Whether it’s Apple unveiling its latest tablet at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) or Facebook wowing the crowds at its annual F8 conference, there’s a lot small business owners can learn from these tech celebrations. Here are five takeaways.
1. Rumor mills can create playful, positive buzz. Oh, the prognosticators have so much fun predicting what different companies are about do, unveil, or unleash. Mixed in with tamer and more accurate predictions are some “out there” ideas, which helps build the buzz, intrigue, and viral nature of these conferences. Even with more scaled down events, like Facebook’s big announcement in January (which turned out to be Graph Search), bloggers were making all sorts of predictions — and having fun while doing it.
Takeaway for your business. If you’re getting ready to launch a new service or product, and you want to create this sort of buzz, create a plan for doing just that. A few weeks prior to the launch, do some or all of the following:
- Pepper your social media platforms with hints and teases. Ask people to share, retweet, etc.
- Consider holding a contest and asking people to “guess” what the big news is going to be. Offer prizes for accurate answers as well as the most creative answer, since this will invite the sort of playful predictions that surround techie conferences.
- Schedule a “big reveal” event in your store, your office, or online via live streaming. The key is to have fun and let people know you’re giving a nod to folks like the late Steve Jobs…this way people will approach it with a fun attitude as well.
- Reach out to local bloggers and media outlets. Tease them with details and ask them to make predictions (bloggers are always looking for fun ideas) or ask if you can write a guest article where you provide hints about what’s coming up.
2. Regular events receive the most year-round hype. Techie events (and even non-techie events, such as Fashion Week) are hyped year-round simply because people know they’re going to take place. There’s nothing like hot anticipation to fuel the hype and buzz.
Takeaway for your business: If your business releases new products or services every year, consider hosting an annual event where you make the big announcement. Be creative. A restaurant could unveil its new seasonal menu, complete with a tapas party so people can sample all the new foods. A salon could create an event around Pantone’s Color of the Year (announced every December) and share all the services that will be embracing the color (e.g. manicures using the color). The result? Your customers will come to expect, anticipate, and look forward to these events — and talk about them all year long.
3. The devil is in the details. Obviously, a lot goes into planning Apple’s unveiling of the latest phone or tablet. Think venue, lighting, sound systems, tickets…you get the idea. In other words, you can’t whip up these sorts of events at the last minute if you expect them to be successful.
Takeaway for your business. If you’re launching a new product or service, you should have a launch plan (read our article on how to launch a product here). As part of the plan, you’ll address things like “buzz building” and hosting a launch party.
4. Company spokesperson credentials are important. Steve Jobs in his black turtleneck and jeans was more than the head honcho of Apple or a representative of the brand. In so many ways he was — and still is — the brand. People could not see his face or hear his name or see images of him standing on a stage without thinking “Apple” and (perhaps on a more subconscious level) “big news.”
Takeaway for your business. If you’re going to embrace the ideas outlined above, make sure you have a company spokesperson who is up to the task of representing and being the face of your brand. You need to make sure that whoever it is — be it the owner or someone else — truly embraces and commits himself/herself to the role (and enjoys talking to people, answering questions from the media, and being “on stage”).
A reluctant spokesperson can sometimes do more harm than good. Remember Mark Zuckerberg’s “sweaty” interview during the D8 conference that resulted in some people questioning his ability to lead a multi-billion-dollar company? With time, he overcame this perception (for the most part), but why chance it?
5. It’s all about engaging your core audience. Have you ever watched your Facebook newsfeed the morning of an Apple, F8, CES (Consumer Electronics Show) event or conference? Or flipped on the news after one of these events? People talk about the “big news”…and not only talk, but take action (e.g. place orders). The fundamental, guiding principle of these events is that they reach a large number of each company’s core audience. At the end of the day, it’s another touch point.
Takeaway for your business. If there’s a big, splashy way to engage your core customer base at least once a year, do it, since this can be a great way to engage your audience. Note: it doesn’t have to be a conference or an event where you unveil a new product or service. It could be an annual customer appreciation day, one you hold at your store or even at some other location like a popular ice cream stand in the summer. By turning this particular touch point into something bigger and splashier, you help make it memorable. And that’s a win for any business.
Do you hold any annual events for your target audience? How do they work? Share the details in the comments.