Jeff Kagan: Getting Most from CES 2014

Jeff Kagan |

CES 2014 has begun and once again it’s a zoo. I have been attending the Consumer Electronics Show off and on for more years than I can remember. It gets bigger and noisier every year, but still only a very few companies do a really good job with this once a year opportunity. Let me share a few thoughts from my perspective as an industry analyst on what companies are doing right and wrong.

As usual, I have heard from hundreds of companies who want to meet with me at this year’s show. Sounds amazing, however, as usual it’s an impossible task. I typically do most one-on-one briefings at the company headquarters, privately, where it’s quiet and I can focus. 

What I use CES for is as a barometer of what’s hot, what’s not and what to expect this year. CES is full of dreams, but only some of those dreams will come true this year. The rest serve as a map of things to come, someday. However, both are a good indication of the direction of the industry over the next few years.

As you know CES is full of tens of thousands of analysts, investors, media, customers and so on, wandering the aisles and trying to get to the next briefing on time. An impossible task, trust me. As you also know, companies try to line up as many interviews and meetings with key people in each category.

They do this because they think it will be helpful to them going forward. And if they give a great presentation to every visitor, CES can be worth its weight in gold. Unfortunately that’s not the case. Only a very small number of companies do a good job. Why?

Think about it. As each person from each group visits, they have different questions on their mind. They look for different things meeting with each company. Industry analysts often look for different things than investors who look for different things from the media.

Even if you look at a single group, like industry analysts as an example, each analyst often has a different focus. Some look at a small group of competitors and dig deeper, while others look at a wider group. Some are more technical while others focus more on advertising and marketing.

So if you see ten different analysts, you will find they may focus on ten different areas and you will have to put together ten different presentations. And this is just for the industry analyst group. I understand the impossible challenge each company faces.

So how can you make the most of each opportunity?

Trade shows like CES or CTIA are an environment where there should be several different presentations tailored for several different groups. Most companies don’t do this.

It’s exhausting for those who listen, and for those who present. Hey, we’re all only human. However there is still a way to squeeze more value out of all those briefings. You are always better off spending this first brief meeting getting to know the analyst and seeing whether or not you two are a good match.

This is different from the typical presentation when you visit with a company on their turf. Those are always very personal and interactive and much more valuable to both the visitor and the company. In fact spending time together can generate a more friendly environment which is always more helpful.

So with all that said, you can see that CES is a zoo.

Exhibitors give so many presentations. It’s tough to really understand whom they are talking to and what to say of interest to each. And that is why so many companies blow their first briefing opportunity.

Let me make a suggestion.

Rather than blowing your chance to make a good first impression with a poor presentation, why not take a different route.

Instead of a presentation, spend a few minutes getting to know the people who are there for a first meeting. Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. So make the first impression a good one.

Learn about them and let them learn about you and your company. Both of you can size each other up pretty quickly and decide whether it makes sense to take the relationship to the next level, a private get together and presentation.

This first step can be quite valuable to starting a quality relationship. Then you can follow up after the show. You can make sure you are a good match and then arrange a more in-depth and personal briefing either over the phone or in person or both.

This way you take better control of the process and have more success wining the hearts of others who are so important to the bigger picture.

This makes your eventual first briefing much more effective.

Both sides can better prepare for each meeting. You both have the time to relax and talk and answer questions can give you the opportunity to make sure the analyst or investor truly understands. Something there simply is not time for at noisy and chaotic trade shows.

So don’t swim upstream at CES. Go with the flow. Don’t think about giving formal presentations. Rather think about taking the first steps and making friends. Seeing who makes sense to get to the next level with.

If you do this, you will be delighted with your success from this show. Rather than giving dozens of confusing and less effective briefings, you can group visitors up as perfect, maybe or no go and then start working that list right after the show.

Now doesn’t that make more sense? So enjoy yourself at CES or any other trade show you have scheduled down the road. Let your efforts become more effective and you will be both surprised and delighted.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to:


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