If you are an established tech company, you have three choices: You are either so big and so successful, you have your own huge press event that gets the word out. You have your own chain of highly visible and successful retail stores that gets the word out. Or you go to the major tech shows in your industry that gets the word out.
If you are Apple, you get more than enough mileage from the first two. Samsung still makes major announcements at trade shows and conferences. But they are also able to get a lot of mileage out of their own special events.
But when you are a tech startup, you have neither retail stores or clout. So you can’t expect every major news outlet in the world to come out to your location and cover you. Your options are narrowed to one: you have to be at the big trade shows. Besides the fact that you have no other real options, here’s why you need to be there:
Press Coverage You Could Never Get on Your Own
The press attend events with a certain list of booths they intend to cover. In giant events like CES, they have reporters roaming the floors looking for interesting stories. But no one can cover everything.
You absolutely have to be at CES. You can get press coverage that you could never get on your own. But to get noticed, you either have to already be on someone’s list, or you have to have one very visually interesting booth.
The right custom event tents can make all the difference in whether you are seen and whether you spend your trade show time in obscurity. Unless you are backed by some major investor, you are not going to get a sit down with Walt Mossberg about your great new widget. But you might talk to The Verge If your tent or booth is interesting enough to catch the eye of their roving reporters.
Advertising is the backbone of your online startup. Mobile World Congress is a great place to do it. You don’t have to deliver a smartphone to get attention there. A mobile app or service will get almost as much attention.
While technically not a tech conference, SXSW is one of the best conferences to advertise. You don’t even have to buy advertising at the conference proper. If you can sponsor a party, or get advertising at one of the bars where a major party will be held, you will get the attention of the tech industry and the tech press.
You may be advertising to a small audience at these conferences. But the audience is the most influential in the world, at least in your line of work. Not only will you get the attention of all the other venders, you will get the press which includes podcasters, writers, and YouTube video stars.
Also a part of your advertising budget are the review units you give out to influencers. You don’t even have to have a booth to get a lot of milage with review units. Because the press are there and looking for a story, you can literally place one in their hands. MWC and SXSW are great places to do just that.
The reason you want to go to NAB is because it is the trade show for the press. At NAB, the press are not just there to cover the new products. They are there to purchase the new products. Everyone who makes audio or video content will find something at NAB that they want. If you have such a product, they will be seeking you out, not just for a story, but for a purchase.
The only thing a podcaster loves more than a new mic is talking about the new mic they just bought. If you provide them with tools they can use, they will put you in their address book.
CES, MWC, and NAB are great investments for the press coverage, the advertising, and the networking. If you are not there getting you word out, your competitors will be.