Successfully Launching a New Product at CES
The Consumer Electronics Show is the largest consumer tech show in the world — attracting manufacturers, retailers, industry analysts and the media. CES 2016 attracted over 170,000 attendees with more than 3,600 exhibitors.
A number of famous devices have made their successful debuts at CES, including the VCR, Xbox, blu-ray and many others. Launching a new product is not what it used to be, though. In today’s media landscape, the pace of news seemingly moves at the speed of light. There are fewer major media outlets and an increasing number of niche outlets out there. Oftentimes, the media is saturated by some of the massive tech companies’ unveiling of new products, as well. Getting coverage may be easier than it used to be, but getting attention is more difficult than ever. There are a number of elements to plan for when attempting to successfully launch a product that garners attention at CES.
Make Sure Your Product is Ready
Properly beta testing your product before CES plays a huge role in the successful launch of a new product. Beta testing can help you find and fix bugs, assess the user interface and user experience (UI and UX) and confirm that your product meets the needs of your target market. Products can be pushed back for months, even years as problems arise, completely killing any momentum and consumer excitement that the initial launch built up. Missing features, suboptimal performance and poor UX can all submarine the success of a new product. Remember, you’re often competing for attention against some amazing, well-funded and expensive gadgets. It’s hard enough to compete, but if your product isn’t the best it can be, you won’t have a chance.
Get A Head Start
You can’t expect reporters or bloggers to write about your product at your request. You also can’t expect to brief industry analysts if you don’t reach out weeks ahead of time — these are busy people and their CES schedules are usually packed. You need to start early and begin preparing long before CES. Try to begin reaching out at least six to eight weeks — even more if you can — prior to the conference as reporters, industry analysts and bloggers will be making their plans early on.
Target people who you think would be eager to learn about your product with “coming soon” posts or “leaked” photos of your product before CES. Be aggressive promoting on-site, too. Spread your message outside of the booth you purchased and outside of the room your booth or event is in. This method can create a sense of intrigue that builds interest and captures the attention of your target market in the weeks leading up to CES.
Timing is Everything
Scan Twitter, newspapers, news wires and other sources beforehand to find out when other companies will be launching their products and plan your launch accordingly. If key media members will be focused on a big Sony product launch, for example, don’t plan your launch for that timeframe. Your chances of securing meaningful coverage will increase exponentially.
Do Something Creative
Creativity attracts attention. Shoot a fun video, perform a stunt at CES or create a survey or infographic supporting the value for your product. You need to formulate a campaign that generates buzz. An example would be to utilize a celebrity, like Polaroid did with Lady Gaga in 2011. While most of the Lady Gaga-backed products from 2011 were never released, Polaroid’s creative launch garnered a ridiculous amount of interest and attention. Check it out here.
Don’t Anticipate a Monstrous Release
Unless your product is truly revolutionary or you are a huge company like Sony or Samsung, it is unlikely that your launch will generate as much attention as you’d like — especially with so many other products and innovative technology launching at CES.
You don’t know when reporters and bloggers will have time to write during the busy week, allow them opportunities to write about your product soon after CES. Try to continue producing fresh news surrounding your product immediately following the conference. Examples include announcements concerning new or novel uses of your product, sales milestones (like units sold or number of active users), details about how your product provides return on investment (ROI) to customers and customer testimonials.
In the end, successfully launching a product at CES will draw attention, sales and will open the conversation for new partnerships with distributors. However, competition for the spotlight is fierce, especially when you take into account that some of the most innovative launches in tech and hardware are all happening at CES. A successful launch is not easy, but by factoring in the above elements , you will certainly help your chances of having an effective launch!