SXSW kicked off on Friday, but you already knew that if you signed into Facebook or Twitter over the weekend. Every tech hub that is not Austin, TX becomes a ghost town for one week in March. It can leave the geeks left behind with a massive case of FOMO (fear of missing out). But just because your friends are blowing up Twitter with tales of the SXSW parties, run ins with the titans of tech, and JayZ concert tickets doesn’t mean that you have to begrudgingly stay at home coding into the night.
Not going to SXSW can be an advantage. Although some startups use SXSW as a platform to launch their new products, many startups can use the quiet time at home to sneak up on the competition. Most of SXSW attendees will need an extra week to sober up at home when they return. If you are not at SXSW this week, here are 5 things that you can do to crush your competition before the party wears off:
Host a team hackathon and launch a stealth feature.
As the Startup Weekend model shows, entire companies can be built in a weekend. Just ask Startup Weekend LA winners Zaarly. Take this Startup Weekend model and apply it to your business to reignite the passion and creativity of your developers. For two days, try shutting down normal business operations and challenge the team to build a killer new feature that your competition won’t see coming. You’ll be able to launch, get feedback, and iterate before SXSW music week starts.
Grab a beer with other startup folks who are around in your city.
Your team is not the only startup who didn’t go to SXSW this year. Round up everyone you know who stayed behind and host an informal event around town. You’ll still benefit from the spirit of camaraderie that SXSW fosters, and you’ll probably meet some new and interesting people in your hometown startup scene. By forging local alliances, you could develop powerful new partnerships and business development deals that will last beyond a brief SXSW encounter.
Revamp your digital marketing strategy.
With so many new features that were rolled out on the major social networks last week, now is the time to optimize your marketing strategy before your competition does. Facebook just rolled out interests lists where users can aggregate a newsfeed from pages, people and subscriptions around a topic, for example. By jumping on new social features and cutting some strategies that were not working, you’ll improve social metrics while your competition is out schmoozing.
Read The Art of War.
If you just can’t ignore the SXSW hype, step away from social media for a bit and download The Art of War. It’s free on Amazon’s Kindle store. The Art of War by Sun Tzu is a classic Chinese text with 13 sections that is considered to be one of the greatest books on strategy ever written.
Bring your blog back from the dead.
If you have a blog that you’ve been sporadically posting on for the last few years, now is the time to dust off your keyboard and start writing. Think about what you want to be known for, and what you are an expert in. If you are a founder, write about some lessons that you learned this year with practical tips. If you are a developer, write about some projects that you have been working on. Make this year the year that you make name for yourself in the tech scene. By next year, you could skip the attendee badge line at SXSW and move right up to the stage as a presenter.
There is no doubt that going to SXSW can benefit your company, but you don’t have to feel like the week is a total loss if you didn’t get your badge this year. Take advantage of the quiet time for a come from behind attack on your competition. They’ll never see it coming with their beer goggles on.