This year, the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival is running from 8-12 March, bringing together bright minds from all over the world. As well as a massve love-in of music, technology and arts, it’s also a great marketing platform to launch your startup and to network with other innovators, market leaders and potential investors.
But with so many events taking place throughout the festival, it’s hard for each and every startup to get attention as well as make an impact. Tilo Bonow, Founder of piâbo public relations, give us some tips on how your startup can get the most out of this creative maelstrom…
1. Market You
Social media, entrepreneurship, design and branding: don’t forget to always keep your business profile up-to-date on portals such as LinkedIn and Facebook and also promote that your startup is available through these social media channels.
Know exactly what your USP is, and set up a positioning workshop before you arrive to define who your target market and audience is. Observe your competitors at the beginning in order to make a clear separation between you and the other several hundreds of startups throughout the event.
3. Keep it short and simple
When someone at SXSW asks you “what do you do?” your response should be one or two sentences that catches their attention and leads them into a deeper conversation about what your startup is. No one wants to be bombarded by buzzwords.
4. Organise an event at the event
You don’t need to have a big budget to run your own event at SXSW. Whether it’s an event to launch your startup, introducing a new product feature or simply a media brunch event, it is all about getting the timing right for your attendees, not the money that’s spent on it. Coming up with a creative location and a concrete time-slot for your event will ensure that your specific target group – bloggers for example – has the opportunity to come along and connect with you and your idea.
5. Put your name on it
Creative promotional giveaways, displaying your brand, website, contact details and social networks. Also, a short and sharp description of what your business can offer and call to action will capture the attention of the right potential clients and investors.
6. Go to the SXSW trade show
This is where many of the key people you want to network with will be, and where you will find the best potential and future partnerships at SXSW. Securing meetings upfront ensures you have a time slot reserved and a schedule of the people you want to speak to, which then allows for a post-event follow up.
7. Go to the right events
Use apps like Banjo, GroupMe, Gowalla, Foursquare or Highlight to select the best events for you to attend while at SXSW. And use Twitter to see what’s going on. The community functionality on the SXSW website and app is also useful to meet and network with the right potential clients and investors. Keep in mind that it’s important to get in contact and schedule meetings with these people beforehand.
8. Use Twitter
Twitter is the jungle drums for SXSW – as well as scouring for relevant news and interesting contacts, establish a hashtag for your brand or conversation and monitor what people are saying about you and your business – and respond to them. Twitter is also useful when hiring people, encouraging people to spread a positive message and getting the right people on board with your business prior, during and after SXSW.
9. Get on a panel
Any and every start up can submit their ideas and be selected on a panel to promote yourself at SXSW. Keep in mind that thousands of people will look at the description and speakers of each panel. Gaining this attention helps assure followers of your startup, along with hundreds of attendees that could lead to potential partnerships. The event’s panel picker has a 30 percent influence on which startup will be selected on a panel.
10. The media is everywhere
It may seem that all of the tech press from around the world is at SXSW – stay proactive and don’t get overwhelmed. Sponsors and startups alike are going overboard to promote their brands and get noticed, and you need to as well if you want it to be worth your business’ while. Often, the press department of the event provides a list of journalists who are attending SXSW, which helps to set up meetings with the journalists you want to connect with.