Product Camp SoCal 2012 from the Bleachers

Product Camp SoCal 2012 opening session

I just returned from Product Camp SoCal 2012 held at the Cal State University Fullerton campus. The turnout was impressive with over 400 attendees and equally impressive enthusiasm (this was a Saturday!). The facility at CalState Fullerton was ideal and provided plenty of meeting space and room to mingle.

If you’re unfamiliar with Product Camp SoCal (or any Product Camp for that matter) you might wonder why anyone would give up their precious Saturday to attend one. Product Camps are crowd-sourced events (to the extent this is possible). They’re free and all volunteer based. The sessions are proposed by attendees, who then vote on the sessions they want to hear. The types of sessions vary from how-to presentations, to panel discussions, and facilitated discussions. What is not appreciated are vendor pitches.

The typical attendees of a Product Camp are product managers and product marketing managers. All attendee to learn, to share, and to network. Product managers are looking for ways to help them deliver products better and faster. Product marketing managers are looking for ways become better marketers of their products.

Product Camp SoCal 2012

Highly memorable for me at Product Camp SoCal was the opening session where we were introduced to Hunter, Bear, Ranger, which is a Chinese variation of Rock, Paper, Scissors only much more animated. It got things started with a bang (no pun intended). I found a YouTube video here to help you get an idea of what it’s about. Now imagine 400 people doing this at once!

If there was any concern among Product Camp attendees it was not being able to attend all the sessions. There were lots of great topics but only so much time. A new addition this year was a partnership with the SoCal Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, which was warmly received.

I attended Survey Research for Product and Brand Successby Ray Benedicktus from OC Marketing Analytics and “Your Blog as a Product” by Dori Gilbert at Storycology.com. Both sessions were informative and engaging. My only regret is not attending more of the many great sessions.

My session was titled “5 Reasons Why Begging and Pleading for Customers No Longer Works” and was targeted at product marketing managers. The product marketing community is one I wish I would see more of at Product Camp. If you’re in a product marketing role you owe to yourself to check out a Product Camp in your area.

New tools I picked up at Product Camp SoCal 2012 include InboundQ (finds tweets that contain keywords you care about), InboundWriter (help you write blog content that is search engine friendly), TwitterFall (gives you a running list of tweets based on a variety of search criteria, and the Smart SEO plugin for WordPress (finds keywords in your content and suggests links).

Product Camp SoCal 2012 heading home

Jim Semick

Jim Semick

Jim Semick is co-founder of ProductPlan, a leading provider of cloud-based roadmap software for product and marketing teams. For more than 15 years he has helped launch new products now generating hundreds of millions in revenue. He was part of the founding team at AppFolio, a vertical SaaS company. Prior to AppFolio, Jim validated and created version 1.0 product requirements for GoToMyPC and GoToMeeting (acquired by Citrix). Jim is a frequent speaker on product management and the process of discovering successful business models. He contributes at www.productplan.com/blog. Follow Jim on Twitter at @JimSemick.


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