The advertising industry will be swarming the beach fronts of Cannes next week in the hopes of having their dreams fulfilled – taking home that golden Lion. And for first timers this can be an intimidating adventure. So we have compiled a list of things first-timers should know before hopping on the plane.
Your prep for Cannes should have started three weeks ago. If you’re just getting started, fear not. You can still make it a profitable experience. Set measurable and achievable KPIs for your trip. Be that a set number of meaningful connections, follow-up meetings or journalist encounters. Set up individual meetings with your target list of customers outside of the regularly scheduled Cannes conference. Do your research on the people you’d like to meet. Serendipity can go far, but being prepared for it will help you achieve results.
Look for connections everywhere
Chances are, 50% of the flight you’re on are going to Cannes. Your job doesn’t start just on arrival at the hotel, but just past security. Start by making small conversation with the person next to you on the flight. Find out what sessions they’ll be going to, which parties and why they’re going to be there. Maybe they’ll even invite you to tag along!
Ask Questions, No Pitching
You’re going to meet a lot of people, some will be potential customers, others maybe even investors. Don’t put them on a pedestal. Be respectful and have your one-liner ready explaining how you might be able to help them solve their problem/challenge.
Think about the questions you’ll ask them before explaining what you do to better tailor your one-liner– are they a connector, a customer, or a potential investor? Remember to keep the pitching to a minimum – no one likes to be talked at. Brush up on your industry knowledge to make starting conversations flow more easily.
These people want solutions to existing problems, not products. They don’t care about your tech, they care about whether you can make the famous (we are in Cannes, dahling)! Tell them how you’ll be able to make them more money or save them a ton of it.
Hustle Your way In
Hustle – big time. This is where your preparation will come in to play. You’ll know exactly who you want to meet, and where to be prior to checking in for your flight. Have your business cards at the ready. Want to get into that exclusive party? Make sure you know who to ask about that. Can’t decide between the sponsored beach, and going off with your newest pals to maybe get into that brand party? Choose wisely. Keep a level head and don’t float away with the hype. Though do go with the flow.
As they’re always handy, but there’s a high chance you’ll lose them. Use LinkedIn there and then rather exchange cards if you can – the internet doesn’t get lost as easily. How about that Cannes Connect app? Have you downloaded it yet?
Don’t stay put in one place. People move around, and you might miss an opportunity by staying at that party for one more drink. Go with the crowd, but also know when it’s time to walk your own path through the festival. Set up a messenger group with friends before going down so you can rely on multiple sets of eyes to know what’s going on.
Aqua, Snacks, Data
Dress for a 14 hour day filled with walking. Take everything you’ll need to go from conferencing, to partying on a yacht. Bottles of water are always handy to refill, food will be fleeting when paid for, and expensive when it’s out of your own pocket. And pay for those four days of data – wifi is reliable at best.
Make sure you are well rested before heading to Cannes. You need to be on your best form. And be sure to get some sleep in Cannes. No one likes an early morning meeting where you’re still boozy from the night before.
Smile & Have Fun
You are in Cannes after all. Allow yourself to get wrapped up in the hype to get your adrenaline pumping, but keep your feet firmly planted on the ground. Enjoy the buzz of the industry celebs, but always keep your objectives in sight.