Tips for exhibitors, media and industry attendees at January’s world electronics showcase
Attendees must have a goal in mind and an industry of interest, and use company apps and websites to map out key booths.
BY JEREMY LOSAW
If you are connected to the electronics industry and attending the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show, you will experience one of the world’s biggest trade shows and a “must attend.”
The January 7-10 event (not open to the general public or anyone younger than 18) is non-stop, day-and-night action in and outside of the show venues. The time flies, so you should be prepared in order to get the most out of your time and expense to attend.
I have been fortunate to be part of CES as an exhibitor, media member and industry attendee. No matter your role or goal for the show, these tips will help you get the most from the experience.
The two things every exhibitor needs for a great show are a clean booth design and a working product or prototype.
If you are a start-up and have never exhibited at CES, you will most likely end up in the Eureka Park area for new companies. Each booth space is 10-by-10 feet, so everyone has the same space.
You should have a well-designed booth to complement your product and prove how serious you are. At minimum, you need a banner to display your brand to hang in the booth—but depending on the nature of your product, you may need a much more immersive experience than just a podium in front of a wall. You are allowed to have a test track, furniture, or other elements that complement your device in the best way possible.
With so many attendees and media coming by your booth, the world is going to see your prototype or product. It must be the best version yet. In addition to booth visits, there are other events such as “Shark Tank” auditions and meetings with potential partners. These instances require a product demo, so you only have one opportunity for this to go well.
(That said, you probably won’t give nearly the amount of live demos at the booth that you may think. Most visitors have a jam-packed schedule and will be at the booth for 30 seconds or less. They will rarely want a full demo.)
Make sure you have multiple devices, spare batteries or any other parts and pieces that may be prone to failure so that each demo you run will go flawlessly.
If the prototype breaks, try not to fix it at the booth. Keep smiling and taking business cards until you can work on it behind the scenes, either on site or not. The relationships you build at CES are more important.
The show is all about marketing your new product, so you need great materials to support your business.
Many people will have their hands full and may not have bags, so full 8.5” x 11” sales sheets may not make it home. Keep your material to postcard size or smaller.
It also helps to have giveaway swag such as pens and stickers. I love a good sticker and will find somewhere to put it when I get home, which prolongs exposure to your brand. Other knicknacks are good, too.
Do not skimp on creature comforts. Make sure you have water and snacks at your booth. You are going to be on your feet all day and will have little time to break for food.
Whether you are a writer, photographer or vlogger, CES offers free passes to qualified members of the media. You must apply at least a few weeks before the show and prove that you have a legitimate platform, but the threshold for entry is not as stringent as you may think.
Covering the show can be a grind. Not only are there four days of actual show coverage, the days before the floor opens are filled with press-only events and panel discussions. These can be very informative and can help you be at the forefront of all the show has to offer.
When you get there, find the media center. Coffee, tea, food, WiFi and a swag bag are a few of the niceties. You also have the chance to hobnob with others in your field and get helpful tips.
You will probably have to play a little defense when walking the floor with a media pass. Every exhibitor wants to spread the word about his or her product and will go to great lengths to chat you up for a potential media placement.
You can lose valuable time if you are too giving. Politely decline the overzealous PR reps and stay focused on the topics and areas of the show that interest you most.
If you find a company that you want to interview in greater depth, ask to make an appointment in the early or later hours of the show when it is less crowded so you can have full attention. Besides taking pictures of the booths and products you want to feature, photograph the badges of people with whom you talk. It can be a lifesaver to have these reference photos once you get write the story.
This may be the most challenging way to do the show. You are not encumbered by having a booth to monitor, but you need a good plan and must stay focused to ensure you get the most from your time.
If you are not careful, you can waste four days testing out every VR headset and massage chair and not make any great connections.
Have a goal in mind and an industry you are interested in, and use company apps and websites to map out key booths. It also helps to contact these companies before the show and set up an appointment to ensure you meet the right contacts face to face.
Once your main business is sorted out, enjoy the bounty of cool tech on display. The big company booths with the VR racing simulators and walls of high-def displays are often less crowded early or late in the day.
CES is talked about by the electronics industry and the world for months afterward. No matter how prepared you are, it will be overwhelming and tiring (and you will surely hit your 10,000 steps before lunch each day).
However, if you keep these tips in mind and stay focused, you will make many great connections, learn new trends in your categories of interest, and still have time to drool over the walls of high-def TVs.