There's something about fall conference season that reminds me of going back to school after summer vacation as a kid. I was always that kid who was so excited to start a new school year (and get those new school supplies, of course). Don't get me wrong — summer is one of my favorite seasons. But I've had this tingle of excitement for weeks leading up to one of the year's best conferences for marketers: Content Marketing World.
Every year after CMW, I walk away feeling reinvigorated and empowered by the energy at the conference. When I get back, I'm so excited to start planning for the future.
Also, I'm super jazzed to go to Cleveland.
We've attended Content Marketing World several times, and we've learned a lot over the years. If you don't want to miss out on anything this conference has to offer, then keep a few important things in mind to make the most of your visit:
OK, I know what you're thinking: "I'm here to learn and make connections, not spend money." I get it. I'd be lying if I said vendors aren't there to sell to you something — but that isn't the only reason they're at the conference.
The truth is that they're also there to be resources for attendees, so don't be shy about asking exhibitors for help and advice about some of your biggest digital marketing woes. In my experience, they're often there to offer suggestions and help point you in the right direction. And if they can't help you, at least you can get some cool freebies, right?
Influence & Co. will have a booth this year, so stop by, say hello, and grab some swag. Here's some other fun stuff to look out for at our booth:
Conferences can be expensive to attend and overwhelming if you're even a little bit disorganized. That's why it's so helpful to think through your schedule and the sessions you want to attend ahead of time.
Scope out all the sessions available, and make a list of the most enticing options. From there, build a schedule with exactly which ones you'd like to attend. Be sure to jot down the time and room number so you know exactly where to go and when. To really plan ahead, select a few backup sessions in case one of the sessions is full.
As for me, I'm over the moon to see one of my favorite women in the world, Tina Fey, at this year's event. Here are a few other sessions I'm eager to attend:
Yeah, I'm a little biased, but I really am looking forward to John's sessions. And, hey, you're reading our content right now — why not check out our CEO's sessions at CMW, too?
Michael is someone in the industry I've followed for a long time. If you're new to content marketing or want to get more out of your current efforts, his sessions are must-attends.
When I worked in account management during Influence & Co.'s early days, Drew was one of my clients, and he still works with us today. Over the years, I've always turned to Drew and his content for tips on making our agency better. He'll be unveiling findings from this year's agency research report, which is something I look forward to every year.
After following his content over at the Contently blog for years, I had the pleasure of listening to Joe talk all about storytelling and his new book, "The Storytelling Edge," during a recent webinar we co-hosted. He's a great speaker, and his ideas left me feeling inspired. Plus, who doesn't love a good session on neuroscience?
I'll tell you what, using content to drive revenue is my No. 1 priority here at Influence & Co. It's also something I'm always looking for advice about, and I can't wait to hear what Garrett has to say.
Jay is an Influence & Co. client and long-time friend of our company. Beyond that, he's also someone who really knows his stuff, and he's a fantastic speaker. I can't wait to hear his thoughts on how to use content to drive word of mouth and get people talking about your business.
Ann is someone in the industry I've admired for a long time. She has so much good advice about how to rethink your marketing, and she's such a genuine communicator. I know I'll be inspired by her keynote session.
Andrew is consistently named a top marketing influencer, and he's presented the top-rated session at Content Marketing World — twice. He's delivering three different talks this year, so there should be plenty of chances to catch him. If you do, you're basically guaranteed to walk away with some helpful and inspiring insights.
Jeff is an excellent resource when it comes to future marketing trends and innovations, which is what will make his session on Generation Z so helpful. Everywhere I look, a lot of the conversation is still focused on Millennials, but we're not the only ones out there. The next generation of consumers is right around the corner. Marketers need to be ready, and Jeff's talk is sure to be a helpful step in that preparation.
Andy is a design and digital media expert, and he offers his expertise through various mediums, such as podcasts, events, and written content. He's an authority on SEO, so if that is an area you struggle with or could use more education on, make sure you get in on his sessions.
Clearly, there's a lot to experience this year — so focus on your experience. If you can, try to unplug and take in all the information available to you. I know it's hard. I'm a chronic email checker (even on the weekends). But during conferences, I really try to step away from the day-to-day aspects of my role and focus on what is happening in the moment.
So if you're taking notes on your computer, avoid opening your email or Slack. It's so easy to get distracted by something else instead of paying attention to your session. I know because I'm so guilty of this. But try your best!
And if you can't completely step away from your daily tasks, try setting aside a few hours in the morning or the evening to catch up, or take a long lunch hour to give yourself a break and check in. Remember why you're at Content Marketing World and try to focus on that instead of what's happening back at the office.