Are meet-ups worth your time? In a word – maybe.
It’s often said that half of the money spent on marketing is wasted but nobody knows which half. I’d say the 106 miles meet-up we attended at General Assembly in Santa Monica was worthwhile for several reasons.
1. We were doing a demo. If you have a chance to do this, jump on it. The most valuable part came before the meet-up. We think in terms of worst case scenarios so we spent days before the meet-up testing our game and found a few minor bugs we fixed. Then, we went back and made a list of changes that would make it better. Some of those we were able to implement before the demo. It’s one thing to play a game in your office or have faceless people download it from your website. It’s another to consider the possibility of it not working while you are telling someone how great it is and how stupid you will look. Big motivator.
2. Other people were doing a demo. My favorite was teachmeo that allows anyone to teach one on one over streaming video. If I wanted to tutor you in statistics or judo, I could offer my services on their site. Check it out.
3. No doubt this had to do with the fact that we did a demo but I met more people at this meet up than others I had attended. I think many developers and other technology people are not the best at small talk, so having specific topics to address was helpful – what is your product, where do you see yourself going?
4. I gained at least one new twitter follower, Jun-Fung, who won the poster for being the first person from the meet-up to follow me.
5. I found out what General Assembly in Santa Monica does (for-profit educational space), and that interested me.
6. I made three new connections on linked in, and the first one of those, Dave Gullo, won the dreamcatcher.
Does this mean you should run out to a meet-up? It depends. This particular one was helpful to me because it included a critical mass of people doing interesting work. One difference from some others I have attended is that the organizers specifically asked me,
“Do you have a working demo?”
I’ve been to other meet-ups where people have an idea for a business or an app but no actual code written. A powerpoint is not a demo. Sorry, but I’m not looking for someone to give me ideas that I can then turn into a product. I have plenty of ideas. What I need is time and money to pay the bills while I work on the ideas our wonderful team has.
My suggestion based on my admittedly small, non-random sample, is to put meet-ups with demos much higher on your priority list than any other kind. Even pitches too often turn out to be someone with an idea and not much else. I’m not denigrating that. Every product started out as an idea, but for us, right now, we’re in the doing work and seeking funding phase. Also, when you go to something where people actually have products they have made, you get a much smaller proportion of people pretending to be experts. The questions they ask and the suggestions they make are more likely to be relevant and helpful.
Our new Chief Marketing Officer was not overwhelmed with the meet-up because we did not see a big spike in pledges to our Kickstarter campaign as a result. I actually did think we might see a little more benefit in that respect than we did. Don’t hold back if you want to prove me wrong! CLICK HERE TO SEE OUR COOL VIDEO AND SOME OF THE GAME DEMO THAT YOU MISSED. I also think she might be a little impatient, because the meet-up was just over 12 hours ago. We’ll find out. One thing we are good at here at The Julia Group is analyzing data. When our campaign is done, we are going to trace as much as possible all of the pledges and see how these relate to media and marketing activities. So far, we have had some very surprising results. Stay tuned.