Once a year, tens of thousands of people gather in the Nevada Desert to create Black Rock City, a temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance.
Called “the next frontier of marketing”, the lead generation potential of Burning Man cannot be overestimated or ignored.
Every company worth its sand has already been planning their Burn-based sales and marketing strategy for months, but nonetheless, here are a few last minute tips to maximize your lead generation effectiveness in Black Rock City.*
Update Your Status
Customizing your out-of-office reply with a Burning Man-themed message is just the first step. You’re also going to want to email all your prospects ahead of time and let them know where your booth will be set up.
Load Up on the SWAG
Branding giveaway items with your company logo and “Burning Man 2015” will be bar-none the best investment you make this year.
USB drives, coffee mugs, keychains, stress balls, and sunglass strap are always crowd favorites, no matter what the event. Glow sticks, frisbees, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, are also great.
Divide And Conquer
Theme camps and villages are the interactive core of Burning Man. Before you hop on your bus to BRC, hold a whiteboarding session and divide the camp into quadrants. Then, distribute your SDRs accordingly for effective outbound marketing. Print laminated maps of the camp layout for every rep so they don’t get lost and waste valuable time prospecting in the wrong sectors.
Networking at Burning Man means late nights and early mornings. Even rockstars crash eventually. Stock up on Red Bull because most commercial coffee pots are not made to operate in dry, dusty environments. You’ll be far better off switching to canned energy beverages for the week (but also pack a Keurig for emergencies).
Competition is the ultimate motivator. Set up a team-based SPIFF pitting your Sales Development Reps against your more experienced Account Executives. The anything-goes atmosphere is the perfect environment for next year’s crop of young sales leaders on your team to set themselves apart from the rest of the pack.
Always ask everyone their full name. Collect Twitter handles, send Facebook invites, and connect on LinkedIn with everyone you meet. Take pictures and tag everyone on social media. Ask everyone where they work so you can tag their brand pages as well.
Divert your entire AdWords budget to only target users within 10 miles of 40°45’13.83″N, 119°16’37.20″W. Paid search and display not targeted at the Nevada desert next week is money wasted.
Paperweights Are A Must
Your sales sheets and pitch decks are going to blow away if you don’t weigh them down. Wind will top 30 mph on the playa. Once your sales collateral blows away, it’s gone.
Bring your own router and set up a Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN). Email-gate access and set up a fun Burning Man themed landing page to generate positive brand awareness and drive loads of unique viewers to your domain. Don’t forget to use your company name in the network title.
Schedule tweets ahead time using the high trafficked hashtags. Here is a suggested list of high traffic hash-tags:
#burningman, #playa, #blackrockcity, #rainbowserpent, #heavymachinery, #festivalseason, #decor, #tututuesday, #festival, #puppyeyes, #handmade, #danceparty, #headdress, #gypsykitties, #carniva, #tophat, #cardboard, #diy, #art, #musicfestival, #love, #friendship, #experience, #family, #desertbody, #grateful, #rockstar, #paperweights, #circus, #cirque, #chainbra, #carnivalofmirrors, #funkytown, #wanderlust, #freespirits, #nocturnalwonderland
For B2B networking, use the less traveled but more targeted hashtags: #burningman4business, #burningman4biz, and #B2Burningman.
TEDxBlackRockCity has become too commercial in recent years. Don’t burn yourself out jockeying for limited mindshare at this high-trafficked event.
Use this time to walk around and just meet people!
Make A Joyful Noise
Old musical instruments make a great conversation starter. Not only that, but instruments with a low register such as the tuba and bassoon can be heard for miles on the playa, even through dust storms. Draw in a crowd with “When The Saints Go Marching In” then deliver your company pitch.
Gate Your Content
Everyone knows that the key to inbound marketing is an exchange of value and trust. Burning man’s gift economy not only captures the true spirit of the modern marketing ethos, but also fosters the ideal climate for high quality lead generation.
Gate your cooler of cold water bottles with an email capture to build up your eNewsletter mailing list. Bring a backup clipboard in case your ipad overheats.
Tip Your Top Hat
Remember, anyone wearing a top hat is likely on the job. Be sure to exchange business cards with anyone donning a stovepipe. Even if they’re not in your industry they can potentially connect you with decision makers at businesses that fit your ideal customer profile.
Know Your C-Suite
Be cognizant of the conventions that govern clothing choices based on company status. Of course, these rules are not firm, but you’d be hard pressed to find business leaders deviating from desert norms.
Managing Directors traditionally wear butterfly wings, CPOs opt for body paint, and VPs of Sales make their own Mardi Gras beads. CTOs always show the most skin.
In 2014, most CEOs opted for ceremonial headdresses, but surprisingly enough, 2015 is projected up to be the year of the electric sombrero.
Steampunk Is Out
Healthgoth is in.
Leave The Politics At The Gate
Yes, the flood of capital to Burning Man inevitably attracts politicians like flies to honey, but fight the urge to talk policy on the playa. Patrons don’t want to be bombarded with pre-packaged political messaging. People are here to have a good time.
Be authentic and leave the politics in Washington.
For your lips.
On the eve on Burning Man, Menlo Park will dissolve into a ghost town as Venture Capital firms officially close up shop for a week of hobnobbing, handshaking, and negotiating in the Nevada desert. The only traffic on Sand Hill road August 30 through September 7 will be the tumbleweeds. Like the gold rushes of the old West, the next decade’s billion dollar companies are just waiting to be discovered by the bold and enterprising.
If you’re among the army of business professionals heading to Burning Man this weekend remember to follow the rules, take nothing but contact information, and leave nothing but footprints.
But most of all, have fun and crush it! Good luck and godspeed.
*humor, Poe’s Law.