September 27, 2007
TechCrunch40 or DEMO? Wrong Question!
Countless people have been asking me which conference is better - DEMO or TechCrunch40 (TC40) for product launches. Is TC40 the new DEMO? Frankly, this isn't a fair question and its not really the 'right question.' It's like asking, "is it better to be in the New York Times or Engadget?
Is a viral marketing campaign better than a major blitz on prime time television? Does a mention in a column in USA Today bring more traffic to your site than a handful of really great blog hits over time?
Great PR is and should be an integrated part of an overall marketing strategy collectively agreed upon by the management team early on.
I have seen blog buzz do wonders for 'some' clients and barely move the needle for others. It depends on your audience, where you are in your launch cycle and product roadmap. The same applies to conferences and events.
Ask a start-up whether spending $35K or more to sponsor Web 2.0 last year really accelerated their brand recognition or brought them customers? OR did the PR buzz around an event like AlwaysOn, Supernova, Web 2.0, TC40 or DEMO put them on the map? Results cannot be measured in a vacuum and one-offs very rarely achieve the kind of results a company needs in the early days.
Yet, the question always comes up? Where do we go? What's the best platform to launch? Sure, these are important decisions.
I thought both conferences attracted a dynamic group of people and showed off new innovation on and off-stage. Jason and Mike did a fabulous job in their first year of bringing some heavy hitters into the mix and there were a few products I actually wanted to use. The hallway chatter and energy was also dynamic. Like every event, there were also some that were mere features waiting to be bought or fade into the ether.
DEMO conferences combine the old with the new and yes you pay to play but there is a long established and trusted brand behind the DEMO name, which has been known over time to select a high callibre of companies. Whether this business model adapts over time as a result of the growing-in-popularity un-conference format is hard to say. Perhaps a hybrid model emerges?
This year's DEMOfall delivered an interesting mish-mash of venture capitalists, companies and products with names you couldn't pronounce (which of course had no correlation to how cool they were), entrepreneurs, and press. There are always old industry illuminaries in the mix of new young talent who are bringing innovative solutions to market.
Cathy Brooks was running around shooting some video coverage of the 'making of DEMO,' while a handful of other camera crews (Canadian TV, San Diego 10 News, an ABC affiliate and others for online coverage (CNET's Rafe Needleman and Larry Magid's CBS radio/blog), ploughed through the hallways interviewing people and shooting gadgets, toys and video solutions.
Enterprise and infrastructure plays always take a back seat at events like this even if they are solving important problems.
There seemed to be more 'traditional' media at DEMOfall than there were at TC40, which was packed with bloggers, uploading text, podcasts and video to various sites, as well as some international press eager to hear about things early (I sat next to The Guardian's new media reporter Jemima Kiss for example).
If you had a strong social media play and are after early adopters, TC40 was most certainly a good venue and the discussion thread around these new ideas and what they could mean for bigger picture trends was insightful.
If you have a slightly later stage product and are trying to reach broader more mainstream consumers, DEMO conferences really cater to that. (Glam was back on the DEMO stage for the third time this year)
Both are great launchpads depending on what you are trying to achieve and who you want to listen. And remember, like a group of high profile founders said on the TC40 stage this month, we're in the products business. Like Steve Jobs so often reminds us, delivering great products that make life easier and more fun on a consistent basis, win.
At the end of the day, whether you achieved buzz through TC40 (Mint did well here) or DEMOfall (where the virtual, gamers, gadgets and a slot machine thrived), the real long term success from all of these companies will be whether they in fact have an audience and choose the right one. Then, and only then, can they effectively deliver a great service and experience time and time again?
Check out ValleyWag's recap via TechDirt suggesting when you have to pay, you TRY much harder and take the opportunity much more seriously. You also may have some cash in the bank, whether its angel or otherwise -- perhaps there's a stronger possibility that you're providing a real value-add rather than a feature waiting to be sold?
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Posted by: Lyn Eart | Oct 6, 2007 11:09:06 AM