Are You Ready for MWC?

It’s the show that no-one in the mobile business can afford to miss. Every February, a little later than usual next year, around 50,000 executives descend on Barcelona for Mobile World Congress to meet, network, negotiate and do deals.

But whether you’re an MWC virgin or an MWC old hand, there are some fundamental questions you need to ask yourself. These include: Why am I going? Do I need to exhibit or can I do something else? How can I get more bang for my buck? How can I ensure my brand stands out from the crowd? How can I meet the right people and get qualified leads?

Know your objectives
You need to get smart, get organized and know your objectives. Sit down and write an MWC plan, together with the sales and product teams. This will ensure that everyone is singing from the same hymn-sheet and your investment will deliver return.

Your MWC campaign shouldn’t start on Monday and end on Thursday at the show. It should start six months ahead and end six months after. Get sales on board early. Most relevant contacts are kept on their C-drives and not held centrally. Work with sales to create one qualified contact list, segment it into products, and prioritise the contacts in advance.

The campaign should be 3-part: one main communication, one follow up from sales, and one reminder. All follow up needs to be done within 24 hours, and all communications need to be trackable.

PR should be a large part of your campaign – you’re more likely to get coverage if you either brief the press before the show, or save your news until after, when everyone else has already issued their news, and you can avoid some of the noise.

Instead of expensive advertising through the GSMA, opt for a sponsorship package with one of the key industry media. This will give your coverage a longer shelf life to a wider audience, and will often contain print coverage at the show and online interviews.

To stand or not to stand?
If you’re not happy with your stand position and aren’t offered anything better, there are alternatives. You could instead hire meeting space, re-brand that, and then spend money on targeted brand awareness activities. If you have a good space, you need to know what options you have in that space, and make it work hard for you. Your stand needs to be the right platform to deliver your objectives.

It’s important to get the inside track on which halls attract which punters, what are the best traffic flows, and what are the issues that often arise, such as poor internet connectivity. When looking for a stand builder, make sure you choose that who has the experience to advise you on all these issues and ensure your event goes smoothly.

Present your products with a wow factor
Don’t just market a product because it’s your latest innovation or have 20 datasheets on the stand.  Focus on the marketing the three key products that will draw the most attention and have the best market-fit. Communicate the benefits, not the features, through show-stopping demos, and make sure you have case studies to back up your claims.

You should have one clear message at the show which runs through all your communications. Say what you do – many companies confuse punters by using complicated industry jargon – clear and simple is more effective.

Your people are your brand
Companies often overlook investing in the staff they send to MWC, and hope they will perform well at the show, with no briefings, messaging workshop or stand and demo training.  No matter how great your stand is, if your team isn’t ‘on-message’ and can’t perfectly perform a demo or relate the right customer case study, then all of your hard work is for nothing.

Don’t make the mistake of letting everyone attend the show. The costs of sending staff add up, and too many people on the stand overwhelm the customer. Organise a ‘SWAT Team’ made up of technical and sales experts who can best represent your business, and can cover the stand and meetings. Any qualified leads can be passed to the relevant account manager after the show.

Get the logistics right 
Now’s the time to book hotels and flights. A European flight bought now is around ten times cheaper than one bought a month before MWC. Good hotels near the Fira are impossible to come by in January – book a number of rooms now and you can cancel any surplus in December when you have a better idea of who is definitely going.

If you are shipping anything to MWC, save money and the stress of items getting stuck in customs by sending everything along with your stand firm. Don’t print collateral which is costly to print and ship, is quickly out of date, and a pain for people to carry around the show.  PDFs can be trackable, updated, and are the cost of an email to send.

Take a 360-degree view 
MWC is part of a bigger picture, so get your CEO to approve your plan at the start to make sure your plans are aligned with corporate goals. Return on investment should be measured by qualified business leads, press coverage, deals closed and brand awareness.

Outsource activities from the entire event project management to specific lead generation campaigns. MWC experts can help ensure you get a good return on investment and exceed your objectives at the show.

Finally, we asked some seasoned MWC attendees for their advice on getting the most out of the show. Here’s what they told us:

Jean Foster, VP Marketing, Neustar: “When we look at ROI, we focus not just on the individual opportunity values but also on exposure to senior executives, government entities and other who may be key to our business.”

Sonny Waheed, director of corporate & marketing communications, EMEA & APAC, Tellabs: “MWC is a costly affair which means you’re going to have to get very strong results for the returns to be seen. I advocate doing any marketing and branding in the run up to the show rather than at the show itself; it’s very hard to create stand-out with the plethora of activity at the event, so anything you can do in advance of the show will bode well for you.”

Marit van Valkenhoef, trade marketer, eBuddy: “We believe that return on investment works in two ways; to generate actual business but also through knowledge sharing. MWC gives us the opportunity to learn about market changes, to learn from field experts helping us to find new business opportunities.”

Maryvonne Tubb, director, marketing, Mavenir Systems: “It’s very tempting to spend a lot of money at MWC. The key is to ensure that your show goals are clear, the right staff attends, and key customers are looked after.” 

James Salter, marketing manager, N. America, Teleca: “As a marketeer, you must have a system to capture all of the important metrics, such as sales leads, sales pipeline, booth visitors, and impressions, and be able to track their impact before and well after the show has ended. Following up over the long term will show a much clearer picture of the ROI for your company.”

Kath Clarke is a director at Rosier Consulting. Stephen Harmer is a director at BrandSaints