Is It Worth Attending Conferences and Trade Shows?


by 123FormBuilder

GPeC speakersBusy as we all are, deciding whether to interrupt the daily work rhythm, set an out-of-office message and pack bags for attending (and possibly exhibiting at) a conference or trade show is no easy task. In order to evaluate the money’s worth of attending an industry event in terms of lead generation, networking and know-how, we thought we’d share our own years-long experience as, well, professional conference goers – while the latest event is still fresh in our memory.

This article’s title is largely and openly influenced by Neil Patel’s recent piece, Is It Worth Speaking at Conferences? If you’re curious how things look as seen from the stage, take a peek at how Neil details the business, marketing and financial benefits of being a speaker, from his experience of no less than 239 conferences as of May 2015.

And now a bit of context: Neil’s article above appeared two days after he spoke at the GPeC Summit of May 11-13, 2015 held in Bucharest (that’s the capital city of Romania). Keep that word in mind: GPeC – even though it looks hard to pronounce.

Here the planets align: part of the 123FormBuilder crew took part at the GPeC conference too. And we got the chance to shake hands with Neil Patel, as well as with others of the world’s greatest digital marketing experts of the moment: Craig Sullivan, Simo Ahava, Matthew Woodward, Chris Goward. Before we go any further, let’s now state that our whole Marketing team is a true and utmost fan club of all these folks. If you work in the field marketing (CRO, inbound content creation, SEO, A/B testing), you should really follow each of them – as of yesterday (see links to their Twitter profiles).

For the lucky bunch of our team members who attended GPeC, it was The. Conference. Of our lives. Our main reasons for that are what you too should look for when selecting your own conferences to attend:

  • Great lineup. Not each day do you get the chance to listen live to so many experts at talk on topics of the moment.

  • Relevant content. It’s one thing to assimilate some know-how through reading blogs and deciphering Slideshare presentations, and a completely different one to have the knowledge delivered through direct talks – and this conference was particularly heavy on relevant marketing and entrepreneurial takeaways.

  • Q&A interactivity. At the end of each presentation, be it keynote speech or workshop, there was about ¼ of time spared for questions from the public, which we took advantage of in order to clear up some concerns pertaining to our daily marketing challenges.

  • Plenty of networking opportunities. Frequent coffee breaks and the afterparty were playground for many not-so-formal interactions with the speakers and the other attendees. (Proof: we even took a selfie with Neil Patel and Matthew Woodward!)

123FormBuilder & speakers

Bottom line, we returned from GPeC with:

  • collaboration opportunities from industry experts, fellow business owners and marketers

  • better know-how than from certain trainings we took part of in the past

  • questions answered and dilemmas addressed

  • ideas for new strategies that can enhance our marketing profitability

  • brand awareness among industry players and possible end-users

At this particular event we didn’t host a stand or spread promotional materials about our brand – it was a knowledge-focused conference participation. At other previous events we displayed a number of resources for brand exposure:

  • feedback cards with a QR code leading to a survey created with our tool

  • discount coupons

  • descriptive flyers, roll-ups and banners.

And this is something you can mimic too. You have the choice of either attending events for your own professional know-how and personal branding, or mixing the company’s brand into the picture through more targeted offers.

Regardless which of the above is your end goal, our secret sauce for judging the relevance and ROI of attending a conference is made up of:

  • the volume of networking opportunities

  • the potential know-how gained

  • brand exposure – citations, leads, sales closed

The ROI of attending a conference cannot really be quantified by the number of flyers about your product you give away or cookies people eat at your stand. Slightly by the number of handshakes you give. And definitely by the effectiveness of new strategies you implement as a result of that particular event, or the new markets that you explore due to your participation.

We’ve told our story, now it’s your turn: what conferences or trade shows you’ve attended bring back positive memories? Share them with us – and there’s a chance we’ll meet at their future editions!

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