How To Launch Your Product Successfully At CES 2020

5 years ago · 4 min read

CES 2020. It’s the biggest, busiest, most high-stakes consumer tech show in the U.S. Over the last ten years, I’ve attended this event as an influencer, media correspondent, speaker, and PR expert supporting our clients who launch or showcase their product, and every year, the wow factor continues to rise.

A great launch at CES can give your new product a huge boost in everything from media coverage to sales to further investment, which is why so many brands choose to launch their new products at the show.

But here’s the flip side: There are so many product launches at CES that it can be extremely difficult to stand out. Your product is competing with thousands of others for attention.

So how do you make your CES product launch a success? While there’s no guarantee that your product, however incredible it may be, will grab the spotlight in Vegas, there are several things you can do to make it more likely.

Do your research. 

In the months leading up to CES, it’s critical that you do your research. What kind of pre-show PR opportunities are there? Which media outlets will be in attendance? What are the topics for the conference sessions?

Create a list of any sessions that are relevant to your product—remember, the people at those talks might be interested in your brand, too.

You’ll also want to create a list of media outlets that you want to pitch, but don’t just pick reporters at random. PR isn’t a numbers game in the same way that sales can be said to be.

If you pitch your assistive tech solution to a reporter who covers AI primarily, you’ll likely be wasting your time. Instead, seek out writers who’ve written on topics related to your industry and product, and target them specifically.

Since this can be a time-consuming process, you may want to engage a firm with expertise in digital PR in advance of CES, to ensure you gather the greatest possible momentum going into the event.

Simplify your narrative to its most basic, essential elements. 

How long do you think an average CES attendee will spend looking at your booth?

Not long. A few seconds, if you’re lucky. After all, you’re on a show floor with literally thousands of other booths. It’s loud, overwhelming, and filled with people demo-ing their latest gadgets all at the same time.

So you’re going to have to strip down your message to its barest, most compelling essentials if you want to capture the attention of passersby.

That means identifying the what, why, and how of your product and keeping a laser focus on your value proposition. What problem does your product solve?

Engage your most creative thinkers in brainstorming display and demo ideas. 

Let’s face it. Smaller, newer brands simply cannot compete with established, global companies when it comes to flashy displays and high-investment demo spaces.

However, when it comes to creativity, brand size doesn’t have to be an obstacle.

You don’t need a mini theme park ride like Google built at this year’s show to bring people to your booth.

You could take a different approach altogether, like offering people a much-needed service. That’s what my team and I at Zen Media created for our restaurant tech client at their biggest trade show of the year. We built a booth that included lockers so attendees could drop their bags while they walked throughout the floor. The amenity drew people in, and once they were at the booth, they tended to stay to learn more about our client. In fact, it was one of the most-visited booths at the trade show.

Make it easy for the press.

If you have a few trusted reporters you work with regularly, consider giving them information on your product under embargo ahead of your launch. And, don’t dismiss the power of influencers.

This can make it more likely you’ll get press coverage for a few reasons, but one of the biggest? You’ll have made their job that much easier.

Writers and reporters are under tremendous amounts of pressure to publish during CES, and not just full-length reviews and articles, but ongoing social media posts, too. Having your press kit, images, video, and any other assets you can give them in advance means they’ll have all they need at their fingertips when they’re ready to push out coverage, and that’s a win-win.

Don’t forget post-event follow-up. 

Though it’s true that there’s a massive spike of media coverage that is generated before and during CES, what happens after the convention center sits silent and the press people and influencers have packed their bags is every bit as important.

Did you know, for example, that nearly 250,000 pieces of coverage are generated from CES?  But how many of those pieces do you think are actually created during the event, let alone reach their audience and build awareness and engagement in that window? (The answer? Only a small fraction.)

This is why it’s critically important to build relationships during the event and especially to have a solid game plan in place for sustaining momentum following the initial shockwaves of media coverage. Without post-event coverage, even if you’ve made a splash during the event, you won’t be able to create enduring impact and you run the risk of being just a flash in the pan.

Launching your product at CES is an exciting, high-stakes moment and an incredible opportunity for getting people talking about your brand. Make the most of it by following these tips and leveraging a powerful combination of digital and traditional PR, before, during, and after the big event. See you on the floor!