SXSW may be the nice-to-have and not need-to-have tentpole show for marketers, but 2023 feels like the festival we’ve been waiting for.
At my first SXSW 15 years ago, I remember going to some mixer that was mostly attended by people in the film industry. I was at 360i, and few agencies were sending people to Austin for the event.
My first observation was that people from the corporate world were quick to ask, “What do you do?” Artists were quick to ask, “What are you into?”
It still haunts me all the time when I ask people so quickly what they do, which company they’re with, and what role they’re in. It’s the cognitive dissonance of missed opportunity. Perhaps I’ve stuck to my old habits because when I was first asked “What are you into?” at what I thought was a professional event, I was unprepared to answer.
SXSW holds a unique place for ‘suits’ (even if most of us ‘suits’ attending SXSW prefer t-shirts and jeans) in that it’s the event, conference, or festival that welcomes the corporate crowd while placing culture at the center. The people who I know who get the most out of SXSW, and I say this enviously as I don’t count myself among them, are the ones who go deepest into culture. No one in my rolodex does this better than Michael Miraflor, currently of Hannah Grey fame. If you follow him, you’re nodding your head right now. So much of SXSW was built for someone like Michael, and the rest of us (myself included) are gobbling up the scraps. It’s okay — scraps can be delicious and filling, as you know if you’ve ever sampled burnt ends at a Hill Country barbecue joint.
What SXSW lacked for about a decade was a flashpoint for corporate folks. “Understanding culture,” sadly, isn’t the easiest case to make for a brand manager or senior agency exec when requesting travel budgets, even if understanding what makes people tick should be the top priority for marketers. All the better if we could prioritize understanding what moves people.
The social tech era around 2007-2012, more or less, is what put SXSW on the map for brands and agencies. Stars from that era include Twitter, a once-thriving social utility whose new owner traffics so hard in misogyny and ableism that you’d think he was running for president. The birth of Foursquare left its mark, especially since YES I AM STILL ON SWARM AND I WILL TELL ANYONE I CAN WHY I STILL LOVE IT (breathe, David). And then there were less successful but memorable experiments like Hashable, which tried to replace business cards. Predictably and unexpectedly at the same time, the social tech that has come closest to replacing business cards is the QR code button on LinkedIn.
Over the past decade, SXSW kept humming. There was less of a breakout hit and more of the culture stuff — that perfect cauldron of ideas, brand activations, art, and brisket. Some VR and AR activations ensued. And people kept reconnecting out there. One year during this era, I wrote – and this is no exaggeration – the strangest piece I’ve ever published, an Ad Age byline recapping SXSW 2017 using Topo Chico as a metaphor. I have no clue what I was trying to do here other than publish something, anything, after a few exhausting days that left me bewildered. The editors occasionally let a doozy slide. Tip for first-timers who drink: stick to drinking Topo before sundown, and you’ll feel WAY better the next day.
Social tech may make a comeback this year. First of all, all the groups on WhatsApp, Telegram, and elsewhere are out of control. 2023 may be the SXSW my daughter remembers as the year Daddy got one notification too many and threw his phone on the subway tracks before even leaving New York. Speaking of social tech nostalgia, Gowalla is attempting a comeback. Yes, I’m on the app. And yes, my biggest SXSW regret is tossing my old Gowalla t-shirts that I collected at their parties for a few years. I still have my Foursquare shirts, but damn, I miss Gowalla’s. That’s what I get for reading Marie Kondo.
There’s a new app joining the fray, Truffel by Niantic of Pokemon Go fame. Feel free to reply to see if I have any spare invites as of when this is published. I may not. The cooler SXSW kids I know are rushing there to claim usernames. I couldn’t get “david” or “dave” so I was boring and stuck with “dberkowitz” since at least it’s one that I’ll remember. I’m saying that to make myself feel better as I follow Matt Wurst who snagged “matt.” I mean, well done, Matt. Separately, I’m seeing some explore using Saturday to find friends, not just at SXSW but elsewhere like NYC, so check it out even if you’re not attending.
2022 could have and should have been a pivotal year for SXSW’s tech-centric comeback given the rise of web3. The interest in NFTs added an artistic layer to it, making it perfect for SXSW. The longest lines last year were indeed at the Doodles coffee shop where you could get your NFT as latte art. But NFTs still have questionable use cases for most people, and a Covid wave early last year made many people who were already skittish about in-person events sit out another round.
With 2023 being the Year of Generative AI, we have the perfect storm:
*Technology that immediately gained widespread adoption by businesses and consumers
- Transformative applications that affect how a wide, diverse array of people do their jobs
- Audio-visual manifestations (eg DALL-E 2 and peers) with seemingly unlimited potential spanning different forms of media
- Countless questions about the role of people and tech working together, including but not limited to rethinking the definition of “art”
- Thorny legal issues that don’t fit neatly into an ideological spectrum; these get to the heart of who created what, who owns what, and whose inventions can be reworked by other people and technologies
The only downside? This storm hit us after the 2023 SXSW speaker submissions were closed. Some sessions address these issues, but not to the extent you’d expect. For 2024’s conference, every other proposal (maybe every) will have an AI hook.
SXSW 2023 should be bustling, but after a quiet comeback in 2022, many of the suits still aren’t sure whether SXSW matters. It still has that “spring break for nerds” reputation, rather than Cannes which is “spring break for nerds who have much bigger expense accounts.”
Maybe it’s a year early for this to be the SXSW renaissance. Maybe 2023 can be the prep year to ensure 2024 is the most impactful one yet, and one where there’s more cross-pollination of the suits, the artists, and everyone else.
Those who are returning are gung ho and are determined to crash WhatsApp, Telegram, Truffel, Saturday, Gowalla 2, and any app that gets in their paths.
I’ll be out there, Swarming away, checking into the Sheraton by 10pm but pretending to be off the grid so my friends there think I’m somewhere way more exciting.
Reminder 2… We’re also excited to join Code D’Azur right before, 11am-4pm, to celebrate their arrival in Austin at their Talks & Tacos event. Request an invite to join them for the opening of their new office. Expect some great food, drinks, talks, and music. Request an invite by replying right to me or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re excited to share an offer by newsletter supporter Bottom Line.
Bottom Line is expected to deliver SMBs more than $15 billion in refunds
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WHAT TO WATCH & READ:
Recent content shared by Serial Marketers and friends:
- Flashtalking by Mediaocean Receives Additional MRC Accreditations for Incorporating Verification Metrics across Channels, Including CTV by Mediaocean Team
- GroupM Introduces Back to News Initiative to Drive Investment in Responsible Journalism by GroupM
- Office Mandates. Pickleball. Beer. What Will Make Hybrid Work Stick? by New York Times
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UPCOMING SERIAL MARKETERS EVENTS:
(times EST unless otherwise specified)
- 3/12, 11-4pm CST: Join Code D’Azur as they toast their Austin office opening with great speakers, guests, food, and drinks. Just reply to me to request an invite, or email email@example.com.
- 3/12, 3-5pm CST (password: sxsm): Serial Marketers members, let’s connect with each other in Austin! We’ll be at the sprawling campus of the Status Labs offices where they’ll host us for some drinks and fun just a short jaunt south of the heart of downtown Austin. Also, thanks to our co-hosts supporting this event:
- First Insights Partner with the best – they run UX Research with top ad agencies, Fortune 500 companies, and thriving startups. Transform your UX strategy – take the first step and contact them today.
- First Domino Marketing is a new B2B technology marketing agency. We are the trigger, setting off a chain reaction leading to increased brand awareness, customer engagement, and sales. Services include brand development and strategy, lead generation, content and creative, and campaign delivery.
- 3/16,12pm (virtual): The Four Currents with Tom Daly. Register in advance on Zoom. Tom’s a legend, who ran mobile for Coke for years, among other key roles, and you’ll likely learn a ton from his framework
- 3/22,12pm: The Mediaocean Current: AI & Automation. I will be part of the speakers for this webinar that will discuss the different types of AI applications, such as chatbots, voice search, and more.
- 4/12, 5-7pm: First Wednesday in-person NYC. Note this is the second Wednesday as a rare exception given how the First Wednesday is also the first night of Passover. Save the date.
- 4/19: Serial Marketers & U of Digital present… Navigating Identity Management with Shiv Gupta, Founder of U of Digital.
- 5/9, 6-8pm (NYC in-person): How Marketers are really using Generative AI. Nominal $10 fee – RSVP on Eventbrite. Thanks to BrainStation for hosting us. Learn more about scholarships for their bootcamps.
March 15, New York
“Inspiring content created and delivered by pioneering Chief Marketing Officers. We unite influential marketing to share their insights, challenges and best marketing strategies. Through interactive sessions, keynotes and discussions we support you through your business journey with the tactics, methods and strategies you need to engage with customers and drive growth. Get Inspired and make an impact.”
HOW TO BE A SMART SENDER IN HARD ECONOMIC TIMES
March 15, Virtual
“Reengagement + Reality: How to Be a Smart Sender in Hard Economic Times.With big cuts in the tech industry and general economic malaise, there’s a looming slash in marketing and media budgets on the horizon. One the one hand: As the hardest working channel, email seems to be “safe” in hard times. On the other hand: Brands are already hearing from the boss that they need to “turn up the sending volume” while other channels go dormant. What’s a smart and responsible marketer to do? Let’s have a reality-based conversation about re-engagement in tough times. We’ll arm you with creative best practices and deliverability knowledge to successfully get more from your email channel.”
9TH ANNUAL LDV VISION SUMMIT
Free Online Event
“LDV Capital brings together top technologists, entrepreneurs and investors to discuss the cutting-edge in computer vision, machine learning and AI solutions to improve the world we live in. Speakers come from Mural, BioAge, Synthesia, Harvard Medical School, Insight Partners, Useful Sensors, Conviction, Niels Bohr Institute, Air Street Capital, Humanity, Northeastern University, Seedcamp, and more. Expect enlightening keynotes, inspiring panel discussions and empowering fireside chats for free from the comfort of your couch”
CONTENT MARKETING WORLD 2023
September 26-29, Washington D.C.
“Content Marketing World 2023, the largest gathering of content marketers in the world, is in an all-new location, Washington D.C., September 26-29. Produced by the Content Marketing Institute, #CMWorld is jam-packed with keynotes, sessions, workshops, and masterclasses, covering all aspects of content marketing. No matter your level of expertise, you can customize your experience at #CMWorld 2023. Come learn, network, and have fun making meaningful connections with fellow attendees and speakers before, during, and after the event. BONUS: Use the code SERIAL100 to save an extra $100 on your registration.”
Keep checking out the #jobs channel in Serial Marketers for more. You can also see our full list of job resources here. Here are some great opportunities shared in these places or sent to me directly.
Lead, Mobile Analytics
Via Amelia in the community
“WorkReduce is seeking an analytics expert with experience driving user acquisition in mobile apps. As Lead, Mobile Analytics, you will maintain communication and collaboration with our client and media teams to support and implement high-quality, data-driven decisions. What You’ll Do: -Design and build dashboards that provide weekly actionable insights on how the business is growing new users. -Apply analytics best practices to help drive and maintain customer growth on the mobile app. -Document and train the existing team on how to keep the weekly new user dashboard populated.”
Head of Product Marketing and Growth
Greater New York City Area
“Wiza is a sales enablement platform that helps enterprises automate lead generation by extracting email lists from LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Their mission is to help users identify lead emails via artificial intelligence (AI) technology and export custom searches and lead data in CSV format. They are seeking an experienced and results-driven Head of Marketing and Growth to lead and execute the company’s marketing and growth strategies. 7+ years of experience in marketing and growth, ideal experience within SaaS organizations or lead generation; Strong leadership skills and experience managing cross-functional teams; Knowledge of marketing automation, analytics, and A/B testing tools.”
Manager, Digital Media Buyer
Via Amelia in the community
“As Manager, Digital Media Buyer, you will work in conjunction with our planning teams and be responsible for the negotiating and purchasing of digital media real estate. What you’ll do: -Work with Research and Analytics to collect relevant information on past performance. -Meet with industry representatives to gain insight into all phases and points of contact for media partners. -Keep up to date on all communications with the planning team, including buy authorizations, tracking reports, buy changes, creative specifications, etc. -Oversee associates work with planning teams and ad ops. -Ongoing management of campaigns.”
Growth & Social Strategist
United States only
$40 – $60/hr
“Responsibilities: -Execute and optimize our social media strategy across multiple social channels. -Determine new social media channel opportunities and test for effectiveness. -Oversee social research, planning, calendaring, creative development, publishing, moderation, and reporting. -Understand historical narratives in the crypto space and observe current industry events. -Monitor crypto and NFT trends to identify engagement opportunities. -Curate, write, schedule, and interact with social media posts. -Interface with and Support, Growth, Product, Brand, and Comms teams. -Maintain social media tracking, data presentation, and perform optimizations. -Follow and contribute to brand and content guidelines.”
Also, check out the Serial Marketers job board
Other job resources (see a full list here):
- Beeler.Tech: Job listings for ad operations, programmatic account management, sales operations, and more.
- Braintrust: A freelance platform where you are the owner and where freelance talent keeps 100% of the bill rate.
- Candidate: Featured marketing and sales jobs
- ExecThread: Senior roles spanning a range of verticals and cities; membership is free but fully vetted (this uses my referral ID to get you in faster)
- Lunch Club: Match 1:1 around predetermined goals with accomplished professionals (free)
- NYC Ad Jobs & Networking: A popular Facebook group
- Questions to Ask for a Marketing Role: What questions should you ask when starting a new marketing role or job?
- Serial Marketers Job Board: Post regular and featured listings and subscribe for updates.
- Venwise: Submit your job interests here and get in front of their roster of hiring leads; select “Serial Marketers” under “How did you find us”
Do you run or enjoy other job listing sites? Let me know, and I’ll share them.