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My colleague, Catherine Holahan, already referred to the insane amount of information that welcomed arrivals at this year’s SXSW conference. Now I don’t know about Catherine, but here’s what I did with the stuff in the two bags I was given (one for the Film conference; the other for Interactive). Looked at everything… And then threw 98% of it away.
Now perhaps, as a journalist, those ads and bits of direct mail weren’t aimed at me. But I’m always looking for an interesting story or to find out about an interesting service or company, so in fact I suspect I was probably more interested than many others. And gauging by an unscientific study of a few minutes spent observing what other people did after they got their own bags (at least there were recycling bins into which many people just poured all the bumph) I’d hazard that most other people were pretty uninterested, too. So this begs the question: WHY?? I know direct marketing response rates only have to be low in order to be considered successful, but this seems like such a waste of resources, was so astonishingly unsustainable, not to mention it completely contradicted the forward-thinking attitude of the attendees. (This is the place that launched Twitter, remember.)
Note to organizers: think about what people really want or need to receive when they get to your conference. I kept the program of events (the handy reference guide and the large book full of contact details) and a couple of magazines I hadn’t seen before. And that was it. I felt terribly guilty, but I threw away about two trees worth of paper.
What comes next? The Bloomberg Businessweek Innovation and Design blog chronicles new tools for creativity and collaboration, innovation case studies in both the corporate and social sectors, and the new ideas that have the power to change the way things have always been done.