Please see my recap of our experience (Miki and Ken from Contextual) of working a Plone/company booth and giving a couple of presentations at last week's CMS Expo in Evanston, IL (just north of Chicago, IL.)

One additional benefit that I'd add, is that there were CMS reviewers from CMSWatch, CMSCritic, WebReference, and perhaps others, that I think we made a positive impression on. I think that if Plone wasn't represented at such a conference, it could give the wrong impression of where the community and product are headed.

-Ken Wasetis

-------- Original Message --------
Subject:        Re: [Board] Request for CMS Expo partial funding from Foundation
Date:   Thu, 7 May 2009 08:15:32 +0100
From:   Matt Hamilton <ma...@netsight.co.uk>
To:     Ken Wasetis [Contextual Corp.] <ken.wase...@contextualcorp.com>
References: <20090506194351.ab8fa0afda6d64fa8f44eec9002badb1.ee75665bd2....@email.secureserver.net>



Ken,
This is great, can you post it to the evangalism list too? Or if you want I can post it if you are not on the list.

-Matt


On 7 May 2009, at 03:43, Ken Wasetis [Contextual Corp.] wrote:

Thanks Matt - I did my best at wearing the marketing hat ;)

I was planning on replying to the board with a summary of my experience at the expo this week sometime, so this seems like the perfect thread to jump onto for that.

I apologize in advance for the verbosity of my expo recap, but I wanted to make sure the Board got its money worth ;)


GENERAL IMPRESSIONS AND INFO:
I think this is an important and really beneficial conference for Plone to be represented at. Thanks to the Board for helping with a partial sponsorship. I think we represented Plone well and did a good job spreading the word!

Although the conference only had about 200 attendees and about 30 of whom were presenters, I'd estimate about 70-80 attendees to be people who are seriously evaluating different tools, or already are honed in on one tool or another and want to know more about it to confirm their opinions of it.

We spoke to a number of people at the conference and at the booth specifically that hadn't ever even heard of Plone, and I believe that Plone is now being evaluated by some who wouldn't have been doing so. This effect can only improve if we're able to do a full Plone track at future CMS Expos.

This is the third semi-annual CMS Expo, which was a Joomla-only conference a year ago, added Drupal at the last conference, and which for this conference had full tracks for Joomla, Drupal, and Alfresco this conference, with a couple of talks on Plone and a Plone/vendor booth.

The organizers are great to work with and want to grow this into something with equal coverages and treatment to all the main tools that are there, and they were great about giving Plone mention anytime they spoke about the tools and communities at the conference. I plan to work with them to make sure we get a full track (8 talks) the next time around.

With 6 parallel tracks, there were times that some tracks that were on good, solid topics with good presenters and slides, only had a couple people in them (not just my own presentations ;) ) So, it might already be spread a bit thin, or it could just be timing (last session on Friday is never a good time to present - sorry, dude from Acquity with one attendee.)


SUCCESS STORIES:
1) We already have one Joomla presenter who says he is 60% likely to attend the Plone Symposium and to start launching Plone sites, partially due to the fact Contextual is finally open sourcing the SweetCRM connector for Plone-to-SugarCRM, because he does a lot with SugarCRM.

2) Unfortunately, my first talk at the pre-conference only attracted 2 attendees (okay, not a success story), since most others were already signed up for a $99 'kick-start' session at the same time (were committed.) But, one of the two people in my Plone kick-off (free) session was impressed enough that he had Plone installed and running that night and after my Friday talk (dozen attendees), he and his manager came up to me and committed to presenting at the next expo a case study on how they migrated their university to Plone.

3) The numerous, in-depth demonstrations we did at our booth that wowed spectators (only 2-3 at a time), some of whom use Joomla, but looked at Plone and said 'It should just work this way, right?!' We forget sometimes just how great Plone is, I think. For me, my CMS 'does just work that way' ;)

I was hoping to have time to sit in on a session here or there on Joomla or Drupal to get up to speed on where those tools stand. it's been a few years now, since I've looked at them. Unfortunately/ Fortunately, the Plone/Contextual booth was so busy with a steady stream of just a few people at any time, that I wasn't able to attend ANY sessions. Based upon reactions of those who work with the other tools, I think we've hit something with this Plone thing, though.

4) I've gained a lot of Joomla-centric followers on Twitter, so I think that the word is spreading within this crowd in particular that there is an alternative to Drupal, when you need to do more than just theme a site quickly and easily (Joomla.) Sure, Plone is not PHP, but when they see the things Plone does out-of-the-box, you can't believe the reactions - it threw me off, to be honest. I figured their tool of choice did similar things similarly well. Also, evidently, the administrative console for Drupal is lacking and/or intimidating (to Joomla users, anyhow), so they were drawn to Plone from that perspective as well.

I generally sense a lot of enthusiasm on the part of the Joomla folks (about Joomla), but at the same time a lot of pain (because of its shortcomings.) I think we could easily attract more people to the pool of Plone skinners, developers, adopters by doing more at this conference in the future - and perhaps by attending local Joomla UG meet-ups?


So, this conference has pretty low turn-out, but it's high-quality turn-out. It's probably 60% speakers/integrators/developers/ skinners, and 40% people evaluating CMS tools - exactly the crowd Plone needs to get the message out to more, in my opinion. Mostly non-profits, schools, and religious groups that do web publishing, but also some corporate types, but I didn't run into any large 'Novells' at this conference.


PRICING:
I will be in contact with the organizer to provide my feedback, which I'm not sure will turn into any changes in policy, but it seems to me that the conference is too heavily dependent upon sponsorships. The registration fee at $595 seemed reasonable - more than for a Plone 2.5 day conference perhaps, but much less than for, say an O'Reilly OSCON ($1100+.)

What is really out of whack, but a nice bonus for presenters, is that they have a completely free ride! Whah? While it takes $2,500 to get a booth as a sponsor (includes one attendee registration as well), if you want some great exposure on the cheap, then being a presenter at the next expo is the way to go, and we'll be looking for speakers as I try to coordinate with people to build a full Plone track. Speakers pay no registration fee for the conference, but enjoy all of its benefits - attending any sessions they want to, networking events, keynotes, etc.

I'd like to see the expo have presenters pay 50% the registration fee and take the booth/silver level sponsorship down to $1500 (or less.) There weren't all that many sponsors to be honest, so I would think by having presenters pay something, they'd more than make up for it.


BOTTOM LINE:
I think it's smart money for Plone (the Board and integrators) to spend to be at this conference, and I think the organizer is looking for at least one silver level ($2,500) sponsorship in order to include a full Plone track. If there is no individual vendor interested in taking that cost on alone, we can try to partner on a sponsorship and booth and tag-team on working it, assuming the organizers continue to be flexible. But, there are certainly Joomla and Drupal vendors purchasing their own Silver, Gold, and Diamond level sponsorships ($30K by one), and it's probably worthwhile for an individual vendor to do. I'll know more about that after some time passes and we know whether any Plone projects arise from this, but I believe they will.

One surprise to me was that Lullabot (big Drupal shop) had some attendees, and a speaker/presenter, but no sponsorship. It was hard to tell they were even there, and in Drupal circles, they're supposed to be the bombdiggity, so perhaps having a booth rather than just speaking DOES make an impression and shouldn't be sold short.


Thanks again for helping to get things off the ground with this Expo with the partial sponsorship! I think it's a great thing and plan to continue to be involved with it and to try to grow the Plone coverage at this event.

Cheers,
Ken Wasetis
Contextual Corp.



-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [Board] Request for CMS Expo partial funding from
Foundation
From: Matt Hamilton <ma...@netsight.co.uk>
Date: Wed, May 06, 2009 4:50 pm
To: Ken Wasetis [Contextual Corp.] <ken.wase...@contextualcorp.com>
Cc: bo...@lists.plone.org


On 6 Apr 2009, at 23:51, Ken Wasetis [Contextual Corp.] wrote:

> Hello Plone Foundation Board,
>
> I've been coordinating with a few others to see whether we could
> very quickly try to get Plone represented at a conference that's in
> the Chicago area at the end of April. You can see at the site for
> this conference (http://www.cmsexpo.net) that there is coverage for
> the PHP-based Drupal and Joomla CMS tools, as well as the Java-based
> Alfresco CMS. There are also some more general CMS type talks.

Ken,
I've just seen your interview at:

http://sdrnews.com/index.php/cms-expo-plan/791-ken-wasetis

Great work! Fantastic job in getting Plone at CMSExpo, and great
interview :)

-Matt

--
Matt Hamilton ma...@netsight.co.uk
Netsight Internet Solutions, Ltd. Understand. Develop. Deliver
http://www.netsight.co.uk +44 (0)117 9090901
Web Design | Zope/Plone Development & Consulting | Co-location | Hosting


--
Matt Hamilton                                       ma...@netsight.co.uk
Netsight Internet Solutions, Ltd.           Understand. Develop. Deliver
http://www.netsight.co.uk                             +44 (0)117 9090901
Web Design | Zope/Plone Development & Consulting | Co-location | Hosting






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