We just got back from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and all I can say is WOW! CES can be daunting for both exhibitors and attendees. The show is massive with more than 180,000 attendees and technology that can blow your mind such as robots that can do just about anything, flying autonomous vehicles and televisions that roll up like posters.
Although the technology and products at the show are targeted at consumers, CES is primarily a B2B marketing event. It considered the world’s gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technologies and it has served as the proving ground for innovators and breakthrough technologies. The audience consists of technologists, retail buyers, engineers, distributors, media, analysts, banks, and manufacturers’ representatives. Companies use CES to get on the industry map, develop partnerships, and solicit orders from distribution.
Now that CES 2018 is over, it is time to decide whether you want to (or should) exhibit next year. Prime exhibit space goes fast, now is the time to make a decision. CES is a huge financial and resource commitment and should not be taken lightly. You should be clear on what you want to achieve prior to making the commitment.
Once you have decided it is a go, here are six tips to raise your visibility.
Think Visual – CES is an assault on the senses. Once you enter the show floor, you will typically see a sea of bland – white booths, minimal color. Your booth, graphics as well as all of your written materials need to stand out from the rest. This can be achieved by using color and/or design that is different from everyone else. You want people to see your booth and be curious enough to stop and look. Here are a few examples of booths that stood out from the pack - full of bold color and unique design elements.
Photo Credit: Exhibitor Magazine
Press Event – Consider participating in a “Meet the Press” event. There are many press opportunities at CES for exhibitors. You can hold your own press event during CES Media Days, which means renting a media room and competing with larger companies like Samsung, LG and Toyota for attention. You can hold an event on the show floor in your booth; however, you will have to convince reporters to visit your booth at a specific time – good luck with that! Even with the best intentions, it is very difficult for reporters (or anyone for that matter) to commit to a specific time. Just the crowds alone make it very difficult. We believe that for small companies, the best way to participate in a press event is with a curated showcase like Showstoppers or The Digital Experience by Pepcom. These companies set up a separate event in the evening and actively solicit press to attend with free food and open bar. You pay for an exhibit table as 1500+ media roam the ballroom looking at all the new innovations. It is a great way to narrow down the list of 7000+ media that attend CES each year and the quality of the attendees is very high – USA Today, The Today Show, etc.
Staff Properly – Make sure that you have enough of the right people representing you. You need people that can sell and close deals. You also need PR pros. The high end media wants to deal with a pro knowing that there is one person that will follow-up with requests. The executive team is busy closing business and they can’t effectively also support media activity – the sheer volume is just too great. The show is long and somewhat arduous to work. People need to take breaks during the day.
Teaser Campaign – Start early. As part of our normal programmatic outreach with reporters and analysts, we began having the CES conversation well in advance – in July when no one was talking about CES just to get on their radar. To drive more visitors to your booth, a combination of social media, email, and direct mail targeted at the people you want to speak with needs to begin two months prior to the event to help people know that you are going to be there.
Awards – Apply for CES awards. There are quite a few of them and media judges will come and see your innovation as part of the judging process. If you win, you will be featured in their publication on several occasions – one in an industry round up and a second time as a feature.
Easily Accessible Materials- Nobody wants to carry around a bunch of printed materials. Post all materials online and have the URL printed on business cards or on signage in your booth. Visitors will take a picture of the URL using their smart phone and access it later at their convenience.
CES is a huge commitment for a small to mid-sized company. Make every dollar count.