CES 2020: A Dazzling Display of Glitz, Minus Some Marketing Substance
By Bill Williams
No doubt, CES 2020 gave us a glimpse of what’s possible: nearly 4,500 exhibiting companies with a stroke-inducing display of sights, sounds and experiences. Technology strutting its stuff in front of 175,000 professionals. Bold thinking, fresh solutions, fun ideas.
It was a CTO’s dream. But, maybe a CMO’s nightmare.
So much overlap, so much substitution, so little differentiation within categories. “Smart this”, “smart that”, with only nuanced differences between the products. And, with all the focus on product, it can be difficult to recall the brand. After all, products do something, while brands stand for something. So, after seeing the 5th or 6th different take on gaming or health monitoring, which brand seemed to stand tallest? It’s easy to tell colleagues about some of the gee-whiz solutions and demonstrations, but try recalling who made them, or any brand attributes.
This is definitely not intended as a negative; just an observation. But, it does suggest a short list of things CES exhibitors might think about next year. Because if CES 2020 is a “macrocosm” of the real market, CMO’s are going to pay heavily to be seen, heard, and remembered.
So, some suggestions for 2021:
- Product, alone, is not enough. True, attendees come to see new and exciting products. That’s table stakes. It wouldn’t hurt to tuck those product triumphs under a company umbrella. Corporate taglines, or brand manifestos; maybe some literature on the thinking behind the product [that will find its way into other, future products].
- Booth personnel are your brand ambassadors. They should be fluent in the appropriate language, trained on how to best present the brand, as well as the product. “This is our newest gizmo; it’s a part of our global emphasis on. Make the product serve the brand.
- Don’t use Google Translate for booth signage, sales presentations, or merchandising material. Spend the money on professional translation, and do a reverse translation as a safety check. Sure, visitors excuse poorly worded materials since, well, they are there to see the new products. But, it clearly doesn’t say good things about a brand.
Finally, the show isn’t the beginning or the end: it’s a stop on the journey. There were so many things to see that the key is to connect before the show; get on the list of must-see exhibits; connect at the show; and, most importantly, keep the conversation going after the show.
CES is a dazzling display of what’s coming. Don’t let the dazzle get in the way of also communicating who it’s coming from!