This is the first (but not the last) blog post that I'll be writing from a back of a re-branded ZipVan that's parked in front of Moscone West on 4th & Howard in SF.
Most days, Ed and I are building and growing Smooch (formerly SupportKit), the easiest way for you to speak to your app's users so you can build relationships that last. Since the product is really designed for developers, we spend a lot of time thinking about fun ways to speak to people who dedicate their lives to writing awesome apps.
Well, we actually brought this crazy idea to life and called it Smooch Cares. On June 8, 9, and 10, we'll be hanging out in a Smooch van in front of Moscone, dispatching "Smooch Saviours" to grant the wishes of any developer at the conference.
So far, it's been a huge success. Here's how we put it together and what we've learned along the way.
ZipVan - the secret to building a tradeshow booth / mobile command center
Renting a clean, safe van in San Francisco seemed really complicated until we signed up to ZipCar. For a few hundred dollars, we were able to get an almost-new Ford E150 cargo van for 3 days.
Although this van is covered with ZipVan stickers, it was easy for us to cover it up with some removable vinyl sheeting. We then added StickerMule wall graphics that had our logo printed on them. The final result is pretty awesome.
We made sure to get to Howard street in front of Moscone center late Sunday night so that we could secure a good parking spot for the next day. If you get a good spot, you've essentially put up a tradeshow booth that most attendees of the conference will walk by on their way to WWDC. I think that this is crazy awesome.
Getting the word out
On the day of the keynote, a ridiculously long line forms the entire away around the block.
We hired a bunch of brand ambassadors (models essentially) from a local talent agency. They walked along the keynote line and handed out fliers that told people how Smooch Cares works. These ambassadors were great and really took the time to speak to the crowd and got them excited about interacting with Smooch.
Serving thousands of attendees without missing a beat
When we came up with this crazy scheme, some of us really thought that managing an event of this scale would be an impossibly hard task and fraught with risk. Admittedly, Ed and I also had some serious jitters but chose not to doubt ourselves - we'd just roll with the punches.
We decided that incoming requests should be tweeted @smoochlabs. Ed and I would camp out in the van and manage the twitter feed while our brand ambassadors would be circulating around Moscone (Basically the same way Uber drivers will hover around a busy block).
When a request came in over twitter, we'd text one of the brand ambassadors to perform the request. If the ambassador had to make a purchase, they'd run back to our van and we'd give them some cash. If they had to run across town, we'd send an Uber directly to them with the destination pre-programmed so that they could make it to wherever they needed to be.
While the ambassadors were out and about, they used Glympse to share their location on a publicly visible map that we embedded into the SupportKit Cares page. This proved to be tremendously useful to us (so that we knew where the ambassadors were) and to people making requests (since they knew when/where to meet up with us)
Surprisingly, using nothing more than the OS X Twitter app and Messages app, we were able to manage communication with our brand ambassadors with ease.
Some of our favourite stories from day 1
We have too many stories of happy developers to share from just 1 day running this campaign, however here are some of the highlights from day 1. Check back tomorrow to see more!
But what if someone asks for something ridiculous?
Well, then you just find a fun way to make the wish come true. Take these two self-described "smart-asses" (their label, not ours!). These lovely people asked us for an Aston Martin and a Ferrari 438. We just had to oblige...
Check out what happened on Day 2 of our #WWDC15 guerrilla marketing.