Brands that created a Positive #SXSW Experience

Austin Motel Sign  

 In less than a week many creatives and digital geeks (myself included) start our annual pilgrimage towards Austin for the South By Southwest (SXSW) Festival.

This will be my fourth SXSW Interactive experience and every year I try to plan ahead to make the most of the experience.

I go to SXSW for many reasons but the main reason is to spend time and reconnect with people I have not seen since last year.

Each year the crowds grow and I see companies adding to the Noise in their attempt to break through it.

I see how companies ignore the fact that attendees are bombarded with events and ads. On that note I would like to see more brands doing more for their audience vs. trying to create cult like following for each brand. Not everyone can pull off what Apple does.

Offering a Ride

Looking back into my three previous SXSW interactive experiences, I clearly remember my arrival to SXSW 2011. Freshbooks gave me a ride from the Airport to the Convention Center. The highlight was meeting Freshbook’s Head Creative (at that time) Saul Colt and getting welcomed by him and his team. While we waited for the next bus that Freshbooks had chartered for us, I had some pretty cool conversations with attendees and Saul.

Freshbooks made me a loyal customer and ambassador because of this detail. Before I continue, are you using this awesome tool for your cloud accounting and invoicing? (Affiliate Link)

The TradeShow Floor

No Need to be Stuck to a Wall Outlet

The first year I was sold on a device that would help me enjoy my SXSW experience by not having to be plugged into a wall. I bought my first Mophie device and since then I always carry one or two mophie devices with me when I am on the go.

My relationship has been so solid with their marketing team that last year I even got a complimentary review sample for my iPhone 5.

Raúl with Andrew Founder of Runnur at Booth during #SXSW 2013

Emptying my Pockets at a Conference

On my second SXSW experience I had an individual with a cool looking mini-backpack approach me on the trade show floor and ask me if I was comfortable with my pockets full of stuff. I had received so many flyers, business cards, iPhone, and other items my pockets needed a break.

Since I bought my Runnur from Andrew Hamra, I don’t leave my home without it.

If I think of a brand or product that stood out in all of #SXSW experiences, Andrew Hamra’s Runnur takes 1st place.

Lifeproof Booth during #SXSW 2013

Keeping my iPhone Sand, Water, and Lifeproof

Last year I stopped by the Lifeproof booth where I had the chance to chat with Natalie Barreiro & Barbara Meyer from the Lifeproof PR and Marketing team. Once they heard I had a parenting blog and I wrote about iOS device gadgets on my personal blog, they handed me a complimentary LifeProof cover. Since then I have convinced many friends too buy a lifeproof and I have written multiple blog posts on how my daily walks near the water on the beach are more pleasant when I have my iPhone protected from the sand and water.

Not every experience is positive

I also had a nutcase from another brand email me months later asking about my review for a complimentary item I never received. I guess in the chaos of SXSWi he might have thought he gave me a review sample and he never did. Even worse, he insisted in multiple emails that he gave me a device.  I will never buy a product from his brand and much less recommend the device, and for his wellbeing I won’t mention the unknown brand.

From Booth Visitor to Brand Ambassador

I went from booth visitor and customer to brand ambassadors. With LifeProof I became a brand ambassador from the first day. I was grateful of the review sample and other gadgets they handed me.

The trade show booths are a big investment and I see many companies wasting opportunities to connect with those walking by.

Hyperactivate Booth during #SXSW 2013

Working the Booth

A great example of how to work a booth at SXSW comes from  Hyperactivate duo Marc and Gilad. They  engage with everyone that approaches the booth. Buying floorspace at the SXSW tradeshow floor is very effective because they put in the hours and have the right strategy to connect with the audience interested in buying their services. Stop by booth 547 and see how they work their magic.

What brands have created a positive experience for you at SXSW or any other conference?


  1. Lindsay on February 28, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    Hey Raul! Lindsay here from FreshBooks. Thanks for the shout out! If you’re around Austin on March 6th, we’re having a customer meet up. If you haven’t already signed up, we’d love to have you there:

    • Raul Colon on March 1, 2014 at 10:07 am


      Great that it is on the 6th. Will be there as not only a customer but an Ambassador for Freshbooks!