Is This How You SXSW?!?

South by Southwest, or more affectionately abbreviated SXSW, is around the corner! The festival, which covers movies, music and technology opens on March 8, 2019 and runs until March 17, 2019. As one of the largest festivals in the world, Austin, TX is where you should be in March. Every year, the world’s top thought leaders, brands and celebrities make their pilgrimage to Austin, TX to view new start-ups, see each other’s new work and collaborate on futures. It has long been known to be a brand marketers dream, and since it is target rich in millennials it remains an unparalleled experiential marketing test ground.


So how do you get in on the South by game? With over 160,000 people rambling through Austin during this festival your event needs to be “on-point” to compete and be part of this creative nirvana. Here are 7 tips on making your SXSW activation “where the party is at” in 2019:


  1. Have a Plan and Be Relevant: SXSW isn’t your standard trade show or event. You will see the most cutting-edge technology, live music and pop-culture trends blending together into a sense busting magical tapestry of experiential marketing. With literally hundreds of events happening simultaneously, you don’t want to be left in the dust or have your brand look archaic because you didn’t pull out all the stops.


  1. Tie in the Local Culture: It’s Austin – we like keeping things weird – and we LOVE where we live! Austin – with its very loved Matthew McConaughey, spirit that sings in orange and white, its heart of inclusiveness, panache for the unusual, and it’s Capital City backbone of making a difference leave miles of imaginative play space for your brand event. You will want to make sure that your event is a living breathing embodiment of diversity and cultural responsibility, with just a touch of southern charm. Alright, Alright, Alright!


  1. Hire a Local Event Consultant: SXSW is large and sweeping, taking place in multiple venue locations, with multiple different pop-up events and over several days. You need to have someone who is extremely familiar with Austin event regulations, licensing, permitting and security requirements to ensure you don’t make a stumble during this planning. Tap into your local Austinite event professionals who have been helping plan and make jaw dropping experiences for companies for years. They will be able to give you the ins-and-outs, help you plan your logistics, and they can even help you create showstopping event ideas at great prices since they are familiar with local vendors.


  1. Brand Everything: SXSW is a social media thunderstorm make sure that your message and brand rise-up and are seen. Brand wherever possible to ensure that your brand and colors can be seen from every photo-worthy angle. Talk to your event consultant about unique branding methods and locations that have can be used during SXSW!


  1. Include Live Music: One of the best parts of this festival is the live music! Have a new tech gadget you want us to look at and play with? Cool, add a band! Want me to throw myself covered in paint against a white wall to make a Jackson Pollock like community developed painting? Cool, add a DJ throwing down sick beats so I can get my jam on! You get the idea – whatever your brand plan is…just add live music!


  1. Have a Photo Op: Did we mention that SXSW is a social media frenzy? Ensure you have a branded and unique photo op in your event experience. The photo op is a great way to make sure your brand becomes part of your attendees’ memories of SXSW, while also ensuring the public who are living vicariously through the people attending SXSW see your brand in a fun and engaging way!


  1. Measure Results: SXSW can be a costly endeavor and often company executives see the expense line without the benefit of seeing the resulting opportunities and brand exposure soft dollars that come with this kind of engagement. Make sure that your event has plans to measure both hard (# of items sold, or opportunities opened) and soft returns on investment (number of brand impressions, number of social media posts and shares, etc.) and report those results as part of your final event review. With over 160,000 attendees the results may surprise everyone!

Need help implementing any of these items for your SXSW event?  Just give us a shout! [email protected]