One of the first things to be jettisoned by the business world following the onset of the coronavirus was the sales conference; that once-a-year opportunity for a company’s farflung salesforce to gather in one location to share solutions and strategies, celebrate successes and analyze failures, and most importantly, take an up-close-and-personal look at all the new products coming down the pipeline for the upcoming year.
And nowhere is the sharing of new product information more important than in the heady, cutting-edge world of medical technology. So, when COVID-19 hit, like most companies, Miamibased biotech company, TissueTech, a leader in medical technology utilizing amniotic and umbilical cord tissue, assumed their annual sales conclave would have to be postponed indefinitely.
In the fast-moving world of biotech, companies are driven to constantly innovate or die. As a result, the development of new products is hardwired into TissueTech’s corporate DNA. Unfortunately for the sales force, TissueTech’s new products aren’t easy to understand, like buckets or brooms. It takes an advanced degree to understand the technology behind each new product, let alone learn how to use the company’s products in the operating room. TissueTech’s sales force must carefully explain the company’s new offerings to surgeons and medical specialists worldwide, who will then have to use them.
And that’s why a well-trained salesforce with a complete understanding of the complex nuances of every new product is essential to the company’s marketing success. And also why sales conferences are so important. So, when faced with the cancellation of the sales meeting, executives at TissueTech asked the million-dollar question countless businesses are asking themselves these days. Can this event be done virtually?
LET THE BIDDING BEGIN: FROM TOTALLY OUTRAGEOUS TO “OH MY GOD”
It turned out that the answer to that question was yes, and the TissueTech marketing staff was tasked with finding out just how expensive going virtual would be. But TissueTech’s sales conference is no mere Excel slide deck with a few sales projection pie charts thrown in for good measure. Traditionally the conference is a full 3-day event with multiple presentation sites where doctors, researchers, and medical technology designers give detailed demonstrations of how each new product is designed to be used. With that complexity in mind, production companies were contacted and bids collected. But once the bids were in, the folks at TissueTech were shocked. They ranged from totally outrageous to “Oh my God.”
MAD CRAZY PRODUCTIONS TO THE RESCUE
And that’s when Scott Wellington, owner of Miami’s Mad Crazy Production came on the scene. “Covid hit and TissueTech’s national sales convention was going to be cancelled. But the price to go virtual was astronomical. It was six figures. But I told them I could do the meeting for half that price. They were concerned that I wouldn’t be able to do everything that was on their wish list for the meetings, but I assured them I could give them everything the other companies were promising with the same quality or possibly even better. And that’s exactly what I did.”
Wellington enlisted the help of Miami NewTek resupplier Midtown Video to supply cameras, lights and the two TriCasters he used to carry out TissueTech’s master plan for the 3-day event. The schedule for each day’s meetings included an opening session for all employees followed by ten daily break-out sessions, five on each green screen set, each with its own interactive livestream. Then, the entire staff would come together for the day’s closing session. For the most part, virtual attendees watched presentations about the company’s various new products on one livestream or the other via Ring Central and were able to ask their questions and interact with presenters in real time.
“TALK TO ME, GOOSE:” A TOP GUNINSPIRED PRESENTATION AND A FINALE WITH GLITZ AND GLAMOUR
In another case, Wellington tells me, two of the presenters wanted to go all out and designed their talk to mimic the movie Top Gun, including full military costuming. “We put the two presenters on a military runway set and they called one another Goose and Maverick. It was very fun.” And at the close of the three-day sales event, Wellington had to pull out all the stops, as TissueTech staged a gala awards ceremony where the top performing salespeople in the organization were recognized. “We had to come up with a background that incorporated all the glitz and glamour of a Hollywood awards show. And thanks to NewTek’s NDI® technology, each of the award-winners were able to give an acceptance speech from their homes.”
TRICASTER’S NUMBER-ONE FAN
After several years of working with the Heat, Lipsey went on to become a fixture on the Miami freelance production scene. And he’s also the TriCaster’s Number-One fan. “Oh, TriCaster is great,” Lipsey says. “I can bring in setups that I’ve worked on in past shows and easily tweak them for use in a new show. TriCaster makes that easy.” “The best thing about TriCaster is the ability to build macros. You’re not restricted to four ME’s like you are with other switchers. And on each ME, you can easily call up another set-up, so you can bounce back and forth, and copy effects from one ME to another. It’s simple with a TriCaster because it’s so versatile.”
WELLINGTON’S SECRET WEAPONS
There were two good reasons for Wellington’s confidence. Number one: NewTek’s TriCaster. And number two: NewTek’s revolutionary NDI® technology, which allows production switchers, capture systems, and media servers to access any video source, regardless of location. “NewTek was really my only option,” Wellington tells me. “I knew we had remote presenters. I knew we had green screen. I knew it was three days. I knew we had to piggyback two separate sets, sometimes with the same feed, sometimes with two separate feeds. Using two TriCasters gave us the power of an entire production truck that would have cost a small fortune to rent for a 3 days event. Everything had to work right. Given how complex the set-up was for these meetings, TriCaster was the perfect choice.”
A TWO DAY SET-UP AND THREE DAYS OF LEARNING
Wellington’s prep work for the 3-day meeting began two days before the meeting’s big kickoff session. “The first day was spent working with TissueTech’s IT department, networking into their system, setting up the two TriCasters, and running the Ethernet cables to make sure their network could handle us without mitigated traffic,” Wellington says. “On day two, I brought in the grip, lighting and production crews and we built the four cameras and lit the two green screen sets. Then we fleshed out the control facility with audio and teleprompter.”
“Ring Central is like Zoom Pro,” Wellington says. “It gave TissueTech the ability to run surveys and have break-out rooms. But what Ring Central doesn’t allow is green screen and virtual sets, of which we had many. The live Chroma key was a big deal for the client.” But at times, things got even more complicated. “Our two TriCasters were set-up so that Studio A could feed the livestream from Studio B and vice versa,” Wellington tells me. “We actually had one case where two doctors simultaneously shared a slide deck. They traded back and forth while they were 2,000 miles away from one another and it all worked flawlessly.”
BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE BIG SHOW
No matter what the TissueTech marketing team threw at Wellington and his crew, the TriCaster was able to accommodate. “The great thing about a TriCaster -is that you don’t have to worry about it. Our two TriCasters were rock solid. You just turn them on and they work. Confidence was high among the crew that we could do whatever was asked of us.” Wellington also credits the event’s success to the crew. “I hired the best of the best,” Wellington says. Leading the crew was TriCaster veteran Steve Lipsey. “My first experience with the TriCaster was working for the Miami Heat,” Lipsey tells me. “They used their TriCaster to cover halftime, pre-game and postgame shows for the games, and they wanted the shows to match the quality of the network coverage from TNT or ESPN. TriCaster was great for that.”
A HIGH FLYING SUCCESS
Thanks to Wellington, Lipsey and the rest of the Miamibased crew, the TissueTech sales conference went off without a hitch. “TissueTech was over the moon,” Wellington says. “We even came in under budget and we were able to pull off something that was amazing. The theme for the conference was “Level Up” and, because of NewTek and the TriCaster, that was something our production was able to do.” According to Wellington, in addition to his all-star crew, much of the credit for the 3-day presentation’s success can be credited to the NewTek tools he used to pull off the production, including NDI® and the two TriCasters.
“There are major manufacturers out there who make webcasting products, but there’s only one tool that allows you to do what we did,” Wellington says. “Without NewTek and the TriCaster, we couldn’t have pulled this off. It was fantastic.” “It’s just a box of buttons, but it’s not. It’s so much more. The networking capabilities and remote presenting, the live Chroma key, the graphics packages, the lower 3rds, and all the other details you find in a large television production truck, all in one neat package, made TriCaster the obvious choice to pull this off. Without the available technologies in the TriCaster, I would never have been able to pull this off at the price I did it for.”