Cutting Through the Clutter at CES 2020
By Tim Johnson
Year after year, Consumer Electronics Show (CES) remains among my favorite trade shows, despite its enormous size and how hard it can be to get around. After attending the show for almost 20 years, the sheer amount of innovation, cool products and energy still inspires me.
The first show in 1967 featured innovations such as TVs with integrated circuits (replacing vacuum tubes), with 17,500 attending. Last year, over 175,000 attended and the innovations showcased had grown as much or more than the audience.
We have brought more than a dozen clients to CES over the years, some with enormous budgets, others with hardly any. In that time, we have learned a lot of lessons.
If you plan to make a splash with media at CES and haven’t booked booth or hotel space, you will need to get very creative, very quickly. Booth space at the convention center and many of the satellite hotels have been sold out for months, as have hotel rooms near these venues. Companies experienced with CES have already set up most or all of their media meetings and many editors’ calendars are already booked.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- You can still book rooms at hotels that are on the Strip or in other areas of Las Vegas. If you can, stay at hotels on or near the monorail route that runs to the convention center. This way, you can avoid traffic and the increased prices on shared ride apps.
- If you have a demo and need dedicated space, try to buy into booth space of a technology, channel or another type of partner. Don’t expect media to come to a room at your hotel, they will simply be too busy.
- Consider media events such as ShowStoppers, Pepcom and others. These are media-only events where companies purchase tables for approximately $9,000 – $12,000 and roughly 300 media will walk around and ask questions and for demos. These events eliminate the chaos of the cluttered showroom floor and assure you the best opportunities to meet the highest number of journalists in the shortest amount of time. For a new company with a new product, it can be a very efficient way to get your brand out there quickly.
- If you are planning to launch a new product, but lack a large budget and team, consider holding the launch in early December or after CES. Since thousands of companies distribute press releases daily at CES, it is likely your release will be “lost” in the noise, unless your brand is already well-known.
- Use CES as an opportunity to listen as well as to talk. Conveniently, CES is divided into several“Marketplaces” where companies with similar products are grouped. If you have a product for the robotics market, for example, walk around the Robotics Marketplace and talk to everyone you can.
- Think about CES in the overall cadence of your marketing activities. Don’t think of it as a one-off event. If your budget is tight, one potential scenario is to conduct your product launch in early December, meet with media at CES to offer demos, and hold a webinar in late January to keep marketing activity at a high level.
There are as many strategies for maximizing participation at CES as there are companies attending. In an extremely cluttered space, our team excels at developing strategies that help capture the attention of media to ensure that your company finds success not only at CES, but in the months to follow as well. If you want to maximize your investment, we are here to help!