Mixer Host Profile: The Preset Group

February 3, 2014 by Dave Haynes


Pat Hellberg (L) and Dave Haynes of The Preset Group
Pretoria, S. Africa, June 2013

The annual Preset Group Mixer at DSE actually pre-dates the host company, as the first mixer was a loosely organized gathering in 2009 among the flaming fire pools, brass rails and red velvet of the Peppermill Lounge in Las Vegas. I did that one under the auspices of Digital Out-of-home Professionals and Executives Society, otherwise known as DOPES.

I really should put some effort into formalizing DOPES.

presetlogo250pxAnyway, a year later The Preset Group was up and running, and we did a much larger mixer with sponsors and everything at a bar in the Palazzo. The event has  grown from there, and has certainly helped build name recognition for Preset. But, I still get questions from industry people asking what Preset is all about.

The elevator pitch: We’re independent advisors and guides for end-users and vendors, there to help get digital signage initiatives right. All we sell is good advice.

When Pat Hellberg and I do management consulting for end-users, we’re typically in with a company very early in the process, helping them work through what they want to do, and why. We then help them work out the strategy and programming model, and then the technical, budget and operating implications. Sometimes that takes a couple of days. Sometimes it takes a couple of weeks or months. We have a client that’s been with us for more than two years.

Last year, we did one gig that saw us both in South Africa, working with a wireless retailer for six weeks on site. One Sunday, we went to a pro rugby game (pic above) which was cool, and I managed to quickly find the Pretoria version of tail-gating. It’s a rare picture of Pat and I in the same place. He’s in Portland, Oregon (he worked for many years at Nike) and I am three time zones away, in outer, outer, outer Toronto.

Several times, I’ve been involved in the RFP process – scoping and writing them, and often leading the decision and selection process. I act as the bullshit filter, which end-users tend to need and love. Pat’s dug into projects focused specifically on optimizing content and creative workflow.

We’ve also worked with a pile of vendors – SW, displays, devices – to help them figure out their market opportunity and go to market strategy, as well as partner programs and reseller education. Most vendors in this space will nod their head knowingly when I say there is no end of work to be done teaching resellers and integrators how to sell a solution, instead of selling SKUs.

Our value proposition is no bullshit, no cheerleading. Just frank discussions and an earnest goal of optimizing the plan and opportunity. It resonates well, though once in a while we lose out when a prospect wants a nice tie and lots of buzzword bingo time. Oh well.

We don’t do a lot of boasting about who we work with, but you can go here and see the 5K road race logo blizzard of clients. It’s out of date, but you’ll get the idea. Pat and I both have separate businesses – me writing, him creative. He just wrapped a huge Super Bowl project done for Gatorade.

We don’t have a booth at DSE, but both Pat and I will be in Las Vegas and looking around. If your company needs advice, send me a note and we’ll set up a chat. If the chat’s at some place that has Avery White Rascal on tap, I’m buying.

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