Summer vacation schedules tend to obscure important deadlines in preparation for IBEX 2015. Between exhibitor registrations, seminar selection, hotel reservations, the list goes on. Not to be overlooked is the prestigious Innovation Awards. This highly visible showcase helps level the field between new and established exhibitors who are the drivers behind innovation that attracts consumers and translates into what we all want – sales. Entry is currently open and will close August 12, 2015. Whether you are seasoned or first time exhibitor we want to help you create a product entry that will put your product in the spotlight. To help with the process we have collaborated with the judging chairs to provide inside tips on how to successfully submit a product that will capture the judges’ attention.
Top 10 Tips for a Successful Product Entry
- Research. If you feel you have a new innovation you are looking at the right program to enter, but first make sure your product is bringing something that is truly new to the table. Often, the judges find that a product is an innovation for a particular company, but other companies have had similar products on the market for years. Complete the research beforehand by reviewing other manufacturers’ products. If the product is brought over from another market as a market extension into the marine industry, it will need to show substantial adaptation or modification to make it a “new” product that will qualify under the program’s definition of “innovation.” Take note that changes to packaging or promotion do not qualify as innovations and the product will be viewed only as a market extension of an existing product.
- Play by the rules. Before designating your time and efforts of self-nomination review the program’s Rules & Regulations to ensure the product qualifies for entry. Here are a few questions to consider when entering your product: Has your product been submitted to the Innovation Awards before? When will the product be on the market? Will the product be on display in its finished state at IBEX 2015?
- Understand the entry process. Become aware of what you need to submit and when. Here is a breakdown of the three step process. Step One: Complete the online entry form. Basic company, contact and product information will be required, along with a product description and upload of product photo and company logo. Step Two: Accept the unique Dropbox folder invitation which will be provided after the entry form is submitted. Once accepted, you will need to upload the product video and supporting material (additional photos, brochures, news articles). Step Three: Submit payment. IBEX will invoice you per entry. Cost per entry is $400. NMMA members receive a 15% discount.
- Get creative. One particularly important requirement for entry is creating a 250 word or less description of the product. This is read by the judges prior to show site. Therefore, the product description should clearly illustrate the innovation. What is the “wow factor” you are bringing to the table in order to capture the judges’ attention? Do not include promotional language rendered from your marketing team or information about the company. Focus on describing the unique features of the product. You want this information to provoke more questions from the judges when you meet them onsite.
- Lights. Camera. Action. Have you ever wanted a chance to direct behind or perform in front of the camera? We thought we’d give you this opportunity. This is a new requirement for entry and please don’t let it overwhelm you as production quality is not judged. The video, lasting 2-3 minutes, should showcase the innovative features of the product in a succinct matter. It is also the perfect opportunity to depict how the product works with focus on the products innovative features. The video will be uploaded in the unique Dropbox folder provided by IBEX staff after the online entry form is complete. Check out a sample video HERE.
- Mark your calendar. We don’t want you to miss the opportunity for you to put your product in the spotlight. Be aware that the deadline for entry (all three steps noted above) must be fulfilled by August 12, 2015.
- Get to the post office. If your product is shippable please send it using the following shipping label to arrive in Louisville by September 9, 2015. If your product is not shippable, you will mark as so on the entry form. Products that are shipped will be present for the judges to review onsite. These products will then be moved to Innovation Way for the duration of the show. Side note: Innovation Way is a dedicated area that provides extra exposure to your new product. At the conclusion of the Show you will be responsible for claiming your product.
- Know the answers. Two days prior to the Show’s opening the judges will perform a product inspection. A representative of the product will meet with the judges to provide a brief description of the product and answer outstanding questions. Successful entrants won’t provide the judges with an elevator speech about the product. Instead, they are prepared to demonstrate the product and effectively answer all questions.
- Update your exhibitor information. There are many ways that entry in the Innovation Awards program will provide your company extra exposure before, during and after the Show. When you submit a product you will notice the icon on the Exhibitor list. This denotes to the public that you have entered the program. Make sure you take the extra step and provide the new product description and photo (if applicable) within the exhibitor portal. This is a free opportunity to market the product you have entered. Once complete, you will receive the icon.
- Ask questions. If you are unsure if your product qualifies, what product category to enter, how to upload to Dropbox or what to expect on show site, please contact Rachel Timko, Innovation Awards Manager. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org PH: 312.946.6247
Thank you for your time. We hope you have found these tips beneficial. Best of luck with your application!
Rachel Timko, Innovation Awards Manager
Alan Wendt, Innovation Awards Judging Chair