Tag Archives: sxsw

SXSW Marketing Tactics

Some of the most popular marketing efforts at SXSW involve free food and beverages. It’s not surprising given there is even a service that tracks them (see: AustinFoodCarts.com). During the conference, brands rented a food cart, reserved space in many of bars and restaurants on 6th Street, or went the low budget route and passed out food and beverages from the back of pick-up trucks.

I started taking pictures to have some examples of various tactics.

building wrap and food cart Austin pedicab SXSW Ogilvy Notes AT&T Charging Station SXSW Stickerbook Gapingvoid Print Rackspace Tattoo Arm SXSW Austin Chronicle Booth SXSW Guardian Booth sxsw posters

1.Building Wrap and Free Food Cart

Squarespace wrapped a building just a block from the Austin Convention Center and across from the Hilton Hotel. In the picture above you can see the food cart they stationed in front of the building to serve free food to conference attendees. The only downside of free food this close to the event is that lines were long during lunch hours.

2. Pedicab Posters

Notice the signs on the back of the pedicabs? Here’s another opportunity for brands to get advertising exposure. I’m sure brands could even sponsor pedicab rides.

These riders worked all day and into the night to carry attendees from panels in one location to another, as well as from different bars and restaurants back to hotels in the evening.

At $10 per person/per ride, it was an economical way to help mitigate things being so spread out. Also, these pedicabs were much easier to flag down than traditional cabs.

3. Visual Storyteller

Ogilvy hired digital artists to create visual notes of several sessions each day. In addition to these huge poster size pieces, they printed a quantity of these for sxsw attendees.

Personally, I really like this tactic. It provides something of value that people can take home with them, in addition to being available online. It’s an example of social object that can be used to generate conversations online (like this blog post).

4. Charging Stations

This tactic has been executed by many a brand. It’s highly useful for conference attendees. AT&T’s charging station was between the bookstore and the coffee bar. And, as you might guess, it saw plenty of traffic. In addition to having the kiosk as pictured, they had a bar and chairs where people with chargers could plug in and relax. Of course, in the process of charging their device, attendees could get a little info about AT&T products and services.

I stopped in at this booth several times during the conference. I do wonder, however, how AT&T measures the effectiveness of this brand exposure.

5. Stickers

Are you the type to put stickers on your laptop? There were plenty of these available. Enough that you could go home with a full laptop lid if that’s what you’re in to.

Also, if you wanted to collect pins for your badge holder, those were really prevalent, too. I have to say, though, a brand’s pin would really have to be unique in order to stick out from all of the different options.

6. Social Objects

I’m biased (I commissioned Hugh at Gapingvoid.com to create a series of prints for Intel at CES in January (see Gapingvoid Art Gallery on Inside Scoop), but I think using social objects like his fun artwork is a really dynamic way to help generate conversations in social networks for a brand. Consumers appreciate the gift and blog, tweet, and share pictures of the artwork, while each mention racks up another activation point for the brand. It’s a win-win in my opinion. Quite a few of the presentations I attended included Hugh’s artwork in their slides.

7. Tattoo Arm

Here’s an original idea that I hadn’t seen before. Rackspace gave away tattoo arms. It’s conference swag that really fits in with the culture of the conference. It’s something unique, and really cool. Plus, I bet they have created conversations online because of using them. However, what is the life of the freebie? Will people keep it once the novelty wears off? A t-shirt might have more longevity, and could even become a collector’s item depending on the artwork.

8. Booth as Meeting Space with Couches

This tactic fits intrinsically with the SXSW culture. It’s also an answer to the question, “Who can throw the best party?” There were many different booths with chairs and couches available for attendees to lounge around and chat with each other. It’s such a different experience than CES in which there are even bigger crowds.

I really liked the Austin Chronicle’s interpretation of booth seating. See the casual couches in the photo above. It fits right in with the “Keep Austin Weird” slogan you see around town. They know their audience. So too does the Guardian, which offered much more yuppie places to sit and talk in keeping with their brand.

9. Posters

Some of the people who hang posters have developed it into an art form — hanging it in such a way so that it sticks out past the pillar or post.

5 Big Ideas from SXSW to Uplevel Your Digital Marketing

The SXSW conference can be a lesson for brands in how to blend a face-to-face event with social, music, and film. The organizers, panelists, and attendees create an experience, lots of content, encourage ongoing social participation and promotion, which all leads to it being an entertaining and educational experience for attendees.

You have to understand, however, SXSW is huge. To get the most out of it, you have to go with a plan.

Then, you have to come back and organize your notes and mine slideshare for the panels you missed in order to get real value from it.

Here are the 5 Big Ideas I (re)learned and want to share from SXSW Interactive 2011.

1. It’s critical to uplevel focus on content and content marketing

  • People try to fix a web presence in one or two ways: add new technology or redesign; no focus on content.

From panel: Not My Job: The Ultimate Content Strategy Smackdown (click through for audio)

  • A discussion about content strategy should come around to how you leverage the content you have. The content is raw material, some of it good or great, some of it perhaps less so. But how you use it, package it, distribute it … can all add value and ensure a valuable asset, a value to both the audience and to the company.

From Blog Post:

  • By giving content away, you enable the ability to dramatically increase your global reach, ability to inspire, spread ideas, and engage a passionate user base.

From: TED: Radical Openness (click through for audio) http://www.slideshare.net/jessedee/south-by-southwest-2011-recap-3-7309997

2. It’s critical to create many different types of content.

  • It’s not just text. It’s convergence. Think apps, games, infographics, PPTs, PDFs, video, FAQs, etc.

From panel: Future 15, Convergence, Dan Shust

3. Learn how to create great content for the right context: Or, Say it short and make it a story.

  • The less you say, the more they’ll remember.
  • Our brains are wired for stories. Make it a short story (even though it takes longer to create because it’s more difficult).
  • Data isn’t a story. Data: the king died. Then, the queen died. Story: The king died. Then, the queen died of grief.
  • Successful communication is not about technology. It’s about story.

From: Saying It Short Writing Workshop with Betty Draper (click through for audio)

4. What are the necessary elements of a content strategy? OR, Cultivating relationships and building trust matter.

  1. Creation: the trick to marketing is having something so cool that you want to talk about it even if you weren’t in the business. (Hugh MacLeod)
  2. Curation: Brands have the expertise, the time, and the money to be great editors and curators of digital content. It seems reasonable to conclude that one part of being a great brand is now also being a great curator. (Steven Rosenbaum)
  3. Cultivation: We have entered a new era in which developing strong consumer relationships is pivotal to a brand or company’s success.(Gary Vaynerchuk)
  • The creation and curation of relevant content, coupled with the cultivation of a relationship, leads to trust.

Ok, so this panel wasn’t at SXSW 2011, but it’s a preso entitled Creating, curating, and Cultivating the Social Web, by Esteban Contreras, Social Media Manager at Samsung for the Marketing 2.0 and Social Media Conference 2011 in Paris on 3/28/2011, and it’s based on SXSWi 2011 so I’m including it here.


See slide 9 for tips on how to create.
See slide 26 for tips on how to curate.
See page 40 for tips on cultivation.

5. Rest/renewal breaks, game play, and doing social good can make us better more engaged people.

  • We’re more productive when we build in intermittent renewal along the way
  • We’re not meant to operate the way computers do – at high speeds, continuously, for long periods of time
  • Your sense of purpose–to serve something greater than yourself–is a source of great energy
  • 4 nights in a row of 5 or fewer hours of sleep = functionally intoxicated.
  • The critical issue is the value you create, not the hours you work.
  • Myth: One hour less of sleep will add one hour of productivity to your day.

From panel: The 90 Minute Solution: Live Like a Sprinter (click through for audio)

  • Gaming unleashes our natural ability to be the best version of ourselves.
  • Our generation will achieve 10,000 hrs of gaming by the age of 21. We can harness that for good instead of escapism.
  • The opposite of play isn’t work – it’s depression.
  • 3-4 hours of Call of Duty decreases PTSD response in veterans. vs. 6 hrs of gym time for the same response.

From panel: Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How they can change the world (click through for audio)

  • For every pair of shoes that are bought, Tom’s Shoes gives one pair away.
  • The best thing you can give your employees is the opportunity to be part of something bigger than themselves.
  • You don’t need advertising: just focus on giving and that story will be told by your raving fans.

From keynote: Blake Mycoskie, Toms Shoes

Create Your Content Strategy: Bring your dish-to-pass

Potluck Dish-to-PassI attended my first SXSW this month, and I am intrigued by various sessions about creating and marketing content that seeks to inspire, entertain, and educate an audience, be it an audience of consumers who have grown more skeptical about what you have to offer, students who have become more and more disengaged by coursework and classrooms, and even some SXSW attendees who are less than enthralled with the size and spectacle that SXSW interactive has become.

See Various Sessions: Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead, Content First, Everything Else Second, Not My Job: Content Strategy Smackdown, Brave New World: Debating Brangs’ Role as Publishers and No Child Left Inside: Mobile Tech Meets Education.

These days I’m mainly focused on creating content for a large brand. In my opinion, creating and marketing compelling content for a brand can be one of the most important intersections of business, social media and marketing because it gives the brand something to have conversations about and around other than their products — conversations which, by and large, are falling on deaf ears. You can think of this more engaging and compelling content as the dish-to-pass that you bring to a potluck. Like most any meal among colleagues or friends, it’s the object that warms them up and creates an opening for conversation and connection.

Good Content & Good Potlucks
The content you create serves many purposes and can meet different business objectives. Like any good potluck — the event gets better the more different kinds of dishes there are. The types of content we can create may include videos, podcasts, text, slideshares, infographics, white papers, FAQs, apps, games, etc. Because of SEO issues and trying to serve the needs of a diverse audience, creating as many of these types of content as possible is important and necessary. Plus, you can consider how you might aggregate content to invite conversation and build engagement. Of course, when you’re ready to ramp things up, you can ask your users to help create content.

Having worked for several large brands, I know that content development and content aggregation can be one of the biggest challenges facing teams because of all of the different forms that “content” can take. And, from what I’ve seen, not many brands are staffed with expert content developers in all of these areas.

Content Strategy Priorities
Once you have your business objectives in hand and before you begin creating all these different types of content, you should consider the following.

1. Define the target audience
2. Identify the content topics that will appeal to each audience
3. Specify the level of content detail to provide and all associated metadata
4. Create appropriate calls to action to achieve business goals (engagement, sales, etc.)
5. Develop an editorial calendar to guide and prioritize the creation and publishing process

Next Steps
Once you have a content development strategy, then some next steps include:

1. content marketing: as you create the content, you also need to figure out the mix of paid media and social media you’re going to do to promote the content and build engagement around it, as well as how content aggregation might fit into your plans.
2. content measurement: define your plan so you know what content is working and you’re able to fine tune your efforts
3. content management: (not to be overlooked) you need to define the lifecycle of the content and what plans you have to maintain, archive, or delete.

In The Thank You Economy keynote, Gary Vaynerchuk advocated developing strong relationships with consumers and showing them that you care — not in just fuzzy-feel-good-ways — but in authentic ways before, during, and after the sale. As he writes in his book by the same name, “If your organization’s intentions transcend the mere act of selling a product or service, and it is brave enough to expose its heart and soul, people will respond” (ch 1).

Add one more quality to the list of what makes for great content: genuine. People can tell when you’re faking it.