Marketing at SXSW, and how we rocked it

RiotVine rolled in to SXSW a relative unknown, but we did amazingly well thanks to a fun marketing campaign. Here’s how we did it:

  1. Make it relevant: I noticed a lot of spray and pray marketing with companies giving away schwag tagged with their logo, not a good spend for a bootstrapped startup. Find something that fits the theme and is useful during SXSW, e.g.: A small street map of downtown Austin, because your phone will not last the day. Include info about your product on the other side.
  2. Have a simple hook: Make sure you target folks interested in your product. Again, small startup, not a lot of money to spend, so we used Twitter to reach out to influential people and asked them a very simple question..
  3. Give’em something to talk about: You really need something to separate you from the pack. Get crazy, get creative; the best way to get people to talk about you is to give them something to say.

So what did we do? RiotVine is a a social event guide; we help you discover events you’ll love and make it easy to see what your friends are doing. At SXSW, this is something you’d check in the morning before leaving your hotel. And at SXSW, chances are you’re really hungover and would kill for some Advil. So we tweeted to some of our early adopters and a few people in the community to see if they’d like a hangover kit dropped off at their hotel room. Who wouldn’t want one? Relevant to the event, simple hook, and well worth talking about.

It helps that our SXSW guide was awesome, letting you filter parties by which ones had free drinks, free food, and even the ones that didn’t require a SXSW badge. Don’t take our word for it, here’s what Robert Scoble had to say:

Damn, best mobile @sxsw party guide I have seen yet! 2300 events for SXSW! New mobile version too /via @RiotVineSXSW

Check out some of the tweets about this marketing campaign:

Akili's Tweet about RiotVine's hangover kit

Alexa's tweet about our hangover kit

@armano's tweet about RiotVine's hangover kit

@anamariecox's tweet about RiotVine's hangover kit

Video of the hangover kit “unboxing” courtesy Jeff Cutler and Mike Langford

Total marketing spend: South of $100
Reach: Over 1.5 million people
Rocking at SXSW: F’ing priceless.

Huge thanks to Rachel Levy; she was a sport and absolutely indispensable throughout this; hit her up if you’re looking for someone to execute on a marketing plan. Honorable mentions to The Mike Walsh, Tom Monaghan and Jeremy Levine and Aaron of @eatBoston fame.


One Response to “Marketing at SXSW, and how we rocked it”

  1. Rachel Levy Says:

    Thanks for the props Kabir. We DID rock it! 🙂


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