Shoutem got a chance to be a part of “the best technology conference on the planet”, Web Summit. It’s an exciting opportunity, but at the same time, what if we fail in front of the crème de la crème of the tech world?
Although we’re present on the market over five years, and have experience being exhibitors on tech conferences, it’s okay to be nervous before the event of this scale.
We decided to share our story; the first-hand experience on how to prepare for the big stage, attract companies Coca-Cola, Shaw Academy, Vice, TechCrunch and shine on the biggest tech stage in Europe.
1. Invitation for the Web Summit
A lot of companies and startups don’t have a chance to be a part of the Summit, and the main reason is money. It’s expensive to participate at the Summit, and a lot of startups cannot afford to spend a lot of money to present their product, but they should, it’s worth it!
Some call it luck, but it’s the hard work and great results that brought us at the Summit. Our big brother company, Five, is responsible for delivering this year’s official Web Summit app, and we owe them big time for giving us the chance at presenting on the big stage in the Builder Summit Area as Partner Exhibitors on this year’s event for all three days.
2. You can plan every single detail, but mistakes are inevitable
Now, let’s go back a few weeks prior to the Summit. It was a big challenge for the team to prepare and plan every single detail to be perfect once we hit the big stage in Dublin. Despite hard teamwork between Marketing, Design, and rest of the company, mistakes are inevitable and will eventually happen. The best way of tackling these mistakes is to react quickly, before it’s too late. We noticed a few weeks prior to the Summit that we had a little typo on our booth’s artwork. Try to catch it yourself.
Have you noticed the typo at first? We neither 🙂 It was a friend’s comment on one of the personal Facebook post that pointed us on the typo, thank you, Marko! Reprints had to be done and double-checks of all other materials. The good news was that only this one piece was affected by the typo, but at least our design team got its own meme!
3. Plan your actions and set clear goals
It is of significant importance to plan activities wisely and carry out your plan. As Antoine de Saint-Exupery said: “A goal without a plan is just a wish”; to achieve higher ROI, don’t just sit and wait that someone will notice you or your product, pull customers to come to you.
Here’s a list of our activities prior the Summit:
1. Design materials to attract attention
With over 30,000 attendees, you need to be sure you’ll stand out among other exhibitors. Our design team did brilliant job with our booth’s artwork and promo materials.
2. Get the list of attendees
Try to get a list of attendees and filter ones that fits your business needs. Fortunately for us, the attendee list was available publicly on the Web Summit homepage.
3. Filter influencers from the list of attendees
Once you have the list of attendees, filter influencers who might be interested in your business and your market niche.
4. Use social media and “hacks” to reach influencers
If you cannot reach influencers via email, find them on LinkedIn. The problem with LinkedIn is that you need to use InMail, a feature available only to Premium accounts. If you want to contact another LinkedIn user who you’re not connected to directly, you’re out of luck. Fortunately, you can always get creative – we used our LinkedIn accounts, upgraded our Basic accounts to Premium for the 30 day trial period, and contacted influencers directly.
5. Send invites to your influencers and offer them bonuses
Influencers receive a lot of emails and invites, so it’s important to send them a user-friendly, non-intrusive and non-sales message. We included a surprise with the invite, but we didn’t reveal what the surprise will be. Also, we added a gif (with a soft g, like garden) of a happy penguin at the end of the message, a little personal touch.
6. Get featured on relevant tech sites before the event starts
Contact influencers and ask them to feature us on their website(?) – you might ask. What if they reject you? What if they don’t answer on your email? Why is the thought so scary?
The truth is, it’s not. Always remember that behind every blog and website, there are people. Yes, they do have a lot of work, tasks, and they receive a lot of invites, but if your message can intrigue them and offer them something in return, chances for being featured are high. This approach worked for us, and we were featured on Irish Tech News and Processmaker.
7. Use social media to gain traction
Join the conversation on social media to gain traction even before the event starts. For example, we joined the conversation on Twitter, under official hashtag #websummit. Just a week before the Summit, our tweets earned 24.9k impressions over a 7 day period!
4. Choose your influencers wisely
To filter the list of attendees and separate the influencers, we had to agree and come up with criteria. We sent our invites to:
- Tech news and review companies (like The Next Web and TechCrunch)
- News companies (BBC, The Guardian, Sky News)
- Web sites focused only on their domestic market (Dinheiro Vivo, Portugal)
From there, we targeted professionals in following ways:
- First we contacted writers and journalist
- If there was no response, then we contacted editors, business journalists, and senior writers
Usually, it’s easier to reach writers and journalist than editors, and also, you have better odds if employee pitches a story to his editor then selling your story directly to them.
A quick summary of our influencer spreadsheet:
- 77 people were on our lost
- 49 people contacted
- 6 journalist responded to our invite
- 4 accepted our invite
- 1 showed up at our booth (others apologized for their absence and we continued communication over email)
5. Time to shine on the Biggest Tech Stage in Europe!
Finally, Tuesday morning arrived, and it was our time to shine. We didn’t know what to expect since our booth was stationed at the end of Builders Summit next to the Design Summit stage. It was a challenge to come up with ideas and “tools” how to attract visitor at our booth.
Even though our booth attracted visitors by itself, we didn’t stop there. We wanted even more ways of attracting visitors, convert them into leads, and finally into customers.
Something sweet was at hand. Literally. We made a bunch of little, delicious, Shoutem chocolates and presented them in key areas of our booth – it’s always easier to start a conversation with a shy visitor if there’s something sweet in the game. Once the conversation started, we had their attention, and were able to lead the conversation in our desired direction.
A quick introduction led to a quick presentation, a live demo of our app builder and our apps, and the final step – exchange of business cards. But, we didn’t let them go from our booth with empty hands. In addition to chocolates, we also prepared power banks and glass cleaning cloths, branded with Shoutem logo.
And if that wasn’t enough, we made special flyers for the Summit. Once opened, the flyer contained our main features and advantages on the left side, and on the right side, an empty sketch of smartphone device. We wanted to give the visitors a chance to draw their perfect app and send it to us so we could bring their app idea into reality for free! Even if they haven’t decided to prototype their app, we included 50% discount on the back of the flyer as another surprise.
6. The ultimate ice breaker
We learned something special in those three days at the Summit – even if you do have the best product or service, best materials, best surprises or the best booth, you will not succeed without this essential tool. You must have the most user-friendly approach and connect with visitors on a personal level. Wonder how we did that?
We put the biggest smile on our faces and approach every single visitor like, he or she, is and was our best friend.
You may think it sounds silly or insane, but the smile was our ultimate weapon for making the initial approach to every visitor. You still don’t believe us? What if we told you that our friendly approach and smiles got the photo of our team on official Web Summit Instagram account? And that’s just the beginning.
7. How to make influencers feel special
As mentioned earlier, we contacted a lot of influence editors, writers, and freelancers from tech world with the intention to present them our solution in a special way.
For those who accepted our invite and stopped by our booth, our surprise impressed them in the best possible way. What we did was the following – the team created a personal mobile app for each key person at the conference! Below you can see one example of the mobile app, created for Lærke Spenner from VICE Nordics.
While creating personally branded apps for influencers, our focus was the design and content of the app. We added personalized content: Twitter wall, Instagram feed, feeds from their businesses, Youtube channel, About module with the description of the company, along with our powerful modules – Social Wall, Notification Center, Facebook and Twitter integration, etc. We managed to get the “Wow” effect and instantly felt relieved.
8. How we sparked interest of Coca-Cola, TechCrunch, and The Next Web
We loved our booth chats about mobile apps, technology, and various discussions on how our solution can help people grow their business or bring their ideas to life. In those three days, we almost lost our voices, ate almost nothing from 8 A.M. to 6 P.M., walked about 10km a day, but it was all worth it!
In all that fuss, a lot of times you don’t even get a chance to check out your visitor’s accreditation to see who you’re talking to. And it really doesn’t even matter who your visitor is – our goal was to present our solution to as many people as we could, and to showcase how easy and simple it is to create powerful mobile apps without any coding knowledge for an affordable price.
This leads us to the very beginning of this post and why is it so necessary to have a plan, stick to it, and approach every visitor like your best friend. Because all of your hard work will pay off. Can you imagine our faces and excitement once we realized that we’re being handed business cards from business leaders at Coca-Cola, TechCrunch, Shaw Academy and VICE?
It’s a very special feeling to just receive positive feedback and compliments, but to engage in negotiations with these global behemoths, it felt unreal.
Oh, by the way, did we mention that even Batman visited our booth?
— Shoutem (@shoutem) November 3, 2015
9. Bonus part – Falling in love with Ireland
Even though we had very little time to explore Dublin and Ireland during the Summit, we managed to catch up with the beauty of the Emerald Isle.
Before the Summit, we had a chance to be a part of spectacular MMA event, UFC Fight Night Dublin. All we can say is that Irish fighters have the best fans and supporters in the world!
— Robert Sekulić (@rsekulic) October 25, 2015
We were lucky enough to be in Dublin when weather conditions were absolutely fantastic despite the fact it was the beginning of November. And we fell in love with both Dublin and Ireland in every way imaginable – from the magnificent city and its architecture, astonishing beauty of dozens of parks to delicious and tasty food. We tasted, and united we stand on this statement, the best burgers in the world at Bunsen, and delicious steaks at Bear – it was like food heaven!
Our team members were interviewed by the Startup Van Crew in Dublin during the Web Summit – it was a lovely experience, and very different from any interview we’ve done before. The interview was arranged directly on Twitter.
After the Summit, we had a few more days to explore Ireland. First stop – Cliffs of Moher. You cannot visit Ireland and skip the famous Cliffs. It was a long bus drive after an even longer night at the Web Summit After Party but we didn’t want to miss this beauty. We admire our FIVE co-workers and their courage to peek from the edge of the Cliffs.
Thanks to our friends at Google and our CMO, who was a part of Google’s team just a few months ago, we had a short tour set up in Google’s HQ in Dublin. It was amazing to be able to experience the pinnacle of tech environment. And we cannot even begin to describe the stunning view from the top of the Google Docks Building.
As we were packing our bags and getting ready to fly home on Saturday with incredible memories, our flights got cancelled on Friday – Lufthansa cancelled 290 flights due to cabin crew strike, and 37,500 passengers were affected by strike. The flight was rescheduled for Monday, and with that in mind, few more free days in Dublin couldn’t be that bad, right? Well, only in theory. On Sunday afternoon, our direct flights got cancelled again – part of the team changed airlines and went straight home while others were transferred to London to wait for a new flight on Thursday morning. But, after all organization mess with Lufthansa, we managed to get back to our offices and our daily tasks.
We want to thank all of you who visited our booth, had a short chat, exchanged business cards, or just grabbed those delicious Shoutem chocolates.
It was truly a wonderful experience to be a part of the largest technology conference in Europe and to meet all of you amazing, extraordinary people.
We’re looking forward to next year, and we hope we’ll see you in Lisbon at Web Summit 2016!
P.S. Want to impress your potential new customers like we did? Click on the button below and make your own custom app!