I’ve been lucky enough to be able to go to at least one marketing conference a year for the past couple of years. I’ve heard from my PPC friends online a couple of times their boss doesn’t see the value of sending them to a conference. One common reason is the cost. Another reason is that their boss is happy with the work and doesn’t see the need for more training. Whether you’re the manager who can sign off on the expense or the marketer looking to go to a conference, here are some reasons why it’s important to go.
You Will Learn Something New No Matter How Experienced You Are
The digital marketing world changes so fast. Most blogs can take care of the product announcements occurring in the industry. Conferences, however, bring in speakers who will talk about tactics to implement and test beyond the features you read about. When AdWords wants to test a new feature, they’ll allow only a small percentage of advertisers into the beta to try it before it either gets rejected or is pushed live to the public. Listening to speakers who get early access to the betas can give you a basic implementation plan of new tactics before they’re live to the world.
— Chris Haleua (@chrishaleua) April 26, 2016
Conferences also allow marketers to expand upon their current knowledge. Personally, I’ve always focused on marketing psychology, buyer habits and user experience. So when I attend a conference I like to attend the Excel sessions which is an admitted area I can’t offer the deepest knowledge. New sessions allow me to expand beyond my comfort zone to get up to speed in the areas of PPC I need to improve. Most conferences offer sessions for marketers to either grow their current knowledge or expand to become even stronger.
Conferences Are Becoming a Recruiter’s Gold Mine
Whether you’re a headhunter, manager at an agency, or in-house, conferences are loaded with top talent. When I attended HeroConf this year, I had lunch with some PPC friends, but the other half of the table were recruiters. Networking events (which I’ll get to next) are now a must at all conferences. Many recruiters know they can rub shoulders with some of the top digital marketers in the country.
From my experience, attendee interaction is almost immediate. In just a few short minutes you could be striking up a conversation with a smart digital marketer to get a sense of the depth of their knowledge. I have a long list of valuable contacts I’ve met at conferences who I still talk to on a regular basis. I never knew who they were before attending. There are always opportunities to start a discussion. If you want a contact list like mine, you need to start attending some good conferences.
Networking Is Priceless
The first year I went to a conference in my industry I was the shy guy. I felt like everyone else knew each other already so I wasn’t going to bother anyone. I also skipped the big nighttime, networking event to attend a concert (It was Alice in Chains at Austin City Limits so I admit I don’t regret it that much). I didn’t get to truly network with peers until I went to my next conference a year later. I finally talked to my #ppcchat friends as well as interacted with new PPC people I never met before. It was at the second conference I realized how much I missed out the first time around.
I knew pretty quickly when I started in digital marketing that this is one of the most open industries you can work in. Fellow PPCers are more than willing to help you out, give you tips, and answer questions you have. Every year I meet more people at conferences with different PPC backgrounds. All of these contacts, working in different industries, have been helpful for me through the years whenever I get a new client in an industry that is new to me. The ongoing conversations have also led to friendships
While conferences are no doubt fun, especially for a self-proclaimed PPC nerd, they are extremely valuable. You will always learn strategies, tactics or methods that you haven’t tried yet. Every conference I’ve attended the past few years, I’ve walked away with a new way of looking at PPC as well as a notebook full of actionable items to improve my accounts. It’s nearly impossible to know everything about digital marketing. Investing in your employees will help them grow so they can optimize your accounts to the fullest potential.