SXSW Marketing Mess-Ups

The media notices when your marketing stunts don’t match your marketing message, but not in a good way.
Author, Profit First
March 15, 2013

SXSW, an annual technology, marketing and music event in Austin, Texas, is often the first place a lot of great applications, software and technology get seen and promoted by the national media. But for every attention-grabbing product, there are a dozen that aren’t quite sure what to do with that attention once they have it.

At this year's event there was a dancing yam greeting attendees and inviting them to walk through a giant yam to promote a nonexistent website called YamTraders.com. The act was designed to actually draw your attention to a human resources start-up named TriNet. Huh? Then there was a giant nameless sign advertising free tacos and beer to promote Bloomfire, software that “connects people with knowledge to people who need it.” Double huh? ABC News highlighted seven SXSW marketing stunts that did little more than confuse the media—and the attendees.

If all ABC News can find to write about your product is how lame your marketing stunt is, it doesn’t bode well for you. It’s also a sign your customers, who are often not as attentive as story-hungry reporters, will also be confused. Just because something catches your attention doesn’t mean it’s good marketing. Getting someone’s attention is the easy step. You then need to have a cohesive message that ties your marketing efforts to what your product or service offering is. 

Free tacos and beer will get people’s attention. But unless you are able to point out how a free meal connects with your knowledge-based software, you might as well be burning dollar bills in a bucket. If you can demonstrate that a business owner could save enough money to buy a taco or three and a beer or more just by using your software, then you’re cooking. Then you can have a competition, like asking restaurant owners if they can eat more tacos in an hour than the system will save them.

Don't just catch someone's attention. Keep it.

[ABC News]

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