Success at CES 2019: Make It An Experience

James Gerber, Nov 14 2018

categories: PR

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Check out Part 1 of this series, on how to build buzz and stand out from the crowd at CES.

Making the most of your story at CES isn’t just about press releases, videos or handouts. It’s also about your booth design and the experiential elements that pull it all together. It’s about developing a campaign and building an experience that will reinforce your brand story, the messaging for the show and the news that’s being announced.

At CES 2018, Samsung went all out and turned its booth into a “pseudo city” to reinforce all the ways its connected devices are changing our lives. Within the booth, it had three connected districts – home, innovation and lifestyle – that served as environments where visitors could experience Samsung’s latest devices. Intel put on a 250-drone spectacle above the Bellagio fountains to showcase the powerful capabilities of its technologies. LG’s TV canyon was a stunning demonstration of what its latest displays can do. All these booths got CES attendees talking and generated buzz that helped their new products stand out from similar ones being announced by other major vendors.

Going beyond the booths, the products and their associated experiences were celebrated in press releases and other forms of content – just check out Samsung’s newsroom – with cohesive social media and demand generation campaigns driving their audience to take action. Your booth doesn’t need to be as elaborate as those examples, nor do you need to use every tactic imaginable to promote your presence. But, you do need to infuse everything you do around the event with both creativity and a cohesive experience that ties it all together.

Be everywhere

Outside of having a presence on the show floor, if there’s one thing you absolutely need to do at CES, it’s investing in break-out media events. You should do that even if you have an amazing experience planned for your actual booth. CES itself can be a daunting experience, especially when it comes to getting your story noticed by key media. While you’ll have pre-pitched for briefings at the event, there is always the opportunity for more fly-by interactions with press – but these often come at the break-out media events taking place outside of show hours, like ShowStoppers, Pepcom or CES Unveiled.

These events offer opportunities to connect with media in a more concentrated environment – with nibbles and some wine – where they’re actively looking for stories. We find that these shows offer the chance to interact with press who may not have bitten on your initial pitch, or who didn’t have time for a briefing at CES. Our clients, especially startups, often get the most media visibility from these events, as compared with CES itself – in certain cases generating up to half of their coverage.

But, don’t stop there. Go after content, award and product showcase opportunities. There is an extraordinary number of those taking place around CES and they all represent yet another chance to get out there and further saturate the event with your brand. These include big-ticket items like the CES Innovation Awards and a contributed spot in the CES Daily, as well as seemingly smaller (but no less important) options like your brand’s online directory listing, CES videos and more. We clocked at least 17 of these opportunities for one client, and they each have their own impact on the visibility of your brand and product’s story.

Then, once you’ve taken advantage of the more cost-effective options to reach your audience, and if you have the budget, find unique sponsorship opportunities around the show and consider advertising around Las Vegas. CES itself has intriguing avenues for sponsorship, such as its different marketplaces, the CES app and sponsored social posts, plus all of the traditional on-site banners and displays that you’d expect.

Outside of the event, every year companies find interesting and creative ways to reach attendees. Google’s marketing won this year’s CES with the Google Assistant’s takeover of the Las Vegas monorail, its booth with a slide outside of the Las Vegas Convention Center and a giant gumball machine that was seemingly everywhere. A couple years ago, Facebook set up an Oculus stand at Las Vegas’ airport that was one of the first things visitors came across when they landed. At the time, I thought it was as interesting as anything I saw at the event. And one year, a client took over a Las Vegas club with its connected glow sticks designed to showcase the capabilities of its IoT products. While some of those options may be out of reach for many companies, there’s no shortage of offbeat possibilities that will get people talking about you.

Check back soon for the third and final part of this CES series, where we’ll explore the ins and outs of the post-CES follow-through.


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