Lunch 2.0: First local, now national, and soon global
The Wall Street Journal covered the Lunch 2.0 community event phenomenon in yesterday’s business section (Read Terry’s thoughts). If you’re not familiar with Lunch 2.0 it’s a grassroots community event where savvy corporations and startups host the web community for a casual meal and opt-in demo or presentation. We have founders Terry Chay, Mark Jenn, David Kellogg, and Joseph Smarr to thank.
Big Brands: “Yeah, we got that”
As the Lunch 2.0 event spreads like wildfire, the savvy corporate marketer realize the huge ROI for hosting these events (some are slower) they’ll be pitching these to their management teams, and penciling it near the product launch on the ol’ launch calendar.
Sadly, not all the companies and brands (some are my clients) are doing it right. By slapping a budget together, informing a few marketing folks, and posting an invite on the Lunch 2.0 site, a brand has certainly gone through the motions but missed a very important component –be human. It’s more than showing up to the party, it’s about interacting and engaging with the guests, really be human. Let down the firewall, drop the branding, and show what your brand can do for the community –not the other way around.
Being human, so tough for big brands
Don’t get me wrong, many brands have hosted a lunch successfully (it’s more native to the start-up, than big brand) so learn from them. I told the WSJ that:
“For companies, keeping the events laid-back and unstructured can be a challenge. “This is a community event — unlike what corporations usually do, which is set up booths and pitch,” says Jeremiah Owyang, director of corporate media strategy at PodTech.net, a media network, and a consultant to Fortune 1000 companies.
Smaller start-ups are more eager to embrace the idea. But larger corporations — especially those that are used to controlling communications flow through a public-relations team — may be reluctant to open their doors to an Internet savvy audience that shares its thoughts through blogs and social networks online. Mr. Owyang says, “I hope they roll up their cuffs and unbutton the shirt a bit.”
Doing it right
Lunch 2.0 is going global, it’s going to spread past the Silicon Valley, it’s started in Seattle, going to Singapore, and Europe. It’s really important that we preserve the true essence of a community event (it’s more about the people in the community than the brand) so please read How to have a successful community event I drafted up a few weeks ago.
Did I practice what I preached? I worked at a big brand (Hitachi) when I hosted the Lunch 2.0, if you were there, you can be the judge, leave a comment below; did we open up in a real and human way?