SXSW Interactive 2015 Update #1: SMB-focused Highlights

03/15/2015

The annual South by Southwest Interactive conference can feel like a bit of a circus, even if you’re far from the event. But that doesn’t mean that the panels, presentations and promotions in Austin don’t have any impact on the world of SMB marketing. Here’s a brief look at the news from first few days of SXSW Interactive 2015 that SMB-focused companies need to know.
 
To Stand Out at SXSW, Give Them Something To Tweet About
Entrepreneur looks at the need for companies large and small to “show more than they tell” to rise above the clamor in Austin this time of year. While most SMBs aren’t going to experiment with virtual reality, some of this advice – like “show what you can do” and “put the product in their hands” is sound marketing advice both in Texas and at home.
 
New York Times: Digital First, Revenues Second
MediaPost reports that The New York Times doesn’t just see digital as the future – they see it as the present. Smaller local media enterprises may not have the resources that the New York Times has at its disposal (a $1.3 billion business gives you plenty to invest in R&D) but they should start thinking about how they can explore digital right now. More importantly, local media needs to think about how they can help their advertising partners explore the digital frontier sooner rather than later.
 
How to Build an Army of Brand Advocates
Businesses of all sizes benefit from building strong relationships with brand advocates. But how do you go about doing that? By emphasizing connections over shouting, according to Terry Macko, SVP of marketing and communications for World Wildlife Fund. Campaign caught Macko on a panel that examined the difference between advocacy and advertising in today’s media landscape. Another panelist, Abby Lunardini, VP of brand marketing and communications at Virgin America, had three key tips for businesses of all sizes looking to build loyal customers: “it is vital to know your audience; thank supporters along the way; and have fun, which will get people behind a cause.” 
 
One Start-Up, Two Pitches
By the nature of their size, SMBs often have close ties to a particular city, state or region. That’s true for the start-ups pushing for recognition at SXSW as well, and some of them have ventured to Austin looking share their hometown pride. The Washington Post has an interesting look at how one Washington, D.C. company, Virtru, is putting special consideration into how it represents the district in addition to promoting the company while in Austin. Maintaining those hometown ties can be a very important consideration when developing a SMB marketing plan. While many businesses want logos and identities that make them look as good as Fortune 500 companies, these businesses may also benefit by emphasizing the local connection. As much as SMBs push to compare themselves to big national brands, maintaining an identity that sticks close to home and takes pride in that heritage can help an SMB craft a relevant, unique identity.