As event planners, it may seem unnecessary to attend conferences for your own education. But there are so many aspects of an event planner’s job that have nothing to do with the actual act of planning events. Marketing and promotion, for example. Many event planners enter the industry with limited knowledge of marketing strategy. Plus, in this new digital age, marketing platforms and techniques are constantly changing and evolving. It’s important to keep up. Therefore, attending marketing conferences are crucial to your success as an event planner.
There are literally hundreds of national, regional, and local marketing conferences every year. If you are not able to travel, tap into your city’s American Marketing Association or Public Relations Society of America chapters to attend local meetups and seminars. Most will allow you to attend meetings without joining the group. These local events are also an excellent source of networking.
If you can travel to a conference, here are some of the biggest and best marketing conferences scheduled for 2020. Make plans to attend one or two if you can. You won’t regret it.
SXSW – March 13 – 22 in Austin
This has become the granddaddy of all conferences ever. The ten-day conference schedule is chock full of performances, keynote speakers, special events, exhibitions, parties, workshops and more. It attracts global creative professionals at every level and from many industries to participate, network, and advance their careers.
Your schedule is completely customizable by topic, industry, date, or speaker. There is a handy “badge quiz” on the website that will help you decide which registration level and the track are best for you. Tracks for 2020 include Interactive Programming (applicable to any event planner), Film, Music, and Convergence, which includes societal issues like climate change and politics. There are also plenty of networking opportunities both in-person at parties and in brand-sponsored lounges and via the SXSW app.
This is one of those conferences that everyone should attend once, just to say that they’ve been there.
Influencer Marketing Strategies Summit – April 28 – 30 in Chicago
As influencer marketing becomes more and more of a viable promotional tactic, this conference is a great source for the latest best practices in all things influencer marketing and social media. The Summit started as a social media conference ten years ago but has evolved to include influencer marketing in the last few years. The agenda includes case studies, deep-dive workshops, and how-to sessions, designed to arm attendees with the tools needed to create a strong and scalable influencer marketing program. There is still a track for social media marketing as well. The first day is devoted to the deep-dive workshops and the last two days include networking lunches and exhibition time, as well as shorter informational sessions. Attendees are mostly mid-level professionals including social media managers, senior marketing managers, account executives, and communication managers.
Incite Marketing Summit — May 14 and 15 in San Diego
This conference brings together leaders in marketing strategy and innovation to celebrate purpose-driven and customer-centric brand marketing. The tag line is “The Future of Marketing is Authentic Engagement on a Personal Level.” Attendees number in the 300s with about 60 speakers, so for those who are introverts, it’s not as overwhelming as INBOUND or SXSW. But you’ll still have plenty of opportunities to network and learn with a schedule that includes horizontal tracks and vertical themes, such as storytelling, customer journeys, influencer marketing, and brand building. Speakers scheduled for 2020 include Mark Howard, Chief Revenue Officer at Forbes, and Karin Timpone, Global Marketing Officer at Marriott International.
MozCon – July 6 – 8 in Seattle
Because this conference is planned by Moz, it is a deep dive into all things search marketing including SEO, mobile, conversion optimization, and local search. Anyone who is in need of knowledge or advice in these areas should attend. If you’ve read the Moz blog or viewed the Moz Whiteboard Friday videos on YouTube, you know that the Moz folks are experts on search. Speakers for 2020 include Andy Crestodina, Co-founder and CMO of Orbit Media Studios, and Dana DiTomaso, President of Kick Point. Of course, there will be plenty of representation by Moz execs to talk about Moz products. There are also daily Birds of a Feather lunch discussion tables where lunch topics vary each day, including local
SEO, link building, and more.
INBOUND – August 18 -21 in Boston
INBOUND is huge. More than 24,000 people attend this annual conference. The organizers tout this event as “an annual experience uniting super curious, question-asking professionals with big-name and break-out industry thinkers, high-octane events, and boundless education sessions.” There are huge Main Stage speakers like Elizabeth Gilbert, Michele Obama, Jennifer Garner, and Brené Brown. There are also session tracks for marketing, sales, customer service, and startups. Since this event is sponsored by Hubspot, there are also ample opportunities to learn about their platform and products. The speakers and agenda for 2020 have not yet been announced but they are sure to be high-powered and impactful.
Content Marketing World – October 13 – 16 in Cleveland
The organizers of the Content Marketing World 2020 call it the largest content marketing event on the planet. More than 4,000 marketers from 60+ countries come to talk about content marketing as well as learn about new technologies, trade ideas, and connect with each other. Attendees have the ability to go to workshops with subject tracks such as demand generation and influencer marketing.
Speakers are often a mix of big names and industry thought leaders. In 2019, Mindy Kaling was the keynote speaker and Henry Rollins closed the conference. Other speakers included Joe Pulizzi, who founded the event, Robert Rose, and Scott Stratten. For an added bonus, the kick-off party is usually at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!