Marketing conferences come in all shapes and sizes, and take place in great locations like San Diego, Las Vegas and Chicago. All of them offer you the same benefits more or less. You can network with other digitally like minded people. Rub elbows with “influencers”. Hear success stories from brands you’d either like to work for or model your brand after.
Don’t go to a marketing conference thinking that you can stick to any resemblance of a diet. If you’re not sitting and listening, you’re eating and drinking. The last conference I attended I actually packed some workout clothes. I ended up doing 30 minute tabata programs in my room each morning. My sad attempt to maintain some sort of balance.
One of the best conferences
One of my favorite conferences was Social Fresh East in Tampa, FL. Each attendee was assigned a group on the name tag when they arrived. This was the group that would collectively work on a social media marketing project for a local non-profit. The exercise was a great opportunity for networking and hands on collaboration with an end goal. After submitting pitches on deadline, the non-profit selected a winner.
Is Bigger Really Better?
One of the largest marketing conferences I have ever attended is the Adobe Summit. You can’t really go wrong having an event in Vegas at the end of March. Adobe boasted it was the largest Summit with 10,000 attendees from all over the globe.
Like all conferences, there are good and not-so-good presenters. All of the presenters at the Summit are Adobe clients which makes sense, because who better to champion the vast suite that you offer? The whole event is a high tech produced opportunity to introduce new Adobe products. While the key note speakers had star quality (Abby Womback and George Clooney), neither addressed how digital or social was important (or not) in their careers.
My colleague told me before I registered that I wouldn’t learn anything new at the conference from a digital marketing perspective. But if I wanted to experience a good party with networking opportunities it was the place to be. He wasn’t wrong. But the planning and execution of feeding 10,000 in a Vegas parking lot was truly impressive.
Set your own standards
I’m not saying that marketing conferences aren’t worthwhile, because they are. I believe that five and a half years in, the way I gain value from them has changed.
I select the sessions I attend (if that is an option) because I’m hoping to gain insight into a topic based on the title of the session. Then I attempt to answer these two questions in each one.
- What are the top three takeaways from each session?
- Can I relate those points to my work or my brand?
Do you go marketing conferences or any industry event to expand your network or absorb all you can? Is there a happy medium between both?
Why does networking matter? Have you ever thought why you build your professional network? When you meet someone at an industry event or conference, what do you do with the card you exchanged? Do you add it to the stack in your desk drawer, or do you immediately invite them to connect on LinkedIn and follow them on Twitter?
Regardless of how you met, the practice of active networking offers you a valuable opportunity to forge new relationships and maintain established ones.
Networking isn’t for everyone
I acknowledge that networking doesn’t come easily or naturally to every one. Some struggle with random introductions and are more comfortable as observers, while others seem to maneuver a room with ease. No need to conquer the world in one swoop. Start with the people you work with, or the companies you deal with on a regular basis.
Why do you need connections?
Why are connections important? These are contacts that you may need in the future for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you are looking for an introduction at another company. Maybe you would like an opinion about a project, or you are seeking a vendor recommendation. Your professional network doesn’t expect you to friend you on Facebook, but they do want to be considered if there’s a way they can earn your business.
You can maintain your relationship with your contacts in a variety of ways. It might be a simple gesture like commenting or sharing a person’s post on social media. I believe that when possible, it’s important to have “face time” with people in your network. I make a conscious effort to attend a couple industry events a year to re-connect with people. This might be an industry specific event or a social media/digital marketing conference.
This summer I attended an automotive aftermarket industry event in Austin. While there, I was asked to say a few words to members of the SEMA Young Executives Network.
I shared with them that networking is one of the most important career skills I’ve learned. Industry contacts are important, but so are out of market contacts. Don’t discount local chamber of commerce and other local, regional or online networking groups.
My primary platform for maintaining those networking connections is LinkedIn, I also have a profile on brandedme.com. There has been some debate about where the line is drawn between what could be seen as personal posts vs. professional on LinkedIn. I suppose that’s why I’m a bit selective about who I accept to connect to. I’ve even unconnected with people I did not want to be associated with professionally.
We live in an age where tenure at one employer is less common. People change jobs and industries for a variety of reasons, so regardless of what industry you are in now, don’t underestimate the importance of networking. You never know when you might need that connection down the road.
Social media advertising was an unknown frontier when platforms first started to sell space. Where were consumers most likely to take action? Are ads more effective in a column, or tucked in a news feed? Needless to say, the news feed ads won. Social advertising has expanded beyond text and static images. Ads now contain short videos and GIFs, taking advantage of the few short moments to get a user’s attention.
Social advertising got me to buy
I have made at least two purchases based on social media advertising. These are both brands I had never heard of until a post caught my eye.
Based on my internet activity and searches, Cuyana figured out that I like purses. They got my attention with beautiful imagery that shows their products are simple and classic in style. When you visit their website, you find that their handbags are reasonably priced. I think their clothing is a little pricey, but I tend to pay more for a purse that I’ll use multiple times compared to an item I might wear a few times.
Everyone wants healthy teeth
I love everything about Quip. For one thing, I can’t think of many people who aren’t concerned about their dental health.
Quip is appealing because it’s a simple design that is accented with some cool colors, but at the same time encourages you keep brushing for the full two minutes and provides a cover for when you are traveling with your Quip or a stand for you to keep your toothbrush from falling in the sink or on the bathroom floor.
Even more important to me about Quip is convenience. When you buy a package you can opt in to automatically be sent new heads every three months for a lot less than it would take to drive to the store and buy replacements.
Quip’s website is easy to navigate and they have other active social platforms and a blog. From my experience they are pretty quick to acknowledge an email sent via their website or a tweet they are tagged in.
My only gripe about sponsored ads on Instagram, is that even though I like a sponsored ad, it doesn’t show up in my “Liked” posts feed. So if I don’t take action right away, how am I supposed to go back and find it later?
“Victim” or willing buyer, I am proof positive that social media advertising works, and I’m sure it won’t be the last time!