If you haven’t heard of South By Southwest by now, you must be living under a rock. But just because you’ve heard of it doesn’t necessarily mean you should care, or should you?
What started as a small Austin music festival to discover new and upcoming talent has 20 years later become much more than that. Now, not only can you see music, film, and attend interactive seminars, but even more so it’s a place for companies to become (or remain) relevant. Just like the showcased artists, companies have to sell themselves through their new products, free events, and most importantly by creating an engaging environment that surrounds their brand.
As the years have gone by, South By Southwest has become the flagship event for this type of marketing. It’s a unique take, but to be represented there as a company generally means big bucks spent in advertising dollars. This money goes to hosting free events for the public, hiring artists to play shows, and getting there to begin with. So how can small companies benefit?
Just being in this type of environment opens numerous possibilities for your company. Guerilla marketing is the easiest way to create an even playing field between you and the big players. Do whatever you can to take advantage of the situation – because the demographic attending is perfect for virtually any market and anything goes!
Here are three tactics which will definitely help bring your company to the next level:
- Meet Industry Professionals – Whether it be in music, film, or your specific industry, meeting leaders is the way to bring your company straight to the top. Network with them, learn from them, and then give them reasons why your product or service can help. Get some product into their hands – they will use it and promote it! Remember, this is an environment where most people are trying to make it, and everyone is willing to help bring each other to the top.
- Analyze the Competition – Anyone who doesn’t want to know what his or her competition is up to is making a huge mistake. Even if it’s not direct competition, understanding what the companies with thousands of employees are doing and is extremely important. Much of this, you will realize, you can replicate on a smaller level. Even if you can’t, it’s important to see what works and what doesn’t so that you can plan accordingly.
- Learn Your Market – There are thousands of people in attendance, so get out there! Talk to everyone, from the music lovers to the film buffs, and try to understand what’s important to them. Hopefully you have already established the values of your company – so seek out who else shares these to get a better understanding of your market. You truly never know who you will meet and now is the best time to try out new strategies. You will leave with many honest opinions, which good or bad will further shape your brand.
The most important lesson learned is that these ideas are not just for South By Southwest alone. They can be applied to all trade shows and networking events. Getting yourself out there is the first step, and it’s amazing how many doors it will open. See you at SXSW!