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9 Things Every Marketing Leader Should Look for in a Conference in 2017

9 Things Every Marketing Leader Should Look for in a Conference in 2017 Blog Feature

Justine Timoteo Thomas

Director of Training, Host of Creator's Block Podcast, 10+ Years of Project Management Experience

April 12th, 2017 min read

From podcasts and industry books to webinars and blogs, marketing leaders take full advantage of every learning opportunity they can to educate themselves and stay on top of the ever-changing marketing industry. My personal favorite is attending industry events.

But how do you know which marketing event or conference is actually worth attending?

Marketing conferences are a huge investment of both time and money and can vary greatly in subject matter.  As a marketing leader, there aren’t always a great deal of advanced opportunities, so, you need to be strategic in which one you choose to attend.

When trying to decide on which marketing conference is worth the price tag, I like to use a simple checklist of what every marketing leader should look for when deciding whether to want to invest the time and money in attending a conference.

Check out my 9 must-haves below:

1. Relevance to Your Business

What has been your biggest struggle lately? What are you trying to accomplish this year? Have that thought front-of-mind when looking for a marketing conference that will help shape your business.

If you choose a conference that offers information centered around what you’re currently going through, you have a better opportunity of learning something truly valuable and determine a solution to your problem.

2. Impactful Speakers

As a Director of Marketing or CMO, chances are you’re already familiar with some of the industry greats and thought leaders. Make a list of those whose stories and backgrounds you can relate to and see what marketing events they are speaking at throughout the year.

Though listening to Alec Baldwin and John Cleese is cool, most marketing leaders won’t get as much out of hearing their keynotes as they would from someone like Gary Vaynerchuk or Marcus Sheridan.

The latter have been in your marketing shoes. They know what it was like to fail and how to persevere forward in order to make their business a success. They have experiences marketing leaders like you can truly learn from.

3. Engagement Opportunities with Experts

So you found out where your favorite marketing thought leader is speaking; awesome! Now, how great would it be to not only listen to them but get to meet, talk, and maybe even buy them a drink?

Finding an event experience that allows you to talk and engage with the featured speakers is priceless.

You’ll be able to build personal bonds, discuss specifics one-on-one, and ultimately, walk away with advice that could change your entire business trajectory.

Conferences with welcoming, approachable speakers are more focused on you and the quality experience you will receive than the number of attendees and generated revenue.

4. Tactical Advice & Workshops

There are a lot of marketing events and conferences throughout the year -- and I mean, a lot. To help choose which one will be best for you to attend, look at the workshops and sessions offered at the event.

If none are offered, skip the event -- this isn’t for you.

You don’t need high-level, philosophical advice. You need tactical steps on how to grow and better your business. What do I mean by tactical? I mean you are able to take away 5-10 actionable items you can implement at your company within the first month after attending the event.

5. Other Professionals Like You!

One of my biggest pet peeves with big name marketing conferences is how generic and introductory the content can be. Oftentimes, these events are trying to appeal to a broad audience -- everyone from your CEO down to your Marketing Coordinator or Social Media Intern.

While inclusion is great, let’s be honest, you won’t get true value out of information intended for your Coordinator. Instead, find a conference that is centered on marketing leaders just like you.

If an event is catered to marketing leaders, it should be pretty apparent but if you’re not sure, then chances are the information will be too generic for you.

6. Venue

This may seem like a silly item to consider but hear me out.

After you attend a few marketing conferences, you’ll learn that the venue it is hosted at -- not just the city -- plays a crucial role in your experience.

Is it a large convention center that is hard to navigate? Do you have to change buildings to get to the workshops you want to attend throughout the day? Is it too small for every attendee to comfortably fit and mingle?

Pay attention to where the marketing conference is held to determine your Goldilocks principle venue and find one that will be just right.

Ideally, you want to find a venue that is small enough to provide an intimate networking experience, but big enough that you’re not bumping into other attendees.

7. Value vs. Cost

At the end of the day, everyone is going to look at the price tag associated with the conference. You can often expect to spend several thousand dollars considering the event ticket cost and travel expenses -- particularly if more than one person from your team is attending.

Don’t have sticker shock just yet, though. Marketing events and conferences, like all investments, should be considered based on their value, not cost.

What are you getting out of this event? If you’re confident you can make a positive impact on your business in the short term, spending $2000 up front should not be a big deal, but if the topics discussed or audience attending doesn’t match your needs, you may come up at a loss.

If you find a valuable event that still seems like it might break the bank,  check to see if there are early bird specials. Oftentimes finding conferences to attend to ahead of time will enable you to purchase discounted tickets.

8. Career Opportunities

Truly valuable conferences not only provide the opportunity to improve your business but possibly even professional advancement.

At the right event, you’ll rub elbows with high-level professionals like yourself and possibly even find a company that could better match your expertise, vision, or desired career path.

You’ll also get the chance to learn and grow as a marketing professional, which will only make you more valuable as a prospective employee.

Make sure to connect with fellow attendees and speakers you chatted with via email or LinkedIn and keep in touch. You never know who may further your career.

9. A Damn Good Time.

Marketing conferences are never all work and no play. From happy hours to city landmarks, there will always be a way to let loose, explore, and enjoy your time away from the office.

Use them to meet like-minded marketing leaders and connect with people on a personal level. If you choose your event wisely, you’re going to be surrounded by people who have more in common with you than ever before.

The right conference will not only leave you with great insights but also fun memories.

Does a Conference Like This Even Exist?

Find a conference that provides you with each of these points and you’re well on your way to bettering yourself and your business. Unsure if one exists?

Look no further than IMPACT Live 2017! IMPACT Live 2017 is a unique 2-days experience catered exclusively to marketing leaders. Want to join us? Request your invitation here!.

What else are you interested in? Let me know if the comments below!

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