20 February 2023

Budget, Presentation, Social, Code

Also Known As: User Conference

Problem: You have a large group of developers (internal or external) that you want to reach publicly with a large amount of material that will help them use your product/service.

Context: You want to create some "buzz" around your product/service and/or your company, and use that "buzz" to gain some brand recognition, bootstrap some community activities, and/or persuade developers to take a deeper/harder look at your product/service collectively with their peers.

Solution: Create a company-funded conference dedicated to the company and/or the product/service, with high-ranking company executives taking prime slots to address the attendees about the company's successes, future directions, and exciting news. Use breakout sessions to further refine that messaging and further "deep dives" into the details of the product/service. Invite members of the tech press to attend for free, and provide opportunities for exclusive interviews with the company executives for the press to run.

Consequences: If a Booths is a time commitment, managing an entire conference is orders of magnitude more. Venue space must be procured, usually with accompanying hotel blocks of rooms for attendees (and employees); dates must be selected carefully to ensure that there is no accidental conflict with another event that might draw attendees, speakers, or employees away; the calendars of all the relevant individuals (particularly the executives) must be consulted to ensure that the individuals will be able to participate; and more. Attendance is also important--if too large of a venue is selected, and not enough attendees show up to make the hallways feel crowded, the event will feel empty, having the opposite of the desired effect. Risks around running a conference (particularly for the first time) can go very high.

Commensurately, the rewards of a successful conference can also go very high. A conference dedicated exclusively to the product/service and/or to the company, particularly if well-attended (even sold out!) can signal that the product/service has "arrived", and if the hallways are packed just enough, it creates a sense of "buzz" that the tech press will be happy to talk about in their articles and reports.

Throwing an event does not have to be exclusively reserved to companies of 10,000 or more; small companies can do so on a more informal level, without some of the hoopla and formality. However, proportionally, throwing an event always requires a non-trivial amont of time, and almost always requires at least an individual (if not a whole team) dedicated to the task of organizing, scheduling, managing, and monitoring the event.

For those companies that look to host an event (internally-facing or external) yet lack the bandwidth to do the logistical work, numerous third-party "event hosting companies" can be retained to provide the logistical support (up to a point--they will likely need company assistance in deciding what sessions to schedule and approve, for example) for running such an event. It will tend to drive the cost of the event up, but doing so will also leverage experts who have several events already "under their belts" and avoid some common beginner mistakes.


Tags: devrel   patterns