Puzzillas from Mansilla (*Events*)

Are events even content? Maybe not. But you should go into an event with the same mindset as the rest of your content in order to attract devs.

This is chapter five: Events. We're halfway through the book now. Have you bought the book yet? You can find your copy everydeveloper.com.

So I gotta be real here. It was sometime in December of 2020. I was about to sit down to write this chapter. Then I was having a conversation with a friend, a friend who actually does a lot of developer events. And I was saying, I don't know whether I have a chapter's worth of material on events. I've done a lot of them, but I'm not sure about this one, but I'll see what I can do. And maybe I end up scrapping it.

I mean there had been in the outline since the very start, but, I wasn't sure if there was enough I had to say. A question that one could reasonably ask is, "Are events, even content?" Some part of them is not, but I think you need to go into it with the same mindset that you have for the rest of your content.
And that's what I ended up figuring out as I wrote the chapter and was able to write plenty about it. And I definitely had some to say, and events could very well be the first place that someone hears about your product. Or your company. And even if it's not the first, it could be the most impactful.

And that can happen in a negative way too. If someone gets the idea that, you don't really have developers' best interests in mind or that you don't know what you're talking about, essentially. These are the things that can happen when you take a different approach at events than you do in the other ways that you interact with developers.

That's why it ended up being in the book. And one piece that I'm going to talk about, I'm going to, for the first time in this podcast, do a little book reading. One paragraph, page 72, for those who are following.
"Some of the best approaches I've seen from conference sponsors have included puzzles or similar contests of skill. Developers love to tinker with problems and figure out how things work.

If you can inspire them to grapple, you're more likely to make a lasting impact. Sure, entice them with a prize, but it's secondary to the experience."

That paragraph was inspired by Neil Mansilla when he worked at Mashery and this is now maybe almost 10 years ago. And he would create these puzzles, the "puzzilla from Mansilla," I like to call it, or at least now I like to call it that. So Mashery: API management tool. And so Neil would have these kind of scavenger hunts, where you had to look in API headers and you had to take the results from one API call and put them into another API call and solve these puzzles.

And he would make this available through a couple of days of a conference. People would get stuck and guess where they would come to ask questions? The Mashery booth. And then at the end, everyone who submitted the completed puzzle, which they'd spent, maybe hours time up in their hotel room. At times sitting while they thought they were listening to a talk, they were actually thinking about Mashery and thinking about the "puzzilla from Mansilla." And then they would hold a drawing. And there's a great picture from, I think, about 2014 or so of just this huge crowd around the booth, waiting to see which of the puzzle masters got the prize at the end.

That's a far cry from your typical expo hall booth. Where you're just maybe giving away shirts and grabbing business cards. And I think that's a great example of what could be done. And is that content? I mean, in a lot of ways, yes. It really needs to have the same things that you would have in a blog post, in a guide, in a tutorial.

And this has been the Events chapter of Developer Marketing Does Not Exist.