Wrapping up one of the biggest communication industry events – Enterprise Connect – in Orlando last week, where we launched 3 new products, I thought I’d share with my fellow CMOs and marketing peers our Top 5 lessons learned.
1. Get the brand right: No point having the world’s most innovative product if you don’t have a consistent brand identity that reflects what your company stands for. Brand identity is not about having a pretty logo or an extravagant booth but starts with taking a step back and ensuring you understand your company’s brand strategy and brand personality (e.g. fun & vibrant, new age or conservative). These elements need to be represented in your brand’s visual identity (booth design, brochures, ads, logos etc.) in a consistent fashion. If you don’t have a brand strategy in place, work with a design agency who can help discover one for you.
2. Industry analysts & influencers are your best friends: I cannot underscore enough the importance of this point. Leading industry analysts need to understand your product and give you honest feedback so that you don’t drink your own Kool-Aid going into a launch. It may take one or two briefings, but taking the time to have an open dialogue on your product capabilities and obtain feedback on your messaging & value proposition is immensely valuable. This process not only arms analysts with a proper understanding of your product but they can then evangelize in the marketplace. It is much more powerful having reputed industry analysts weighing in on product merits, blogging and writing about your company than your own marketing staff. Having a white paper or a webinar pre-launch is a great way to generate buzz and draw attention to your product as well.
3. Do not underestimate the power of industry awards: When CaféX was formed in late 2013, nobody knew much about us until we won the Best of Show award at Enterprise Connect 2014. That changed everything for us and we received immediate endorsement from the industry, which gave us the air cover to seek new partnerships and client relationships that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible. Talking about awards, I personally loathe "pay to play" awards. These usually only dilute your brand and hurt your rep more than help. True industry awards based on nomination and merit judged via a panel of industry experts are the ones you want to go for. CaféX has been fortunate to be the youngest company ever to win two best of show awards (2014 and now again in 2016).
4. You reap what you sow: If you are one of those marketeers who expects to generate high value leads simply by showing up at the show with an amazing booth – think twice. Do your homework: Have your sales people reach out to as many prospects as possible, invite and set upappointments for demos at the show, organize briefings & demos with analysts based on the attendee list so that you have a busy booth with a tight schedule. A busy booth automatically invites more traffic & footfall. If you haven’t taken these steps, you are more likelyto attract folks who are merely interested in your giveaways rather than serious prospects who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer.
5. Speaking slots: Try to line up as many speaking sessions/panel discussions/keynotes at the show. This is one area where we could have done a better job. Slots & agendas fill up quickly, so getting in early with track organizers, keeping them up to date on your latest innovations, upcoming announcements and what unique perspectives you can bring to the show are all good ways to ensure you land it right with respect to generating thought leadership for your products & company.
I would love to hear your feedback and comments if you agree or have had similar experiences (or not).