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9 Must-See Marketing Panels at SXSW 2014

Only one day remains to vote for the panels that make it into this year’s SXSW Interactive. I’ve been busy sifting through the hundreds of awesome panels looking for those that seem the most interesting, compelling, and relevant to online marketing and growth.

It was tough, but I have managed to narrow it down to a workable list. If you’re an online marketer, growth hacker, or anyone responsible for the growth of your company in any way, go vote for these panels, and ensure your trip to Austin is well worth your while. With only one day left, get your votes in now.

Adam Berke’s “Ad Hacking for Startups”

Adam Berke of AdRoll has organized a group of startup experts to discuss the shift from Mad Men to hackers and how startups need to take advantage of the availability of self-service platforms. This panel will help you dissect current online marketing trends, understand must-have tools and channels, and master platforms such as Facebook, SEO/SEM, Display, and Retargeting. Read more about Berke’s panel here.

See Berke’s pitch video here:

Sean Ellis’s “Stacking the Odds for Lasting Growth”

Sean Ellis of Qualaroo, spurred on by the growing popularity of the term “growth hacker,” which he himself coined three years ago, will analyze the importance of building lasting value beyond the initial growth that all startups seek. Ellis will discuss the pitfalls of inauthentic growth, as well as ways entrepreneurs can find scalable growth by staying true to their products’ core value and promise. In this panel, Ellis also will get into the importance of identifying your must-have user experience and how to leverage it for traction toward sustainable growth. Read more about Ellis’s panel here.

Here’s a recent talk Ellis gave on Startup Growth:

Kristina Halvorson’s “Go Home Marketing, You Are Drunk”

The ultimate content strategist, Kristina Halvorson, takes on the shiny, silver bullets that the marketing community continually foists to the mantle in a vain attempt to remain relevant. In this talk, Halvorson urges all of us to get back to basics – impart a message that matters, provide a must-have product experience, and fix things that actually are actually broken – rather than chase the next shiny object. It’s a timely point as marketers search for the next big thing after “peak social” and the setting in of the reality that marketing is still really hard. Even in today’s digitally splintered world, the basics are what get the job done. Read more about Halvorson’s panel here.

See Halvorson in action here:

Adam Lieb and Deb Gabor’s “Startup Branding Lessons from the Trenches”

Duxter CEO Adam Lieb and Sol Marketing’s Deb Gabor will pass on the knowledge they’ve gained about startup branding through their own experience with the world of hardcore gaming. Using Duxter as a case study, they’ll share how analyzing audience research, strategic branding practices, and an incredible investor pitch made Duxter a success. Then, Gabor will present a simple branding methodology you can apply to your own startup. Read more about Lieb and Gabor’s panel here.

David Flores and Tony Dieppa’s “A Hacker’s Guide to Marketing”

For bootstrapped startups with little money and no established customer base, David Flores and Tony Dieppa of Eatable tackle the reality behind the myth of overnight startup success. In this panel, they’ll begin with the basics, discussing what it means to “get out of the building” when you have no customers to get out and talk to. They’ll also cover how to go about building a community from scratch, what to do when there are no events to take part in, and more. Read more about Flores and Dieppa’s panel here.

Marshall Wright’s “Why Your Social Campaign Sucks”

In this panel, Marshall Wright will delve into the real value of social media as a driver of customer service and leads. Digital marketing and social experts from major brands come together to discuss how to optimize your social media campaigns for maximum ROI and, in the process, build real community and audience for your brand. You’ll learn how to best integrate social platforms, not merely as a share button or a Facebook or Twitter page, but as a core asset woven into the fabric of your business. Read more about Wright’s panel here.

Ja-Nae Duane, Vladimir Vukicevic, and Chris Schultz’s “Naked Startups: Lessons from the Startup Economy”

In this panel, Ja-Nae Duane of Revolution Institute, Vladimir Vukicevic of RocketHub, and Chris Schultz of Launch Pad will explore the innovative methodologies currently transforming the startup landscape and offer advice for entrepreneurs who want to create a sustainable future. This panel will attempt to answer tough, make-or-break questions like “How do you identify in advance the obstacles your startup will face?” “How can you generate a success strategy without knowing how a market will change?” and “Do unicorns and fairies actually exist?” Read more about their panel here.

See some of their early insights here:

Mike Carden’s “Imperfect Marketing: Why Mistakes are Startup Gold”

Mike Carden of Cornerstone OnDemand, a cloud-based talent management company, will use the startup Sonar6 and the email with a mistake in the first line that turned out to be their best marketing email ever. Based on the assumption that people want to do business with people they can relate to, Carden will analyze how eating a slice of humble pie and writing an apology email inadvertently made the business more human. He’ll also show you why being human sells better than being perfect and offer an easy approach for making your startup just that. Read more about Carden’s panel here.

April Dunford’s “Random Acts of Marketing Are Killing Your Startup”

April Dunford of RocketScope, a startup marketing firm, will help you organize your startup to-do list, even on a miniscule marketing budget. The panel will discuss the attributes of good marketing and how it means life or death for most startups, specifically those with disorganized marketing approaches. This panel offers advice for becoming smarter and more organized, as well as building an agile marketing engine that will help you drive the necessary revenue your startup needs. Read more about Dunford’s panel here.

Get a taste for it here:

Vote for Your Favorites Now

Those are just a handful of the awesome panels offered at SXSW this spring. I encourage you to check out the full panel picker here and search for whatever topics interest you. Don’t forget, voting ends on September 6th. Be sure to leave feedback for your favorites while you still can.

Do you have a favorite I left out? Let us know in the comments.

About the Author: Morgan Brown is the co-founder of Full Stack Marketing, a growth-oriented marketing firm dedicated to helping early stage companies find traction and growth while keeping their burn rates down through innovative marketing and product solutions.

  1. April Dunford Sep 06, 2013 at 5:30 am

    Morgan – thanks so much for including me on this list. I’m in fantastic company here :)

  2. Adilah Manaf Celikvitamin Sep 08, 2013 at 2:12 am

    Wow! What a tough list to choose.

  3. Hey Morgan! Thank you so much for including our talk in your list. You made our day :) I will keep you posted on the updates on our talk. Take care, David Flores

  4. Hey Morgan,

    Thank you so much for including our talk on your list.

    We got a book deal from McGraw Hill to write “The Startup Equation” which is what this talk motivated us to submit a panel.




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