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How to Launch a Virtual Conference for Lead Generation and Customer Acquisition: A Step-by-Step Guide

Published by in category Daily, event marketing, inbound sales, lead generation | Comments are closed


When we say “virtual conference,” we don’t just mean webinars. We mean interactive, live panels and microsites dedicated to the single purpose of promoting one event with various sessions a person can “attend.”

Virtual conferences have become a more popular medium to develop and reach large audiences. From marketing to recruiting and sales to education, businesses in various industries have realized hosting online events are far cheaper than an in-person event — making it cheaper to build awareness around a brand.

We’re going to get into a lot, but by the end of this post, you’ll see the value in hosting a virtual conference and know how to organize and host your own event. You’ll have another medium to accelerate brand awareness, generate more leads, and develop authority as an industry leader.

I helped launch Inbound Sales Day here at HubSpot, and I’m here to teach you how it’s done. Continue reading to download my project management templates and emails I used to book speakers — all available for free.

Table of Contents

1) What is a virtual conference?
2) Why should you host a virtual conference?
3) A Virtual Conference by HubSpot
4) How to plan a virtual conference
Set the vision
Speaker outreach
Creation of assets
Go Live
5) Learning Lessons

How to Plan a Virtual Event

What is a virtual conference?

Imagine a conference. There are dozens of rooms, booths with vendors trying to sell you their product, and a lot of people walking around. You might run into some very influential leaders in your industry, and you expect to see people on stage sometime during the event. You’re excited to hear them share lessons and tips they’ve learned from their own experience and journey to success.

Now, imagine a similar experience — but without having to leave your desk.

You log into an “event” online, where you can meet and interact with people through messaging platforms. You go into “rooms” (aka web pages) where you can watch speakers present their knowledge in the form of a recorded video.

It’s a simple concept: Get the content you would receive at a conference on your own time, when it’s convenient for you. It aligns perfectly with the culture and popularity of on-demand services, such as:

Lyft: on-demand car rides


Drizly: on-demand alcohol


Soothe: on-demand massages


Virtual conferences: on-demand quality content and insights about the industry.

Virtual events began in 1993, presented by Alan Saperstein and Randy Selman. They started by videotaping trade show exhibitors booths and attaching the video to HTML floor maps. These events have become more popular among marketers for their lower cost and effort to produce.

Here’s an example of an HTML floor map:


Examples of virtual events include:

You might be thinking, “There’s no way these events were produced by a small team.”

That’s fair. But I can tell you that I coordinated and launched Inbound Sales Day, a full-day virtual event with over 10 hours of video that garnered over 15,000 registrations globally. And I did most of it by myself in only three months. For a comparison, the team that organizes HubSpot’s live INBOUND event has over 10 people involved in planning the event for the entire preceding year.

It’s possible to host and launch one of these things, even with a small team, but why should you host a virtual conference in the first place? Why not just host a physical event instead?

There are numerous benefits to hosting online events. Let’s dive in.

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Why should you host a virtual event?

Consider some of the reasons you’d host a conference, either virtual or in-person:

  • To grow awareness for your business — Depending on your market, there may already be competitors or other companies targeting the same target audience as you. You can use an an online conference as a means of partnering with those other companies.
  • To generate leads
  • To acquire new customers
  • To create a revenue stream from sponsorships. People host these conferences strictly as a revenue stream. (Curious how? Sam Parr explains how he made a profit from hosting Hustle Con.)
  • To build relationships with influencers

Below are expenses to consider for a physical event (based on a 400-person hosted by Hustle Con):

  • Venue ($5,000)
  • Vendors, i.e., caterer, bartender, decorator, photographer, videographer, etc. ($10,000)
  • Equipment rental ($2,000)
  • Licenses and permits (dependent on venue)
  • Transportation and parking for attendees and speakers (dependent on venue)
  • Service fees and gratuities ($1,000)
  • Speakers’ fees ($0 – $10,000+ per speaker)
  • Signage ($500)
  • Registration materials ($300)
  • Security and staff ($2000)

Even for a smaller event, that totals at least $20,000. Soon, you’re underwater and either hiring contractors or using half your team’s day to get all the little details right. To top it off, there always seem to be attendees or speakers who are an absolute nightmare to deal with.

I’m getting stressed just thinking about it.

For an online conference, a few weeks of work and a small budget are all that’s needed. In fact, all of the software I used to organize everything was free:

  • Trello for project management (check out my free template below)
  • Google Sheets to manage the assets (you’ll get a template of this, too)
  • YouTube to host videos
  • Dropbox to host files
  • Canva to create images

Plus, when you create assets for your event online, you continue reaping the benefits of long-tail keyword SEO and organic traffic from evergreen content for months to come.

Depending on your resources, you may want to hire freelancers to help you with asset creation or to run Facebook ads to get more awareness about your event.

In many cases, you end up cutting expenses dramatically by hosting an online event instead of an in-person conference. Let’s dive into how we decided HubSpot should host an online conference about inbound sales.

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A Virtual Conference by HubSpot

HubSpot revolutionized marketing in 2006 by introducing the concept of inbound marketing and telling the story of how marketing had changed. Since then, sales has also changed, and we’ve introduced the concept of inbound selling.

However, similar to when inbound marketing was a new concept in 2006, people needed to be educated about the concept of inbound selling.

We had various goals that overlapped with each other when thinking about hosting a virtual event:

  • Spread the message of inbound selling
  • Generate leads for our sales products
  • Develop authority in the sales industry
  • Promote the first sales-focused track at our INBOUND event

What better way to educate our audience and develop credibility around inbound selling than by hosting real experts to talk about it? Influencers already have an audience who will listen to them. They have their own methodologies and many of those ideas aligned perfectly with inbound selling.

By hosting a virtual conference, we were able to scale influencer marketing and associated the credibility of those influencers with the HubSpot brand.

Plus, with the changing landscape of content and more consumers preferring video content, this was an opportunity to develop high-quality video content we could continue to use.

Still interested in hosting your own online conference? I’m going to lay out all the steps I took to organize Inbound Sales Day that you can replicate for your own event. I’ll also give you the project management and email templates I created that kept me organized throughout the whole process.

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How to Plan and Execute A Virtual Conference

Before we jump into the planning, decide how you’re going to manage the project. I used a combination of Trello and spreadsheets to manage my work.

I laid out all activities in my project management Trello board, which gave me a bird’s-eye view of the timeline, what needed to be done at the moment, and what was coming up. This allowed me to catch situations where I would need to delegate work or ask for help ahead of time.

Get my Virtual Conference Project Management Trello Template here.


All assets that were created (landing pages, emails sent, social posts, videos, etc.) were listed in the asset management spreadsheet. This way, I had access to every asset in one place without having to search for it.

The campaign was executed in six phases, which I’ll walk you through below:

  1. Set the vision
  2. Conduct speaker outreach
  3. Create assets
  4. Promote
  5. Launch
  6. Analyze

Phase 1: Set the vision

What do you want the event to look like? What topics do you want to cover? Who’s your audience? How many registrations do you expect? (Use this spreadsheet to help set those expectations.)

All of this will be important for your speaker outreach as those will be your selling points. If you can pinpoint your target audience (try the MakeMyPersona tool to help with that), you can find speakers who also want to reach that audience. If you have a set number of expected registrations, you can attract speakers with an idea of what their reach will be if they participate.

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Phase 2: Conduct speaker outreach

The most important step to producing a viable virtual conference is to get speakers in your industry. This will benefit you in two ways:

  1. You can build relationships with these industry experts
  2. You can associate your brand with these experts, making yours more credible

I highly recommend getting experts within your company to speak on the subject matter and promote the event by giving a talk or interviewing another expert so that your employees will come to be seen as trusted industry thought leaders.

My goal was to get on a video call with the potential speakers I emailed. A video call allows you to sell them on the idea and show them how excited you are.

Here’s the email template I used:

Invitation to Participate in [NAME OF VIRTUAL CONFERENCE]

Hi [NAME]!

[YOUR COMPANY] is launching [NAME OF VIRTUAL CONFERENCE], a virtual event for [#] [TYPE OF PEOPLE YOU’RE TARGETING] on [DATE] and we would love to have you as a featured speaker.

We’re inviting top experts in [INDUSTRY] to help [PROFESSIONALS] become more successful by providing actionable information about [BROAD OVERVIEW OF TOPICS].

I watched your talk on [TOPIC] and think you’d be a great fit for our audience.

If you’re interested in speaking, we have many speaking options available that can be flexible with your schedule. I’d love to discuss them with you on a quick call.

Let me know if you’re interested and we can schedule time this week or next to talk through the details.

For your convenience, here’s a link to my calendar so we can schedule time right away: [MEETINGS LINK]



Pro tip: If you’re a HubSpot customer, I recommend using the HubSpot Sales Meetings and Templates tools to make scheduling meetings really, really easy.

Once I got the meeting scheduled, I made sure to hit the following points for each conversation:

  1. Explain the event and why you’re doing it.
  2. Emphasize what the speaker would get out of participating. (We emphasized that we were aiming to reach over 10,000 salespeople and they would get their own landing page with links to their website and social profiles.)
  3. Tell them about other speakers you’ve booked to develop credibility around your event and that it’s something worth being a part of.
  4. If they’re interested, explain what we need from them right then and there: I asked for a rough title and outline of their talk, and the format they preferred (live Q&A, recorded interview, or recorded lecture-style video).

After the call, I immediately sent a follow-up email which:

  • Recapped the call included topic and format of their talk
  • Attached a speaker agreement form
  • Asked for their availability to schedule introduction to interviewer, recordings, and dry-runs
  • Listed specific deadlines of when everything is due

Here’s a template I used:


Hi [NAME]!

I’m glad we got to connect today. We’re very excited that you’re going to join us for [CONFERENCE NAME]. Here’s a recap of what we discussed earlier — feel free to revise any of it.

  • Working session title: [SESSION TITLE]
  • Working session description: [DESCRIPTION]
  • Format: [FORMAT]
  • What I need from you by [DATE]:
    • Bio (max 200 words)
    • Preferred headshot
    • A page you want us to link to
    • A rough outline of your presentation

Again, it was great connecting today! Please let me know if you have any questions.

Hope you have a great week!



A week later, I followed up again for all those items. Speakers are really busy, and it’ll take a few emails and calls to get those details from them. This is why I suggest you begin the process at least two months before your launch date.

Some speakers will ask for a packet with more details. You can use this template to create your own speaker packets.

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Phase 3: Create assets

On my Trello board, I laid out a timeline of when all assets were created and used the spreadsheet to keep track of them as they were created.

Get my asset management spreadsheet here.


Landing Pages

Your landing page is going to be a selling point for your event to get speakers and attendees. Don’t expect to attract many of either if your page doesn’t look sharp.

Below you can see the homepage, agenda page, and session pages we created for Inbound Sales Day.

The homepage highlighted the benefits of attending and the various speakers we featured.

The agenda page shared more details about what topics will be discussed and the main takeaways of each talk. This gave viewers an opportunity to see who would be speaking and do their research or reach out to influencers before the event.

The session page is where the fun happened. Each video had its own landing page on the HubSpot domain so viewers wouldn’t have to leave our website to see the content. We had over two-dozen of these pages.

Landing Page Agenda Session Page


virtual-conference-how-to-host-agenda-example-preview.png virtual-conference-how-to-host-session-page-example-preview.png

Click the images to see the full versions

Video Hosting

I recommend using YouTube Live to broadcast live videos and to host all videos to take advantage of its video SEO. I then embedded all the videos on landing pages so people wouldn’t have to leave our website to watch the video.

Video Production

There were three different session formats which each required different preparatory measures. Here was my process for each format:

  • Live Q&A
  1. Speaker chose topic
  2. Researched their online material (blogs, videos, interviews) and created a Google Doc of canned questions
  3. Introduced the speaker to the employee who would host the session via email and set up a call to develop their rapport
  4. They reviewed the list of questions together and brainstorm more questions
  5. We prioritized top five canned questions to ask in case there were no live questions
  6. A week before the live session, get on a call with the speaker to do a final check-in (the meeting was hosted using a private YouTube Live session so they understood how to sign in)
  7. Live broadcast: Speaker was expected to sign into YouTube Live an hour ahead of time for audio and video check, review the talk points with HubSpot host, and build rapport for the session
  • Recorded Interview
    1. Speaker chose topic
    2. Researched their online material (blogs, videos, interviews) and created a Google Doc of canned questions
    3. Introduced the speaker to the employee who would host the session via email and set up a call to develop their rapport
    4. They would review the talk track outline and go back and forth about what topics the speaker would want to hit on
    5. We agreed on five questions that would be asked by the interviewer to guide the conversation
    6. Booked an hour with the speaker and interviewer which gave enough time for audio and video check, review talking points, and record at least twice (in case the first run was too rough
  • Recorded Lecture
    1. Speaker chose topic and provided outline of talk track
    2. Provided feedback on their outline based on what our sales audience is interested in (based on previous campaigns and blog performance)
    3. Two recording options:
    • Book an hour of their time to record the session via YouTube Live
    • They recorded on their own and sent the video

    Question Submission Form

    For live events, we created a Google Form for people to submit questions ahead of time. These questions were used to inform talking points for relevant sessions.

    Social Media Images

    The obvious goal for social media images is to make a person stop scrolling through their newsfeed and read what the event was about. We went with blinking GIFs that included photos of the speakers.




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    Phase 4: Promote

    As with content distribution in general, this was the most difficult part of the process. We leaned into speakers a lot and asked them to promote the event to their email list and on their blogs and social profiles.

    Speakers: Email, Blog & Social

    We asked each speaker to send an email to their list, write a blog post, and post on social media about the upcoming event. We made it as easy as possible for speakers to promote the event by creating speaker promotion packets, which provided pre-written emails, blog posts, social media copy, and images. All they had to do was copy and paste the text and insert the image.

    We also gave each speaker their own unique tracking URL (learn how to do it using HubSpot software) to use in promotional materials. This showed us how much interest each speaker drove and how many registrations they contributed.

    Don’t start a packet from scratch, get the free speaker promotion packet template.

    Blog Posts

    Brainstorm blog post topics based on the topics your speakers will discuss, and come up with a publishing cadence for your promotional posts. If you already have an editorial calendar, I’d suggest you avoid making every post promotion and instead periodically insert promotional posts.

    Social Posts

    I met with HubSpot’s Social Media team two months before the event launch to discuss the campaign and come up with a promotional cadence that made sense for each channel.

    I used this spreadsheet to organize all social media posts. I wrote most of the copy in bulk and scheduled the posts in batches as each date came up.

    Get my asset management spreadsheet template here.

    Your promotion strategy will vary depending on which channels you have access to. I sat with my team and brainstormed promotional tactics before deciding which were most viable. A few of those included:

    • Pop-up forms on highly trafficked site pages
    • Calls-to-action on the home page
    • Posts in relevant LinkedIn and Slack groups
    • Links to the event in sales reps’ email signatures

    Pro Tip: Use our free tool, Lead Flows, to easily build pop-ups on your website.

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    Phase 5: Launch

    The night before your launch, make sure:

    • All recorded videos were hosted on YouTube
    • Landing pages that hosted videos were tested
    • Reminder email to registrants have been scheduled so they remember to watch the videos
    • Emails are pre-scheduled to notify speakers to log into YouTube Live an hour before the broadcast time

    On the day of the event:

    • Monitor your social media hashtag if you have one
    • Keep an eye on your email if case people have trouble accessing the event

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    Phase 6: Analyze

    To prove that the virtual conference was worth the time and effort, do an analysis of the traffic and registrations you received, how many video views you got, and send a survey to your registrants.

    The best way to prove value is to tie it all back to revenue. How many qualified leads did you get, and what is the monetary value of a lead? How many new software signups did you get and what is the worth of each signup? How many new clients did you get and how much are they paying you?

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    Learning Lessons and Tips for Hosting A Virtual Conference

    As always, no matter how successful the event, things can always be better. Here are a few things I wish I had done differently that you can learn from.

    Align with your sales team.

    This event would’ve been great for sales enablement. Sales reps could use the conference as a piece of content to share with prospects and be helpful. It’s also good to let reps know about the event and how to talk about it in case prospects bring it up on a call.

    Get speakers with large audiences.

    This may be more difficult for your first event as you start developing credibility for your event, but get speakers with large audiences if you can. It’s even better if you can get them to commit to driving a certain number of registrations.

    Have a post-event plan.

    Ideally, you’re going to get a lot of registrations for the event. What are you going to do with them after the event? Have a communication plan for your registrants, whether it’s sending them content, telling them about your products or services, or asking for feedback. Don’t leave them hanging.

    Build anticipation before the event.

    How can you get registrants to share the event before it happens? Maybe a contest or giveaway? How can you get registrants to engage with speakers before the event?

    As more companies work to get a foothold in their industries and the marketing industry evolves to encompass more video content, virtual conferences will become more and more common. And as with any marketing tactic, as virtual conferences become more common the medium will become less effective.

    Host your first virtual conference now before your competitors and gain first-mover advantage. Good luck.

    Here are all the resources and templates I’ve shared throughout this post:

    Want to have a one-on-one conversation diving deeper into how you can host a virtual conference? Get in touch with me to have a quick conversation.

    Thanks to Kendrick Wang, Cambria Davies, and Scott Tousley for reviewing drafts of this post.


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    The Best 2017 Networking Events for Marketers

    Published by in category event marketing, Professional Development, Tactical | Comments are closed


    At some point in one’s life and career, it seems that networking events have earned a bit of a shabby image. They seem to conjure images of awkward handshakes, bad wine and, if you’re lucky, a stale cheese plate. And where’s the appeal of that?

    The truth is, not all events fit that stereotype. Some draw people from around the globe and provide content that makes the journey worthwhile. They’re tremendously informative. They’re wildly entertaining. And they’re listed below.

    The thing is, we’ve been to enough — to put it kindly — less-than-stellar events to know what a remarkable one looks like. And to help you avoid the trouble of canvassing the web to find the best ones, we compiled this list for you. Get 32 examples of enviable inbound marketing campaigns here.

    Whether you’re a content marketer looking to enhance what you’re creating, or want to learn SEO on a borderline-obsessive level, there’s an event out there for you. By no means do we suggest you attend all 25 of the events listed below — rather, we recommend taking inventory of what sort of engagements are available to help you become a better marketer, depending on your specialty or where you’d like to improve. So look no further — we’ve got you covered.

    15 Networking Events for Marketers in 2017

    1) Adobe Summit

    March 19-23, 2017 | Las Vegas, NV | Pricing Info


    Adobe Summit boasts being one of the largest digital marketing conferences in the U.S. It largely centers around Adobe’s technology, and how marketers can make the most of its Marketing Cloud platform. But it’s more than just a multi-day advertisement for Adobe’s software. Rather, it’s a collection of keynotes and breakout sessions that help marketers keep their projects up-to-date with the constantly and rapidly evolving digital landscape.

    Attend this event if you:

    • Want to know the latest and most sustainable ways to reach a target audience
    • Are juggling several campaigns and want to know how cloud technology can help you more seamlessly manage them
    • Like big names — speakers include actor Kate McKinnon and the CMO of the National Basketball Association

    2) Social Media Marketing World

    March 22-24, 2017 | San Diego, CA | Pricing Info

    Source: Social Media Examiner

    While we can’t corroborate Social Media Marketing World’s claims of being the “world’s largest social media marketing conference” off-hand, the fact that it’s hosted by the online publication Social Media Examiner makes us inclined to agree. But despite its name and description, the event is hardly one-size-fits-all. Rather, the agenda seems to contain a little bit of something for everyone, whether you’re looking to polish your knowledge of social media basics, or an expert looking to learn about the latest and most advanced best practices in this realm.

    Attend this event if you:

    • Want to become a thought leader or otherwise build your following on social media
    • Are looking to use social media to build customer loyalty and ambassadorship
    • Would like to meet like-minded peers at any social media knowledge level

    3) Digiday Publishing Summit

    March 29-31, 2017 | Vail, CO | Pricing Info

    Screen Shot 2017-02-21 at 2.24.38 PM.png

    Digiday hosts quite a few marketing-centric events throughout the year, which is why you’ll see its name quite a bit throughout this list. Each event, however, focuses on a specific marketing practice and caters its content according to that audience.

    For its Publishing Summit, Digiday places a large amount of focus on digital distribution — that is, online publishing in a variety of formats and outlets. The event description summarizes it nicely: Platforms “like Snapchat have become media outlets of their own,” and marketers need to figure out how to leverage them accordingly.

    4) Next10x

    April 5, 2017 | Boston, MA | Pricing Info

    Screen Shot 2017-02-22 at 7.49.09 AM.png

    There’s digital marketing — and then, there’s mobile digital marketing. That’s the focus of the Next10x event, hosted by digital marketing firm Stone Temple Consulting.

    With mobile usage now surpassing that of desktop, learning how to best use that medium for marketing is no longer just nice-to-have. Mobile marketing is necessary, especially for SEO — just look at this recent announcement from Google about how a poor mobile user experience will negatively impact rankings. For that reason, it makes sense to have an expert from Google at an event like this one — that could be why Gary Illyes, Google’s webmaster trends analyst, is one of the featured speakers.

    Attend this event if you:

    • Think you might be a little behind the curve on mobile marketing — or think you could be doing a little better.
    • Want to learn how mobile marketing aligns with social and SEO efforts
    • Aren’t entirely sure where content marketing and mobile intersect

    5) Content Marketing Conference

    April 11-13, 2017 | Boston, MA | Pricing Info

    There may have once been a time — a simpler time — when content marketing was such a new concept that it seemed pretty singularly-faceted. Create good content and the search traffic will come. But today, things look a lot different. Good content marketing can require a multi-pronged approach, and even has different sub-categories. There’s the creation of good content — be that words, audio, or visual. Then, there’s the distribution. And what’s more, there’s content created specifically for or on a given platform.

    Overwhelmed? Don’t worry. That’s why these events exist, especially the Content Marketing Conference. In fact, its hosts have so much faith in the expertise of the event’s speakers and workshop leaders, they’re assigned the label of “superheroes” — they’re here to save the day for many smart marketers who simply aren’t sure how to manage the many pieces of content marketing.

    Attend this event if you:

    • Want to learn about a specific side of content marketing — this conference allows attendees to choose tracks that focus on one area
    • Are also into comedy — there’s an entire portion of the conference dedicated to comedy for marketers
    • Like comics — this event’s superhero theme seems to permeate almost every element of it.

    6) Experiential Marketing Summit

    May 3-5, 2017 | Chicago, IL | Pricing Info

    We’re not bashful about our love of creating good experiences around here. We love the idea of marketers creating a good story — not just through their digital content, but through real-life opportunities for the public to interact and engage with their specific brands. And while we’ve written about the way that can be accomplished, it can help to have it explained and carried out in front of you.

    That’s why the Experiential Marketing Summit is so helpful. It not only celebrates remarkable work done within the category, but helps marketers learn how to do it themselves.

    Attend this event if you:

    • Think experiential marketing is really cool, but you’re not sure you have the knowledge to pull it off independently
    • Have heard of experiential marketing, but have yet to actually experience it yourself — no pun intended
    • You want to learn from the masters, and gain one-on-one insights from experts from major brands who have accomplished remarkable experiential marketing

    7) SEJ Summit

    May 11, 2017 | Chicago, IL | Pricing Info

    One of our favorite resources for the SEO-specific news outlets is the Search Engine Journal, which provides the “latest search news, the best guides and how-tos for the SEO and marketer community.” So when a publication like this one hosts an event dedicated entirely to what it knows best, chances are the attendees are going to come away with a great deal of knowledge.

    The headline for the event is “Actionable Marketing Education.” That’s our favorite kind — the education that gives people something tangible to implement after walking away from a teachable moment. And while SEJ hasn’t yet announced its 2017 speaker lineup (as of the publication of this post), some of the experts from previous years, who you can see in the video above, leave us confident about this year’s roster.

    Attend this event if you:

    • Prefer events of a smaller scale — this one tends to cap at 200 people
    • Learn best from keynotes, since they make up the majority of this event’s content
    • Stand to gain from SEO-specific education, whether you want to learn the basics or want to enhance your current knowledge level

    8) Digiday Video Anywhere Summit

    May 17-19, 2017 | New Orleans, LA | Pricing Info

    Screen Shot 2017-02-22 at 7.58.10 AM.png

    By now, there should be zero doubt among marketers of the importance of video. After all, 4X as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it, and 43% of people want to see more content in this format from marketers. So if you haven’t figured out how to incorporate video into your overall content strategy — get on it.

    We get it, though. As a marketer, you’ve got a lot to do, and sometimes, something like video might not seem like it should take priority. But if those statistics have convinced you to get the ball rolling and you’re not sure where to begin, it might be a good idea to check out an event dedicated to this type of marketing — like Digiday’s Video Anywhere Summit, which takes many of those most perplexing video-related questions faced by marketers and addresses them head-on with keynotes and workshops.

    Attend this event if you:

    • Are good at making video content, but aren’t sure how to monetize it.
    • Want to learn how outlets like Refinery29 and POPSUGAR approach content marketing
    • Don’t have anyone to go with — this particular event has agenda items like “dinner with strangers” for attendees who are flying solo

    9) C2

    May 24-26, 2017 | Montréal, QC | Pricing Info

    We don’t always get “event envy” around here, but if we did, it would probably be the result of C2: The self-described “three-day immersive event that will transform the way you do business.” Have you ever wondered what the most absurd yet effective brainstorming environment would be for you? We haven’t either. But the minds behind C2 have, which is why each year they have a new “experimental brainstorming” setting, to help attendees become their most creative in the most unusual of surroundings, like in a row of chairs suspended 18 feet off the ground.

    Even we can’t make that up. And that example is highly illustrative of C2’s unconventional nature, which is what we love most about it. It’s a great opportunity to learn — after all the agenda includes master classes and workshops — but it’s also been known to include an enormous playground-like setting with a ferris wheel and other attractions for attendees to experience.

    Attend this event if you:

    • Really don’t like networking events, as this one pushes every boundary it can
    • Enjoy the intersection of marketing and pop culture, and think you could learn something from leaders at brands like Apple and Cirque du Soleil
    • Like an event with a theme — C2 has a different one each year, and the 2017 theme is “ecosystems”

    10) Savage Marketing

    June 13-14, 2017 | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Pricing Info

    Screen Shot 2017-02-22 at 8.03.13 AM.png

    Here’s the thing about marketing: As we mentioned before, there’s no one single type. There’s marketing for different industries, business sizes, formats, and media. There are so many different levels of marketing expertise, how could you possibly expect to fit them all into one event? It’s an effort that some people might even call — wait for it — “savage.”

    That’s why the name of this event is so fitting. It examines the marketing best practices for a number of different industries — like sports — and concentrations, like SEO, data-driven, and customer experience. They’re the important pieces of marketing that, when you’ve got an overflowing plate, can be easy to overlook.

    Attend this event if you:

    • Are so caught up in your day-to-day responsibilities as a marketer, that you forget about some of the sub-topics listed above
    • Work in advertising — this event has an AdTech track
    • Are especially curious about the overall role of tech in marketing

    11) MozCon

    July 17-19, 2017 | Seattle, WA | Pricing Info

    Source: Moz

    SEO, like many other pieces of marketing, is one of those things that can seem really tricky. Just look at how many changes have been made to Google’s algorithm since 2000.

    Now, have another look — and note who compiled that timeline. Why, it’s the good people of Moz: The providers of endless SEO learning resources. So when this brand hosts a three-day event dedicated to SEO, we think everyone stands to benefit from it.

    Attend this event if you:

    • Want to learn anything and everything about SEO
    • Like plenty of socialization built into your networking events — this one has plenty of end-of-the day activities
    • Are curious where and how SEO fits into any marketing role

    13) INBOUND

    September 25-28, 2017 | Boston, MA | Pricing Info

    Here at HubSpot, INBOUND season practically has us singing, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” An entire multi-day event dedicated to inbound marketing? Sign us up.

    Last year, the event boasted over 19,000 attendees, and for good reason — it’s not just a networking event. Of course, there are plenty of opportunities to connect with like-minded marketing professionals, but INBOUND offers a plethora of learning opportunities from interviews with some of notable, knowledgeable figures, like Alec Baldwin.

    Attend this event if you:

    • Enjoy a side of “party” with your networking event — this one offers plenty of opportunities to kick back, as well as learn
    • Want to gain unexpected knowledge in unconventional parts of marketing that can actually be applied to your work
    • Like some entertainment — like live music and standup comedy — mixed with your networking

    14) MarketingProfs’ B2B Marketing Forum

    October 3-6, 2017 | Boston, MA | Pricing Info

    As many marketing events as there are, it seems like those dedicated to B2B are few and far between. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and MarketingProfs is doing its part to make sure that’s no longer the case with its B2B Marketing Forum. “This is your event,” the homepage reads. And it’s true — how many times have you come across a marketing resource with a plethora of consumer-centric learnings and takeaways only to think, “But what about me?” MarketingProfs has heard you, and has built a rather impressive event presence to address your needs.

    Attend this event if you:

    • Think that B2B marketing is capable of being just as sexy as the B2C kind, and want to hear more people talking about it
    • Like examples of good B2C marketing in practice, but want to know how you can apply it to your B2B brand
    • Want to hear about more than just the good stuff, and learn how to address and resolve the biggest challenges faced by B2B marketers

    15) Growth Marketing Conference

    2017 date not yet scheduled | Silicon Valley, CA | Reserve your seat

    Source: Growth Marketing Conference

    Growth: It’s one of the most important things that, as a marketer, you need to make sure your brand experiences. That’s why we think of HubSpot as a growth stack — it’s a collection of Marketing, Sales, and CRM software that all combine to help you, above all else, grow.

    So when we heard about an entire event dedicated to growth marketing, naturally, our interest was piqued. And while no date has been set for the 2017 edition of this conference, there is an option to “reserve your seat” for it on the homepage, suggesting that it will most likely take place late in the year.

    Attend this event if you:

    • Want to hear inspiring stories from organizations that have started small, but experienced measurable, sustainable growth
    • Also want to hear how they did it, and how you can accomplish the same
    • Can’t make it to MozCon — you’re likely to hear similar content here


    No offense to the cheese plate, but most of these event features are much more our style. Of course, we won’t dismiss free snacks and the ability to exchange a handshake, but now you see — it doesn’t have to be stuffy or awkward.

    Go forth, and network. We hope to see you there.

    Which marketing networking events will you attend this year? Let us know in the comments.

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    7 of the Coolest Experiential Marketing Campaigns We’ve Ever Seen


    Work events are really hit or miss. Let’s be honest: How many times have you found yourself anxiously fidgeting with a paper napkin in the corner of a stuffy networking happy hour?

    That’s why I was not only relieved, but also surprised and delighted, when I attended a holiday party that featured a live, interactive version of an arcade game. An entire room had been curated to look like a video game setting, and people were dressed up as characters from it. There was a giant, real-life scoreboard, boppy electronic music, and best of all, there was no tedious small talk.

    It wasn’t just another tired work event … it was an experience. And in our line of work, that sort of thing has a name: Experiential marketing.

    While a surprising number of people haven’t heard of the concept, it’s kind of a big deal — there’s an entire three-day summit dedicated to it, and 65% of brands that use it say that it positively correlates with sales.

    But what is it, exactly? And how has it been used effectively? We found seven of the coolest experiential marketing campaigns that really break down how it works, and how those lessons can be applied to marketers everywhere.

    What Is Experiential Marketing?

    According to Boston-based 451 Marketing, experiential marketing is the act of “creating unique, face-to-face branded experiences.” Instead of just sending a message to your audience — digitally or otherwise — you’re creating an opportunity to interact with your brand in person.

    It might sound a bit like event marketing, which makes sense — experiential campaigns do tend to be event-centric. But there are also times when they have nothing to do with a specific event, as you’ll see from the examples we picked.

    And when they are event-centric, they’re less dedicated to the type of event — like a concert, festival, conference, etc. — and focus more on interaction a specific brand. (If you already have an event in the works, you might want to check out this guide to adding experiential elements to it.)

    These campaigns can take an integrated approach. The primary purpose is to experience a brand in a tangible, offline way, but you’ll still want an online dialogue around it. When you consider that 49% of folks create mobile video at branded events39% of which is shared on Twitter — it makes sense to incorporate a digital element. A branded hashtag, for example, can get people talking about the experience.

    7 of the Coolest Experiential Marketing Campaigns We’ve Ever Seen

    1) Lean Cuisine: #WeighThis

    One night, when I was watching “The Bachelorette” (it’s okay — I judge myself, too) I started tallying how many commercials told women to change something about themselves. The result: I lost count after about two minutes.

    That’s why it’s so refreshing to see brands like Lean Cuisine, whose marketing used to center solely on weight loss, stray from diet-centric messaging. And its #WeighThis campaign is a great example of just that.

    As part of the campaign, Lean Cuisine curated a gallery of “scales” in New York’s Grand Central Station, and invited women to “weigh in.” But here’s the catch: The scales were actually small boards where women could write down how they really wanted to be weighed. And rather than focusing on their weight in pounds — or anything pertaining to body image — the women opted to be measured by things like being back in college at 55, caring for 200 homeless children each day, or being the sole provider to four sons.

    What’s particularly cool about this experience is that none of the participants actually interact with a Lean Cuisine product. No one was interrupted, asked to sample something, or stopped to answer questions. In fact, no one was really asked to do anything — the display itself was enough to make people stop, observe, and then voluntarily interact.

    Lean Cuisine figured out what message it wanted to send: “Sure, we make stuff that fits into a healthy lifestyle. But don’t forget about your accomplishments. That matters more than the number on the scale.” But instead of blatantly advertising that, it created an interactive experience around the message.

    Still, the experience was clearly branded, to make sure people associated it with Lean Cuisine. The company’s Twitter handle and a branded hashtag were featured on the display in large text, which made it easy for people to share the experience on social media. And that definitely paid off — the entire #WeighThis campaign led to over 204 million total impressions.

    Takeaways for marketers:

    • Don’t interrupt — especially if you’re trying to grab someone’s attention in New York City, like Lean Cuisine was. If you create an experience that provides value to the people who pass by it, they’re more likely to participate.
    • Figure out the message you really want to your brand to send — that may or may not be directly tied to an actual product, and it might be something that your brand hasn’t said before. Then, build an experience around it.

    2) Google: “Building a Better Bay Area”

    Corporate philanthropy is definitely on the rise. Between 2012-2014, 56% of companies increased charitable giving, and Google is no exception. But when the search engine giant gave away $5.5 million to Bay Area nonprofits, it let the public decide where that money would go — in an unconventional, interactive way.

    Google allowed people to cast their votes online, but they also wanted to involve the Bay Area community in a tangible way. So they installed large, interactive posters — in places like bus shelters, food trucks, and restaurants — that locals could use to vote for a cause.


    Source: 72andSunny

    In the video below, the narrator notes that this experience reaches “people when they had the time to make a difference.” That’s a big thing about experiential marketing: It allows people to interact with a brand when they have the time. Maybe that’s why 72% percent of consumers say they positively view brands that provide great experiences.

    And that concept works in this experience, because it takes advantage of a “you’re-already-there” mentality. In San Francisco, finding people waiting for the bus or going to food trucks is pretty much a given. So while they were “already there,” Google set up a few opportunities:

    1. To learn about and vote for local nonprofits
    2. To interact with the brand in a way that doesn’t require using its products
    3. To indirectly learn about Google’s community outreach

    With the help of the online voting integration — and a branded hashtag: #GoogleImpactChallenge — the campaign ended up generating 400,000 votes over the course of about three and a half weeks.

    Takeaways for marketers:

    • Create a branded hashtag that participants can use to share the experience on social media. Then, make sure you’ve integrated an online element that allows people to participate when they learn about it this way.
    • Keep it local! It’s always nice when a large corporation gives some love to its community — in fact, 72% of folks say they would tell friends and family about a business’s efforts like these.
    • Remember the “you’re already there” approach. Find out where your audience is already hanging out and engage them there, instead of trying to get them to take action where they don’t usually spend their time.

    3) Misereor: Charity Donation Billboard

    When was the last time you used cash to pay for something?

    Go ahead. I’ll wait.

    Tough to remember, right? We’re kind of a species of “mindless swipers” — globally, an estimated 357 billion non-cash transactions are made each year. And knowing how often we whip out our cards, German relief NGO Misereor decided to put our bad habit to good use with its charitable giving billboard.

    It was what they called a “social swipe”: Set up in airports, these digital posters would display images of some problems that Misereor works to resolve — hunger was depicted with a loaf of bread, for example.

    But the screen was equipped with a card reader, and when someone went to swipe a card — for a small fee of 2€ — the image moved to make it look like the card was cutting a slice of bread.

    Even cooler? On the user’s bank statement, there would be a thank-you note from Misereor, with a link to turn their one-time 2€ donation into a monthly one.

    Needless to say, this experience required a lot of coordination — with banks, airports, and a mobile payment platform. Because of that, the experience couldn’t just be a one-time occurrence. The people who interacted with it were later reminded of it during a pretty common occurrence: receiving a bank statement.

    Takeaways for marketers:

    • Visually represent the impact of participating in the experience. People interacting with this display were shown exactly where their money was going — like slicing bread for a hungry family. (Infographics work nicely here, too — check out our templates.)
    • Partner with another brand to create an even better experience. In this instance, Misereor worked with for the payment technology, and with financial institutions to get a branded message on users’ bank statements. (And stay tuned — we’ll talk more about the value of co-branding here later.)
    • Don’t be afraid to nurture your leads. Even if you don’t use something like a branded hashtag to integrate the experience with an online element, find a way to remind someone that they participated.

    4) Guinness: Guinness Class

    One of my favorite types of marketing is the “aspirational” kind — or as the Harvard Business Review defines it, marketing for brands that “fall into the upper-right quadrant.” Think: Luxury cars, haute couture, and private jets. Things we aspire to owning.

    It’s that last one — private jets — that set apart the Guinness Class experience. For a few weeks, ambassadors dressed in Guinness-branded flight attendant uniforms entered bars across the U.K., where they surprised unsuspecting customers with a chance to win all kinds of prizes.

    In order to participate, bar-goers had to order a pint of Guinness. After doing that, they would shake a prize-generating mobile tablet that displayed what they won. They could win everything from passport cases to keychains, but one player per night would get the ultimate prize: A free trip to Dublin — via private jet, of course — with four mates.

    What we like about this experience was its ability to associate Guinness with something aspirational, like traveling by private jet. And according to Nick Britton, marketing manager for Guinness Western Europe, that held the brand up as one that doesn’t “settle for the ordinary.

    That’s important — and can be tricky — for a brand that’s nearly 257 years old: to maintain its authenticity, while also adapting to a changing landscape and audience. But Guinness didn’t have to change anything about its actual products in this case. Instead, it created an experience that addressed changing consumer preferences — for example, the fact that 78% of millennials would rather spend money on a memorable experience or event than buy desirable things.

    Takeaways for marketers:

    • Think about the things your target audience might aspire to, and that you’d like to associate with your brand. Then, build an experience around that.
    • If you do require a product purchase in order to participate in the experience, make it convenient. In this case, people had to buy a pint of Guinness to win a prize, but they were already in a bar that served it.

    5) GE: Healthymagination

    Think experiential marketing is just for B2C brands? Think again — 67% of B2B marketers say that events make for one of the most effective strategies they use.

    That’s why it made sense for GE to invite industry professionals to experience its Healthymagination initiative. The point of the campaign was to promote global healthcare solutions, especially in developing parts of the world.


    Source: agencyEA

    To help people see the impact of this initiative, GE worked with agencyEA to create “movie sets” that represented different healthcare environments where Healthymagination work took place: a rural African clinic, an urban clinic, and an emergency room. The idea was that doctors would share their stories — live, in front of 700 attendees — that illustrated how GE’s healthcare technology played a major role in each setting.

    When people measure the success of experiential marketing, one thing they measure is how much of a dialogue it prompted. And that makes sense — 71% of participants share these experiences. In GE’s case, the point ofHealthymagination was to get people talking about a pretty important, but uncomfortable issue: Access to healthcare in impoverished parts of the world.

    But when you create a way for people to become physically immersed in the issue, it also allows them to acknowledge a topic that isn’t always easy to talk about. And that can have quite an impact — this particular campaign, in fact, won a Business Marketing Association Tower Award.

    But fear not: That concept also works for not-so-serious, but equally uncomfortable discussion topics. Just look at how well it worked for Charmin.

    Takeaways for marketers:

    • Experiential marketing does work for B2B brands. Think about who you’re selling to, and create an engagement that would not only attract that audience, but also present an opportunity for them to experience your product or service first-hand.
    • Get uncomfortable. If your business centers around something that’s difficult or “taboo” to talk about, creating an experience around it can prompt a conversation. But make sure you keep it respectful — don’t make people so uncomfortable that they have nothing good to say about your brand.

    6) Facebook: Facebook IQ Live

    Facebook — who also owns Instagram — has always understood how much data it has on how people use these platforms. For that reason, it created the Facebook IQ Live experience.

    For this experience, that data was used to curate live scenes that depicted the data. Among them was the IQ Mart: A “retail” setting that represented the online shopper’s conversion path when using social media for buying decisions. There was also a quintessential Instagram cafe, chock full of millennial-esque photo opportunities and people snapping them — latte art and all.

    The campaign wasn’t just memorable. It also proved to be really helpful — 93% of attendees (and there were over 1500 of them) said that the experience provided them with valuable insights on how to use Facebook for business.

    But what makes those insights so valuable? Momentum Worldwide, the agency behind Facebook IQ Live, puts it perfectly: “When we understand what matters to people … we can be what matters to them.” In other words, we can shape our messaging around the things that are important to our target audiences.

    And by creating this experience, Facebook was able to accomplish that for its own brand. In creating this experience, it also created a positive brand perception for a few audiences — including, for example, the people who might have been unsure of how to use the platform for business.

    Takeaways for marketers:

    7) Zappos: “Google Cupcake Ambush”

    To help promote its new photo app, Google took to the streets of Austin, Texas, with a cupcake truck in tow. But people didn’t pay for the cupcakes with dollars — instead, the only accepted currency was a photo taken with said app.

    And really, what’s better than a free-ish cupcake? We’ll tell you what: A free-ish watch or pair of shoes.

    That was the answer from Zappos, anyway. That’s why the brand playfully “ambushed” Google’s food truck experience with one of its own: A box-on-feet — strategically placed right next to Google’s setup, of course — that, when fed a cupcake, would dispense a container with one of the aforementioned goodies.

    In order to reap the rewards of the Zappos box, people had to have a cupcake. So while only one brand came away from the experience with an epic sugar high, both got plenty of exposure. And since 74% of consumers say a branded experience makes them more likely to buy the products being promoted, Google and Zappos both stood to gain new customers from this crowd.

    But what we really like about this example is how much it shows the value of experiential co-branding. Because Google and Zappos pursue two different lines of business, they weren’t sabotaging each other, but rather they were promoting each other (which is what happens when you pick the right co-marketer).

    Takeaways for marketers:

    • Use experiential marketing as a co-branding opportunity:
    • Pick a partner with an audience that would be interested in your brand, but might otherwise be difficult to reach.
    • Make sure your partner would benefit from your audience, too — you want the experience to be a win-win-win: for you, your co-brand, and the consumer.
  • When you do pick a marketing partner, build an experience that requires an “exchange” of each brand’s product or service. That way, the audience is more likely to interact with both of you.
  • Clearly, taking some very calculated risks worked out pretty well for these brands. So when it comes to creating an experience with your brand, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box — and don’t be afraid to work together on it with someone else.

    Invest some time into thinking about the ways people could interact with you, even if it seems a little nutty. If it’s aligned with what you do and executed thoughtfully, people will be talking — in the best way possible.

    Have you seen a really great experiential marketing campaign? Share with us in the comments.

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    Master the Chatter: 8 Tips to Get Your Event Trending on Twitter

    It’s every event marketer’s dream: Pulling up your phone during your event and quickly peeking at Twitter, only to discover that your event’s hashtag is trending. After all of your hard work putting the event together, seeing people engaging in conversation online (lots of conversation online) is a huge validation. 

    But that seems like an incredible feat to accomplish when you’ve got so many other moving pieces in the event planning process. So how do you prepare for your event so you have a better chance of trending on Twitter?

    To help you make the most of the chatter on Twitter, we put together the following tips. Check ‘em out to see how you can join the conversation and get your event trending.

    1) Showcase streams in real time.

    Branded hashtags are a great way to connect with your audience both before and during the event. By using one hashtag consistently, it’ll help keep the conversation all in one place. Also, keep your hashtag short and sweet — that’ll make it easy to remember and free up more characters in people’s tweets.

    It’s also extremely important to educate attendees and get them to engage with the hashtag before and the day of your event. Before the event, send out emails and tweets using the hashtag, and let people know they can network pre-event using the hashtag.

    At the event, display it on screens, posters, collateral, giveaways, t-shirts, napkins, pre-presentation slides, and pretty much everywhere you can think. Also make sure you tell people to use the hashtag and follow the hashtag for event updates.

    HubSpot’s Social Media Community Manager, Chelsea Hunerson, also recommends choosing your hashtag’s words carefully:

    To me, setting people up for success means making sure that the hashtag is clear and is everywhere. Using easy-to-remember hashtags (ex: #humansofinbound) is the best way to jumpstart usage.”

    Pro tip: Boost Twitter conversations during the event by broadcasting tweets using the hashtag in real time on screens around the conference. This will encourage people to tweet more, whether it be about their favorite quotes or sessions, in hopes of seeing their own post on the big screen.

    2) Designate a day-of social media manager.

    Your on-site social media manager should be prepared with several things:

    1. Have the streams they should be monitoring created ahead of time, so they can easily see all the conversations going on.
    2. Create a list of FAQs you expect to come through, so that all a social media monitor needs to do is copy and paste the answer. This saves times and energy.  
    3. Have content created and scheduled through a social media monitor tool ahead of time so that they can spend more time posting ad-hoc things throughout the day. With everything scheduled, there’s more time for real-time conversations.

    Pro tip: Follow up all questions on Twitter with a tweet including the hashtag.

    3) Post content that packs a punch.

    Tweets with images receive 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites, and 150% more retweets. During the event, post pictures of speakers, parties, networking, and quotes; short video clips; and live-streams of the event. Seeing awesome content from the event will encourage people in attendance to share their own experience and memories.

    Pro tip: Dedicate somebody from your team to take short videos and pictures around the event to help you post live media. If it’s a large venue, try to have three or more people dedicated to taking videos and pictures, and posting directly to Twitter.

    4) Run a contest to encourage people to use the hashtag.

    To encourage more tweets, host a contest. To enter, all they need to do to is tweet with the hashtag and an image from the event.

    Pro tip: Have a social leaderboard, showing top tweeters, and reward those who tweet the most after the event with free swag, a free ticket to your next event, or another great prize applicable to your attendees. Enabling people to share awesome content and get rewarded for it will certainly be a huge driver towards getting your event to trend on Twitter.

    5) Geotag your tweets.

    Enable location services on Twitter to geotag each tweet you post about the event. This feature is off by default, so make sure to activate it before Tweeting at your event.

    Why geotag tweets? Adding your location to every post will allow another layer to getting your event trending. People can click the location and see other pictures and videos from the event, allowing the opportunity to engage and share with other attendees.

    Pro tip: Use the attendee geotagged posts as user-generated content — retweet great videos and images that you didn’t get a chance to capture or record. It’s also a great way to share the perspective of the attendee rather than the organizer, which is your POV. The more content, the more shares and likes that will allow your event to trend on Twitter.

    6) Give ‘em photo opps.

    Eventbrite’s study with Mashworks found that 78% of media posts during events are pictures. So make your venue photo-worthy by paying attention to the details, such as purchasing wine glasses stamped with your logo or setting up a branded photo booth. Encourage photo taking with signs and hashtag mentions anywhere you have a great location for a photo. If you purchase wine glasses for a happy hour, for example, put a notecard next to the wine glasses that asks people to tweet a photo of them with the glasses.

    Pro tip: Hire someone to take photos of people and send the photo to them directly on Twitter. Don’t have a huge budget? Send one of your teammates around the event with a smartphone — there are tons of free and inexpensive photo editing apps they can use.

    7) Get support from sponsors.

    Partnering with sponsors on social media can help you encourage participation and increase use of your hashtag. Ask sponsors to use the hashtag in all their tweets as well. If they run contests, follow the same rules you made about requiring use of the hashtag to enter. For example, your sponsor can offer a reward to participants who complete and post a photo scavenger hunt at the event. Both your sponsor and event get more coverage, and your attendees get a fun, interactive challenge.

    Pro tip: Offer a sponsorship discount for a specific number of sponsor tweets with images at the event to harness their influence on Twitter.

    8) Tap into your speakers’ influencer power.

    It’s likely that the speakers at your event have some sort of influence in your industry, which is why they are presenting in front of your attendees. Tap into the influence they have on stage and ask them to do two things:

    1. Tweet a picture or video (e.g. selfie or scan the audience) on stage and use the hashtag in the post.
    1. Have a Q&A session in the last 10 minutes of their presentation, and have people enter questions on Twitter using the hashtag. (If you go this route, make sure you have someone in the room dedicated to fielding these questions for the speaker.)

    Pro tip: Encourage competitive fun at events with speakers by having a contest of the most re-tweeted stage selfie. Encourage other speakers to participate and see who can get retweeted the most.

    What other tips do you have for getting more attention for your event on Twitter?

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    45 Business Traveling Hacks That’ll Save You Time, Stress & Money

    In theory, traveling for a conference seems glamorous. Your company is paying for you to go someplace new and exciting where you’ll stay in swanky hotels, meet lots of fabulous people, and learn tons of new things.

    But sometimes, reality isn’t so sweet. Maybe your flight gets delayed, or your luggage gets lost, or your hotel room has a barely functional A/C unit, or your favorite suit somehow ends up with coffee all over it.

    Not so glamorous after all. 

    Luckily, there are a few things you can do to stack the deck in your favor. I polled my teammates — all frequent business travellers — to find out their favorite hacks and tricks for making conference travel more enjoyable. Below is what they recommend you do on your next conference trip.

    Waiting to book your trip to INBOUND15? Today’s the day to do it. We’re releasing 75 tickets for only $630 — just use the code HEATWAVE when you check out.

    Planning Your Trip

    1) Make sure you understand your company’s expense policies. Knowing what kinds of things you can expense and how the whole process works will help you make smart purchasing decisions on the road.

    2) Let Twitter and Facebook know you’ll be in town to get recommendations from locals.

    3) Are all the hotel rooms booked or too expensive? Try staying in an AirBnB instead.

    4) Delete your browser’s cookies (or use an incognito browser) before you book your trip — it could reduce your fare. Some airlines and other travel sites will show you higher rates each time you come back to their site.

    5) Want a good seat? Don’t pick it when you’re buying your tickets. Usually the more expensive (and desirable) seats will be the last ones available on the day of your trip — and when you show up, you’ll get assigned to them.

    6) If you really want to pick your seat ahead of time, check out Seat Guru to see which ones are best. 

    7) Use apps like TripIt to easily keep track of your itinerary and travel details. 

    8) Download Uber, Lyft, or alternative transportation apps available in your destination before arriving so you can easily get to your hotel once you’re on the ground. (And if you notice the people you meet want to use them too, you can usually share a referral code to get free credits on the platform.)

    9) Subscribe to local email newsletters like Thrillist and UrbanDaddy to get ideas of fun things to do near the conference.

    10) Use loyalty programs and points to your advantage if you’re traveling a lot. Once you sign up for one for a hotel and/or airline, always book your travel and accommodations with them so you can rack up free rewards.

    Packing Your Bags

    11) Pack lots of Advil and Band Aids — it’ll save you from tracking down a nearby convenience store when your shoes start to bother you or you find yourself with a splitting headache.

    12) Bring a comfy, versatile bag you can easily stuff swag and business cards into. 

    13) Put a Tide-to-Go pen in your bag — you’ll be grateful to have it when something inevitably spills during an important dinner. 

    14) Pack a power strip and extra chargers for your days at the conference. Not only will you make friends with other folks hunting for an open outlet, but you also will never be caught without power.

    15) Another option is to buy an external battery pack for your phone. It’s a little less of an icebreaker than the previous tip, but it can help you stay charged all day.

    16) If you’ve never worn a pair of shoes before, don’t bring them to the conference. You won’t know know how painful they will be until you’re actually wearing them all day — and when you’re in a new place, the last thing you want to worry about is your feet hurting.

    17) Bring a jacket or sweater, even in the summer. Conferences can be freezing!

    18) Pack clothes that can all match. That way, if you realize you need to be warmer/cooler or more/less fancy than you originally anticipated, you can easily adjust your outfit without worrying if it matches. 

    19) Bring an envelope to keep all of your receipts in. This will make it much easier to do your expense report when you’re back in the office.

    20) Buy a reusable bag for your liquids and fill it with reusable containers of your favorite shampoo, conditioner, face wash, and lotion. If you travel a lot, having small, reusable containers of your favorite goods can definitely help you cut down on costs. 

    21) Add a few small grocery bags to your suitcase. If you end up needing to bring home dirty/smelly/wet clothing, you can put them in those bags so the rest of your clothes stay clean.

    22) Going to a conference in another country? Print out your conference and hotel information — it’ll make it much easier for you to fill out travel documents and chat with officials at the border. 

    23) Also, email yourself all of your important documents (flights, conference, and identification) before you leave. That way, if your baggage gets lost or stolen, you’ll still have all the information you need. 

    Traveling Without Stress

    24) Write out all the addresses for places you need to be and the times you need to be there. That way, if WiFi isn’t available and your phone’s data is spotty, you can still figure out your schedule.

    25) For the same reason, you should also take pictures of all the maps you need to reference. Don’t get stranded because your phone can’t access the internet. 

    26) Download a bunch of episodes of your favorite podcasts for when you’re in transit without WiFi or seated next to a Chatty Cathy.

    27) Opt for the carry-on — even if it’s free to check your bags. Besides enabling you to quickly get out of the airport once your flight lands, carrying on your bags also makes sure your things don’t get lost in transit.  

    28) If you travel a lot, look into getting pre-approved by TSA. If you’re approved, you can go through security much faster than you would otherwise.

    29) When you’re on a plane, train, or bus, check under the seats! Sometimes there will be power outlets for your laptops — but they’re just a bit hidden at first.

    Upgrading Your Accommodations

    30) Want an upgrade? Ask for it. You’d be surprised how helpful and accommodating the hotel staff can be when you ask for their help.

    31) Check Yelp and Foursquare to get under-the-radar, local tips. For example, many people will leave the hotel’s WiFi password in reviews of the hotel on those platforms. 

    32) Want to relax after a long day at the conference? Pick up some bath salts to use in your hotel’s giant bathtub. 

    33) If you want to stream movies without paying a huge fee to your hotel, bring your Chromecast or Roku from home. All you need to do is connect to the hotel’s WiFi and plug your streaming device into the back of your TV. Voila: All The Office you could ever want to watch. 

    34) Did you fill up all the outlets, but still need to charge your phone? Look behind the TV — there’s usually a USB outlet you can plug your cord in to begin charging.  

    35) If you’re looking for a place to eat at the last minute, check out OpenTable. The app will show you open reservations at nearby places. Just click to book your reservation, then head to the restaurant. This is especially helpful if you’re trying to find a last-minute dinner place for a larger group. 

    Making the Most of the Conference

    36) Even if you plan to check email during the conference, set up an out-of-office reply to let people know you might be slow to respond.

    37) Sign out of all of your company’s instant messaging programs so you’re not constantly getting bothered by other folks in the office.

    38) Many conferences have groups, hashtags, or event invitations online to help connect attendees and keep them up-to-date on conference information. Make sure you’ve found and joined them so you can make connections before you arrive. 

    39) Once you’re actually at the event, try to walk around the conference space before everything gets kicked off so you know where you need to go during the event.

    40) Scout out the conference agenda in advance to get an idea of what sessions you want to attend — that way you know which sessions you want to grab a good seat for (and which ones you’re okay with sitting in the back). 

    41) Losing battery? Turn your phone on airplane mode — it’ll disconnect you from your cellphone data, WiFi, and Bluetooth, but some devices allow you to re-enable the latter two while staying in airplane mode.

    42) When you have access to WiFi, download the conference app to your phone. These apps often contain agenda information and ways to chat with other attendees.

    43) Take a photo of the conference map before you get to the venue and then set it as your background. It’s an easy way to keep track of where you need to be without flipping through booklets or using your cell phone’s data. 

    44) Minimize the awkwardness of networking by memorizing a few icebreakers and graceful exit lines

    45) Practice your elevator pitch so it sounds smooth and natural. You never know whom you’ll be standing next to during happy hour.

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    $630 INBOUND 2015 All-Access Pass




    Coachella, Tomorrowland, Bonnaroo & More: How Top Music Festivals Use Social Media

    English music producer Simon Cowell once told Rolling Stone Magazine, “You have this amazing thing now called fan power. The whole world is linked through a laptop. It’s absolutely brilliant.”

    He was talking about music artists here, but this can apply to any type of event host or marketer. Social media allows us to promote our events more strategically, listen to and engage with our fans, enhance attendee experience, help measure the event’s overall success, and find areas for improvement in the next time you put it on.

    Music festivals have a lot to teach social media marketers about using Twitter and YouTube to promote and enhance attendee experience for their own events. To help extract some of these lessons, we looked at a few major music festivals in the U.S. and Europe.

    How do they use Twitter to ensure their event runs smoothly? How do they use YouTube for advertising?And how can they leverage Twitter engagement to identify the emotions their fans expressed before, during, and after the event?

    Let’s tune in to some of this year’s biggest festivals — from Coachella to Tomorrowland — to see how smartly they leveraged social media, using insights and metrics provided by advanced social media analytics tool Talkwalker.

    (And click here to learn everything you need to know about live-tweeting an event.)

    Making a Splash on YouTube

    What better way to tell prospective attendees what your event is going to be like than showing them videos from past iterations?

    The folks who market Belgium’s famous music festival, Tomorrowland, got 37.4 million views and over 250,000 likes on their promotional video, as of this posting. That’s 10X as many views as Sziget, Coachella, EDC, EXIT, Lollapalooza, and Bonnaroo combined.

    Making Twitter a Reliable Place for Information

    Looking for a way to amplify your message? Twitter is one of the best avenues for broadcasting constant and timely information about practicalities, codes of conduct, recycling, health and safety, on-site activities, and much more.

    For inspiration, let’s take a look at some of the best examples of how music festival marketers use Twitter during their events.

    1) Sharing logistical information

    2) Advising visitors to be eco-friendly and to keep the place clean

    3) Reminding people to take care of their health & safety

    4) Promoting on-site activities

    What happens if you ignore your attendees on Twitter?

    “Is there an infirmary?”

    “Which is the best parking entrance?”

    “Where can I see the program?”

    Nowadays, when event attendees have questions, many of them will turn to Twitter for answers — and they’ll expect a response. Quickly.

    Twitter is a great way for organizers to provide assistance to a wide audience in a timely and cost-effective manner, provided you use a good social monitoring system. This way, event hosts can both keep visitors happy and detect early signs of crisis, which will likely improve sales on-site and encourage attendees to come back again next time.

    In our social media analysis, we noticed that Electric Daisy Carnival, a music festival based in Las Vegas, wasn’t properly monitoring their Twitter feeds. They announced the hashtag #EDCHELP ahead of time as an official hashtag channel for all customer inquiries — and yet, no representative seemed to have taken charge of answering any of the questions and complaints posted on Twitter.

    The result? Regular festival-goers like Christopher Chen suddenly found themselves becoming spontaneous customer service agents. He saw that no one was answering people’s questions on the #EDCHELP hashtag and took it upon himself to provide information and advice to random fans.

    Here are the first tweets from Chen to @EDC_LastVegas, which he tagged with #EDCHELP:

    And here are some tweets from Chen to EDC attendees when he began replying to their questions:

    Depending how many people attend your event, make sure that you have enough people on staff to answer attendee’s questions on Twitter. (HubSpot customers: Learn how to create streams in the social monitoring tool here.)

    Drumming Up Excitement With Hashtags

    Hashtags now play an essential role in increasing the social media presence of brands because they encourage discussions online. Once you choose and announce an official event hashtag, be sure to use it in every single tweet about the event, even if you have to shorten the copy of the tweet itself to make room.

    While many events create official hashtags (like EDC did with #EDCHELP), it’s also interesting to analyze the unofficial hashtags. These are hashtags attendees tweet that make sense to them when they don’t bother to look up the official hashtag.

    For example, the Budapest music festival Sziget’s trending hashtags this year included #Budapest (which is great news for the city’s tourist office) and #szitizen, which is related to their Mission:Szitizen game, an international game the music festival’s marketing team put on with the goal of inspiring the most dedicated Sziget fans to show the whole world what they got.

    From the chart below, you can also see that that the #szitizen hashtag was not once used in a negative way. From this, marketers can derive that a lot of people felt mostly positive about that campaign:

    Here were the trending hashtags for California-based festival Coachella (left) and Tennessee-based festival Bonnaroo (right), along with figures on their use over 30 days, both overall and split by positive and negative sentiment.

    Feel the Social Media Vibes

    How are people feeling about your event? We thought it would be fun to see how people were feeling about Lollapalooza, a Chicago-based music festival that takes place in late July and early August each year using the keyword cloud from social media monitoring tool Talkwalker.

    Vibes were positive: The word “excited” came up first in terms of volume with 633 hits over the last month in combination with the word “Lollapalooza.”

    It’s interesting to compare the performance of top keywords related to one event over a series of iterations. How did people feel about Lollapalooza last year compared to this year? Which words came up at what volume over the last few years?

    Keyword trends as a whole will also help you come up with the right wording in your next social media and SEO campaigns, and can ultimately help you differentiate your event.

    These are just a few of the social media marketing tips that we recommend to event marketers. Have more tips? Share with us in the comments, or tweet us at @Talkwalker.

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    Confessions of a Jaded Conference Attendee: 5 Things I Loved About INBOUND

     Remember your very first conference?

    You carefully deliberated over every single session in the weeks leading up to it, bought a special outfit, and got a thrill when you finally arrived and saw your name covered in plastic.

    “My very own name tag? I’ll save this forever!”

    As the years progress, it can be hard to retain that type of excitement. After attending dozens and dozens of events, you begin to show the telltale signs of “conference fatigue” — namely, dumping the program in the trash can just past registration and making a beeline for the bar.  

    Last September leading up to HubSpot’s INBOUND event saw me at one of those jaded, gag-me-with-a-lanyard-already moments. My expectations were low, and I’ll admit, I only ended up going because I really, really wanted to hear some of the amazing keynote speakers.

    However, to my great surprise, I left the conference feeling invigorated, as if I had just experienced the mother of all marketing conferences.

    With that said, below you’ll find five things I ended up doing at last year’s INBOUND event that turned out to be awesome … but that I never would have expected.

    The Top 5 Things I Loved About INBOUND

    1) Training

    If you’ve been looking not just for conference sessions, but for training and development opportunities in modern marketing, INBOUND is the place to be.

    I brought a team of marketing colleagues from my company to the show as part of their own education, and each one of them raved about all of the things they learned and the quality of the speakers. These presentations went far beyond just case studies and best practices. They were truly valuable learning sessions for marketers of all stripes.

    When we got back to the office, some of them even shared summaries of what they learned with their fellow team members who could not attend. Throughout the rest of the year, it was normal to hear people drop these lessons into conversations: “Well, as Rand Fishkin told me when I asked him about this at INBOUND…” and “The person who runs this kind of project at LinkedIn talked about this at INBOUND and she actually advises…”

    2) Recruiting 

    Thousands upon thousands upon thousands of marketers. All interested in inbound marketing. Day after day. In the same building together — and sometimes even in the same room.

    Where could you find a better talent pool to recruit from, especially if you are looking for people who know how to use modern marketing software? 

    INBOUND is a marketing recruiter and hiring manager’s dream come true. I met so many amazingly talented marketers at this conference, and it was clear to me that the best and brightest stars in marketing come out in full-force for the event (and not just from the United States). I met people who came from countries all over the world, including two people who had traveled to Boston from an inbound agency in Istanbul.

    Talk about opening up your recruitment efforts to a broader talent pool.

    3) Job Hunting

    Another thing that struck me about INBOUND is that many people who attend are actively looking for new opportunities in their careers.

    While it’s great for hiring managers and recruiters, it’s also the perfect place to be if you’re fresh out of college, interested in moving into a different area of marketing, or simply looking for a new job. 

    And I wasn’t the only one looking for marketing genius in between conference sessions. When I mentioned to a tech company CMO that I had been trying to fill certain positions, he admitted that the sole reason he and his directors were attending INBOUND was to keep an eye out for talent.

    4) Networking 

    It goes without saying that you should network at conferences in general, but at a conference this large and full of so many marketers interested in learning and making connections, the act of networking somehow seems a lot easier.

    At INBOUND, the difference is that you’re surrounded by like-minded marketers. I’ve never been at a conference where people would so readily introduce themselves and instantly have things in common to talk about — whether they were a HubSpot customer, a partner, a vendor, or simply a die-hard fan. 

    During one of the lunchtime breaks I had to take a phone call for work, and as soon as I put my phone down, an agency owner came over to talk to me. Her business was fascinating, and she couldn’t stop raving about inbound marketing and how it was transforming her life.

    Moral of the story? Passionate advocates of good, non-intrusive marketing methods are everywhere you look at INBOUND.

    5) Having Fun

    Live concerts, special group events, food trucks, photo booths, happy hours … who knew a conference could be so much fun?  I had never attended a conference with such an amazing collection of people, let alone an agenda full of so many thoughtfully prepared, exciting activities for all of us.

    And that’s when it hit me. The reason I’d suffered from conference fatigue in the past was due to the fact that most conferences feel like work. And in many cases, they’re best comparable to a longer-than-normal workday in which you’re on your feet all day and then work again at night to catch up with your “day job.”

    In contrast, my experience at INBOUND was that the overall vibe is one of enjoyment and professional enrichment. It doesn’t feel like work. It feels like play — the kind of play that marketers need in order to fuel creativity, master new technologies, and further enhance our ever-expanding set of skills.

    If you need to get some training, recruit new team members, find a new job, network with peers, or simply let loose and have a great time, I hope to see you at INBOUND 2015.

    Yes, you’ll definitely get your own name tag, but will you want to save it forever? Nah — you’ll just want to come back again to get a new one … like I will this year.

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    How to Promote an Event Using Online Marketing [Infographic]


    Preparing to run an event can sometimes feel like you’re sprinting a marathon. Months before you even announce your event to the public, you and your team have already started concepting the event, booking the venues, procuring speakers and activities, creating the materials … and so on and so forth. There’s no denying that organizing the logistics of an event is a ton of work.

    But checking all the logistical boxes ahead of your event is only part of the battle. The other critical part? Making people aware of the event — and getting them to actually sign up. If you fail to create buzz around your event, you can’t expect to fill many seats.

    Don’t worry: There’s plenty you can do online to help get people to notice, care about, and register for your next event. Email marketing, mobile marketing, search engine optimization, and social media all have important roles to play in marketing your event online.

    To help you get started, DataHero teamed up with Eventbrite to create the infographic below. Check it out to learn best practices for marketing your event online so you can drive awareness, registrations, and engagement with your target audience.


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    14 Helpful Tips for Getting the Most Out of a Conference


    This post originally appeared on HubSpot’s Sales Blog. To read more content like this, subscribe to Sales.

    So you’re going to a conference.

    What’s in store for you? You’ll attend dozens of sessions led by professionals in your industry, meet a ton of new people, and take home lots of great swag.

    If you’re a conference-going expert, you probably have your own short list of tried-and-true tactics for making the most of a conference. (If so, we’d love to hear in the comments.) But if not, never fear — we’ve got your back with our best tips for how to do it right.

    Pregame: Before You Go

    Be prepared. Be prepared. Be prepared.

    It bears repeating. The quickest way to throw away hundreds of dollars (besides actually throwing them away) is to go to a conference without sitting down and formulating a plan first.

    It’s not exactly military statecraft, but it’s essential. I guarantee there will be no time to stop and pause once you arrive at the event, so take some time to complete the following items before you board that plane/train/bus.

    1) Review the agenda.

    This one’s a no-brainer. Set a goal for what you’d like to learn at the conference, and use the agenda to devise a plan specifically tailored to that goal. Make sure to attend conference-wide events like keynote addresses. Most conferences won’t hold breakout sessions during these presentations, so you won’t have to worry about missing out on anything else.

    When it comes to smaller sessions, consider both the speaker and the subject matter. Highly tactical sessions are generally useful to attend regardless of who leads them. However, sessions less directly related to your profession can be valuable as well if they’re led by an industry figure you’re angling to meet.

    2) Orient yourself.

    Familiarize yourself with the conference space so you don’t get lost. You don’t want to miss important information, or for a roomful of people to form a negative first impression of you by showing up late.

    If you’re attending a smaller conference, it should be enough to take a half hour or so the night before or early in the morning on day one to walk around the space. For larger conferences, this might not be feasible, especially if the show will be held across multiple venues. Grab a map from the host, and keep a copy on your phone or print one out to reference between sessions.

    3) Find out who’s going.

    The people you’ll attend sessions with are as important as the sessions themselves. There’s no better time to network with your peers, connect with new prospects, or touch base with customers than at a conference.

    Most conferences will have a Facebook event page and/or a Twitter hashtag set up. The conference hosts will start promoting these pages in advance of the event, and they’re a great way to keep track of acquaintances and people you’d like to meet.

    Don’t count on simply running into prospects at the conference. Instead, reach out to them ahead of time to let them know you’ll both be in attendance. This way, you can book time on their calendars and have their full, undivided attention instead of trying to cram a 15-minute conversation into a stop-and-chat.

    4) Set an out-of-office reply.

    Let’s be honest: You’ll probably be checking your work email during the conference. But even if you are, you definitely won’t be able to respond at the same clip as you do in the office. Make sure prospects and customers know why they might not hear from you for a few days by setting up an out-of-office reply.

    (For inspiration, check out these hilarious examples of out-of-office replies.)

    5) Bring the right gear.

    Conferences are multi-day affairs where you’ll be booking long hours each day. To remove as much stress as possible from your experience, make sure you’ve taken care of these things before you board the plane:

    • Keep your phone and laptop chargers with you. You’re going to spend a huge part of your day on your devices — don’t get caught with dead batteries.
    • Pack enough business cards. Make sure you have some on hand and a stash in your luggage. You never know how many people you’re going to meet.
    • Bring the materials you need for demos. By no means should you spend the conference pitching to people who don’t want to be pitched. However, if one of those pre-set prospect meetings turns into a real sales opportunity, it’ll be more efficient — and impressive — if you can provide a walkthrough on the spot.

    Once You’re There

    You’re here … Now what? The next few days will be a whirlwind of activity, but don’t be overwhelmed. You’re armed with a goal and a plan — there are only a few additional things to keep in mind to help you make the most of your time.

    6) Register early.

    You don’t want to be stuck at the registration desk while everyone else is off to the races. Register as early as possible so you can minimize your time standing in lines and maximize your time learning and meeting people.

    7) Divide and conquer.

    If you’re attending with coworkers, try and see as much as possible. If each of you attends the same sessions and events, your company might as well have only sent one of you. Splitting up for sessions will maximize how much you’re able to learn and ensure that each of you has unique insights to take back to your company. Plan to get lunch or dinner each day to regroup on key takeaways.

    Flying solo also means you’ll each be able to meet more people. Huge conferences can foster pack mentality, but the more attendees you can meet and speak with, the more of an asset you’ll be to your sales team. Discovering how your business fits into the larger industry and how other companies run their sales divisions are invaluable insights. A conference is an unparalleled opportunity to pick the brains of your competition and your market. Don’t waste it.

    8) Connect with your customers.

    Sure, you might have exchanged emails with your customers in the last few months, but nothing beats a face-to-face interaction. If things aren’t going so well, this is a great opportunity to address any issues before you get a cancellation call. But don’t feel as though you have to solve every problem today; talk through any high-level concerns your customer may have and then set a follow up time for after the conference.

    And if things are going well, checking in will not only reinforce your relationship — it’ll also be fun! Enjoy spending time with a happy customer, and listen for upsell opportunities.

    9) Follow up with prospects.

    You’ve set up meetings with prospects. Now, put that time to use. Listen to their anxieties and concerns, and demonstrate how your product can help address those issues and bring their business to the next level.

    Don’t go into these meetings expecting to close deals on the spot. Like you, your prospects are attending this conference to learn and gain expertise. Use these conversations to set yourself up for future targeted conversations addressing specific pain points or questions. Close each conversation with a list of takeaways, and let prospects know you’ll be following up with relevant materials.

    10) Participate in the larger conversation.

    Most conferences will have a dedicated hashtag. During the event, make sure you’re tagging your tweets and Instagrams properly. You can also monitor the hashtag throughout the conference to see what people are talking about. Striking up a conversation online is a great way to reach out to someone you’re interested in meeting but haven’t come across in person yet.

    (And if you’re not active on social media, here’s a primer on why you should be.)

    11) Stay organized.

    Conferences are information avalanches. Between breakout sessions, workshops, one-on-one conversations, and happy hours, you’ll come away with more notes, names, and numbers than you can possibly remember. This wealth of information will serve you well going forward, but if you come home with a mess of business cards and a set of notes without labels or tags, you’ll spend double the time organizing everything and trying to recall what you discussed with “Jennifer Chicago CEO.”

    Thankfully, it’s not hard to keep yourself on track, so long as you strike when the iron’s hot. Write on the back of people’s business cards to remind yourself of the salient points of your conversation, or digitally capture the cards and take notes in an app such as CamCard. Include details about what session or happy hour you met them at — anything that will jog your memory a day or a week after the fact.

    If you take notes by hand, you should at the very least include headings and start a new page at the beginning of every session, lest your notes become one long run-on list of bullet points. If you’re more inclined to keep everything digital, Evernote is one of the apps all salespeople should have. You can create a dedicated notebook for your conference notes, and tag each note with multiple labels to organize any way you want — by topic, speaker, or even which day the session took place.

    Postgame: Once You’re Home

    Take some time to decompress after you arrive home. … But not too much, because your work’s not finished. The days and weeks after a conference are when you’ll be able to put everything you’ve learned to use and turn your short meet-and-greets into fruitful business partnerships.

    12) Do some housekeeping.

    All that information you gathered from customers and prospects? It’s time to transfer it into your CRM. Jot down everything you can remember from your conversations so that when you follow up, you’re able to view new insights in the context of the larger relationship.

    13) Follow up.

    Connecting with people you met during the conference is best done in the days immediately following your return. Send follow-up notes and LinkedIn requests while the conference is still fresh in everyone’s minds. Include a personalized message to accompany your request on LinkedIn. Remember, everyone’s inbox will be flooded, so make yourself memorable by reminding your new connection what you discussed. Check out this guide to writing the perfect LinkedIn invitation for more advice.

    Now is also the time to make use of the insights you gained from your prospects. Whether it’s sending them content or scheduling a demo, make use of what you learned from your one-on-ones to get them closer to signing on with your company. Make sure your follow-ups are appropriately tailored to what you discussed — another reason you’ll want to organize your notes.

    14) Teach.

    The insights you gained at the conference are likely to be useful for your team, so make sure to set aside time to pass on what you learned. Whether it’s leading an in-person session or writing an email or post to document the most valuable information, proactively sharing information will help your colleagues do better work while establishing you as a leader on your team.

    There’s no better place than a conference to take stock of the state of your industry and your profession. Make the most of your time, and have fun!

    What other conference tips do you have? Share with us in the comments below.

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    Should You Attend That Event? 9 Questions to Help You Find Out


    Figuring out whether you and your team should attend a conference can be tricky. Getting out of the office sounds like a no-brainer, but when you start thinking about taking time “off,” traveling, paying for the conference itself, and what you’ll actually do once you get there, the answer starts to feel a little less clear.

    So how can you figure out whether a conference is “worth it” to attend? How can you make the decision to send your team … or not? While your decision will ultimately depend on what your team does, what your goals are, and how much budget you have available, below are some questions you can ask yourself to figure out whether you should be packing your suitcase for the event.

    1) Will the conference help you develop better relationships?

    Many people overlook the value of developing relationships with clients, partners, and customers at in-person events. Shaking somebody’s hand and delivering the phrase “So nice to finally meet you!” could make the difference between a good relationship with someone important to your business and a great one.

    If the event location happens to be in your contact’s hometown or you know they’ll be attending the event, it might make sense for you to allocate budget to attending, too. These opportunities can be few and far between, so putting some of your budget towards conferences that allow you to have that face-to-face time can be worth it.

    2) Will the conference help you generate quality leads?

    If you’re sending your team to stand in a booth all day, think about the cost of the quality leads you may or may not obtain. Is spending $5K-$10K on a three-day tradeshow worth the handful of business cards you collected?

    It’s very possible that it could be worth it, depending on the size of the conference, type of people who attend, where your booth is located, and what your average deal size is — but the important thing here is to think about what kind of results you’d need to justify sending people to the conference. The best conferences you can attend will not only bring in leads for your company, but also educate your team, strengthen external relationships, and help your team develop skills related to their jobs.

    Which leads us to our next point …

    3) Can you prove ROI to management?

    Return on Investment: A term marketers are all too familiar with. Proving a conference’s value to your management can be a challenge, especially if your company is on a tight budget. And how do you prove ROI before you’ve even booked your ticket to the conference?

    Though you can’t really calculate ROI until after you’ve spent the time and money attending, here are two things you could use to uncover the conference’s potential impact:

    • Opportunity Cost: If you don’t send your team, what would you be missing out on? What knowledge or skill set would you not be developing to grow at your job and ultimately help the company? What connections would you miss out on? The answer to these questions can be tricky to find, but Googling the event’s past reviews could come in handy.
    • Competitors: Are they going to the event? How is their marketing grade compared to yours? Did they attend this conference last year and get a ton of engagement from it? Knowing this information can help understand the potential ROI — if your competitors had success last time, it means that there’s a market of people at the event who could be a good fit for your company, too. 

    4) Are there speaking opportunities available?

    You don’t have to just be an attendee to get value from a conference. 

    For example, there might be an opportunity to speak about something you’re an expert in. Maybe the conference website has a call for interested speakers, and you could sign yourself up. Or maybe you know someone who’s running the event, and you send ’em a quick note explaining your interest in speaking. Or maybe you see a panel already booked on the website that you know you could add value to, and you let the organizers know. By being a speaker, you not only can establish yourself as a credible expert, but you also have a handy “excuse” to tune into the rest of the sessions that day. 

    5) Can you easily make connections with others on social media?

    Sometimes, engaging on social media with other event attendees can be just as valuable as actually attending the conference. Many conferences will have a hashtag, a Twitter account dedicated to the event, a place to take pictures, live video streaming, and more, giving you lots of opportunities to meet and connect with other people at the conference. If a conference doesn’t make this easy for you, you might need to get creative to find new, interesting people to meet. (And those efforts could be time-consuming and/or expensive.)

    6) Can you blog about it after? (And will that blog post perform well?)

    As an inbound marketer, you’re always trying to figure out what piece of content to create next. When you’re evaluating an event, take a second to consider whether you could create any content from the conference that your readers would want to read about. Could you recap one of the panel discussions or find time to interview one of the best speakers for your next blog post?

    If the answer to these questions is “yes,” this event could be of great value for you. Blogging about your experiences will give you a chance to better engage with your fellow attendees and get traffic to your site. If you do a really bang-up job on the post and the conference coordinators notice, you might even use that post as proof that you should be considered for the following year’s speaking roster. 

    If you’re going to a technical, job-focused event that doesn’t pertain to your audience, you might not want to write about the event itself, but you might be able to use some of the skills you learned from the conference in your next post. 

    7) When you’re out of the office, who (or what) is going to manage your marketing responsibilities? 

    Do you have the right tools put in place to manage your work while your team is out for a few days? While the answer to this question may not make or break whether you actually attend the conference, it’s a crucial question to ask yourself before you commit. Here are a few processes you will need to set up while you’re gone:

    • Set an out-of-office automatic response for your work email. They don’t have to be dry — here are some funny and creative ways to write an out-of-office message.
    • Schedule external content (emails, blog posts, social posts) to send while you’re gone. This way, you’re not sacrificing traffic- or lead-generation while you’re not physically sitting at your desk. 
    • Ensure you’ve set clear instructions for those who won’t be attending in case anything goes wrong. If the intern is hanging back while you’re out, you will need to make sure you let her/him know what to do when X person calls or emails, or if the CEO asks for a status update on something. 

    8) Will the event help you and your team grow professionally?

    The right conferences not only allow you to meet smart, inspiring people, but also teach you a ton — especially in skills that make you a more well-rounded professional. So when you’re evaluating a conference, think about whether the people from your team can attend and actually develop new skills. This will happen even more naturally if you are attending the conference with other people from your organization that are on different teams — the conference can help you make better internal connections and better understand your team’s world.

    9) Is this a good team-building opportunity? 

    Something gets the team out of the office and into a setting where everyone can relax and relate to each other — like an industry conference — can work wonders for team bonding. Developing closer connections helps people work better together and makes them happier. When that next difficult, time-consuming project comes up, everyone might be much more willing to jump in and help their fellow coworker. 

    What other questions do you ask yourself before committing to attending an event?

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    6 Ways Your Coworkers Can Help Make Your Next Event a Success

    Published by in category event marketing, HubSpot InBound Marketing Blog Feed | Comments are closed

    event-crowdEvents are having a moment — especially with our very own INBOUND conference right around the corner! And for those of you who organize and execute on events, you know exactly what planning a successful one entails. Each aspect is an important element in what you hope will turn out to be a well-oiled machine. (more…)




    The 15 Types of People You’ll Meet at a Conference

    INBOUND Conference Attendees

    To all the conference-goers out there, we’d like to pose a question. What’s your mission?

    With so many benefits of attending and goals to focus on during a conference, choosing just one can be a tall order. And with INBOUND 2016 around the corner, you might be asking yourself: Should you network, and make connections with smart people? Or should you stick to learning, and diligently take notes during the breakout sessions?

    Whatever it is that you’re hoping to accomplish, we’ve carved out personas for the 15 types of conference-goers you’re most likely to meet or embody. We’ve all met at least one, and understanding them can help you figure out your goals for attending. Register for INBOUND 2016 today to join us (and the rest of the inbound  community) in Boston from November 8-11th. 

    So which type of conference attendee are you? Check out the list below to find out.

    15 Types of People You’ll Find at a Conference

    1) The Networker

    The Networker
    Source: Giphy

    Mission:  Meet smart people.

    The networker aims to meet and make lasting connections with other industry professionals. Chances are, they have a lot of connections on social media and have connected to attendees through the conference hashtag ahead of time.

    The networker is likely to be found chatting up multiple groups of people during happy hour, handing out business cards or making real-time LinkedIn connections. But if this conference-goer sounds like you, just make sure you’re up-to-date on your networking game — common mistakes are easier to make than you might think.

    2) The Sponge

    The SpongeSource: Giphy

    Mission: Learn everything possible.

    The sponge attends conferences to soak up every ounce of knowledge that he or she can. You’ll probably see this person juggling a laptop, smartphone, and notebook, all while diligently taking notes — or live-tweeting — from each.

    But for the sponge, the struggle is real — how can you possibly decide which sessions to attend? I mean, they’re all just so great.

    3) The Innovator

    The Inventor

    Source: Giphy

    Mission: Be inspired.

    We all know the type. They watch TED Talks on a daily basis. Their favorite book, collectively, is Water Isaacson’s Steve Jobs. And  they — or you, for those of us who can relate  — fall into the “innovator” category.

    Innovators attend conferences in hopes of striking a creativity streak. Entrepreneurs, thinkers, and problem solvers would fall under this bucket — people who seek inspiration for their next brilliant idea or invention.

    4) The Collector

    The Collector
    Source: Giphy

    Mission: Accumulate a stockpile of free swag. 

    Also known as the “Trick-or-Treater,” this person hops from sponsor exhibit to sponsor exhibit collecting unnecessary amounts of free swag. I mean, sometimes all you really need in life is a free koozie. Oh, and a sticker. And a pen. And one of those squishy stress ball things.

    Sure, this person might’ve come to a conference to learn and bring back information to their team, but they‘re definitely not going to skimp on the free stuff while they have a chance. You’ll likely see this attendee arrive with a half-full carry on suitcase … and then leave with an over-stuffed mess that won’t fit into the airline’s luggage sizer.

    5) The Superfan

    The Superfan
    Source: Onedio

    Mission:  Meet the keynote speakers.

    The superfan is also super active when it comes to conference-related social media activity. This person never forgets to include the speaker’s Twitter handle in hopes that he or she will retweet or reply — for example, tweeting with event’s hashtag that they’re “so excited to meet @speaker.” Not that we’ve ever done that, or anything. 

    And if there’s a chance to meet the speaker at the conference — like a book signing, for example — the superfan is first in line with every piece of memorabilia he or she can find. Again … not that we’ve ever done that …

    (Superfan PSA: This year’s INBOUND lineup includes Anna Kendrick, Serena Williams, Alec Baldwin, Michael Strahan, and more — in other words, you can register here.)

    6) The Escape Artist

    The Escape Artist
    Source: Giphy

    Mission:  Get of work. 

    The Escape Artist is really looking for a Get Out of Work Free card without using any vacation time. Sure, they might learn a thing or two and meet a few interesting people, but playing hooky is their main mission. You’ll probably find The Escape Artist popping into a few talks, jotting down a few notes, and then leaving early to enjoy the sunshine or slipping away to their hotel room to take a nap.

    Pro Tip: If you relate to this mission, remember that you can get a break from your day-to-day job while still bringing back a ton of value for your team. If you need ideas for how to get the most out of your conference experience, take a look at this blog post.

    7) The Job Seeker

    The Job Seeker
    Source: Giphy

    Mission: Get a job.

    Job seekers tend to have a few different goals when attending a conference, depending on which stage of the job hunt they find themselves. When a job seeker is in the awareness stage, for example, he or she might attend an event to listen and learn about the various companies, opportunities, and people they’d like to work with.

    But if this person is beyond that stage, he or she may have already made connections with people ahead of time via LinkedIn or Twitter. In that case, the job seeker is likely looking for opportunities to give these folks an elevator pitch in person, along with a resume or portfolio. And believe it or not, there are non-intrusive ways to start that conversation — check out some ideas here.  

    (Are you on the hunt for a new job? Download these handy resume templates.)

    8) The Deal-Maker

    The Deal-Maker
    Source: Giphy

    Mission: Establish a business partnership.

    It’s easy to mistake a deal-maker for a networker. They’re similar, in that the latter attends a conference with the goal of creating business partnerships. But that could be for a number of opportunities, like co-marketing or co-branding, sponsorships, speaking opportunities — it’s a long list. (Download our free co-marketing guide for helpful tips.) In fact, this person might want to take a tip from the networker’s book — make lasting relationships first, then do business after the conference.

    9) The Blogger

    The Blogger
    Source: Giphy

    Mission: Produce high quality content.

    The blogger attends a conference specifically on behalf of, well, a blog, or to obtain fodder for some other form of content. He or she is likely found listening to keynotes and breakout sessions, while writing down an outline or quotes on a laptop. (Holler.)

    If you do meet a blogger at a conference, stay on your toes — he or she might be wearing a wire. Just kidding. But, they might try to write down some quotes from your conversation (with your permission, of course).

    10) The Teacher

    The Teacher

    Source: Giphy

    Mission: Relay knowledge to teammates.

    Okay, so maybe we don’t mean “teacher” in the conventional sense. Rather, this person is the one you send to the conference to return with the best takeaways.

    Like the sponge, the teacher takes excellent notes, and then relays them back to the team. If you have a company wiki, he or she will likely create a page on there with the lessons and best practices from the conference, or even give a presentation upon return.

    11) The Frugal Tourist 

    The Frugal Tourist
    Source: Giphy

    Mission: Vacation for free.

    One of the great benefits of attending a conference is that your company will usually pay for your flights and hotel room. The Frugal Tourist understands this strategy all too well and will optimize her trip to include a bit of sightseeing while she’s there.

    A word to the wise: This probably shouldn’t be your sole mission for attending a conference, but hey if you can tack on a vacation to the end of a super productive week … go for it! We’re all about that work hard, play hard lifestyle. Just make sure you use good judgment and bring back a ton of value for your team before you start beach hopping on the company’s dime.

    12) The Thought Leader

    The Thought Leader
    Source: Giphy

    Mission: Stay successful.

    Thought leaders, though not synonymous with them, are often also the conference speakers. They’re experts on a given topic, and that’s why they’re at the event: To talk to a crowd about it.

    They’ve probably written books and countless blog articles on the same topic, and have high numbers of followers on social media. And if it seems like they’re buzzed, don’t get the wrong impression — public speaking can cause a rush of adrenaline, so they’re likely just riding that momentum.

    13) The Spy

    The Spy
    Source: Giphy

    Mission: Gather competitive intelligence.

    There are people who attend events like conferences to evaluate a competitive landscape. They come equipped with important questions, such as:

    • What does the competition’s presence look like at this conference?
    • What are they doing right?
    • What are they doing wrong? 
    • Where is there unexpected competition?

    Then, this information is compiled, analyzed, and turned into a plan of action. Attending a conference as a spy is actually a popular sales enablement tactic — it can provide your team with sound bites that might help them later close more deals.

    14) The Salesperson

    The Salesperson
    Source: The Daily Rossman

    Mission:  Make a sale.

    And speaking of sales enablement, there are many people who attend conferences with a singular goal: Sell their products or services.

    Similar to the deal-maker, this person is there to, well, close deals. But there’s a difference — salespeople are usually only interested in selling their company’s core products and services, and not in things like building strategic partnerships. This interaction could happen during the conference, or sometime after it ends, when a prospect has had time to consider a deal.

    15) The Partier

    The Partier
    Source: Jezebel

    Mission: Have fun.

    We conclude with the inevitable conference partier — the person who takes advantage of every social aspect, entertainment portion, and free drink available.

    We all have a little bit of a partier in us — many of us find that it helps us to break the ice during otherwise awkward or uncomfortable silences. But let’s lead with some of the more constructive missions on this list — it’ll make your conference experience both fun and productive.

    Whatever your conference-going persona, we can’t wait to meet you. Be sure to grab your tickets for INBOUND 2016, and say hi to us there.

    Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.


    register for INBOUND 2016




    Everything You Need to Know to Successfully Live-Tweet Your Event

    event-conference-people-walking-fastLive-tweeting is kind of like note-taking, only it’s online, collective, and interactive. When you hear a great quote from a speaker, or “tweetable takeaway” (as in, a key takeaway that can be abbreviated to less than 140 characters), all you have to do is type it up in a tweet and ship it out to the world. Your followers will see the tweet, and so will (more…)