After two days and seeing a lot of startups at TechCrunch Disrupt (the rows of startups, the startup competition, with more to come), I can probably prattle off the names to nearly a dozen of them off the top of my head out of the several dozens I saw. If you mention one to me, I’ll probably remember that I saw them there for a little while. Then, it will slowly fade from memory unless one of them does something else.
That’s not to take away anything from TechCrunch or the conference itself. It was fantastic aside from a few logistical hurdles that will probably be forgotten by almost everyone.
But, the apt comparison for me would be to watching NBA Summer League basketball. Now Kris Dunn and I brought a couple of our friends and watched 16 hours of hoops over two days in the middle of summer in Vegas. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience but you saw perhaps 10 teams and 150 players over that span of time (few of which are NBA starter caliber to begin with).
Do you know who we saw there in Las Vegas?
An unknown at the time, Lin had a breakout season this year and earned himself a big payday with the Houston Rockets. You couldn’t miss the news. And he was in front of our eyes. We were sitting four rows up from the floor watching him.
You know what we could remember of his game? Jack squat. We saw so many guards play, they kind of all blurred together.
Now, I believe in conferences. I think they are important. And I think they can be a great marketing tool for companies. A high profile launch is great but it becomes less great the more companies that get involved. If I was going into a situation where 50+ companies were doing product launches or new versions of a product and were all planning on dropping it at a conference, I would take a divergent strategy unless you are a market leader that could dominate the conversation.
I’m not a marketer but I know how stories are written. The time during a conference is hectic and if you’re covering it, you’re trying to write a bunch about what you saw. And then it is over and you’re back to your regular beat. Quite honestly, I would tell companies to spend time securing press for a new release or product ahead of a large conference they were attending and then using that to build in-person conversations when you see potential customers.
Launching a product is a marathon, not a sprint. And success usually means not following the same strategy as everyone else.