Whether you’re gearing up for the upcoming conference circuit as a keynote speaker or a networker, marketing events represent one of the best ways to learn about the latest marketing trends and strategies. It’s also a great way to mingle and build meaningful connections with other marketers and industry leaders. They provide a platform for stepping up your marketing game in 2019 and beyond.
The catch? There are lots of excellent marketing conferences around the world. If you were to attend them all, you’d be exhausted — and you’d also be putting a serious dent in your bank account.
To help make your planning easier, here are some of the conferences I’ve spoken at or attended and had good experiences with — while learning quite a bit. It’s essential to invest in yourself as a marketing expert and keep up with the most recent changes. It’s a fast-moving world, and one of the ways to stay ahead of the curve is by gaining exposure to other smart people within the industry.
When it comes to conferences in beautiful places, The Gathering is a hidden gem. I felt like I was at Hogwarts when I visited Banff. Now in its sixth year and taking place at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, a beautiful castle nestled in the Rocky Mountains, The Gathering will bring together some of the most well-known brands in the world — notably those that have earned a loyal following among their customers. Much of the content, in fact, is geared toward instilling loyalty, coming from longtime brands like Harley Davidson and Jack Daniels that have insights to offer about gaining and maintaining a loyal audience.
Demand Gen Report’s eighth annual B2BMX will be held this February at the Hyatt Regency at Gainey Ranch in sunny Scottsdale, Ariz. This may be unsurprising, given its name, but it’s a solid stop for B2B companies in the marketing space with six educational tracks: content marketing, demand generation, sales enablement, channel marketing and sales, account-based marketing, and digital strategy. This year, there will also be a new CMO mentoring program, along with growth marketing sessions.
The Ascendant Network is an exclusive, invite-only community consisting of the most innovative minds in retail and marketing. I’ve run into the organizers quite a few times, and they’re really great at creating an environment where people connect not only for their companies’ success, but also for their own personal growth. If you can’t make it to New York City this April, there will also be a conference held October 16-17 in San Francisco.
The fifth annual Content Marketing Conference will be held at the Boston Westin Waterfront. In the content marketing space, Content Marketing World (mentioned below) has been the key event for years, and I don’t see that stopping. For those looking for additional insights in content marketing, however, this could be the perfect fit. One thing that’s certainly unique to this event is its comedy marketing tracks, which are pretty entertaining and useful for anyone looking to increase engagement.
Just note that the Boston Marathon is on Monday, so plan accordingly.
Because I’m based in the Midwest, I wanted to provide an option in the central part of the country. Union Station in St. Louis is home to some of the largest digital marketing events in the Midwest. MDMC19 is an affordable option for the execution-focused marketers within your company who are wanting solid marketing strategy takeaways to bring back to the team. This year’s conference will feature more than 100 sessions and host more than 2,000 attendees.
The CMO Club is one of the most entertaining events I’ve attended. It’s rare to sit next to CMOs of major brands and then have someone like Michael Strahan or Diplo get on stage to lead a strong business conversation. The organizer does a really good job of creating an atmosphere of fun, so barriers are down, allowing for real conversations. It’s an exclusive group, so you’ll have to apply and meet the requirements. If, for some reason, you miss the spring event, there’s also a fall event.
Held at the Doltone House Jones Bay Wharf in Sydney, this event spotlights the strategies and technology that generate revenue and give marketers a stronger seat at the table. Geared toward networking and learning from others, the forum will host industry-focused roundtables and tracks for everyone from small business leaders to customer experience experts. Featuring thought leaders from a wide variety of industries, this is a good spot to pick up new knowledge.
This summit is specifically designed for in-house marketers who want to discuss personalization, content and storytelling, social media marketing, and customer insights. There are two like-minded summits, one of which is held in San Francisco, while the other is in New York. Incite Group has been holding conferences for a long time and puts on a well-organized event. Hosting these in two of the biggest cities in the U.S. gives these summits a good chance of tying in with longer business trips while providing a strong platform of industry thought leaders.
This is a new one on my radar, but I think it’s important to know about how artificial intelligence is affecting marketing. Despite AI having a breakout year in 2018 — and showing no signs of slowing down — there’s still some confusion about what exactly AI is and what its potential is for marketers. Because MAICON caters to those with nontechnical backgrounds, you don’t need to be an expert in data science, analytics, or programming to grasp and apply artificial intelligence concepts to your marketing.
Considered the largest content event, there will be more than 120 sessions, workshops, and hands-on forums from some of the most renowned and inspiring thought leaders in the world. Slated topics include strategy, storytelling, AI, ROI, and demand generation. And, because there were more than 3,700 marketers from across the globe last year, there will be plentiful networking opportunities. Since UBM’s acquisition, it seems that CMW has been enhanced, keeping the flagship content marketing event going strong, even as competitive events appear frequently.
Brand ManageCamp, now in its 17th year, will be a two-day event presented in an all-keynote format. Attendees can expect to discover fresh and actionable insights that can be applied immediately. Something I absolutely love about this event is that it’s all keynotes. Normally, I’d wonder where the variation was, but the organizer does a good job of preparing speakers. When I spoke there two years ago, he called me prior to the event and talked me through beefing up the content and making it more valuable, which is rare for an organizer to do. His feedback helped, and I appreciated the audience focus.
Now in its third year, Hawkefest is called an “anti-conference” for a reason. It’s more than just wandering expo halls and passing out business cards. Instead, it’s a full day of collaboration and fun, where the best and the brightest in the industry come together to learn from and with each other. I attended last year; it’s hosted by Hawke Media, whose founder is a friend. I was specifically impressed with an area set up as a circus tent, where keynotes happened (even including circus acts). As much fun as it looked, the event had different areas set up for other atmospheres as well, which I found refreshing. This year, Hawkefest is being held at the Houdini Estate, an infamous Los Angeles landmark; those interested in attending must fill out an application.
MarketingProfs’ annual B2B Marketing Forum will be taking place in the nation’s capital this year. I’ve been a fan of the organizer for years — she really cares about content and educating people. There are also full-day workshops and a variety of “off-the-clock antics,” as I’ve heard them called. Last year, there were fun activities like mindfulness sessions and other surprises that made for a fun experience for the speakers and attendees. If you like the content on MarketingProfs’ site, you’ll probably get a lot of value out of the content here.
Besides spending a couple of days in one of my favorite cities, Chicago, you’ll receive actionable advice from some of the most innovative marketers and speakers around, who will share their insights regarding content strategy, promotion, conversion, and analytics. I know the organizer personally and know that he really values meaningful connections, so you’ll have more frequent or longer networking opportunities available.
The 15th annual Forbes CMO Summit will be taking place on the West Coast this year. This year’s topic is “Champions of Change: CMOs at the Center of Business, Tech and Cultural Innovation,” which will focus on the challenges and opportunities facing CMOs amid current cultural and societal shifts. Keep in mind that this is invite-only, so attendance is limited.
As you’re busy planning your schedule for 2019 around the goals you wish to achieve, I hope you’ll check out these marketing conferences and events. I also strongly recommend investing in your employees and allowing them to get out of the office to experience one or two of these events. It can be expensive, but it can pay off in terms of getting them the resources they need to take your marketing to new levels. I’ll be investing in some of my employees to do the same. Let me know if there are other events that should be on my radar in the future!