CES Is Coming, Are You Ready?

By Tim Johnson

Despite its enormous size and how hard it can be to get around, Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is still among my favorite trade shows. The sheer amount of innovation, cool products, and energy still inspires me, after attending pretty much every year since 1999.

CES MediaThis year marked the 50th anniversary of CES. The first show in 1967 featured innovations such as TVs with integrated circuits (replacing vacuum tubes), with 17,500 attending. This year, more than 175,000 attended.

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 ideas:

  • You can still book hotel 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.
  • 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. For a new company with a new product, it can be a very efficient way to get your brand out there quickly. As of today, both ShowStoppers and Pepcom still have space available.
  • If you are planning to launch a new product, unless you have a large budget and team, consider holding the launch in early December or after CES. Thousands of companies distribute press releases daily at CES unless your brand is well-known, it is highly likely your release will be “lost” in the noise.
  • Use CES as an opportunity listen as well as to talk. Conveniently, CES is divided into 25 “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. If you’d like to discuss strategies that can help your organization be a success at CES, let us know!

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