Why ride the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and how to do it right
Hello! My name is Katya Frank, I’m a leading marketer for Mobile Dimension. In this article, I will give a brief analysis of the Mobile World Congress exhibition in Barcelona, compare it a bit with the same exhibition from GSMA in Shanghai, tell who it is worth participating in, and how to organize everything so as not to be screwed up. I will also tell you what could have been better prepared, what we have missed, and what I recommend to do to everyone who will go there next year. The article will be useful to marketers and business developers of IT companies.
I will not show new products from Samsung and Nokia (but I will show a helicopter) and do reviews on stands or conduct an excursion; there is a lot of information about this part of the exhibition in RuNet, so I want to lighten up a little the side that the media cannot see. And I’ll also tell you a little how to take part in MWC and not go broke at the same time, but this is not an advertisement, but part of the life experience that we have lived through.
Mobile Dimension is a mobile application developer working in foreign markets, and, in general, we found it logical to participate in MWC Shanghai last year, and in MWC Barcelona this year.
Last year, we went to Shanghai as participants in the Russian pavilion organized by the Ministry of Communications of the Russian Federation. We went to Barcelona with the Russian Export Center and this time we had our own stand in the framework of the pavilion.
Next, I’ll talk in more detail about the preparation for the trip, about the co-financing of the REC and what it is, how to go through the procedure and what you will get in the end
Who cares about the exhibition right away, I recommend scrolling further, since there is about a page of organizational details that will be useful only to marketers.
To begin with, I’ll say that, as many people know, participation in such large exhibitions as MWC, Computex Taipei and others, is just standing in the street, in my humble opinion, like a wing from a Boeing. For many, these are heavy marketing budgets in a brand-building project. Such exhibitions cost from 7 thousand euros for Raw Space 6 meters without building (we throw about the same amount on the simplest building) up to plus infinity, depending on how little time is left before the event and what your appetites are. Building a city on the floor of a pavilion in the style of Gazprom is priceless. You can spend three days at the exhibition once, boo and immediately close the company and go to the Cayman Islands to hide from the collectors that will come to your liking. The situation is slightly better if you have already participated. You can operate that you are a participant in the second year, demand a discount, try to negotiate. It’s a little easier to bargain in China, since all materials for building are produced by them and everything is basically cheaper there.
I’ll tell you how it can be done significantly cheaper
The Russian Export Center is an organization that is engaged in all kinds of support for Russian exports (including non-primary) abroad. The support program also includes co-financing (partial financing), i.e. indirectmaterial support for SMEs. I translate into Russian - if you are a small and medium-sized business, you can receive co-financing of your participation in a major international event, both as part of the Russian delegation, and separately. Indirect support should be understood that no one pays you money directly, but incurs a rather large percentage of your costs. The total amount is different each time depending on the particular event, but I can say from myself that this very significantly saves you the marketing budget + gives a lot of interesting opportunities, such as an extra badge or other benefits from being at the national stand.
For reference: At such large exhibitions as CES, CEBIT or MWC there are almost always national pavilions. They are represented by young companies, united in a national pavilion.
What is the advantage of participating in the national pavilion?
But very simple. If you are an abstract startup HighTech Mobile Innovation Inc, then the maximum that you can count on at MWC is a stand of 6 squares for big money with a simple development. Moreover, the most annoying, such giants as Nokia, Samsung, ZTE, Huawei and others, redeem the area years before the exhibition and have priority over everyone else in choosing a profitable place. As a result, small stands are often crammed into the far corner, so as not to spoil the plan and engineering of the building. This year, seats were sold even in the corridors between the pavilions. It is expensive, meaning - mercilessly little. There is huge traffic in the corridors, and on the one hand it’s good, but on the other hand, to use it, you need to make a huge amount of effort to attract their attention.
In general, what is called taste and color ... But from simple logic, participation in the stand of the national delegation of 100 squares is more profitable than in the stand of 6 squares in the corridor. The large stand is more noticeable, higher, attracts more attention.
A very sad stand of a very interesting startup in an escalator span.
What else gives participation at the national stand?
Of course, you will be printed in the catalog of the pavilion, as well as various business programs and business events, meetings with business missions from other pavilions and other cultural events will be provided. Otherwise, the main point is everywhere - participation.
What is required and what awaits you?
First of all, mentally prepare for the collection, filling out and sending of a large number of documents, including in the originals. Everyone who has ever prepared a tender is familiar with this; the list of documents is approximately the same. You will definitely need an extract from SMEs and from the register. If you have a special person in the team who can be entrusted with this, consider that you are lucky. And remember that even if no one warns about this at the beginning, then in the end you will be required to request the originals by mail, be prepared for this and keep each piece of paper as the first spring flower. To begin with, you can make an application for registration in the system (i.e., become an exporter) and, having passed this stage, evaluate whether you are ready to collect paper pieces further. In the comments, I will be ready to share links if someone needs advice on the process. Get ready for that the whole procedure takes a lot of time. Submit documents in advance and follow the publication of the protocols on the site - have you been approved to participate in co-financing for the event or not. Feel free to call there to clarify statuses.
Now a little background information about the exhibition itself
When we flew to Barcelona, we were shocked by the level of organization. Badges were issued on all days at all terminals of the airport, it was available in the city, at two, it seems, points of issue, as well as in the exhibition complex itself (the latter is highly recommended by the organizers themselves - there are a lot of people). When making a badge on the site, you can check the box where exactly you want to get your badge and on what date.
At the airport, a whole floor was reserved for issuing badges, the navigation “For MWC participants - go there” is extremely understandable, every 15 meters a volunteer in a red uniform vest will show you the way and tell you.
What caused us total delight was the ticket for the subway. All participants will receive a metro pass for the badge, which is valid for all four days of the exhibition throughout the city. Firstly, the metro in Barcelona is very expensive, and secondly, the Fira Barcelona exhibition complex is located on a separate commercial metro line, the fare for which must be paid separately from the main system, so I can very well imagine what a hell of a crowd would be at the payment terminals, if the organizers did not issue tickets in advance.
In the city itself, it’s the same - everywhere banners, everywhere navigation, everywhere advertising, everywhere WMC info points.
Remark. When planning a visit to MWC, take care of housing much in advance. We bought everything in December, but even then the hotel was getting about half a million rubles for four, so we rented an inexpensive apartment on Airbnb. But in this case, check if the apartment has heating, it was snowing on our trip to Barcelona.
About the exhibition
When we went to Shanghai last year, we realized how different the Asian world is from the European one even at such global events. If at the MWC in Shanghai almost all manufacturers were Chinese, they sold and offered services and products for the domestic market and did not particularly try to even translate their materials, headlines and stands into English, but in Barcelona everything was exactly the opposite. In Fira Barcelona, and these are 9 (nine!) Huge halls + corridors and courtyards of a huge walking carnival oriented to Europe here and now.
What in this connection must be done for MWC in Barcelona is to prepare good, attractive and understandable materials in English, and even better - to get confused and translate them into Spanish. We translated only into English, but did not translate into Spanish and, to some extent, regretted it.
Pavilion 8.1 was completely dedicated to mobile applications and development, promotion and mobile advertising. We ended up in Hall 6, where there was nobody there, but since it was the pavilion of the REC, we could not influence the choice of the hall. The problem is that the exhibition doesn’t formally split exhibitors into halls, the exhibition divides only by the engineering of stands, laying them on a plan as in tetris. Therefore, if the exhibition is convenient to move you to shove a stand with an area of a football field, the exhibition will do it. As a result, there are 9 halls of an endless stream of information that cannot be structured somehow. To get around all nine and not go crazy, you have to use the method of exiting the maze - to go all the time on the right side.
If you are a mobile developer and plan to participate next year- write to the organizers and ask where they plan to place the developer room. Why was this important? Because many who come to MWC come immediately with specific tasks, to specific companies and with pre-scheduled meetings and don’t go to random halls to click their beaks. As a result, it turns out that if you are a developer, but are not in the room you need (in our case, not in 8.1), your audience may simply not know about your stand. Our stand was located in Pavilion 6 and it turned out that this was not entirely successful. In Shanghai, there was no such problem, since there were almost no mobile developers there, and the exhibition itself was smaller.
Who knows, perhaps the organizers will begin to split the halls into Apps, Health & Wearable, IoT and other categories, so that visitors can easily navigate. But while such a clear border was only in the hall 8.1. - mobile applications.
Nokia booth at MWC18
First of all, when planning your booth, think about a chip. There are so many stands and sizes that surpass the neighbor is really very difficult. Nokia this year, without undue modesty, just built a city half a pound. Think about the details, find out from the building what the height of the walls at the stand adjacent to you, try not to be lower. Forget about balloons - they are in the past. The squeak of the season is rotating designs suspended on rails to the ceiling, moving elements with backlighting, everything is as high as possible, as bright as possible, as loud as possible.
Think over the competition system at the stand, do not load anyone with a business program, hire promo girls, put a mustang on the stand and pour beer, give a smart watch and invest in the promo of your stand. AppsFlyer poured on a stand decorated under a saloon from the wild west, whiskey and played music, which will be remembered for a very long time. Create hype, intrigue around the stand, stimulate interest, promise everyone a surprise and a closed party. We didn’t have such a chip, since we were extremely limited by the concept of the national pavilion. We are very sorry, next year we will come up with how to surprise.
In general, networking is a huge part of the meaning of being there. Make appointments through the exhibition portal and through the mobile application, do not ignore this opportunity, this is really very convenient. We constantly met with someone, went to 4YFN events and held a lot of meetings at the stand. We understand now that we could do even more.
Organize your business meetings with target customers. At MWC there are people who privately organize (for money, of course) visits to your booth of various companies of interest to you, you can and should negotiate with such people, these are targeted contacts. Most likely, they will write to you themselves as soon as your company is published on the MWC website. Unfortunately, we did not use this opportunity, we considered that networking is enough and will limit ourselves to business meetings organized by the stand. We are a little sorry.
Agree with the giants for six months. Many large companies generally have stands at MWC that are completely closed to the public passing by, exclusively with meeting rooms. It is impossible to get to such stands without an appointment, the recording is completely closed sometimes sometimes as much as two months. Among such companies were Ernst & Young, Google (Android), Boston consulting, Nokia. We did not know about this and could not get to the Android stand.
Get to know the crowd of competitors and startups. At the MWC, evening events, parties are constantly organizing themselves and this is a great chance to meet and exchange experiences. We went to such events every evening and brought a lot of new and useful contacts, literally, from dating in line to the bar!
Try co-branding! Agree with partner companies, large corporations with friendly marketing, halve the cost of a booth and get benefits from a profitable neighborhood. In the same way, you can use just the neighborhood with the stand-alone Google, but without preliminary agreements it will be difficult to do technically.
What else was interesting at the exhibition?
Helicopter from Huawei.
Global Mobile Awards
If you are attending the MWC, you can apply for your solution at the Global Mobile Awards. Be careful, the application deadline closes in early January, you need to fill out a rather impressive form, then the jury is selected. There are many categories, it’s quite easy to choose for yourself. At first glance, it seems that it is impossible to compete with giants such as Huawei and Zte, but we managed to enter the top five nominees in our category with the Pregnancy Calendar mobile application , and this is an Oscar nomination for the mobile world! The award ceremony looks very cool and the truth is very similar to the Oscars - carpet paths and brilliant TV presenters. And, of course, when your logo is shown from the GLOMO scene, this is a very exciting moment.
There were really a lot of stands. It is pointless to list them all, and this is not a review of the exhibition, but a practical guide to participation.
So, we got to the conclusions.
It makes sense to participate if you:
- Mobile developer or sell developer service
- Produce anything wearable - gadgets, medical devices, fitness trackers, headphones
- Make software with versions for mobile devices
- Have introduced mobile technology in your company and want to tell the whole world about it - the Mercedes Benz booth presented the Smart concept car and the new A-classe, stuffed with electronics and mobility
- In general, anything related to mobility, even if you produce batteries
Participation is definitely NOT meaningful in only one case : if you produce something that is not translated (not localized), at least in English. It is advisable to go to the exhibition only with a fully translated and finished product.
Is it worth participating without a stand, walking and handing out flyers, getting to know each other?
Yes, but that’s not accurate. The entry ticket of the simplest level costs a thousand euros + travel expenses. He gives only passes to the exhibition. To get to additional lectures, you need to get a silver pass, it is immediately very expensive. If there is no opportunity to put up a stand, then it is certainly better to go just a visitor than not at all. But at the same time, you need to understand that there will be a million people like you, mixed with a million promotional staff with leaflets.
It will be difficult but fun.