original company, Screen Graphics Inc., the room is designed to transport clients "to a place focused on image, demonstrating the fact that graphics can convey any feeling or mood if implemented correctly," according to Matt Pentifallo, LSI creative director.
The idea has been so successful that LSI also has similar conference rooms in two of its other facilities -- in Cincinnati and North Canton, Ohio.
More Than the Right Words
Vladimir Gendelman, CEO of Company Folders, a provider of print marketing materials, says presentations that stand out are ones that ensure every detail, from the environment to the physical materials, are memorable.
"The best business presentations come from more than just using the right words," he says.
He offers four steps to giving a presentation that will linger in the minds of the audience.
- Distribute custom-printed handouts.
- Use (but don't overuse) PowerPoint.
- Incorporate video.
- Bring product samples.
Here's a personal example to illustrate that last point. I started my career as a business reporter for a daily newspaper in rural Ohio. At a routine luncheon for small manufacturers roughly five years ago, Robert Schoonover, founder of Schoonover Industries Inc., a small precision metal fabricator, distributed round-to-its during his presentation on the company. The coin was cut out of 20-gage brushed stainless steel and read "Ohio."
"It was intended to be both a novelty and a demonstration of our laser capabilities," says Schoonover, who designed the piece in AutoCad.
Now, three jobs and hundreds of meetings and interviews later, I still carry that coin in my wallet.
Schoonover was impressed I still had the coin. But maybe he was on to something?