By Kelsey Raymond, COO of Intero Digital
Business travel is back, and it promises some spectacular opportunities for learning and networking.
Just how strong is the in-person event scene? Hospitality Net reported in 2022 that 84 percent of business travelers were planning to go to a convention, conference, or trade show within the coming six months. And TravelPerk found that 88 percent of organizations expected to plan in-person events that same year. These findings dovetail with those from Content Marketing Institute, which show that about half of businesses plan to up their investments in in-person events this year.
So, the biggest question isn’t whether you should attend marketing conferences in 2023. It’s which ones are still open for registration and ready to welcome you and your teammates with open arms so you can learn how to effectively grow your business.
4 Marketing Events to Put on Your Calendar
The following upcoming marketing events deserve your business’s consideration.
The two-day Miami Beach North America Digital Marketing World Forum is being held Sept. 14-15. This summit might be a good choice if you like to stay on top of industry trends — which you should, considering that marketing is changing quickly (and constantly) thanks to social media, search engine algorithm changes and AI.
Content Marketing World is being held in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 26-28, the lineup of keynote speakers reads like a “who’s who” from well-respected organizations such as MarketingProfs and Entrepreneur.
My next suggestion is the Advertising Week global event series session in New York City on Oct. 16-19. There, you’ll rub elbows with marketing professionals from around the world. This is an intensive, exciting conference that will be sure to boost your marketing acumen.
The last marketing event I recommend won’t come around until May 20-22, 2024. However, I believe it deserves to get on your calendar now. It’s the Build a Better Agency Summit hosted by the Agency Management Institute in Denver. If you’re part of an agency, you’ll appreciate the summit’s focus on best practices.
Making the Most of Marketing Events in 2023
You can’t just go to a marketing event and expect to get a return on your investment, of course. Preparing is essential to maximize your time and ensure a positive experience, starting with these pre-conference preparation strategies:
Create a game plan that can flex.
It’s smart to go into a marketing event with a checklist of “need to do” and “nice to do” items. Case in point: After scouring a conference’s website and itinerary, you might decide you need to attend certain keynote sessions or panel discussions. Others might fall into the “nice to attend” category.
Spending time poring over what to expect ensures you’ll get there with every intention of using your limited time appropriately. However, don’t be afraid to make last-minute swaps. Once you get to your event, you might realize that your time is better spent at a workshop being hosted by a potential future partner. I’ve had that happen myself. In that case, you need to be willing to make a fast switch.
The bottom line? Lean into the flow of each conference. Otherwise, you could miss out on some incredible and serendipitous networking. You never know who you’ll run into at breakfast — and your encounter could change the direction of your day.
Aim to build your personal and corporate brand.
Any marketing event is a fantastic chance for you and your company to stand out. From a corporate perspective, see whether you can sponsor a part of the event. Even if you’ve missed the deadline to become a keynote session sponsor (or speaker), you could still host something smaller and more intimate, such as a happy hour.
Don’t underestimate the power of sponsoring smaller events. We’ve done this many times at conferences. Attendees are routinely looking for low-key places to mix and mingle, especially toward the end of a hectic day. Happy hours and similar experiences offer low-cost venues that can net some high-impact outcomes and interactions.
To help promote your and your business’s brand, start producing at least social media content right after you register. Try to use social listening to find out who else will be coming, too. Most events have hashtags or Facebook event pages to make discovering other registrants (including prospects!) a breeze.
And when you go to the event, make sure you’re armed with content that showcases your company’s capabilities and offerings so you can show any potential prospective clients or partners at the event what sets you apart.
Look for online alternatives if you can’t be in person.
You might not be able to attend a conference in person for a number of reasons. Perhaps you’re immunocompromised, or maybe you just can’t travel right now because of other obligations. Don’t worry: You don’t have to miss the boat on networking.
While not all conferences have hybrid elements to give you virtual access to all sessions, some provide digital accessibility. If you need a virtual experience, two online conferences you might want to think about going to this year are being held by Twilio in August and MarTech in September.
You might also want to see whether any of the speakers plan to offer access to recordings of their sessions after the conference. You won’t get the same level of networking, but you’ll get the information nonetheless. It’s not ideal, but it’s certainly better than nothing, and hopefully you can attend those conferences next year.
If you’re itching for in-person meet-and-greets with industry peers, sign up today for your favorite marketing events. They’ll give you a leg up going into 2024 planning.
About the Author
Kelsey Raymond is the COO of Intero Digital, a 350-person digital marketing agency that offers comprehensive, results-driven marketing solutions. Kelsey has over a decade of experience helping businesses achieve their growth goals through digital marketing strategies. She leads a team of experts in content marketing, PR, web design and development, Amazon marketing, social media, video, and graphic design.