Jan 15th 2021

Question marks over MWC Barcelona drive the requirement for a flexible marketing strategy this year

There are two big questions hanging over the heads of telecoms executives as they plan their roadmaps for 2021:

‘Will Mobile World Congress (MWC) Barcelona 2021 will definitely go ahead in June this year?’

‘If MWC does happen, what it will look like in terms of attendance and size?’

Mobile World Congress has always been a mainstay in the telecoms industry calendar. It’s a launch pad for companies to trial and promote new messaging and marketing campaigns, and most importantly, meet with customers and prospects to help build a solid pipeline for the year. Uncertainty around the event’s future may be disconcerting, but one thing that the pandemic has taught is us that we should hope for the best and plan for the worst.

There’s currently every reason to be optimistic about the event happening in June. The vaccine is being rolled out across many parts of the world in earnest, and Europe is leading in that regard. Tradeshows and events are now beginning to happen across Asia – MWC Shanghai, for example, is only weeks away, albeit on a much smaller scale then we’ve seen before.

But you never know what could happen to change the fate of any scheduled event. What’s important now is that telecoms companies follow strong but agile marketing roadmaps, enabling them to adapt to any unforeseen changes that may occur.

This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Ray Le Maistre, the Editorial Director at TelecomTV. During the live-streamed Babel event, I was able to quiz Ray on his views on MWC Barcelona, and how companies should approach the event.

One of Ray’s central pieces of advice was that companies should start clearly communicating their strategies now. In other words, don’t hold on to MWC in June to do this, as it will be too late. Ray said that the telecoms industry moved at the fasted pace he’s ever seen in 2020, and he expects things to continue in the same vein this year. This is, of course, largely due to our even greater reliance on networks during the pandemic, which have so far effectively supported our shift to remote working, education, and e-commerce.

Companies that don’t get organised in Q1, and start communicating their distinct value proposition within an industry that is moving at lightning pace, will get left behind. The timing of MWC 2021 – being at a mid-point in the year – means that you shouldn’t be building your core marketing plans around the event. By all means, look to create a splash at MWC, but use these next five months to generate as much visibility for your company as possible, so that prospects are queuing up to speak with you, even if the event doesn’t take place physically.

Getting your approach to media engagement right will be crucial if you want to generate high levels of visibility. Shameless plug alert: you must find the right agency that knows telecoms, is one step ahead of the trends in the industry, and has the contacts in the media that ensure you have the necessary exposure. This needs to be intelligence applied to the way you package up stories for journalists – give them exactly what they need to run a story at a time when editorial teams have never been more stretched. Babel has been ticking those boxes for our clients throughout the last two decades.

As Ray said during our discussion, “Nobody can bet in any way, shape or form that MWC will happen this year, the same way has it has in the past”. So plan a flexible but strong marketing roadmap that ensures you come out of the gate quickly this quarter and keep up the pace throughout the year.

Want to find out how Babel can help? Get in touch.


Paul Campbell
Paul Campbell DIRECTOR