Marketing conferences bring your skills to the next level.
A good conference fuels you with ideas about how to perform better. It introduces hot trends in tools and tactics, and you get to attend keynotes from some of the best influencers in the business.
Plus, it’s a chance to meet marketing maniacs as passionate about what they do as you are.
The best marketing conferences are “can’t miss” events with phenomenal ROI. That said, excitement and stress go hand-in-hand with these big annual marketing conferences.
You’ll probably have to travel. When you get where you’re going, you’ll be dumped smack dab in the middle of what can be a chaotic atmosphere. And time moves really fast!
Here’s how you can make the most of those wacky, hectic, but oh-so-useful marketing conferences:
1. Pack Well, But Carry Light
When you go on a journey, you want flexibility to seize opportunities as they come. As Louis Pasteur said, “Chance favors the prepared mind.”
Pack so all your eventualities are covered. You can always prune the items you actually carry with you every day.
Your packing list should include:
- Cords and Cables
- Business Cards
- Card Sleeve/Case
- Wi-Fi Hotspot
What should you bring on the conference floor?
If you want to go light, bring your notebook and phone. Cords and cables can stay in the room on most days, as can your chargers and headphones.
But make sure you don't come unprepared to certain events at the marketing conferences. Look at the agenda beforehand. This way, if you're participating in a workshop, you have the supplies you need to actually engage with what's being taught.
2. Dress With Layers in Mind
The first thing most people do when they make plans for a conference is check out what the weather is like. Marketing conferences are usually timed for mild conditions, so attendees from out of town don’t need to worry about rain, snow, sleet, sunspots, or dust storms.
That said, you never know what crazy micro-climate you’ll end up in inside your venue.
It’s often the case that the main floor or showroom of a conference is hotter than heck – owing in large part to the crowds – while the breakaway sessions are held in a deep freeze.
This is totally unpredictable, so carry a light coat or sweater even if you don’t think you’ll need it. Comfort is key to your overall experience. Otherwise, you might have a hard time concentrating.
3. Have a Plan From the Start
To really make the most of marketing conferences, you need to have a plan.
Most conferences will post their schedule early on. From there, it’s up to you to figure out which sessions match your priorities the best. Once you’ve got it all worked out, you can map your route through the venue and figure out what times you’ll be busy throughout the event.
If you’re bringing your team, split up so you can cover more ground. Get tasty insights from sessions you might otherwise skip, and report back to your group at the end of the day. To capture all the details, take notes (in your trusty notebook) or ask if you can voice record sessions.
Once you have a plan, try not to deviate it from it. As important as it is to network, you should try not to miss sessions you’re passionate about. If it comes down to it, skip one of the late night mixers (and a late night cocktail) so you can be fresh in the morning.
4. Get Networking Tools Ready
Many of today’s digital marketers have mixed feelings about traditional business cards.
Marketing conferences are one situation where they’re a true lifesaver. You might only have the chance to talk to someone for a few minutes before moving on: Handing out your business card gives you the opportunity to reconnect and continue any interesting conversations.
It’s also a good idea to have a special sleeve or case you can use to centralize all those cards. Otherwise, they can get lost in the shuffle (literally). Some of them might disappear or get damaged beyond repair.
As for your own cards, bring more than you think you need!
5. Get Your Tech Charged Up
Naturally, you want to check and double check that you have all your chargers, cords, and cables before you leave on your trip. Yes, many hotels can provide some of these essentials – but there may be dozens of other folks looking for the same help.
There’s one useful gadget that’s easily overlooked: A portable Wi-Fi hotspot.
If you don’t have a hotspot of your own, you can usually rent one from a car rental place or pick one up at a nearby tech shop. However, the initial setup often requires a Wi-Fi connection, so it’s best to take care of this at home. Then, you won’t be at the mercy of wonky conference Wi-Fi.
Marketing conferences can be truly life-changing. You can get a totally different perspective on your work, start learning skills you never would’ve considered, or meet someone who turns into a valued contact.
Follow these tips, but don’t forget: The most important thing is to have fun.