Sometimes, It’s The Smaller Events That Matter

Today’s guest post is by a good friend and savvy tech CEO, @RyanWoodings. I’ve known Ryan for many years back when we we’re both working out of a tech incubator. I’ve watched Ryan steadily grow his business without VC funding and without a lot of fancy marketing. If there’s someone who knows how to get the most out of the situation, it’s Ryan. What follows is a great example of how a small start-up can use a small event, to make a big impact with it’s key influencers and target audience. 

Using “traditional” marketing strategy, large trade shows with a high volume of attendees can help bring a surge of awareness to smaller start-ups with exciting new products to offer.  However, the cost of entry is often high and you’ve got to be very selective about which shows you choose, and when.  And connecting those shows to social media can be a significant challenge.

MetaGeek was nominated to be a presenter at “Wireless Tech Field Day” (techfieldday.com) for their March 17-18, 2011 event in the Silicon Valley which was focused exclusively on the wireless industry.  The ongoing series is hosted by Stephen Foskett, IT blogger, social networker, and technology geek.  He’s figured out how to connect other influential IT people to new technology with great success.  The event itself is non-profit and education focused; the presenting sponsors paying a fee to help cover the costs of the gathering. This levels the playing field for smaller companies like us, because companies are competing for sponsor slots based on their technology, not on the size of their pocketbook. Also, companies have to be nominated to participate, much like the delegates, so it’s more like camp for nerds than a traditional show.  Since MetaGeek had never been to the event before, we weren’t sure what to expect, but decided that it was worth the time and risk to check it out.

As a Presenter / Sponsor, we gave a brief overview of how things got started at MetaGeek (sniffing for interference with wireless mice) and some early notoriety brought about by the powerful Engadget reader base, and then got into a hands-on demo of Wi-Spy DBx and Chanalyzer Pro, which together allow you to troubleshoot, analyze, and optimize wireless networks in both the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands.  We passed out old school black lunchboxes with all of our products inside for them to use during the demo. The attendees were extremely knowledgeable about wireless networking concepts, and our in-depth geek-out was very well received. To wrap up our presentation we showed off a few product concepts that we’re working on and gathered some great feedback from the delegates that helped us improve on these product ideas.

The attendee list, technically small in size at 10-12, was full of social media influencers and bloggers and the connections we made at the event and since have been significant.  During the event, attendees asked tough questions, and were engaged with the content we were sharing.  We felt like we had a major success in being able to connect with the audience on our shared geek level and didn’t put everyone to sleep with slides – but what we didn’t expect was the long-tail reach of those connections.  Many of the major companies barely got mentioned in the delegate blogs, while MetaGeek received considerable attention (along with a couple other companies that got technical and real instead of presenting only marketing mumbo jumbo).  A few quotes from bloggers:

From: my80211.com

In the next few weeks I will be dedicating space to Wi-Spy and Chanalyzer Pro captures here on my80211.com. Why, because I’m sold on their product and their dedication to helping the WiFi community by providing RF Spectrum products at a price point for guys like you and me!  Support these guys!

From: networkingnerd.com

The MetaGeeks really knocked it out of the park for the first batter up at the plate.  They looked a little nervous at first, but once into their element, they really shined at showing the delegates what their tool was capable of doing.  I was very impressed by the power of their software along with the ease of use.  So much so that after I returned from Tech Field Day, I spent a whole evening running around my house with my Wi-Spy turning on microwaves and cordless phones and being amazed at what I saw.

Face-to-face meetings with the people behind social media personalities helps strengthen virtual bonds.  Finding a way to be memorable and connect to people in the lightning fast and often impersonal world of Twitter is tough – a small but focused event really established powerful connections for MetaGeek.

In true social media form, Tech Field Day encourages attendees to tweet and blog about what they get out of the sessions using hashtags and lists to keep content searchable and relevant to the rest of the group, and they did just that.  A few twitter mentions from the delegates during our presentation:

A configurable threshold for Duty Cycle! I LOVE that feature! Way to go @MetaGeek #TechFieldDay

RevolutionWiFi Andrew vonNagy

I’m really digging this MetaGeek presentation. Spectrum analysis is REALLY interesting stuff. #TechFieldDay

matthewnorwood Matthew Norwood

Good point by Metageek, SpecAn in mobile tools still necessary even if APs have them built in to help locate device that is interfering

wifikiwi Chris Lyttle

The whole event was streamed live on the Internet for wide access to the content and discussions.  You can also listen to a podcast about Wireless Tech Field Day (from: packetpushers.com).  One of the blogger/attendees lists four reasons for companies be involved with a smaller event like Wireless Field Day  (from:  lonesysadmin.net)

1) The ability for actual users, and potential users, to give you direct feedback.
2) The chance to bounce ideas off “frendlies”.
3) Instant coverage, via blogs and Twitter.
4) Pervasive, persistent coverage.

Bob Plankers, from linesysadmin continued:

“The power in Tech Field Day is getting the knowledge of your products into the heads of people talking about IT at the grass-roots level.”

At MetaGeek, we couldn’t agree more, and hope to be invited back next Wireless Tech Field Day.

Wireless Field Day – Day One Wrap-up from Stephen Foskett on Vimeo.

Photos by: Stephen Foskett

About Ryan Woodings

Geek, runner, husband, father, biker, and founder of MetaGeek
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