Shortcomings of the 2013 Winnipeg WordCamp

The 2013 Winnipeg WordCamp was a great success ( 1, 2, 3 ). We can all, with good reason, be proud of the show we put on, and grateful to the local people who spent their time working on making it the great experience that it was ( 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 – sorry if I missed you! ).

You can even see the WordCamp Winnipeg presentations for yourself. An outsider/visitor ( read: ~ 85% of people who attended ) could only conclude that it would be hard to find ways to make it better. But since I like hard challenges…

I would like to tell you about the things I found, as an insider, to be possible to improve.

Sponsor Promotion

The sponsor information should have gone up on the site sooner, and in combination with a basically non-existent marketing strategy, the sponsors got pretty much no electronic coverage before the event. In print and online, the sponsor logos were not sized as promised. There was minimal attention given to most sponsors at the event, and basically we did not deliver on most of the promises we made to our sponsors.

The offer for sponsors, at the level I got my company to sponsor was:

  • Medium logo and link on the WordCamp Winnipeg website
    • OK, there’s a logo. Is it medium? Anyway, for good effort, see my company’s sponsor page, vs. a sponsor page I did not put love into. Note that “100 percent hosting company” paid for a small logo on website, and their logo is bigger than ours on the site. It also seems that it would have been better to have the sponsor logos on every page, like it is for Code Poet – see sidebar.
  • Medium logo on all printed material
    • Here’s the printed material I have a photo of. Not so different than most others who paid for a smaller size. If you have a pic of other printed material, please let me know whether logo sizes are different there.
  • Text link on all email communication sent to attendees prior to the event
    • “All” ended up meaning “none”. Did I forget about any communication here?
  • Blog post on the event blog written by the YWG WC Team
    • Is this it? Or this, perhaps? Or the individual pages? Again, contrast the thing we basically did for everyone except for FBC with what we did for FBC, and you will see the opportunity for more.
  • Acknowledged three times throughout the event
    • Although this promise was fulfilled, we probably could have done more. For example, the Winnipeg Agile user group does: When they mention sponsors at each presentation, they ask whether there are any people in the audience who are employees of the sponsor company, and offer them to come up to the stand and tell the attendees about the company. With the amount of experience with what other WordCamps do in the organizer group, I bet we can come up with other “best practices”.
  • Placement of 1 item on swag table (self serve)
    • Didn’t see any of this for any sponsors. I guess perhaps the sponsors themselves botched this one? In hindsight, perhaps even a business card, or a small brochure about the company and an HR contact point would likely have been useful to my company to promote them further.
  • Four tickets to WordCamp
    • This was also met in my case.

Marketing Strategy

There were 10-ish “bloggers” on our organizer team, and the WordCamp Winnipeg website only put out 5 blog posts. We could capitalize on this opportunity next year.

It seems that we could provide more opportunities, to attendees and potential attendees, to get excited about the WordCamp in the months leading up to the event. We could pop up in people’s inboxes several times leading up to the event, excitedly telling them about some aspect of the event we just arranged. Other people who have experience with arranging a successful communication and marketing campaign for an event could be asked to provide us with an outline.

Even I would have wanted to receive updates, via email, when a new blog post is posted on the website, but that feature just was not available, though it is a WP plugin I always use for my sites, provided by .com, inside JetPack.

Engaging the Community

Not sure this one deserves to live outside of marketing, but I guess it does. Basically, you engage people by letting them have their say. You enable them to put their signature and be a part of the WordCamp. “You made this possible” is empty words when you did not do anything other than let them pay $20, which was a negligible amount compared to total funds raised. What would I have done differently?

  • Publicize decisions being made and options considered, and ask for feedback
  • Every Winnipeg WordPress user is offered 5 minutes to introduce themselves, and briefly say what makes them tick, with relation to WordPress. Not enough time? Then offer the option only to those who have attended at least one/two/three monthly meetups.

IMHO unnecessary spending on VIP after-parties and pre-parties, etc.

Would you rather send money to the WordPress foundation, or give it to me to stuff my face with food at an expensive restaurant, and to get drunk on all kinds-a fancy liquor at the after-after-party?

What do you think? Any good points? Have anything to add?