Know Your Goals: Takeaways from SXSW

Image result for sxsw expo

Zayo recently hosted a series of events at South By Southwest (SXSW), a music, movie and interactive festival held in Austin each year.  SXSW is an over-the-top event, that genuinely takes over the city.

While I was there I wanted to explore the expo floor.  My purpose?  To understand what types of organizations exhibit at SXSW, their goals and if it might be a good option for my organization in the future.

Who was there:

sxsw expo.pngTo say it was a hodgepodge would be an understatement.  The expo floor contained everything from well-known brands like Lockheed Martin and no-name startups looking to attract investors, to cities and countries trying to attract businesses to move and stand-up desk manufacturers.

My plan of attack:

I worked my way from booth to booth asking if there was a representative from marketing present – which there usually was.  I needed to talk to people who spoke my language and knew where I was coming from.  As Anne Handley would say, “My People”.

I introduced myself and told them why I was there.  Then asked a simple question.  “What is your goal for SXSW?  How do you know if you this event was a success?”

My Shock:

Image result for sxsw expoI spoke to 30 marketers in total.  Of them, only 2 could clearly tell me how they would measure success.  Some were even outraged by the question, citing that hosting a booth with measurable financial goals is ridiculous.

To say the least, I was shocked.  In a decade of marketing, I’ve never seen such disregard for ROI-based metrics.  I honestly have no idea how I would do my job without them.

This is the reason marketers have a bad rap and people think we just spend money.  (see earlier post on topic) A campaign without goals is just work.  At that point you’re just collecting a paycheck to look busy.  What’s the point?!

It my not-so-humble opinion that all marketers should know their metrics inside and out, upside down and backwards.  We should recite our ROI metrics in our sleep.  This is how you earn the trust and respect of an organization.  Not by throwing epic parties, but by explaining why.

I have previously written about the 3 metrics every marketer should know (post).  These metrics will help you answer the “why” question and will earn the respect of the most staunch financier.  Otherwise, don’t learn them and risk getting sideways looks from those that operate the budgets the rest of your career.

Your choice.

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