ProductCamp Best Practices

By Paul Young, John Milburn
August 24, 2011

The ProductCamp phenomenon is taking the world by storm. If you haven’t participated in a ProductCamp, you might wonder what all the fuss is about. If you have participated in one, you already know!

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It’s always fun to bring everyone together at the end of the day for a quick summary and to award prizes for best sessions. By this time, the group is comfortable and can get rather lively celebrating the hard work and start planning the next ProductCamp.

Tips for running a ProductCamp

Don't over-plan! Think of it as a fun way to get together and meet others to learn and network - not like a typical conference where events are pre-planned and controlled. Structure is good, but too much defeats the purpose.

Make registration very easy. People won't register if they have to jump through hoops – e-mail address is the only personal information really needed at this stage.

If you have trouble getting sponsors, sacrifice the t-shirts and breakfast.

Assign a "go-to" person who is very organized and able to delegate - not do all the work. The time commitment varies (more time is needed closer to the event).

Marketing

  • Create a website and Twitter hashtag. Optional: create a Facebook page and LinkedIn Group. If you have a local Product Management Association, ask them to post the event on their site and in newsletters.
  • Provide regular e-mail updates to registrants
  • Get mentions in relevant newsletters, blogs and websites Contact local media (newspapers, business and tech journals, TV, radio)

Volunteers

  • Initially just collect names but a critical role on ProductCamp day
  • Set up registration table set up for sign-in, t-shirt, sponsor give-aways, any information sheets, etc.
  • Have name tags printed for those who pre-registered, blanks for walk-in registrations (remember to leave space for your participant's Twitter ID!). If you can, add session, break and lunch times to the back of the name tag.
  • Parking directions/assistance (if needed)
  • Cleanup - after meals and at the end of day
  • Hall monitors - between sessions to answer questions and help shepherd people where they need to go
  • Session monitors - make sure there is a timekeeper and note-taker in each session (doesn’t have to be one of the organizers, have the presenter/moderator ask for a volunteer)
  • Encourage people to take pictures (a camera phone is often good enough) and post to Twitter or the event website or a Flickr page. Use the Twitter hashtag as a "keyword". A dedicated photographer is a plus.

Sessions

  • Encourage people to sign up to present or host a roundtable
  • Ensure everyone understands the "Open Grid" scheduling
  • Collect and post presentations and notes from the sessions to the event website or a site like SlideShare
  • Coordinating the "best presentation" voting and awards
  • Conduct a post-ProductCamp survey

Budget

  • Get financial commitment from sponsors
  • Manage budget and pay bills (ideally, set up a 501(c)(3) and open a checking account)
  • Order and pay for the food, name tags, signs, t-shirts, lanyards and trophies

Venue

  • Coordinate building open/close times, security and parking
  • Visit the facility the day/evening before the event to ensure everything is ready
  • Set up rooms, including projectors, chairs, whiteboards, etc.
  • Manage details about the food - set up, trash cans, location, cleanup

If you need help in organizing one, just let us know. Pragmatic Marketing has been involved with every ProductCamp and can provide sponsorship, promotion and get involved with the planning teams as a resource for questions and guidance.

See a list of upcoming ProductCamps. 

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About the Authors

  • Paul Young

    Paul Young has more than a decade of experience in hardware, software, and services product management and marketing. During his career, Paul has launched and managed dozens of products, started his own business, and successfully implemented the Pragmatic Marketing Framework at several companies. He is now a full-time instructor for Pragmatic Marketing, teaching our courses around the world. You can reach Paul at pyoung@pragmaticmarketing.com

  • John Milburn

    John Milburn is a Pragmatic Marketing instructor who has “walked the walk” in technology product management. Throughout his 20-plus-year career, he has managed or delivered more than 40 hardware and software products and implemented the Pragmatic Marketing Framework at many companies. A CSPO, his perspective and experiences from companies such as Lane 15 Software, Dell, IBM, Texas Instruments, Exxon, and Vtel add insight and real-world examples to his teaching. This perspective allows John to connect with product managers and executives from companies of all sizes in a broad range of markets. Contact him at jmilburn@pragmaticmarketing.com.


Categories:  Go-to-Market Roles & Activities


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