3 Successful B2B Marketing Promotions At SXSW

Many people gathered for the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin Texas, around 19,000 of them, and there was not much talk about B2B social media marketing. The conference that grew from its design/development beginnings now has a huge marketing and social media component, but the information largely focuses on consumer brands. Between the sponsorships of the event and the trade show, there are companies pitching their products and services to other businesses, and that’s B2B. Some are done subtly with sponsorships or events, while others are overt at a trade show.

The following three promotional marketing examples are based on the company’s business, relate to the target audience and connect to the spirit of SXSW. We also offer a takeaway on each example for small and medium-sized companies.

GE Carousolar


GE set up a solar-powered carousel and outdoor lounge, complete with solar-powered charging stations. This large display was located in a parking lot a few blocks away from the convention center. It was visible and fun, plus it demonstrated GE’s ability to capture power from the sun and turn it into something both useful and entertaining. The conference included a Greater Good track, so there were many people and companies who are concerned with renewable energy and sustainable business practices. This “event” attracted both conference attendees and local Austinites, with and without kids. The connection between GE and solar power is easily made in people’s minds with the carousel, and they will think about GE when they think about solar power on a larger scale.

Social Component: Check in on Foursquare for a free shirt.

SMB Marketing Takeaway: Create a visible display that shows an unusual use of your product or service, but make it fun and memorable. Provide some value for visitors to the display.

FedEx Delivers Lunch


FedEx served lunch to hundreds of people of every day in Austin. It is easy to provide lunch to people, but FedEx tied it to their products and services in two different ways. Food truck culture is huge in Austin, so they converted a FedEx truck into a food truck and parked it outside the convention center to serve lunch. They also had custom made boxes that look just like regular FedEx boxes and labeled them Lunch Boxes. This was a FedEx experience that sticks with you and gives you a good feeling about them when you use their service. Will it make someone switch their business shipping from UPS to FedEx? Probably not. But it will make someone think about FedEx when they do have a choice.

Social Component: Prominently posted Twitter and Facebook links and had associates encouraging people to follow their social profiles and let friends know about the free lunch. I thanked @FedExDelivers in a tweet with a link to a photo of the lunch box.

SMB Marketing Takeaway: The product or service tie-in is the most important part of this example. Make sure that any giveaways show off your product. Squeeze balls and buttons might bring a bit of awareness, but they are not related to what your company does.

Softlayer Server Challenge


Softlayer makes servers and they wanted to make a splash at SXSW. The hottest giveaway on the trade show floor was Apple’s iPad 2, and Softlayer also was giving one away. But to enter their contest you needed to assemble a server. Yes, a server. They wanted to demonstrate how easy it is to put their servers together and get up and running. A contest where you do just that makes that point stronger than anything else. Remember, this is a conference for techies, as well as marketing folks, so there are plenty of people with experience building servers. Hands on experience with a product is a good way to make an impression with potential buyers.

Social Component: None

SMB Marketing Takeaway: Don’t just ask trade show attendees to drop a business card into a bowl for popular drawing. Have them interact with your product. If a timed contest doesn’t work, a random drawing is okay, so long as people had their hands on your product.

Do you have other suggestions how small and medium-sized B2B companies can make an impression at a large conference or trade show?

Don’t Fall Victim to B2B Twitter Squatting

According to this article in Ad Age, a long list of major brands including Kellogg’s, GE and General Motors do not own the Twitter ID that is their company name. Not only do they not own the most obvious Twitter name, but someone else does. There is definitely some similarity to the early wild west days of the internet and registering domain names, complete with squatters.

This is a tremendous advantage for B2B companies, as brand squatters are not yet looking to cash in on stealing your Twitter name. If your company has a common name, or something similar to a large company, you are more likely at risk to Twitter squatting. Regardless, you should go register your company name on Twitter right now. I can wait if I need to. Okay, now that you are back, here’s why you just did it. The branding of your company is important and having predictable and findable names on internet platforms is key to your success online. Maybe you are still trying to convince your boss, or the Director of Marketing, or even the CEO, of the value of social media, and even more specifically Twitter, but that should not prevent your company from setting up a corporate Twitter account today to make sure you secure your company.

Now that it is registered, follow these basic Twitter etiquette steps so people know that this is your Twitter account.

1. Put the company name (with correct spaces) in the Name field.

2. Add your company website address in the More Info URL field. Use your blog address instead if you have one.

3. Describe your company using appropriate keywords in One Line Bio.

4. Add the location of your company headquarters to the Location field.

5. Go to the Picture tab and upload a company logo as your Twitter photo.

6. Tweet one time, again so people know this is a real account. Here’s an example of a first tweet: Still developing Twitter strategy, but we are listening. You can also contact us by email info@yourcompany.com

The other benefit of signing up for Twitter is that it will force your company to start listening on Twitter. This will teach you what to listen for, how to listen, and it will give you ideas for tweeting when you get there.

If you have any experience with people squatting on your company or brand names, let us know if the comments below.