As spring emerges from our unusual winter, the B2B marketing events begin to blossom. That's right, conference season is upon us—and I believe this year is going to be an exciting one!
There is certainly no shortage of events to attend any year, and it seems this is especially true for 2017. Which is why before choosing to attend an event you should understand the event's purpose as well as what you hope to get from being there. This simple review can help you avoid event fatigue and ensure you’re investing your time (and event budget) wisely.
As event promotions start pouring in each year, I flag them for later review. Then in blocks of time, I look at each event. Putting the events in three main categories helps me choose which events makes my short list, and which I’ll wait for the after-show materials (when available) or save for next year.
From local meetups to international gatherings, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of networking events. These events provide an opportunity to share tips and tricks with your peers, while picking up the latest marketing hacks from leading experts.
Whether you're looking to grow your team, find a contract resource, or just hoping to meet others who do what you do, networking events are the perfect place to connect with new people face to face.
Two events make my short list of networking events:
Content Strategy PDX, a local meetup. Networking in my hometown is always a good payoff and this group in particular provides a gathering of some of Portland’s innovators.
Inbound, HubSpot Annual Conference. I’m not a user of HubSpot, so this isn’t an event I’d usually attend. However, the conference is gaining momentum, attracting the right minds to make this a great environment for networking with some of marketing’s finest.
Tech + Education
One look at the popular Marketing Technology Landscape graphic by MarTech accurately shows the growing—and possibly overwhelming—amount of tools marketers can have in their stack. Nearly every one of these tech companies hosts a user conference.
This is my favorite kind of conference because it's easy to justify an investment when you walk away smarter with skills you can immediately apply (assuming you already use the technology).
Even if you're only considering a tech purchase, a user conference is an ideal place to meet others who have made the purchase and are using the tool. Make conversation with the person next to you and find out what they really think—without the marketing and sales pitch you’ll receive from the tech companies providing these tools.
Most of my learning and education happens through podcasts, audio books, and blogs. So my short list of educational events includes just one event:
Dreamforce, a Salesforce event. This year will mark my 6th time attending Dreamforce. For me, this is without a doubt, an event I learn at. Though there are ample opportunities for networking, I am usually eager to get back to my laptop and explore the ideas I’ve gathered from each day’s sessions.
Analyst events, marketing theory groups, and strategic gurus all gather around common threads to discuss and explore topics of interest. There is something about exploring the marketing landscape with a room full of luminaries that just energizes me—and there’s no better way to get my creative energy flowing than being with others who like to talk ideas.
Show up to one of these events and inspiration will hit you the moment you arrive. After a day or three with many of marketing's finest, you’ll leave feeling inspired and energized.
There are a couple big-idea waterholes I hope to attend this year:
Marketing Prof’s B2B Marketing Forum. In their own words, “Every year, hundreds of the smartest, most innovative B2B marketers gather at #mpb2b to learn and share their secrets to success.” If this doesn’t sound like the place to get some fuel for your next campaign, I’m not sure what does!
Sirius Decisions Summit. As a believer that good marketers succeed through goals, metrics, and measurable outcomes, the data-driven angle of this event is what attracts me.
I hope these simple categories will help you create your own events shortlist. Although there are thousands of options, be sure to make your plans early so you don't miss out. Early bird rates fly by, and the best events often sell out quickly.