Have you ever considered attending a trade show? You’ve probably seen the fliers in the mail or a message in your Inbox, but does it seem worth the time and money to go?
I was faced with this same question in 2002. I had been an affiliate marketer for about four years and I knew I needed fresh ideas, better business plans, and someone to talk to who knew more than I did.
My wife Arlene and I decided that the 2002 Commission Junction University in Santa Barbara, California, might be worth the time and money required to get me there and back. Fortunately, we were right.
For the purpose of full disclosure, I should tell you that I like air travel, I have come to love Santa Barbara, and I am a big fan of hotels with room service. As for the expense, it turns out that the money was tax-deductible (talk to your accountant!) so that was hardly an issue.
However, those are just the features of a good industry conference, not the actual benefits.
The Benefits of Attending Industry Events
The things I brought back from that conference, though, were enough to get Arlene to come with me the next year, along with 40 other friends and associates.The details will always vary according to the conference and the individuals attending, but there are a few things everyone can expect to take away from a well-run industry event;
- Information – you could learn ways to improve your marketing strategy, inventory flow, or manufacturing process. In short, whatever you do to make money can probably be done more efficiently.
- Experience – several of the speakers, and maybe the guy next to you, will have had more experience in “the business” than you have.They all have examples of how to correct, recover from, or avoid problems altogether, and you can benefit from that.
- Inspiration – you’ll meet folks who have succeeded in your industry, and you’ll realize that you can accomplish as much as they have, and possibly more.
Of course, not every industry event is as well organized or well attended as the Commission Junction University. You could research many of them online and look for has feedback from former participants. Of course, I could save you some time by recommending a few conferences. I have personally attended each of the conferences listed below, and I can assure you that they are worth your while.
Top Online Marketing and Blogging Conferences 2011
The Affiliate Summit is understandably considered the premier affiliate marketing conference, and is perhaps the largest one currently running. The Summit is held each year in New York and Las Vegas, and offers educational sessions along with accomplished industry speakers and a growing collection of merchants and vendors.
The Blog World Expo connects bloggers from around the world for three days of networking, presentations, brainstorming, and of course, vendors and merchants in abundance. If you aren’t a blogger, you can still benefit from information about incorporating online marketing into your marketing plan.
Webmaster World’s PubCon is not a publishing convention; it is a webmaster’s convention that began by meeting in a pub. Really. Now that they have outgrown the pub, this event functions much like other industry shows although it remains pleasantly comfortable and informal. The PubCon focuses on emerging marketing strategies and advanced SEO methods.
Commission Junction University was my first industry event and one that I keep returning to every year. This assembly of over 800 industry leaders and Commission Junction affiliates is a great opportunity to gather information, receive inspiration, and have a good time.
AffCon is a fairly new conference, so it also happens to be free, for the time being. That won’t last long, though, once folks find out about AffCon’s knowledgeable panelists, information-packed presentations and top-selling vendors. This conference will be worthwhile for affiliate marketers with nearly every level of experience.
The ShareASale Think Tank differs from typical industry events because it encourages brainstorming in addition to the normal means of information sharing. Affiliates, managers and merchants can learn much by attending this event.
Not everyone is a full time affiliate marketer, but you may be surprised how the information learned at these events could help your business. If you’ve never attended any of these marketing or blogging conferences, 2011 has a few months left in it and a few conferences which are waiting for you.
Identifying the Ideal Industry Event For Your Business
My associate Matt Papas is the owner of a weight loss website. While I’m sure that an Internet marketing event would help him out, he should also think about fitness,dietary supplement, and even alternative medicine trade shows. He could learn more about marketing his site to visitors looking for Medifast diet coupons or answers to questions like, “Does the Nutrisystem plan work?”
Arlene still joins me at some conferences, but she should also benefit from some events that geared toward her website, epilepsymoms.com. A child advocacy conference would offer some great advice to share with caregivers of epileptic children, and medical research events are stuffed with information about the latest studies and treatments for epilepsy and other conditions.
Even if you don’t plan on going to any of the aforementioned affiliate marketing or blogging conferences, 2011 is a good year to begin attending industry events targeted to benefit your specific business.
So, What Are You Waiting For?
Someone out there knows how to attract more customers to your deli, keep shoppers coming back to your greenhouse, or train your call center employees more efficiently. You should be making plans to meet this person at your next industry conference.
So what works better for you, New York in the fall or Vegas this spring?
I might just see you there.
In the meantime, I would love to hear your thoughts.
Photo by ShashiBellamkonda