Everything you wanted to know about running a successful tradeshow
For most, the majority of December is allocated towards quality time with friends and family. Except for those of us who work in consumer tech; for us, the holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year courtesy of the biggest consumer technology conference — CES.
The Consumer Electronics Show, which kicked off this week, features the latest and greatest in all things consumer tech. Once thought of as the only place to launch new products, several big-name companies have opted out of the conference in recent years in favor of a less crowded and expensive platform in which to announce their latest news (Here’s looking at you, Facebook and Apple). With that, many key media have announced their retirement from the CES stage as well, opting for more intimate press gatherings that focus on a select group of new products and participants.
Pepcom, ShowStoppers and the like allow companies to get in front of top tier media by organizing small mixers at startup-friendly prices. Although much more intimate than mega conferences like CES, it can still be tough to stand out in the crowd. That’s why the team here at Highwire suggests focusing on identifying creative ways to bring your booth to life in order to ensure you get the most value out of these shows.
Develop Creative Ways to Stand Out
With a sea of booths on a showfloor, it’s important that you make sure your exhibits stand out and appeal to both journalists and consumers stopping by to check out your product. Consider doing something out of the box or unexpected to draw more people to your booth.
At CE Week this past summer, the Piper team rented a branded ice cream stand to raise awareness of the company and also treat attendees to an icy treat. Similarly, the Gyft team gave out branded cupcakes at Pepcom Holiday Spectacular, which was a great way for people to remember the company in the moment and later at home when they were enjoying their treat. In addition to food, show swag can also be a big draw to your booth at a press event.
Giveaways that relate back to your brand can be a big hit. For instance, at CES, Edyn gave away branded seed packets to tie into the garden theme of the product. At SXSW earlier this year, Piper sponsored an exclusive networking event and gave away a select number of passes on social media. Engaging the festival attendees created more brand awareness for Piper and allowed the company to garner a strong following at the event so they could learn when the next giveaway would take place.
Engage Your Audience Through Interactive Demos
In addition to unique booth giveaways, companies should consider interactive demos to keep people at the booth and interested in the products. Take a cue from the Edyn team, who last year constructed an actual garden demo at CES complete with dirt, plants and their flagship Edyn Garden Sensor. The live demo provided a way for reporters to visualize the product and imagine how they would use it in their own gardens. At a recent Pepcom event, Gyft offered attendees the opportunity to sign up for Gyft on a giant tablet and send away a free gift card. Once people were able to walk through and try the app first-hand, they instantly saw how game-changing Gyft is and also got to keep a little something for themselves.
A great booth and creative giveaways don’t guarantee coverage, however, meaning that you’ll have to get out and mingle! Approaching strangers can be a nerve racking experience, especially when trying to sell a product. So nerve racking, in fact, that there are numerous books and classes focused on the art of pitching. As PR pros, we’re accustomed to pitching our products every day, albeit most often by email and/or phone. With the right preparation, however, anyone can tackle the aisles of Pepcom with pizzaz.
Practice Your Elevator Pitch
When on the show floor, you have less than 60 seconds to catch a reporter’s attention. Because of this, it is important that you are able to deliver a quick, digestible and on-message explanation of your product — on demand. Writing down, memorizing and practicing your elevator pitch in advance will help you come across clearly and articulately, while keeping you from any media mis-steps and showing reporters that you value and respect their time.
Have Your Product on Hand
A great elevator pitch can take you far, but when it comes to showing versus telling, a product demonstration will almost certainly take you one step closer to success. Having a product on hand, or nearby, is a great way to explain to journalists in real time how the product works to fulfill its dedicated use cases. If you can arrange for a live demonstration, like Piper coordinated at this year’s Emmy’s gifting suite, you’re almost guaranteed to seal the deal.
Location, Location, Location
Reeling the press in is a lot simpler if you’re in a location that drives a lot traffic, for example: a booth near the front entrance, a bar or food station. Not only will you get a first look at who is attending, but you’ll be able to snag your favorite writer without having to hail him down from across the room. Who knows, you might also bond over your love for gin and tonics.
What has your experience been like at trade shows? Connect with us on social or share your comments below!
post co-authored by Rebecca Buttle Peri, Account Executive.
Rebecca Buttle Peri is an experienced public relations manager and media relations specialist with expertise in the rapidly evolving tech, mobile and entertainment spaces, having managed national and international campaigns for several enterprise and consumer tech accounts within a variety of sectors. Rebecca holds a BA in creative writing from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.