I get a lot of questions about how SQLRally is going, which tells me that there is a lot of interest and that we’re not communicating enough. The hard part is that in some ways there is a lot going on, and in some ways not all that much!
We started SQLRally last July and we’ve worked through identifying our format, pricing, selecting a logo, and getting graphics designed for the web site (you have looked at www.sqlrally.com at least once haven’t you?). We’ve got a marketing flyer done, registration is open, the call for speakers has closed, and our first round of voting on the schedule wrapped up earlier this week and should have been announced by now. We’ve got another three ballots to go, covering the DBA, BI, and Developer tracks. I’ve had a lot of positive feedback on that process from speakers who love the idea of a ‘free market’ where they get to compete against their peers in a open way.
As we get closer to having the schedule complete it’s time for us to work more on marketing the event. Our intent has always been to do marketing a lot like we do for SQLSaturday, using social media and mailing lists to reach those that are interested, only trying to do so across a wider geographical area and building brand recognition at the same time. So how are we going to do that? Here are some of the things we’ll be doing:
- Distributing flyers to events in the South East to help build awareness
- Asking chapters in the region as well as .Net user groups to send email reminders to their members, to post a link to our flyer, and hopefully in the next week or so we’ll have a banner ad or two for them to use as well.
- Ask potential speakers to work their blogs and twitter to reach their followers (and try to drive voters to their abstracts too!)
- Mentions in the PASS Connector
- Working our local contacts in Orlando, such as asking our staffing friends to send out a reminder to their network
The key is to make sure people know about it. It’s easy to think that a blog post or a tweet or an email is all it takes, but in practice those reach only a small percentage of the audience on any given day. We’ve got to keep repeating the message (hopefully in an interesting fashion) to make sure that those people that would jump at the chance to get two days of training for $299 know about the opportunity. Help us do that by mentioning it to people that you know; tweet, blog, update your LinkedIn profile with a note, make sure it gets mentioned at your next chapter meeting.
HQ is reviewing the logistics plan and that’s uncovered a few glitches, but that’s good, better to figure that stuff out now and not on opening day! We’ve invited the Florida chapter leaders and some key volunteers to join our planning calls, and one area we’re asking for their help in is coming up with ideas and leaders for ‘after hours’ events. We’d like to build the kind of strong social structure we have at the Summit, which takes time and iteration, but no reason to not try to do some creative stuff regardless.
If you’d like to see more the detail, I encourage you to read the minutes. We post minutes of each meeting and while it’s not exciting reading, it’s part of our effort to document how and why we do things, and to operate as transparently as we can.