Sunday, May 30, 2010

RIP Saigon Digital Marketing Conference: How not to Market in Asia IV

Adverising, Marketing, Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon Digital Marketing, Bangkok, We hardly knew ye - A little over a year ago I wrote a post called, "A Tale of Many Marketing Conferences in Vietnam"and this year there is at least one less, The Saigon Digital Marketing Conference, or SDM. And unfortunately, that's not a surprise. I had laid out the warning signs well before the actual event, starting with the idea that they had nicked the entire concept from a worldwide series of conferences called ad:tech and ending with the idea that if they didn't pay speakers, they would get rubbish for content. And so that has come to pass.

Adverising, Marketing, Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon Digital Marketing, Bangkok, In a con
versation recently with one of the still standing Saigon digerati he summed it up like this: "They went belly up. They spent too much money, charged too much money, not enough interesting content and nobody behind it seemed to know anything about digital."And wow, a year before, I had said this:1) Concept (1 star) - Nicking a business model from the US and just sticking it in Vietnam is not a concept". And the organizers weren't even from Vietnam - Singapore it seems.

But I had outlined three other key points to organizers well before the actual event in May of 09: #1 - Paying real speakers when you're actually in it to make money shows people that you are serious and have a real business plan. #2 - making sure the event has legs, ie: you could run it in Shanghai or Bangkok or Mumbai after it's finished here gives you a real business all year. #3 - Building a community is what Internet marketing is really all about.

And unfortunately, they had failed at every single one of those tasks before they were even out of the gate a year ago. And that's sad. Because they had good advice, and none of us want to see another of us fail, and what they were able to pull off last year, for a first event, was a pretty good start.

So to round this off, I'm sorry they're gone. They had my, and the whole of Saigon's digerati behind them, but needed to pull partners together, pay for better advice and build a real community of business people, all making a buck together, to keep it going. I was wary from the start when they wanted to make money but seemed to think all the participants should work for free - and you should be too. When the only party in your next business deal making money is the other guy, beware - there are too many places to run when it's all over. These folks went to Bangkok.

For more on digital marketing and social networking see:

Xing vs. LinkedIn: Round II
Trial and Error: The New Normal
What's Wrong With My Social Networking? Xing vs. LinkedIn I
Low Tech Germany. Who Knew?
Advertising People and Blogs
How to Write the Best Blog in the World
What If Gutenberg Had a Blog?
If Blogs Are Free Does That Make Them Worthless?
Detri-Viral Marketing II: The Top 10 Social Media Blunders
Bright Lights, Big Internet and the WWED
Saigon Digital Marketing Conference Successfully Avoids Plumbers Convention
A Tale of Many Marketing Conferences
Detri-Viral Marketing I: How Web 2.0 Can Go Against A Brand
Marketing Predictions for 2009
Barcamp Saigon 2008
"Ignore Everybody" is Born: A Plug for Hugh MacLeod
Are the Bloggerati Missing the Market? Asia has Risen,
Into the Gapinvoid - Web 2.0 Social Networking Born 20 Years Ago

1 comment:

  1. Lol! You seem pretty hot under the collar about paying speakers David, were you invited to speak and then discovered they weren't going to pay you? ;-)

    ad:tech runs in Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing and a number of other Asian cities. It doesn't pay its speakers, and doesn't lack for quality content. As for the business model, it's standard fare: attract the industry with seminars and provide exhibition space for cash. No need for SDM to copy ad:tech, they could have copied anyone.

    The challenge in VN with the proposition was simply market size. Digital in VN only attracts US$10 to US$15m annually. Major names aren't going to be attracted to working in a market that small, and aren't going to speak there when their own companies have little local strategic ambition.

    Individual companies aren't making enough cash to fund exhibition stands at a profitable level, and that means funds aren't available to pay for 'celebrity' speakers.

    The only mistake the organisers really made was not getting the sums right in the first place - let's hope they didn't waste too much cash.

    Your dig at Kelvin's Singaporean roots seems totally unnecessary and more than a little, well, racist. Do people think you're incompetent because you're a foreigner? Bigotry has no place in a meritocracy.


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