There is something so magical about live business marketing conferences. The interaction with experts, the opportunity to meet new contacts, the chance to learn additional skills — marketing conferences can help you take your one-person business to the next level. Now, before you stop me and whine about the travel, the expenses, and the fact you have to put on pants to meet people in person, I want you to honestly stop and think about the benefits.
Marketing conferences = Big opportunities
First, there's the fact that you will meet real people in real life. Think about it! It's harder for real-life contacts to turn you down because they have a face to go with your name. Second, there's the beauty that comes with getting out of your comfort zone (ahem, where the real magic happens if we're honest). Third, you'll get to meet the sponsoring brands that keep the lights of the conference on — and this could lead to amazing business opportunities.
And let’s not forget the potential PR opportunities. Media reps often attend marketing conferences, so you’ve got a chance to strike up a relationship with a roving reporter to score some sweet free publicity for your solo operation!
Are you starting to see why attending live marketing conferences might be beneficial to you? Good!
20 awesome marketing conferences
Now, that you're on board with WHY to attend, what conferences should you consider ponying up the dough to grace with your presence? Below, in no particular order, you'll find a bunch of options to consider. Peruse them, check out their descriptions, and add a few to the list of events you plan to attend in the near future.
Hosted by Social Media Examiner, Social Media Marketing World touts itself as “the world's largest social media marketing conference.” You'll get to hang with some of the best social media pros in the world, stay on top of social trends for business, and meet other solopreneurs in various stages of marketing expertise. Social media can help us connect with our customers and promote our brand — so it’s a good idea to hone your social skills. Social Media Marketing World is one of the best marketing conferences to help you win the social media marketing game!
Solopreneurs looking for the most efficient ways to take their business to the next level should consider ONTRApalooza. This event is all about creating processes and systems to automate your business. You'll learn things like establishing and improving your web presence so that you can reach more potential customers. You'll also learn how to boost your business's visibility and your credibility. You'll take home knowledge about SEO, conversion rates, sales funnels and more.
Even if you are not a podcaster, this event can teach you the ins and outs of podcasting — an excellent tool to help build a following for your business. Plus, every podcast out there needs guests and amazing content, so why not hang out with the very people who are looking for guests and pitch them face-to-face? And, if you do decide while you are there that podcasting is a decent idea to promote your business, well, you'll already be amongst the rockstars of the industry!
A fabulous conference for creative solopreneurs, South By Southwest is all about “helping creative people achieve their goals.” Brimming with great brands, small business owners and other movers and shakers, SXSW in Austin is more than one of the great marketing conferences in the U.S. — it’s where you go to network with folks who are interested in talking design, web development and code, style, entertainment and more.
Before you assume this is an event just for bloggers, understand that businesses that have a blog need to know about monetization, too. Darren Rowse’s ProBlogger events teach marketing skills including strategic blog post planning, how to get more traffic, and how to grow your blog (hence your website) through social media and more. Plus, you’ll find a plethora of Instagrammers, YouTubers, podcasters and bloggers at ProBlogger events — all of whom can help you market your business.
Content marketing is an excellent way to establish yourself as a thought leader and build brand awareness — and Content Marketing World can give you a leg up. The event aims to "inspire you to do your own epic content marketing and network with some of the brightest in the business." This event is all about content marketing strategy, integration, and how to measure your efforts.
Bloggers are the new media, and they have more reach than most newspapers and magazines these days. If you want a raving fan base for your business, you need to learn how to interact with bloggers stat! BlogHer can make that happen. This conference connects brands directly with bloggers and offers a wealth of workshops on a variety of topics of interest to solopreneurs.
Among marketing conferences, ad:tech defines itself as "the original industry authority for marketing and media technology, where marketing, technology and media communities assemble to share new ways of thinking, build strong partnerships, and define new strategies to compete in an ever-changing marketplace." Whoa. And if that’s not a compelling enough reason to attend ad:tech, it’s in the Big Apple.
Infusionsoft’s ICON conference brings together some of the most brilliant people in marketing, who will teach you just how true the statement “the money is in the list” is. This is where, even if you don't use Infusionsoft products, you can learn amazing email marketing and list-building tactics.
You don't have to do it all to look like a bigger business.
Marketing conferences like ICON can help you get the most out of email marketing.
The PRSA International Conference in Indiana bills itself as the “intersection of technology and media.” At the PRSA ICon you will learn how PR affects your bottom line. Want to get more advertising for free? Public relations and engaging with the media is where it's at!
If you want to learn how to successfully work a sales funnel, you might want to consider attending Funnel Hacking Live. The basic idea behind a sales funnel is to give your website visitor a freebie to get them on your list, sell them something small to convert them into a paid customer, and then go for the gold with your signature offer.
Rub elbows with some of Silicon Valley’s top growth experts at the Growth Hackers Conference. The agenda features panels and presentations aimed at helping you develop high-growth marketing, product and design teams and programs.
Big or small, Brand ManageCamp's goal is to help them all achieve their maximum potential through marketing to their ideal customers. This event features an impressive lineup of branding experts out to inspire, educate and energize attendees. In addition to advertising and media topics, the conference covers strategy, content, innovation, customer behavior, metrics and more.
This is a great conference for entrepreneurs looking to create and sell digital products. If you're on the hunt for that ever-elusive "passive income" this might just be the event you're seeking. The conference’s marketing and sales techniques are geared toward those big launches you read about on social media all the time.
Listen to the chief marketing officers and marketing leaders from more than 60 innovative brands map out the future of marketing at the Incite Group Marketing Summit. If you want to learn what brands such as Hershey, Adidas, Kohler, Twitter and Dell are doing to attract and sell to new customers, this is the event for you.
As far as marketing conferences go, the World Domination Summit in Portland, Ore., is one of the most unconventional. It’s a multi-day, multi-ticketed series of events that teaches skills like how to write a book, how to manage your money, how to have an unconventional life and so much more. This is effectively the un-conference that allows you to hone in on topics that will help you grow your unique business.
What does your brand need to know to keep up with demographic trends? Are there digital tools that will help you better market to your target audience? This conference will help you answer those questions. You'll need to be an Advertising Age member to even get notice about ticket sales, but if you're looking to evolve beyond traditional marketing, this might be worth it.
The American Marketing Association practically wrote the book on marketing, and the AMA’s annual conference will give you awesome insight into marketing trends, innovations and analytics. Connect with top marketing minds to learn about B2B and B2C marketing (business-to-business and business-to-consumer for you newbs out there).
In the world of marketing conferences, this is where the cool webpreneur kids hang out. Tropical Think Tank features world-class speakers, panel discussions, masterminding and lots of networking in an unbeatable tropical location. It’s pricey but intimate (capped at 50 to 60 attendees as of 2017), and gets you up close and personal with some of the smartest solopreneurs in the online biz world.
We’re ending on a high note with HubSpot’s INBOUND, one of the most insanely popular marketing conferences in the U.S. Always brimming with top-notch marketing talent, INBOUND offers insight into how your website can bring you more qualified leads than any advertisement you could ever purchase. The entire INBOUND methodology is about attracting visitors to your site, converting those visitors into leads, closing customers, and delighting those customers to the point that they will promote your company on your behalf.
Marketing conferences: Worth the investment
Yes, you’ll need to invest time and money to attend any of these marketing conferences — but that investment is sure to be worthwhile. You’ll leave with great new connections, a wealth of knowledge, and the inspiration to make amazing things happen for your solo venture. This new-found motivation, marketing toolkit and healthy stack of business cards make attending one of more of these marketing conference a no-brainer.
Any great marketing conferences you’d add to the list? Please share in the comments!