I just returned from my umpteenth E3 and the same thought that ran through my mind 15 years ago hit me again:

Are exhibitors wasting their money?  I’ve been going to E3 since it was called CES and happened twice a year. But over the years, its primary purpose seemed to change.  At first it was a sales show geared towards retail buyers.  Then it morphed into a press/retail hybrid event.  Now, there’s so much chaotic hype everyone seems to work around the show to gain visibility. So if it’s smarter to work around E3, why is everyone going in the first place? It’s essentially a three-day industry beauty pageant with fewer and fewer preening contestants.

You’d have a hard time convincing me that the amount of money spent to attend and exhibit at E3 couldn’t be allocated more effectively on other activities.

Need to impress institutional investors? Hold a retreat at a golf resort in Scottsdale or Hilton Head.

Want to impact retail planograms? Host your own Destination PlayStation-like event.

Need media coverage?  Holding a more intimate press event showcasing just your titles is way more effective at building your brand and securing coverage.

I’ve heard it said that E3 does all three of those things, but that simply isn’t true.  Sales timing is essentially different now, and most people do media relations before the show to ensure they get coverage.  And the investor community can be reached at various analyst shows and through your own IR activities.

In fact, you could even create your own Consumer Con and if you so desired, invite media to that and kill two birds with one Con.  You’d start creating those brand evangelists early like Coke does by putting soda machines in high schools.  Tricky folks them Cokesters, but at least it’s effective.

Stay tuned for my next post when I ask the burning question:  Bronies:  Lame or Legendary?

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