Planning your exhibition presence at Mobile World Congress? See our strategic recommendations to help you maximise your time and budget
The Mobile World Congress is ‘the’ annual event for an ever-growing and rapidly changing mobile industry. As the mobile industry continues to expand and evolve, it will naturally involve a growing and increasingly diverse range of market participants from a developing and diverse range of market sectors. New mobile developments in connected cities, cars, health, entertainment, and fashion-wearables are adding new audiences and industries to the mobile sector. This is both good and bad news for Mobile World Congress exhibitors. Good news in that there is growing demand for mobile solutions; bad news in that as the industry expands, so does the focus of the event and the diversity of its exhibitors and audience.
If you are exhibiting at Mobile World Congress 2019 [Barcelona, 25-28th February], you’ll no doubt be in the thick of planning your strategy and presence at the event. With over 2,400 exhibitors and sponsors, all with ranging budgets, from the small to the ginormous, it’s critical to have a detailed plan of action that ensures you achieve a significant ROI and the most out of your participation.
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Here are few strategic considerations to help during this planning period.
1.) Set clear objectives
Seems obvious, but you might be surprised how often exhibitors have unclear, unquantifiable and sometimes even unachievable goals. As we’ve discussed, MWC is a huge, crowded and can be a challenging environment. It’s really critical to define and prioritise what you want to achieve and that everyone on your team is clear on these objectives. Establishing clear, achievable objectives is the critical first step to designing a strategy that will deliver results. Your exhibition stand should then be designed around this, ensuring that it elevates and fully realises these set objectives.
2.) Define your target audience
With over 107,000 attendees, from 205 countries in attendance at Mobile World Congress, finding the right audience with whom you want to engage with can be a little like finding a needle in a haystack. Whilst we believe in the power of serendipity, hoping the right people visit your stand is not recommended and will not be successful. Instead make sure you carefully define, profile, and prioritise your most important target audience and design a quick qualifications screener to qualify the potential lead and avoid wasting valuable event time on the wrong audience.
3.) Have one really strong message
There are lots of things you want to say about your product, service or brand, but we recommend developing a message hierarchy that is designed around one really strong key message to your target audience that clearly defines your primary proposition. MWC is a visual and auditory barrage that can be overwhelming for the attendee. Your message is your brand’s call-to-action and is vital in instantly conveying how you want the audience to feel and think about you. To stand out and get noticed, it’s critical that your message is clear, understandable, relevant and compelling. Most importantly, this message should be joined up with the rest of your brand’s communication channels to ensure a cohesive and seamless brand message.
4.) A pre-event communications campaign is key
Once you are clear on your target audience and have developed your messaging, it’s not too early to begin a communications campaign to let them know that you plan to be at MWC and how they will benefit from meeting with you there. This is where the collaboration between sales and marketing functions is integral.
5.) Pre-scheduled meetings matter
For many exhibitors at MWC, the ultimate value of the event is all about pre-scheduled meetings. GSMA estimates that over 1 million meetings are held during MWC and many of these were scheduled in advance of the event. With pre-scheduled meetings, you get to meet a pre-qualified audience and engage with them directly.
6.) Decide on the primary function of your space
In recent years some of the largest exhibition stands at Mobile World Congress resembled an Apple Store with clean, white display counters featuring tethered mobile devices, whilst others were either the more traditional mix of big graphics, briefing space and display pedestals or invitation-only meeting space. Part of the excitement of Mobile World Congress is exhibition stand design and experience, and last year there were some amazing architectural wonders and exciting brand environments on show. Innovative, engaging products should have equally as innovative and engaging stand experiences. The type and layout of the physical space speaks volumes about your brand. Event space needs to provide an environment that communicates the brand’s personality. Ultimately stand design should be driven by your brand’s objectives, not by design for design’s sake.
7.) Focus on value, not just features
Increasingly it seems that the mobile industry is becoming focused less on mobility features and more of the value of mobility. It’s now what the mobile user is able do that matters. Our mobile devices are becoming an inseparable and impenetrable extension of who we are and how we live our lives. My device, my communications, my music, my photos, my videos, my social personality, my alarm clock, my pedometer, my health monitor, my garage opener, my business, my whatever-I-want-it-to-be. The relationship we have with our mobile devices is becoming an important part of our private and public personality. Personalisation is not only what the mobile experience will be all about in the future, but live event experiences like Mobile World Congress will need to be more personalised too. Make sure you demonstrate the ultimate value of your product service, not just the features and functions.
8.) Make it participatory
At Mobile World Congress, many exhibitors now feature some way to engage the audience in a participatory activity. The most prevalent of these is the use of VR experiences.
But if you use VR – use it wisely. If you’ve been to a trade show then you’ve seen it before. The exhibitor whose proposition is so uninviting, that they revert to attracting attendees with a bowl of candy on their stand. Unless they are attempting to attract people with a sweet tooth, most of the time the candy itself has very little to do with their proposition. At Mobile World Congress last year, VR experiences sometimes felt a bit like stand candy. No clear relationship to the brand proposition but very popular with attendees queuing down the aisles for a chance to wear the “sweet” headset. VR isn’t going anywhere and can be an incredibly engaging way to interact with your key audiences – just make sure that it ladders up to your overall brand strategy.
9.) Support a good cause and have purpose
One of the things that is becoming increasingly important, particularly to millennials, is that of a clear articulation of brand purpose and the authenticity of a brand. In a recent survey on similar products, 81% of consumers will choose the brand associated with charitable causes or with clear CSR. Many of the world’s most respected brands are becoming active at promoting how they are helping to make the world a better place. This trend is also influencing how brands at Mobile World Congress are incorporating these values into the design of their event experience. For example, even as mobile devices continue to get stronger and faster there is still a huge gap between the connected haves and ‘have-nots’. It’s expected that 67 percent of people in the world will have mobile phones by the end of 2018, while only 47 percent of the world’s population has access to the Internet. Some argue that the mobile industry should focus on “finishing the job” of connecting the billions of people in society who still don’t have access to the internet, rather than focusing on getting faster and stronger connectivity for those that already have access.
MWC also offers opportunities for exhibitors and sponsors to get involved in a number of CSR-type activities during and even after the event.
10.) Have a social sharing content plan
Exhibitors at Mobile World Congress are beginning to realise that the event experience is an amazing source of valuable and sharable social content. Increasingly live experiences like MWC are being designed to reach both the audience that is actually physically present, as well as the potentially much larger audience that’s not even there but reachable through the very technology they are championing.
Are you exhibiting at MWC?
We have over 23-year’s combined experience of creating unique stand experiences at Mobile World Congress. It’s crucial for brands to stand out from the crowd and make an impact amongst the marketing noise. Year-after-year we’ve helped major brands engage with their key MWC audiences with enhanced messaging, immersive experience and compelling stand design. Our strategic approach to brand experience is insight-driven and campaign-led.