Being Beside Big Brands Can Mean Added Attention for Smaller Exhibitors, but Trade Show Veterans Know It Can Yield Mixed Results
How does a “little fish” exhibitor attract attention in the enormous pond that is the gigantic International Consumer Electronics Show?
It’s a challenge for companies of more modest stature. But when smaller trade show booths are placed nearby well-known brands that command thousands of square feet of valuable Las Vegas real estate it’s a Catch 22 situation — the same household names that dwarf the smaller exhibitors can also bring in a bonanza of business.
Looking to capitalize on the halo effect of being neighbors with Sony, one of the largest CES exhibitors at the Las Vegas Convention Center, is Se-Kure Controls, a security solutions provider that has no problem playing David to someone else’s Goliath.
“When you’re right next to a monster trade show booth you’re going to get some exposure just by fact that so many people come to visit the larger players in the industry,” said Mike Briggs, an executive vice president with the Illinois-based manufacturer. “You can’t help but have someone notice your existence.”
That’s no easy task for a 150-employee company vying for attention next to Sony, which last year wowed passersby with a 90-foot-wide, HD 3-D LED display and the bullet-riddled Black Beauty car from the “Green Hornet” movie.
“The question is how do we make it appealing for people to come across the aisle?” said Briggs, who will be conducting business in a 20×40 space. “That’s a challenge with attendees not coming by specifically to see anti-shoplifting devices. We hope that people who come to Sony will peek across the aisle.”
Models (or “booth babes”) intended to rev up the engines of attendees are commonplace among car audio exhibitors. (Flickr photo)
As added bait, Se-Kure Controls isn’t going with provocatively attired ladies — that’s for the car audio section in another exhibit hall — but instead giving away convex mirrors with “Welcome to Las Vegas” printed on them to anyone who stops by and registers on its website. The company understands that with a consumer technology show like CES the freebie won’t always fall in the hands of security purchase decision makers; but plans to use more targeted promotions expected at the other nine trade shows on Se-Kure Controls’ 2012 calendar, all dedicated to retail, hardware and security.
Near Canon, Monster and Samsung Electronics, another small exhibitor understands the need for a giveaway to lure attendees from its grander next-door neighbors, but Hatzlachh Supply may not know what that is until the first day of the show.
“It might depend on how the owners wake up in the morning,” said Boaz Nagar, IT director of the New York-based home electronics manufacturer. “We always have something.”
Thirty-plus years of CES exhibiting experience tell the manufacturer of Broksonic TVs that gimmicks such as prize draws help increase foot traffic, but they also jack up expenses and work only to a certain extent.
“We’ve gone as small as giving away pens and key chains and as large as having people win TVs and VCRs, but there’s no guarantee of a return on investment,” Nagar said. “One of the reasons is that being next to a giant isn’t always good. [It] depends on what they’re selling. If the giants are selling the same thing as you are, it’s not good.”
Samsung’s 25,000-square-foot booth is on one side of Hatzlachh and has some overlap of product lines, but that’s not the case with Casio and its 10,000 square feet on the other side.
“Overall, I prefer being next to the giants,” said Nagar, whose company’s 30×40-foot booth last year was in the shadow of not only Samsung and Casio, but Sharp Electronics as well.
Moving several feet closer to a hall entrance should improve visibility for Hatzlachh’s 1,200-square-foot booth this year, Nagar said, noting that the new location reduces the chance of his company’s booth being throttled by large walls of a major exhibitor. “That,” he said, “can be a big, big problem.”
Designed with no barricade-type walls other than on the backside, Intel’s 10,000-square-foot booth will not be a problem for any of its neighbors. Its only direct neighbors, in fact, are Microsoft and Dolby Laboratories, which sport large digs.
Still, Harald Wilhelm of the Intel’s corporate events group does have empathy for the smallest players on the vast field.
“It’s not a given that you benefit positively from being next to a big fish,” he said. “It really depends on where you are located next to that big fish and who the big fish is. It doesn’t help if you are on the back wall of another company’s live stage where nobody has a tendency to go, nor does it necessarily help you to market your product if the big guys have noisy activity 8 hours a day.”
Live music is a favorite attention-getter for exhibitors at CES.(Flickr photo)
The promise of a steady hullabaloo from two NBA legends and a celebrity chef next door has Toronto-based Curtis International experiencing mixed emotions leading into CES. The home electronics manufacturer and distributor said it welcomes the added traffic retired NBA stars Robert Horry and John Salley and celebrity chef Allison Fishman may attract across the aisle at the Haier America booth, but not the company isn’t sure about the type of attendee they will draw.
“It’s a business show for us so we like to attract business decision makers,” said Alex Herzog, a sales manager with Curtis. “A couple of years ago we were next to Lady Gaga [at the Polaroid booth] and it didn’t bring in purchasers and other decision makers from each retail organization.”
Herzog does see a silver lining to the expected hordes that will visit the Haier booth to watch cooking demonstrations and seek autographs from sports legends.
“The upside is we’re able to draw additional attendees and connect with them from the ground up,” he said. “Lady Gaga attracted people walking the show for enjoyment, but it was still valuable to talk to them. I think it will be the same for those coming to see the celebrity chef. At the very least we could get some samples.”