Every brand experience has some sort of a challenge to it. Whether it is attracting and engaging audiences, standing out from the crowd, personalizing the experience, etc. — challenges come with the territory. Smart marketers view these challenges as opportunities, and at CES, we saw many of these opportunities take shape. Here are the top five:
Where Do I Go? A common challenge for any event or brand experience is navigation: getting attendees where they want and need to be. Guidance is a basic need of all attendees, and at a mega event like CES, this need is only amplified. Luckily, the CES mobile app was stellar and very well designed. The geo-location was on point, as was the ability to search for sessions, tracks, booths, news, etc., and receive push notifications about your areas of interest. Hats off to CTA on the awesome app as well as the crazy strong Wi-Fi signal that allowed it to work beautifully for 200,000 tech nerds and their multiple devices.
How Do I Stand Out? In a sea of exhibitors, what does it take to truly stand out and create a unified brand message if you have to showcase a variety of products in a single space? There is no single answer to these questions, brand marketers, but we did notice a trend this year at CES with many exhibits walling themselves in to create physically distinct spaces. For Internet of Things exhibitors like Samsung, this strategy provided a sense of continuity within the space as attendees felt like they were entering a future world in which all of these products exist.
How Can I Attract and Engage Audiences? First, marketers, recognize that these concepts are not one and the same. Anyone can attract crowds with bright, flashy, shiny objects or crazy cool demos (booth candy, if you will). But as we saw at CES, the booths with the most engaged audiences were the ones that portrayed their products within the context of their real-life application — in other words, “What’s in it for me?” This shift was evident across the experience with specialized tracks and spaces for marketers (C Space), startups (Eureka Park), and chief digital officers (CDX), as just a few examples. As more of the tech trends focus on incremental innovation for practical, relevant adoption, so should the experiences you create.
How Can I Make My Experience More Personal? To that end, personalization must be a huge focus for experiential marketers moving forward. With the avalanche of personal data we can now collect, it is on us to reach our audiences with the right content at the right time in the way they prefer. This was a big topic of discussion in the C Space. As content and technology continue to merge, marketers need to focus less on the channel determining the content and more on pairing the right idea for the right channel.
Where Can I Meet Like-Minded Individuals? CES has always been, and will continue to be, a place where business gets done. But increasingly, attendees want to connect with others that have the same niche interests as them. Beyond opportunities for attendees to bump into each other on the show floor, brands are realizing the power of special events to help attendees make those connections. Brand-hosted parties, VIP events, and meetups popped up all across Vegas during CES week, while many entrepreneurs and startups hosted a hybrid showcase/networking event/party to capitalize on a captivated audience.