Updated: Dec 26, 2022
There are a few things that marketing strategists do to help with planning, one of them is attending a digital marketing conference.
We all want new, fresh, and exciting marketing ideas to grab and hold our audience attention. That's why digital marketing conferences exist.
Topics and sessions at a marketing conference typically look something like this:
- Behavioral & Neuromarketing
- Conversational Marketing
- Data Science & Big Data
- Geo-Targeting & Proximity Marketing
- PR & Cause Marketing
- User-Generated Content
- Visual & Voice Search
- Web Analytics
The best part about attending a conference is the enormous amount of information you learn while you're there. Maybe you attended alone or maybe you went with a few others from your marketing team, either way, you come back to your organization, fired up to start implementing your learnings. And then what happens? How many of those ideas actually make it all the way to execution?
Well, David Norton and Robert Kaplan, authors of The Balanced Scorecard(1), say that 90% of organizations fail to execute their strategies successfully.
You might be thinking, "maybe if my team was more organized", but that's not why. Your team is not to be blamed for not executing on the ideas and activities you brought back from a marketing conference. The problem is you don't have a good, solid, strong, reason to execute these activities. This is where data comes in.
Ideally, you come across this blog before you attend one of these riveting marketing events, but even if you find this blog after, the information is still useful. Here are the 5 tips from a "marketing conference attending junkie" (me) who use to come back fired up about new and exciting ideas but struggled to get the marketing department to understand the value.
1. Get Your Goals in Order:
- Print your company mission statement, strategic marketing objectives, tactics you're currently doing, and, if applicable, organize them by department. This will make it easier for you to decide where to put your energy at the event, especially if the event holds multiple sessions at the same time and is spread over 2+ days.
- Use your goals when you ask questions. Instead of "How do I grow my social media following?" try "My average monthly growth on instagram is 3-5% but I would like to be at 7-10%. I can see my followers love my content, what do you think my best options are for getting that 7-10% growth rate?
2. Download all the Data You Have:
- Google analytics report from the last year or quarter, any social media report such as engagement/reach/audience type, email reports and their open rate/click through rate/audience type, conversion for your leads (if applicable) and any insights you have on their engagement/demographics. This is going to be your support system, your guide, your Wizard Staff (for my Lord of the Rings fans out there).
- Use your data when you ask questions. Instead of "what tips do you have for getting better leads on LinkedIn?", try "If a Lead Gen campaign on LinkedIn has high impressions and engagement but the conversion rate is below XX%, what 1 thing would you recommend we look at to change?"
3. Research the Sponsors, and Vendors
- Look at your data and see what attending sponsors/vendors you could talk to at the conference to learn more about their capabilities. By being familiar with your data, you'll be prepared for more fruitful and productive conversations.
- Use your data when you ask questions. Instead of "What does your company do?" try "I saw that you specialize in email marketing, can you tell me what features you have for getting more quality leads?" and then try a follow-up question such as "That's great. Our goal is to get 200 new leads but we have a low click through rate in our emails. How would your product help solution this for us?"
- Some might argue that the vendors and sponsors should get your attention, but the truth is if you rely on that technique, you're just going to come home with a lot of koozies and no quality opportunities to grow your strategy because you relied on someone else to do all the work.
4. Take Smart Notes
- Bring a notebook/notepad/journal. Writing down your notes is the best thing you can do, especially because you've already prepared and done the research.
- According to Kuniyoshi L. Sakai, a neuroscientist at the University of Tokyo and corresponding author of the research recently published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience(2), "Paper is more advanced and useful compared to electronic documents because paper contains more one-of-a-kind information for stronger memory recall" (read article(3)).
- If you'd like to be a better note-taker, take a look at these 10 Principles to Revolutionize Your Note-Taking(4) by Tiago Forte, founder of Forte Labs and guru of helping humans reach their creative potential.
5. Turn On Your OOO
- Being at a marketing conference is work and it's exhausting. Prepare your team, supervisor, company, etc that you need to focus on the event. Your company is likely paying your attendance fee, travel, hotel, etc., which means you need to give this event your full attention.
- Make sure you don't work in the morning, lunch, or evening. Be away from your business. Turning on your work email/looking at work email can stray your thoughts away from what you came to the conference for. It can and will throw off your focus, making it harder for you to be present at the event.
BONUS TIP: Before you de-brief with your marketing team, debrief by yourself. Write down your ideas, and then support them with data. Show how these new ideas will improve or enhance your company goals, mission, current tactics, data, and results.
One of my personal favorite conferences is the DigiMarCom. This is the largest, series in the world. It is hosted in 40 cities, across 18 different countries, plus an international cruise, and several virtual opportunities. This conference attracts an incredibly diverse group of marketing leaders and is known for its thought provoking speakers.
If you're about to attend the DigiMarCom or recently attended a DigiMarCom in your city, let's talk. It would be my pleasure to help make your attendance meaningful and impactful or help you uncover what to implement from your recent conference learnings.