3 Tips for Hosting a Marketing Industry Event That Doesn’t Suck

3 Tips for Hosting a Marketing Industry Event That Doesn’t Suck

One Toronto event featured sessions with titles like The Business of Marijuana, DIY Beer & Craft Culture and Axe Throwing. Related: 10 Marketing Conferences Entrepreneurs Must Attend in 2017 First, there are the multi-day industry events, typically hosted someplace warm. You fly in with high hopes, but your enthusiasm tempers quickly when you see the bland conference hall, overflowing with attendees, the vendors so eager to pitch you that you feel overwhelmed and outnumbered. More and more former sponsors of industry events have started hosting their own conferences, meetups, happy hours and other organized gatherings. Consider creating attendee personas -- detailed descriptions of the type of people you want to attend. Think beyond title, company size or even geographic location. It always creates a specific theme for each event, based on feedback from the industry. This will challenge your speakers to focus on their best possible content, and keep attendees interested. Consider reviewing their content before the event to make sure it is on point. Don’t make things “sales-y.” If you're allowing vendors to sponsor a session or two, remember that people prefer case studies to straight sales pitches.

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One Toronto event featured sessions with titles like The Business of Marijuana, DIY Beer & Craft Culture and Axe Throwing.

3 Tips for Hosting a Marketing Industry Event That Doesn't SuckScott Prokop | Shutterstock.com

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I work in mobile marketing, and, in case you didn’t know, our industry loves conferences.

Related: 10 Marketing Conferences Entrepreneurs Must Attend in 2017

First, there are the multi-day industry events, typically hosted someplace warm. You fly in with high hopes, but your enthusiasm tempers quickly when you see the bland conference hall, overflowing with attendees, the vendors so eager to pitch you that you feel overwhelmed and outnumbered.

Next, there are the smaller conferences, held somewhere convenient, like San Francisco or New York. The content is compressed into a half-day format, and everyone goes home in the early afternoon. You talk to no one and leave uninspired.

Finally, there are the company-organized events. More and more former sponsors of industry events have started hosting their own conferences, meetups, happy hours and other organized gatherings. And that’s enough to keep you constantly filtering through the invitations in your overflowing inbox — or feeling tempted to forgo the whole task altogether.

Because of this overload, many companies are more selective about what they’ll participate in. They want an event with valuable content worth their time and effort. So, as someone who’s hosted industry events and attended more conferences than I can count, my main advice to event planners is to put their audience’s needs above all else.

With that in mind, here are my must-do’s for hosting an industry event that doesn’t suck.

1. Build your attendee list thoughtfully.

This seems like a no-brainer, but based on past events I’ve been to, some people are evidently skipping this step. You have to start by clearly defining your target audience. Consider creating attendee personas — detailed descriptions of the type of people you want to attend. Think beyond title, company size or even geographic location. Assemble a group of people who will benefit from meeting one other, and from having meaningful conversations that can have a lasting effect.

Odds are, you’re not going to throw the next SXSW or CES, and that’s OK. Some of the best events I’ve been to have been smaller in volume — because 100 decision-makers are likely to be far more relevant than a massive crowd.

2. Choose the right location.

Let’s face it, when people consider which event to attend, location is a major factor. There is a reason why conferences like the Adobe Summit are held in Las Vegas and Ragan’s upcoming Social Media Conference is at Disney…

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