Many other start-up entrepreneurs have asked me if SXSW Interactive is worth attending. My response: “Is Cannes worth attending as a filmmaker? Is Fashion Week worth attending as a designer?”
In other words, yes.
I think of SXSW Interactive as my yearly trip to "social geek mecca." Last year, there were nearly 20,000 attendees at the interactive portion and this didn’t account for the non-badge holders that were estimated to double the size of the event.
There is really no other event that brings together so many tech-savvy people. Have an application that requires a heap of users in one location? SXSW is the perfect launch platform. And even if you don't, it’s still a great place to meet lots of people and get the word out.
At the same token, the event is overwhelming. There are oodles of sponsors begging for everyone’s attention. And the crowd is not only tech-savvy, it’s also sell-savvy. People are at SXSW to learn, socialize, get free drinks, and eat their weight in Texas BBQ. So if you approach SXSW like you approach a tradeshow, you won’t get very far in your efforts.
The better promotions I’ve seen over the years fulfill the needs of the weary throngs of SXSW Interactive participants. Here are just a few to drum up some ideas:
These three examples have one thing in common: They creatively solved the needs of SXSW participants and tied these promotions back to their brands. So, instead of investing in t-shirts, flyers, and scantily clad booth babes, promote your company by enhancing a SXSW goer’s experience.
[footnote: My start-up, Buyosphere, is providing free manicures, massages, and women-focused content this year at BeautyBarX.com. This idea was born out of my frustration last year trying to find somewhere to fix my nails!]