20 February 2023

Budget, Social

Throw a party, usually at an event of some sort, and invite customers and non-customers alike to partake. Possibly include a presentation, possibly include a booth for swag.

Also Known As:

Problem: You are looking to connect with customer sand other developers in a highly interactive way, usually at a large gathering, such as a conference, that is not your own. You want to capture their attention and make sure they remember your company's presence at the gathering, and/or create some connections with people at the gathering that you don't already have.

Context: You may be looking to discriminate between your devoted customers against those who are just flirting with your product/service or haven't made a large commitment to it yet. You may have branded Swag that you want to give to those devoted customers, but don't want to have to discriminate between who gets the premium swag vs the "everybody" swag right there at the Booth.

You may also be looking to create a reputation within the community as a company that is appreciative or generous to those who are deeply engaged within the community, perhaps as a way to help entice people "off the fence" and to join your community.

Solution: Host an entertainment-centric event (a party), inviting either a select number of develoepers (customers or not), or opening the invite list to anyone who wishes to attend. Provide refreshments (food, drinks) and plenty of room for people to congregate and converse.

Hand out Swag that is only to be had at this party, in order to create a little "FOMO" (Fear Of Missing Out) with those who were not able to attend (or were not invited to attend, whether because they didn't register in time, didn't choose to appear, or weren't a part of the invite list). Reference the party on the swag itself, either directly ("I went to Party, and got this lousy T-Shirt!") or simply note the date and year on the shirt someplace. The goal is to help individuals who are part of the "inner circle" community of those who were invited to the party to easily recognize one another--this invites them to talk with each other about stories emergent from the party, possibly enhancing the FOMO from the additional listers around them. This helps grow your reputation.

Consequences: Many large vendor events will be in large cities with a number of party venues (restaurants, pubs, etc) nearby; these will be snapped up quickly, likely within days of the date of the event being announced. If you are not able to secure a traditional venue in time, you may need to get creative with either the date and/or time of your event (perhaps consider a breakfast instead of an evening event, or perhaps an event the evening before the event starts as a "warmup" for the event's festivities), or with the location (perhaps a hotel will rent out its restaurant space, or perhaps an outdoor gathering in a nearby park if the event is held in a weather-friendly city and time of year).

It is likely that there will be competitors and/or partners who are looking to host a party at the event as well; consider partnering for your first party until you have a better sense of the costs and logistics of throwing a party of your own. If a competitor chooses to host a party the same night as your own, make no mention of it publicly. If you choose to host a party on the same night as a competitor, offset the time so that interested individuals can make both if they wish--and then provide a better experience than your competitor, so that next year, people will be drawn to your party over theirs should they conflict again.

Many individuals have food allergies and/or constraints, so make sure the refreshments are varied and offer a wide range of choices. If the group size is over 50, definitely provide options for those who are vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, kosher, and halal. (If you're not sure what these options mean, consult with the venue for their options. If they have no such options, consider a different venue, and/or speak with the venue management about creative options.)

Keep in mind that negative stories from a party can do as much (or more) damage than positive stories can benefit you, so make sure you have solid contingency plans when someone at the party behaves badly (regardless of cause). If the party is going to serve alcohol or have any alcohol present, make sure your company personnel at the party do not drink, in order to help keep an eye on the rest of the attendees' behavior, and make sure all company personnel have details handy for taxis and rideshares in the event a partygoer has had too much to drink and needs a way back to their hotel or home. If the party involves any athletic or strenuous activity, have a plan in place should an attendee injure themselves. Venue hosts should be well-familiar with this, but remember, the party's reputation is tied directly to your company's reputation within the community, so anything that goes poorly reflects on your company, not the venue.


Tags: devrel   patterns