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SXSW Interactive 2014

Austin, We Have a Problem (No One Knows Exists)

Steve Jobs hated focus groups, denouncing them in 1998 by saying, “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Look at the phone in your hand, the tech on your body, the apps you can’t live without – and you know it to be true. Companies continue to embrace this Jobsian philosophy, bucking the status quo and seeking to solve problems consumers don’t yet know they have. How have they communicated and marketed to the masses to effectively overcome that initial problem-solution disconnect?

In this session, companies from different industries around the techosphere will share how they first embarked on the journey of changing consumer behavior and offer advice to help YOU succeed at the same.

There are still a lot of things we don’t let tech help us with. Maybe your company will solve one such problem. We can’t afford for you not to attend this session.

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  1. What should you put into your initial product when it first launches – how much functionality hits the sweet spot, where users feel its enough of a change to be effective, but not so overwhelming that it’s scary or excessively disruptive? How can a young startup team best work together – product, marketing, sales, etc. – to achieve these initial goals and be successful in that ever-important first launch?
  2. Let’s talk marketing and branding tactics – how do you successfully, strategically convey the importance of your product and the problem it solves to users/buyers? How do you create a value proposition with no foundation to plant your stake? Do you use video, PR, testimonials, celebrity endorsements, Super Bowl ads – something even crazier? We’ll find out.
  3. How can you leverage and analyze data to predict how customers will use the product, and continue to iterate/innovate to gain even more new users? What are some key data points upon which the presenting panelists have hinged their success?
  4. When competitors come along and hop on the bandwagon of your unique, new-problem-solving idea, how do you determine where to put your team’s product and marketing energies to stay ahead of the game and own this space you worked so hard to create? Do you have to choose between retaining your existing customers, or go after that late majority market?
  5. How does your story change once your company has matured and the problem is now something millions of people seek to solve? How can you prepare for this in advance?


  • Heather Forsythe, Senior Director, Consumer Marketing, TripIt
  • Thad Hwang, Head of Product Management, Slice
  • Mario Armstrong, Digital Lifestyle Expert, Mario Armstrong


Heather Forsythe, Senior Director, Consumer Marketing, TripIt

Meta Information:

  • Tags: customers, marketing
  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Panel
  • Track: Entrepreneurialism and Business
  • Level: Intermediate
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