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You have so many choices available when it comes to attending marketing events each year. What sets apart the top-shelf events from the more pedestrian gatherings? What separates the best events from the pack? Glad you asked!

Here are three things that have guided me well since I started going to events as a fresh-faced NYU Marketing graduate circa 1991:

1.
History & Reputation


Events are hard to produce---there are a lot of moving parts that need to be oiled and regularly maintained. So, for the best experience, look for events with a track record in the marketing space, produced by folks who have stellar reps.

A great example is SXSW, here each spring in my home town, Austin, Texas. It’s really three events that overlap in a chaotic yet memorable way; the Interactive piece brings a diverse yet fascinating mix of speakers and sponsors. Folks in the film and music industries, which are also covered, usually rave as well.

Another example is MarketingProfs, where we have been putting on events since 2005. I've gone to many other events by other publishers over the years. But when I started at MarketingProfs and began to attend our events, I really understood how unique of a "voice" has been established. And now that I know our event planners and content programmers and have watched them in action over and over (and seen/heard their results on the floor), it’s even more apparent to me how on point they are.

A major focus that sets us apart is finding great speakers and panelists whom you have not heard over and over already---experienced in the trenches practitioners who really make their content come alive with practical examples. Also, our keynotes are always very inspiring, always motivating, and highly memorable.

2.
Focus


This is a basic criteria yet it's often missed. For example, have you ever attended a show, perhaps one in your own city that you thought you’d just pop into but didn’t really do a lot of homework on … and then found out that the sessions, sponsors, speakers and attendees were all speaking another dialect?

This is why MarketingProfs has really honed in on events specific to the B2B marketer, more than any other publisher we know. We are B2B marketers ourselves and have been writing and speaking about all the complex elements that make up successful B2B programs for over a decade: from lead generation and nurturing, to email and search marketing, to understanding and applying the myriad new social media channels. We get it. You will, too. Attendees who leave our events are filled with new ideas they can put into practice right away.

3.
Fun


Can we be honest here? Human beings, not businesses, attend events. And humans like to socialize with each other. So, even as virtual events and video conferencing continue to grow and get better, the glue that will keep business travel alive and well is the actual one-to-one networking that industry shows provide. Likely, you can think of many examples in your own case---that great new contact you made or maybe a drinking buddy you arrange to meet up and one day winds up getting you a new job. Or how about that impromptu discussion in a hallway that led to a new partnership or client? Veteran event-goers often first check out the various parties and such when considering whether to spend a $1,000 or more plus travel expenses. Great shows earn a reputation for fun and valuable networking.

Note: This presumes that if you are attending an event (that your company shelled out valuable dollars to send you to), you have been hitting those parties, working the networking breaks, and cruising the exhibit floor.

Non-sales and marketing types, I’m looking at you right now. Even if you are the most introverted engineer or product specialist, do NOT miss out on what is often the best part of a show because you've trapped yourself in your hotel room working each evening to “catch up” or you spent much of the time at the event with your nose buried in smartphone! Look up. Mingle. Events are about people. Leave with a handful of new business cards every time. And don’t forget to promptly send out a LinkedIn invitation to connect within a few days.

*****************


Next year, MarketingProfs is holding two major events: SocialTech (March 29 and 30, Seattle) and our 6th Annual B2B Marketing Forum (October 3 to 5, Boston). In between these will be a series of road shows that will feature super-cool evenings with key MarketingProfs folks like Ann Handley (@MarketingProfs) and Matt Grant (@MattTGrant).

If you are a B2B marketer, you need to circle these dates on your calendar, and then watch your inbox for our emails with details as we get closer. Not on our basic/free subscriber list? Go sign-up now, do yourself a big favor!

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