The idea for Silicon Circle came about as a way to reach tech- and entrepreneur-minded people and create a tech community full of opportunities, networking, and business growth within the City of Corona. Silicon Circle is an active and growing network that encompasses many different events and meet-ups. The primary focus is on building the tech community and all of its diverse parts.
After brainstorming ways to bring the tech community together, the idea for Tech-O Tuesday was born. A spin off of “Taco Tuesdays,” this event takes place every last Tuesday of the month. Tech-O Tuesdays are a tech meetup for entrepreneurs in the city of Corona. We network, share tech ideas, and of course, enjoy delicious tacos! Our first event was hosted in January 2017 at Rodrigo’s. Now, Tech-O Tuesdays are held at Miguel’s in Corona. These events are a fun way for people to relax and enjoy some Mexican Food while meeting fellow tech-savvy business owners and aspiring “techies.”
Tech Entrepreneurs Networking at Tech-O-Tuesday
Silicon Circle dove into “Innovation Month” during April of 2017 with three tech events sponsored by the City of Corona. The first event was a mobile app competition called “Kick Apps.” The idea for an app competition came about through our mobile app development company, AppCore Labs. We sought out to find people with an idea for the “next best app” and give them an opportunity to pitch it in front of a panel of judges and investors.
Candidates applied through our social media application, followed by a short phone interview and an in-person consultation. We helped them perfect their presentations and include five criteria that they would be judged on: (1) idea, (2) value proposition, (3), market research, (4), monetization, and (5) overall presentation. Three candidates competed at the event, all with very different ideas. The event, held at Corona City Center, was promoted through social media, meet up websites, and the City of Corona.
At the event, each candidate was given five minutes to present their idea and the specified criteria, followed by a ten-minute Q & A session with the audience and three judges. While the judges deliberated, people ate Chinese food sponsored by Spicy Dragon while networking and predicting which of the three would win. After a speech by all three judges, the food-finder app for the indecisive eater, GotchU, was chosen as the winner and received a trophy and the prize of a personalized pitch deck and branding from North Village Group.
NVG Team with the Winner of Kick Apps and creator of GotchU, David Chau
The next event that we sponsored for Innovation Month along with the city of Corona was Corona’s first ever Hackathon. When you hear the word “hack”, you might think of hacking into an already-existing website, but no “hacking” in this sense was done here. Instead, local web developers were challenged to compete against others to build the best website in a 10-hour, overnight time period. We marketed this event through a meetup website, at previous events including Kick Apps, and through social media marketing. The image below was a promotional photo we used on Facebook and Instagram, showing NVG employees all holding the Hackathon prize. Hey.. you never know what to expect when you ask creatives to pose!
Marketing for the Corona Hackathon
The hackathon was held at NVG, where web developers gathered at the tables in the main area, ate pizza and Chinese food, and introduced themselves to the group before the competition began. Verious Smith started it off by announcing the rules for the event. Because the City of Corona is working with various charity organizations, the rule was for the competitors to build a wordpress or plugin website for one of these charities. The charities included Goodwill California- a nonprofit chain that donates clothing, furniture, etc; Community Access Network- a nonprofit that provides social services to children and families, Corona Norco Rescue Mission, an organization that gives relief to Corona Norco residents in need; Elks Lodge- a foundation that helps children grow up without drugs and provides resources to veterans; and Corona Norco Settlement House- a charity that provides temporary support for local low-income families.
Using their own laptops, the web developers worked either alone or in teams of up to three people. The competition went on all night until 7 am when the websites were judged on the basis of (1) originality/creativity, (2), execution, and (3), skill. After the judging, the winner was announced, a team of three called Pixeljar.
The Winning Team of the Corona Hackathon, Pixeljar
On April 26th, we hosted our first Digital Marketing course sponsored by the City of Corona. This 2-hour, free course was held at the Corona City Hall and taught by Jason Kitamura, CEO and founder of NVG. After a few social media campaigns and promotion on event meet-up websites, we had a decent turnout of 17 people who were eager to learn the top marketing skills needed to thrive in the digital world.
First, Jason talked about how knowing your demographic is just as important as knowing your business. It is important to narrow it down to a specific segment so you can really hone in on their specific needs. If you try to appeal to everyone, you are running the risk of appearing too general and not providing enough value for anyone to become a long-term customer. He explained how it is important to track where people are finding your website from also.
He then went over a few basic search engine terms. Google Analytics tells where people come from and which pages they spend time on. Split testing is the process by which you have two versions of an ad or landing page with slightly different wording. Based on which one performs better, you then get rid of the worse-performing one so that you are always improving your advertising effectiveness. Google Adwords tells which version of an ad does better. Jason then gave an overview of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and the difference between organic SEO and inorganic (paid) SEO. Organic SEO involves tweaking a website to get your ranking higher in the search engine without spending any money on it. A few ways to increase this are to get more likes, shares, and user interaction as well as time spent on the page by viewers.
Jason showed an example of some ads in a Google search and talked about the order that they typically appear in: first pay-per-click (PPC) ads, followed by local businesses, and then organic websites. Higher site speed, mobile responsiveness, and SSL encryption all contribute to a higher placement in the search engine. The click-through rate reflects how long people stay on a particular website and to what extent they click through the different pages on it. Jason emphasized that the quality, look, and usability of a website is very important because in the consumer’s mind, the quality of a website translates to the quality of that company’s work.
He then discussed the Website Sales Model, which explained six essential ingredients that a website should have to be successful. It should communicate a problem that the viewer is facing, a solution to the problem, the difference that the business provides compared to other businesses, validation (3rd party tools), a call to action, and a “capture” or a way to get their contact information.
Jason explained how the best ads that don’t look like ads tend to do the best because they are creative and eye catching without screaming “ad” in the viewer’s face. They increase interest and allow the viewer to connect better with the message. Another effective way to increase user interest is to show social proof on a company website or social media pages. This may include testimonials, customer reviews, or past products the company has built.
Learning Digital Marketing Skills Taught by Jason Kitamura
Next, we learned about content marketing. This form of marketing aims to answer a question that the target demographic has, which provides them with value and makes them more likely to want to follow your page or brand. It is very important to know their questions and pain points in order to develop content that they actually care about. The goal is to establish yourself as an expert in the area of interest. For example, a personal trainer might produce content marketing by frequently sharing fitness and nutrition tips on their Facebook page. A dog groomer might post articles about proper ways to clean your dog. A car dealer might share advice on how to pick the best car for your specific needs. As a general rule, Jason recommended sharing twelve pieces of valuable content for every one obvious sales pitch on social media. As a content marketer, it is important to answer all of your followers’ questions and constantly provide value to them, not just to sell to them.
Jason then talked about a more recent phenomenon in the marketing world, social media influencers. These people may be celebrities or people on social media with a large amount of followers. They are paid to endorse a product or brand on their page and typically are very effective at generating brand awareness and sales for the company. If a company is thinking about using social media influencers, it is important to pick people whose follower base closely matches that of the company’s target demographic.
Lastly, we learned that one of the most powerful tools in digital marketing is email lists. However, they must be built right. Many companies rely on external sources to buy email lists from, but these emails are often outdated or never used. In addition, these people fall into the cold market and are typically unlikely to pay any attention to emails from a company they have never heard of. The correct way to build an email list is to build it from scratch. This can be done by adding names and emails to a list every time someone goes to your landing page, inquires about your product/service, or shares their contact information with you in any other way because they are interested in what you have to offer. This type of email list is much more effective because the people on it have already expressed interest and are they are more likely to respond to a company that they recognize.