I just started booking my travel for a bunch of conferences that I’m either speaking at or might go to to learn at and realized how many ones there are that could be good, as well as ones that are probably not worth your time. One thing to remember is that there are no good free conferences, at least from my experience. There are cheap ways to attend the expensive ones like an expo hall pass if you want to see the exhibits and network with people, but if the session passes are free, it is probably a scam to sell you something.
The qualities I look for in a show are:
- The speakers have to sign a no pitch contract – This is important because you want to learn. If the person is just pitching their companies and services, you’ll fake learn something basic, listen to a ton of fluff that sounds good, but not get anything of value out of the show. If the speakers do pitch themselves, and the show doesn’t ban them from speaking, it is not worth going to.
- They have an evaluation form after each session – These forms help to determine the quality of the sessions and how much people learned. If you see sessions with awesome reviews coming back and ones that were bad being banned, you will know that the owners care about the show and continue to bring in better quality speakers and sessions.
- The speakers are at all levels in a company – At many shows you’ll see owners on stage giving a bunch of fluff. Although they can be great motivational speakers and talk about their own business and how they grew it, they aren’t normally doing the work today (Affiliates are an exception). I always like to hear from people who do the work, know what is going on and who are the actual experts behind the owner who was marketing online 10 years ago when SEO was changing your meta tags and being part of a webring.
- Avoid anything with Guru, Guarantees, etc… – Avoid any show that uses the Term Guru, Guarantees you success and that you will 100% make money. Many of these turn into pitches and they’ll teach you a few basic things, then they try to sell you their books and dvds on how to make money. Every one that I have ever seen and gone to out of curiosity has been a scam and not worth a penny. Although they are amazing at getting your attention and interest, they are not worth it in my opinion. The minute a book or dvd is pulled out, run for the door.
- Reviews – I go out to a ton of personal blogs and foreign blogs and read what people say about these shows. Find sites that you trust and from sources you trust and see what they think of the show. If legit Marketers are saying good things about it, then it may be one you want to look at.
- Attendee lists and Exhibitor Lists – Make sure the show never sells your information to anyone. That is a huge way to tell if its a scam. You also want to make sure that they don’t send you spam emails or emails to buy things like their books and dvds ahead of time or after. You’ll also want to look over the attendees to see if they are in your niche, are similar to you as well as who is exhibiting so that you’ll know what to expect and who to plan on visiting during the show. This can also help you to determine if it’s a scam or even relevant for your company.
Those are only a few of the things I use to evaluate which marketing shows to attend, speak at, etc… So now that I went over a few of them, here is where you can find me or a show that you probably will want to attend if you want to learn and be able to network with some awesome people.
Affiliate Summit East 2012 – August 12 – 14 in NYC – Hashtag #ASE12 – Affiliate Summit is an awesome show to pick up new clients for a variety of marketing services, recruit Affiliates and learn about different networks. The sessions are carefully selected and Shawn and Missy do an amazing job with getting rid of the garbage. Although I don’t agree with all of the topics like some of the sessions about using adware and how you can make money with it, they also have a ton of other sessions to show how to find it, remove it and recruit value adding Affiliates instead. There is something for everyone at Affiliate Summit from Affiliates to SEOs, Social Media Marketers and even Email Marketers. I highly recommend this one and I will be speaking at it on Sunday the 12th from 3:30 to 4:30 I think. What’s awesome about this show in particular is that you can find people like Rae Hoffman-Dolan, Missy Ward, Shawn Collins, Tricia Meyer, Eric Nagel, Kim Rowley and many more in one place and at one time. You’re mind will be destroyed with information overload which is why you must attend Affiliate Summit East 2012.
Pubcon West 2012 – October 15 – 18 – hashtag #pubcon – Pubcon is one that I fell in love with instantly. In fact I’ve flown all over the country from Austin to Vegas and even Hawaii to attend and speak. The quality is amazing and you will learn a ton of information about SEO and Social Media with a focus on all levels and types of uses. Pubcon also added an Affiliate track to their show. One of the biggest benefits I’ve found from attending Pubcon is that the webmasters there are content sites and make excellent partners as Affiliates, for backlinks or even just to network with. The amount of info and ideas I get from hearing the speakers on SEO and Social Media has been absolutely amazing and I have been able to grow my business by figuring out what was good and bad info and how to use it for my sites. I highly recommend you go to this show. Some of the people I’ve met and learned from include Rob Snell, Matt Cutts, Michael Gray, Kenny Hyder, Brett Tabke, Jabez Labret, Roger Monti and many more.
SMX Advanced – June 5 – 12 in Seattle – hashtag #smx – Search Marketing Expo is not a show that I have been to, but I know some of the speakers who speak there and read some of the live blogs or reviews that come out of it. The information at this show sounds awesome and the speakers that I know who are there really give you their honest advice and tips. The quality sounds very good and this is a show that I always want to attend but also have something else planned during it. If you can make it in a couple weeks, do it and then come back here and let me know how it was.
These three shows will end the year for me with Marketing shows that I would attend. Every once in a while I almost go to some of the Network events or some of the older shows for Search, but I don’t really feel the need to have to be there as I learn a lot more and get a larger variety of topics and contacts from the shows above. They also seem to be basic and continuously pitch their sales and themselves during sessions so it turns into a sales pitch and the speakers seem to be getting worse and worse. If you want a few shows to go to, the ones above are my recommendations.