Here are a few of my tips as you consider CES 2018.
1. Be strategic.
Think about “What you want to get out of CES?” Do you want to raise overall industry awareness, launch a new product or service or just network to establish more partnerships? You’ll need a solid strategy, 6-12 months of planning and clear, defined goals. Otherwise you may just get lost in the crowd.
2. Don’t say YES to a big booth unless you’re a large brand.
CES draws the most popular brands in consumer electronics – Think smart home, car tech, wearables, augmented reality and robots – super cool technology. To put this in perspective, last year, there were 170,000 attendees and nearly 4,000 exhibitors. That’s a lot of competition for mindshare. So, if you’re a startup, you should consider the pros, cons and costs carefully. For startups, there is a designed area called Eureka Park where innovative startups can shine at CES at a reduced cost. I’ve had startups exhibit here who felt like they got some good visibility.
3. Location matters.
This applies to anything you do at CES — your physical booth location needs to be in one of the main showrooms and if you’re planning a party, you need to select a venue that’s walkable or provide transportation. The cab lines at CES can take hours to transport people to and from events.
4. Pre-brief on news, don’t release it.
At CES, timing is everything. Many big tech firms no longer use CES to announce major product updates. For example, Microsoft and Apple no longer exhibit. Samsung and Amazon tend to exhibit but not to announce new products or flagship devices. For startups, an effective strategy is to use CES as a way to pre-brief media under embargo and then later release the news at a time where there’s less competition for media coverage like later in January.
5. Pitch the media early.
With more than 6,500 journalists from around the world – there is a huge opportunity to connect with tech, business and consumer journalists in-person. However, they book their schedules up early – so make sure you start pitching for 1:1s in mid-December. Some journalists will do CES interviews on the phone and pre-write their stories before they go. Others will want to meet onsite and see a demo. Don’t wait until after the Christmas holiday or their schedules will be completely filled up.
6. Attend press events.
In addition to 1:1 media interviews onsite, consider investing in a press event like Pepcom’s Digital Experience, Showstoppers, or CES Unveiled, the official media event of CES. These events put you in front of some of the world’s most influential media and analysts, where they can see and try your new products…and form a working relationship with you.
7. Be prepared to party.
Every year, there is a dizzying array of cool events. CES at night is truly spectacular. Some of the best networking of the conference takes place after hours. If possible, get on the guest lists and use these parties as an opportunity to network and have fun!
Finally, there is an interesting non-tech trend happening at CES. CES 2017 featured Hollywood stars, popular musicians, sports legends and TV personalities promoting innovative products and technologies revolutionizing the ways consumers work, play, connect and access information. In addition, non-tech brands have been introduced to CES as a way to showcase consumer products to a large, engaged global audience.
For example, last year, L’Oréal introduced the world’s first smart hairbrush, which uses algorithms to score the quality of the user’s hair and to monitor the effects of different hair care routines. CES helped L’Oréal to be credible in the tech field, as a leader in the beauty industry.
As a result of this trend, many non-tech companies are now following suit –to use CES as a way to more broadly attract consumers and reach the broader business and marketing worlds.
Need help preparing a pitch for trade shows? Reach out.