The LeWeb3 conference brought to Paris all kinds of people from Internetpreneurs to professional bloggers, from hardcore gamers to so-called Old Media journalists. Many came to listen, but most came with a message to spread. This is Part 3, ending my series of articles on how they did it:
Schwag – This stuff is so popular, you can even buy it. Conference attendees got a laptop…bag with Ads Inside, instead of the more hoped-for Intel Inside. Plus a foldup toothbrush, arguably the most useful handout at the entire event. There were also t-shirts for all with the bizarre LeWeb3 Invaders logo at right. Cheese slices flying around in Citroen DS-inspired spaceships? Is that supposed to imply that it's the French attendees who were doing the invading? It was no surprise that there were still a mountain of these rags at the end of the conference. Thankfully, not all of the schwag was lame since visitors to Google's packed booth were able to help themselves to flashing-LED yoyos and magnets. Some chitchat with a rep about Google's recruitment difficulties earned you a black T-shirt that will get you noticed at any upcoming conferences. Not original but still smart – if you're going to spend on handouts, choose something oft-loved like a cool t-shirt; the receiver is happy to wear it or knows someone who will be, and you get cheap advertising combined with free goodwill for your brand. Plus, the t-shirt is less likely to end up in a landfill.
Tie-ins – fon founder and event sponsor Martin Varsavsky told the audience to get a free fonera Wifi router if attendees mentioned being at the conference when signing up for their account. It was such an offhanded comment, it seemed as if Martin came up with the idea on the spur of the moment and I didn't get the impression that anyone took him seriously. This was by far the biggest wasted opportunity of the conference – considering the aforementioned Wifi problems, Martin could have been
the conference a blogosphere hero if he had given out fonera routers and accounts for immediate use at the conference, especially if he'd timed his announcement for the 2nd morning – late enough that earlier sufferers (= everyone) would tremendously appreciate the gesture, but early enough that they could take advantage of his offer. Assuming that his product fits its billing, this would have allowed attendees to share the provided bandwidth more efficiently and leverage any other fon users in range.
Clothing – Two chipper guys in white zootsuits came to the Netvibes party with magic markers and spent the night at the Paris Bodega getting people to graffiti them with their email addresses, but some people had other designs. Not a bad idea for getting them noticed & photographed among that smallish dancing crowd, but how many people left the party and still remember their company/product? I don't, and I wonder how many email addresses they were actually able to read off the clothing the next day, let alone when they got back to the office. Warning…shameless plug coming…to get my company Share select Media noticed, I wore bright colors and large logos throughout the entire conference including both nights' parties. Also, being a religious Jew, I wear a kipa full-time which is somewhat of a rarity in France. With that in mind, I bet on most people having never seen a fluorescent orange kipa worn to matching polo shirts and the results were beyond my expectations. Many people came to ask me about the company, which gave me the opportunity to exchange business cards and learn about them too. I didn't even need my conference badge to get into the party at the Bodega, the doorman having noticed me earlier in the day. Standout clothing can be very effective as I learned, but make sure that your product or company message is getting across. Thanks for the picture, Nicole!
Video clips – Now that the event is over, most of the presentations can officially be seen on event sponsor vpod.tv‘s website and will stay there lest we forget. Many people also archived clips on YouTube or Google Video, which is a good thing since the vpod site isn't easy to use or link to. Looking at the graphic on the right of the top LeWeb3 videos as of January 17th 2007, I hope that vpod.tv's objective for the conference was to introduce themselves to a group of opinion makers because they certainly haven't generated a lot of traffic as a result of the conference. Notice how more people viewed LesBlogs2 (LeWeb3 circa 2005) clips than non-sponsor-oriented LeWeb3 clips. That said, the credibility of these low numbers is easy to question when the #4 slot goes to an uninspired clip about the Nokia Nseries.
Blog posts – Should I mention that people were somewhat driven to blog about the conference, before, during and especially after it had become a memory? Blogstorm aside, mentioning the conference and trackbacking to related blogs is a good way to solidify connections if you met the bloggers involved. Only do so if it's meaningful – posting simply for the opportunity to link to a new contact is one step away from spamming and it's also the reason that I didn't do it here.
Your marketing strategy should be multi-dimensional to increase its chances of success. Don't just give out business cards; participate on stage, introduce your company before asking a question from the audience, get people to rave about your schwag. Every separate angle reinforces your brand to your target audience and increases the chance that they'll retain you and your message. Another good case study comes from Seth Godin, who explains how Squidoo used clothing and tie-ins to create a lot of buzz at the eBay Live conference.
People remember based on emotion. If they liked it or hated it, they won't forget it. In the era of information overload, this lesson is more important than ever if you hope to make a lasting impression. It's also the reason that more and more companies are turning to viral marketing and away from boring TV or radio ads replete with forgettable slogans. At the LeWeb3, emotions ran high as evidenced by the 1500+ blog posts (source: Technorati) that have been written about the conference in just over a month since it officially closed its doors.
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