Going to CES? Let us know and we’ll send you reminders each week to help you make the most out of your trip.
CES is right around the corner and we know it can be incredibly overwhelming, especially for first-timers. We’ve seen it done well and we’ve seen it done poorly and to help you get the most out of your trip, we’ve aggregated our top tips for CES below.
Our first tip and perhaps the most important is to make sure you give yourself enough time to prepare. There are a lot of moving pieces at CES, so the earlier you can prepare, the better. We often see people beginning to plan for CES in December when the show is in January, but to put it simply, that is just not enough time.
By prepping five, six, even eight months ahead, you are giving yourself enough time to have everything together for the booth. We like to start prepping our media, outreach, and meetings strategy in October. In November, we begin doing our lead research to determine who we want to meet with at the event. It’s not too early to start scheduling your most important meetings in December before the holidays. This will give you an idea of what you’re doing during the week while blocking off time for impromptu meetings.
If you’re in a crunch to wrap everything for CES, give us your info here and we’ll help you expedite your plan and stay on track.
Get on the same page, then work backwards
Before you do anything – booth design, strategy, schedule meetings – it’s essential that you and your team are clear on what your intentions are for CES. If you’re trying to accomplish too much, you’re likely not to do well at all. Most of your planning will revolve around how close your product is to being ready, when you can begin offering it to the market, and when you can realistically start fulfilling orders. This is a great time to get feedback on your product from a variety of different people and get some press cycles going to generate more awareness if you’re on track to start shipping in two or three months. Here’s how we like to align:
Set your ultimate goal
It’s important that everyone on your team is unified under a clearly defined goal: What does a successful CES look like? What is our product? Which channel partners, resellers, and distributors are we looking to identify?
We see a lot of companies that make the assumption that they can take their product to CES, set up a table and they’re good to go. This can be a costly mistake because CES is expensive, not only the event itself but the logistics surrounding it. The human resources alone that’s required to push out marketing content and the engineering required to bring everything together for the show is half of the cost of the event.
By having a clearly defined goal and intention set for the show, you can begin to work backward. Let’s say, for example, a successful CES would be identifying 10 great retail and distribution partners. From there, the first step would be to start looking at how many different retailers or distributors your team needs to talk to per day in order to end up with 10 great options by the end of the show. Where are the retail and channel partners located? How are they identifying their products? How do they make their decisions about what companies they’re going to look at?
Communicate intentions to your team
Each member of your team representing your company will play a role in achieving the above goal, so it’s crucial that each person knows what part they play in the process. Your team should know the mission, the goal, the playbook and what they’re trying to achieve on a personal and team level. These goals will play into the way you identify people approaching your booth as well as the design itself.
Is this person a customer? A channel partner or reseller? Press? Investor? The answers to these questions should help your team funnel each person to the correct team member. Creating a structure is your first line of defense for a successful show.
We recommend creating a structure for each individual contributor of the booth and setting aside enough time to train everyone. As each person comes by, your team should be trained on quick identifiers to determine whether or not that person is valuable. Does this person provide value by making sure they understand the product? Do they have the information I need?
By creating a structure that allows your team to ingest everything in an organized fashion, you can continue to strike while the iron is hot. By creating lead buckets and identifiers, you can determine who gets what type of followup or outreach, etc.
Strategize your booth design
Booth design is very important to how efficient your team can be at the show and whether or not you accomplish your ultimate goal. Do you need more booth space for private meetings to sit down with potential investors or resellers? Do you need more space to showcase your products and bring more people into the booth?
It’s a marathon, not a sprint
This is a piece of the process that’s a little bit different, but essential to making sure you have a successful show. Take care of yourself. Vegas can be very tempting, but if you have a clearly defined goal, that shouldn’t sway you. We see a lot of people, especially first-year attendees make the mistake of working long hours and late nights in a crunch leading up to the show and aren’t properly taking care of themselves. You must, must, must, be getting enough sleep. All of these things leave room for your body to get sick and foggy during the show in the midst of your many conversations and keep you from operating at your peak performance. Like we’ve said before, CES is expensive, so making sure you’re well-rested, well-nourished and skipping the partying before the show means you will be at peak performance.
Take care of your voice
Taking care of your voice is a big piece of this. CES is loud. If you’re going out partying and yelling every day at the show, by the end of it you won’t have any voice left to speak to potential connections. Try taking care of your voice by speaking at a lower volume. This way, whoever you’re talking to will be forced to lean in and engage with you so that they can hear what you’re saying.
Supplements, teas and more
You’ll notice this is a common theme with all of our tips, but prepping properly is the only way to ensure your success, and this counts when it comes to prepping your body for the long days at the show. Take your vitamins. Drink enough water. Get some exercise. Pack your suitcase with supplements. Here are some of our favorite things to pack in our suitcase:
No product, no show
This is perhaps the most difficult for people to digest as well as our most important tip, but if you don’t have a product, don’t go to the show. CES is a very exciting event because there are so many ideas and products being announced, but the point of going is to see some sort of return for your company, right? In order to see that return, you’ll need more than just an idea. You’ll need a product.
The fatal mistake we see over and over again is ego getting in the way. Companies decide about a year before CES that they’re going to go, but are not realistic about their product completion timelines. As the year progresses and it gets to be closer and closer to the show, your timeline changes drastically. You thought you would be shipping in Q1 but now it’s looking like Q2, or is it Q3?
Let’s say you show something at CES but still aren’t very clear on your shipping timeline. You get a lot of press and it’s very exciting, but shipping won’t happen until September or October of that year. You’ve just given your competition a nine to ten-month heads up instead of holding your cards close and pulling it out of your back pocket at the last minute when you can announce your product to the world and start shipping immediately.
We like to encourage our clients to clearly define their timelines for their product and engineering teams. What are the cutoffs? We need to know with a high degree of confidence that we’re going to be shipping this thing by March 1st, or is it April 1st? What’s okay with you? The answer depends on the industry and on the competitive landscape that you’re in. If you know you’re not shipping this thing until September or October, pull the plug. Don’t show it, especially if that’s the only thing you have to show at CES. Sell your booth and don’t waste all the money going to CES.
Send us a message
We hope you find these tips useful. CES can be incredibly overwhelming and it’s something we’re really passionate about. We will be attending the show this year so if you want to meet with us, fill out this form or send an email to Sierra@guinnpartners.com and we’ll be in touch. See you there!