Mobile World Congress 2019: Lessons for B2B Marketers

February 26, 2019

The yearly telecoms industry get-together is in full swing this week. Tens of thousands of engineers, business developers, marketers, hacks, and flacks descended on Barcelona for a week full of pintos and previews of what the telecommunications industry will be focusing on for the next 12 months.

mobile world congress

Image Courtesy of Mobile World Congress

A flurry of announcements and pronouncements are the order of the day and 2019 has not disappointed. From novel form factors to tough questions on business strategy, those on the keynote stages as well as the stands have a busy week that can, for some, make or break their entire year.

With so much going on, it’s easy to let the wave of news, analyses, social posts, and hot-takes overwhelm the mind. We will leave it to our 1-1 calls with clients to give the scoop on lessons learned in PR and marketing communications this year, as we pitched and rolled with the punches in an extremely competitive market. However, we did think some #MWC19 insights would be appreciated, even by those who think a conference with serious acreage dedicated to fibre-optic switches is not one for them:

In with the old, in with the new:
Some industry watchers have expressed relief that the long promised 5G rollouts are nearly here. The new network capabilities have been hyped at the congress for years, but there’s a sense that finally, it’s tangible and realistic to expect devices, services and capabilities in the hands of businesses and consumers alike in 2019 (depending on your location). The key point, underneath this flood of 5G discussion, is that nobody is making the mistake of forgetting the existing technology. LTE is here to stay, with new products, ideas and technologies being announced for rollout over the next few years. The lesson: lead with impactful novelty, but don’t forget what got you there. Customers will move slowly so make sure your strategy takes them on the journey with you and you’re helping them realise the best possible ROI on existing investments.

Politics is no longer such a touchy subject:
The dominant story in telecoms for the last few months has been security concerns at a national level. Everyone is being asked for their opinions and insights on how the political machinations of global powers will translate to procurement patterns. It’s rarely going to be a good idea to bring it up proactively, but it is becoming necessary to have a coordinated, coherent response to the big issues if you want to be taken seriously. In telecoms, it’s security. In other areas it may be bias to AI, carbon footprints, privacy, tax. It doesn’t have to be ground-breaking, but it needs to exist and spokespeople need to know it.

Yes, it is relevant to you:
It could be a boring point – but it’s worth making again. Nearly every workforce or corporate trend points to technology having an increasingly foundational position in all aspects of business life. The luxury of letting an IT buyer, or even the HR team, worry about consumer trends is gone. Everyone, from intern to Board chair (in any industry) should understand how this week’s new devices and announcements can and will change the way they work in the next few years. What will 5G speed and coverage bring, what impact will new form-factors in devices have, what’s the human impact of sensor networks tracking everything that moves 24/7? The telecoms world that comes to play at MWC is not something you buy into anymore. It provides the connectivity that underpins every penny you make – online or offline. Where it goes, you go – so you really need to know how to read the map.

As communications experts, we are always learning about balancing the old and the new, venturing into new territories and not just staying on top of, but creating relevant conversations. Ultimately, we bring those lessons to work for our clients.

If you’d like to talk about how we can support you at major trade events, get in touch with me today.

Focusing mainly on enterprise and general B2B technology clients, Karl works across the corporate practice at Ketchum on a range of projects covering media relations, planning, content creation and digital advisory.