Break Through the NOISE at CES 2015!

International CES was not only the first trade show I had ever attended, but it was also my very first business trip …. ever. I was 22, at my job for only 6 months, when I was told that I would be going to Las Vegas for 5 days to support the world’s largest consumer electronics show. I had been to Las Vegas before, but never on the company’s dime. The allure of an all expense paid trip quickly dissipated when I saw how massive and “in your face” everything was. TV’s the size of living room walls, music blaring from EVERY single booth, thousands of people walking in a dozen different directions looking anywhere but in front of them, and MILES of consumer goods laid out in some sort of psychotic maze meant to torment those who want to keep to a certain schedule. This brings me to Rule #1: Be ready to throw out your schedule. Prioritize the must-do’s but mentally prepare yourself to drop half the list. No one will blame you. They get it.

I have been back to CES more times than I can count but for different purposes. For TechTV, my main goal was to scour the immense showroom floor at multiple venues, looking for the best gadgets and gizmos for the first ever Best of CES Awards. I worked 17 hour days and discovered energy drinks for the first time. (Side note: It would have been wise to have bought stock in Red Bull back then). For Intel, we captured every corner of the Intel booth, set-up interviews, shot celebrities, and edited videos on-site. We even live streamed our CEO’s keynote to people not at the show. Each time we had a small team doing a lot more, and it was GRUELING. But I learned a little each time on how to keep sane in a world of chaotic consumerism. 

For whatever reason you’re going to CES, you’ll want to be prepared. If you’re an attendee, then this rule is for you. Rule #2: Find the technologies and companies that interest you and set up meetings ahead of time to avoid the crowds in the booths. Have you ever felt like a salmon swimming upstream? That’s how I felt all of the time when visiting the most popular booths like Samsung, Intel, Microsoft, Panasonic…There’s 10 of us waiting to talk to someone and 1 exhausted person whose voice is hoarse from the dry air and from explaining the same thing over and over again. You have a better chance of making a connection with the booth staff if you visit when right after doors open, but seriously, make an appointment ahead of time if you can. If you’re an exhibitor trying to get the attention of a crowd who suddenly has a hundred things vying for their attention right when they walk through the door, then this is the most important rule, Rule #3: Break through the noise and get yourself noticed. Easier said than done, right? You’re competing with booths with scantily clad models holding signs, colorful light displays, free SWAG (Stuff We All Get), bartenders serving drinks in the booth, and even holographic people. No kidding. People literally stop in their tracks, usually right in front of you when you’re trying to get somewhere. Knowing your target demographic can help you determine how best to break the noise. Having Wayne Newton sing in your booth would be awesome for most, but if you’re trying to sell to the millennial crowd, then they are more likely to avoid Frank and find something else that is more their speed, like a skatepark in the middle of the booth. Yes, I’ve seen it. 

I sat down with my partners at Four Winds, Todd Hallinan and Keith Bell (long time CES’ers themselves), and together, we came up with some ways you can win over an overwhelmed crowd at this upcoming CES 2015.

Rule #4: Lead with your most impressive eye candy! What does that mean? Each year, TV’s get bigger and bigger at CES and early next year, we predict that they not only will TV’s be getting bigger but sharper too with more than 8K resolution. It’s easy to stand out in the crowd when your product is so big, but what can you do if your announcement is being dwarfed by the giants at the show? It’s all about the eye candy. What is it you want to show off? What can your product do that no one else’s can? Shoot a video, create an animation, have the brightest and biggest displays in your booth and play it on screens surrounding your area. You may not be selling TV’s, but you sure could use them to catch people’s eyes as they walk by. You can also use those videos on-line to extend your reach outside of the trade show floor. Videos that get pushed out on the first day generate more buzz and views. If you wait until after CES to post your videos, then your audience is bound to be inundated with other CES videos, and your content may get lost in the internet sea. Seeing a demo that first day of a trade show sets the tone for the rest of the show. Everything else has to ‘measure up’ to that first “WOW” moment, but not everyone can be there for the “big reveal” on Day 1. Posting photos and capturing  demos or a press announcement from your booth as it happens in front of a live trade show audience is definitely one way to stand out. In fact, Geometry Global said, “Marketers are busy capturing content at events and sharing that content via social media, iPad apps, newsletters, etc. In many cases these videos can extend the reach of an event by 10,000 percent.”  You’ll have them contacting you after the show for a follow up and next time, they will be in your booth, in person, sitting right up front. Plus having a professional video crew in your booth can lead other attendees to believe that “something exciting is happening over there!”

Then what happens? They stop in their tracks and watch.

Trade shows are also a great time to get together with your customers and meet them in person. Take advantage of the fact that everyone is in town at the same time, and ask if you can videotape a testimonial with them. You win because you save on travel costs that would have to happen after the show. It’s easy to interview that top customer or capture that technical detail that will help your business get ahead, and having a video testimonial from your top client on your website is sure to generate more leads for you after the show. 

Rule #5: Do something special or crazy in your booth or at your customer party can create noise for you at the show. At Intel, they asked us to record the current Guinness World Record holder for playing the fastest guitar at 320 beats per minute (BPM). Crowds of people came to see if he could break his own record, and he did! Playing at 340 BPM, Tiago Della Vega broke his record live in front of hundreds of people in the Intel Booth at CES. Our team videotaped it, edited out the clip, and posted it within 20 minutes to YouTube. After 1 hour, we had 7000 hits. Today, it has almost 100K views. Talk about buzz! Capturing and posting videos to social media outlets can amplify your booth activities to even larger audiences. But how about webcasting it live? Think of the buzz that would create.  Top execs or celebrities can answer questions from your customers who didn’t make it to the show, and you can help them feel like they are part of the CES excitement. Either way, you are building your community and growing your impact, not only at the show but long after the booth is packed up and the show is over.

Rules To CES By:

In Summary, here are ways to survive CES and break through the noise to be heard:

Rule #1: Be ready to throw out your schedule and prioritize the must-do’s.

Rule #2: Set up meetings ahead of time.

Rule #3: If you are an exhibitor, break through the noise and get yourself noticed. 

Rule #4: Lead with your most impressive eye candy.

Rule #5: Do something crazy in your booth or at a party to create buzz.

We didn’t talk about Rule #6: Wear comfortable shoes. You won’t last a day on the floor if you wear anything higher than an inch.

Whatever your purpose is at CES, capturing video and sharing it with others will increase your visibility. Our experience at Four Winds Creative can help you create the whole package that will make your business rise you above the noise and be louder than the rest, reaching a much broader audience that is unable to be there.  We are available pre-CES to help with any of your creative or visual needs, and we will be onsite capturing video and photography for exhibitors and media.  Contact me at if you want to chat more about how we can help you break through the noise.

Blog by Charlyn Villegas, Four Winds Creative (Nov 2014)

Lights, Camera, Action.

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