ProductCamp Seattle 2013was last month. . There were 178 attendees,24 presentations, and one very fun after party. Some of my personal highlights included learning how to Kumbaya difficult relationships at work, discovering the zen of customer interviews, and networking with really amazing people.

We had a survey that went out to participants – it was very illuminating to see the results and learn how others saw the event.

Interesting Fact #1: Word of Mouth and Person to Person Marketing Matters

An astonishing 38% of people found out about this event from a coworker. That means people thought this would be interesting enough to bring their fellows from work and spend a Saturday with them. There were a lot of “Other” responses. Most of these were friends, non-work colleagues, or people who were directly involved in the event. That adds up to 69% of the attendees coming because of people connecting with them.

This year we saw an increase in attendance as well as a significant decrease in attrition. The survey from last year showed that the two top sources of hearing about ProductCamp were email marketing and co-workers. The shift in attrition and attendance indicates that it may be easier to reach a high amount of people through email marketing but the lasting commitment to an event comes from a person to person invitation.

 

 

Interesting Fact #2: Most people would recommend ProductCamp even if they only learned a bit

Our survey showed that people were mixed on how much they learned from the event. However, learning only seemed to be part of the value attendees got from the event. Out of the surveyed participants 62% want to return to the next event.  That gap between how much people learned and their willingness to return tells me that people don’t just come to ProductCamp to learn. Maybe people are attending to meet others and build their professional network rather than just learn more information.

The most interesting data, for me, is that even with 62% of people definitely wanting to return, 55% of people definitely learned a lot – 82% want to tell their friends to attend next year! What does that mean? People who went saw the value this event would have for their friends and peers. Given the data around how people found out about ProductCamp, having more than 80% of participants ready to recommend the event is the best result we could get in preparation for next year.

These have shifted slightly in the past year with 2% less definitely wanting to return, 7% more learned a lot, and 6% less would strongly recommend this event to a friend.

Comparing these questions with last year shows a huge win with how much people learned – 7% more people learned quite a lot this year. However, we lost ground on people definitely wanting to return and recommending the event to a friend. The questions dropped by 2% and 6% respectively.

Interesting Fact #3 People had incredible feedback to give!

Most Useful Aspects of the Event

When asked what people liked about ProductCamp, several highlights bubbled up. The most popular topic was meeting great people and the networking they were able to do. Others liked the variety of topics and found many interesting subjects being presented on. Two popular sections were the usability workshop and the idea of Lean Product Management.

Some interesting quotes from surveyed guests were:

  • “loved the unconference structure - it keeps the content really relevant and the audience really engaged”
  • “brain picking. you can't design in a vacuum”
  • “the variety in sessions was fantastic, but the overwhelming interest for some of the events definitely suggests a need for those topics to be covered again.”

 

Feedback on the venue

It was clear from the feedback that people loved having the ProductCamp at the Columbia Tower Club. It was truly a wonderful view with breathtaking scenery. Hopefully we’ll get another incredible locale next year.

How to Improve

When asked what could be improved, the areas for improvement could be categorized in the following categories:

Food

Many commented on the amount of food available throughout the day and insufficient vegetarian options (or the options running out too soon). Here’s what a few people said about food this year:

  • “not many food/snack options, but totally understood since those cost money and it's better to have a free conference”
  • “food arrangement. it was vegetarian unfriendly. by the time my session was over, all vegetarian food was gone.”

Next year we’ll aim to have more vegetarian options and see if it’s possible to have an expanded afternoon snack.

Organization

While un-conferences tend to be more chaotic than smooth, many people indicated that:

  • Noise from other sessions and people walking through was distracting
  • A central mingling area would be helpful for discussions
  • Rooms needed better signage
  • The schedule needed to be more visible.

These are all great topics for us to work out for the next year.

Sessions

People seemed split on whether it’s more useful to have a discussion or a presentation. While some commented on the power of a collaborative discussion others felt discussions relied too heavily on the wisdom of the group rather than a central knowledgeable person.

This feedback does not give a clear direction for next year’s event. However, we can plan on indicating whether a session is a presentation or a discussion.

 

Interesting Fact #4 – It’s less than 340 days until the next ProductCamp Seattle!

If you weren’t at ProductCamp Seattle 2013, I hope you can make it next year. If you’re looking for something to tide you over until the next event, be sure to check out the monthly PMC events. 

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Comment by Dave Manningsmith on December 2, 2013 at 10:46am
Great write up, Rose!

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