SMB Marketing Conferences for 2018

2018 SMB Marketing Conferences
by Hillary Gamblin     Monday, November 13th, 2017.

The new year is approaching and businesses are proposing budgets and goals for 2018.  Between finishing the year, preparing for the new year, and surviving the holidays, it’s easy to forget to apply for 2018 business conferences.

Everyone should try to attend a conference a year. In fact, many businesses encourage and / or subsidize employees attending a business conference annually. Now is when so many companies start discussing next year’s budget. Take advantage of this time! Ask your company to set aside funds for you to attend a conference.

Attend conferences that will help you address your “problem areas.” Gather data and take a long hard look in the mirror to pinpoint where you need to improve. You can also ask yourself by asking, “What do I want to learn more about in marketing?” or “What can I learn about that will help my company the most?”

The best way to answer these questions is to make a list. For example, here’s what I want to improve on in 2018:

  • Technical Content
  • CTAs
  • SEO

Some excellent resources are the massive lists itemizing all of the 2018 marketing conferences, and the more narrowed and contextualizing articles like this HuffPost article and this Forbes article. Create a list of promising conferences, and then see if the conferences on your list match up with your 2018 marketing goals.

You should also consider price, emphasis/specialization, keynote speakers, attendee demographics, and the “fun” factor of the hosting city. To help you cut down on research time, I’ve put together a short list of excellent marketing conferences in 2018.

The Big Hitters for 2018

Content Marketing Conference (CMC)

Boston, MA

May 2-4, 2018

  • $899.00 for Main Conference Pass
  • $1,199 for All Access Pass

If you’re a writer creating content in your marketing department, attend a conference like Content Marketing Conference (CMC). It focuses on strategies to increase your organic traffic. A Forbes article describes Content Marketing Conference’s mission as “ridding the world of bad content,” as speakers focus on “how your content can truly engage and delight your audience instead of add to the noise.” Yes! Can we put this on a T-shirt?

The Content Marketing Conference also picks an interesting theme for their conferences. For 2017, they explored the role of comedy in marketing. (Smart. As far as appeal to pathos go, laughter is the most effective). They included keynote speakers, sessions, and entertainment about the role of comedy in marketing.

MozCon

Seattle, WA

July 9th-11th 2018

  • $849.00 for Early Bird for Moz Subscribers
  • $1349.00 for Early Bird for General Admission

MozCon is an expert in the science of SEO. If you look at the conference website, they haven’t posted the speaker or panels for 2018, but you can determine if MozCon is a good fit for you by looking at their past conferences. For example, looking at 2017’s conference, MozCon provided sessions that were especially helpful for SMBs looking to increase organic traffic and better utilize content. The themes of their conferences are SEO, Google Analytics, organic traffic, and content.

Inbound

Boston, MA

September 4-7, 2018

  • $1399.00 for VIP Pass
  • $799.00 for All-Access Pass
  • $299.00 for Community Pass

Inbound is the “cool” conference for marketing professionals. Rarely do you hear the adjective “inspiring” earnestly used to describe a business conference, but that seems to be a key takeaway from Inbound. This is because they invite inspiring and atypical business conference keynote speakers—Ta Nehisi Coates (who I can’t praise enough), Brené Brown, Aziz Ansari, Mario Batali, and Michelle Obama.

Along with inspirational speakers, Inbound emphasizes networking, connections, and entertainment. Over 21,000 people attend the conference—from which 104 countries are represented—and they set aside a lot of time to network and build friendships (e.g., food truck lunches, happy hours, entertainment, and parties). Of course there are lots of impressive people leading their instructive sessions, but a key differentiator with Inbound is their excellence in facilitating networking and inspiration.  

Content Marketing World (CMW)

Cleveland, OH

September 4-7, 2018

From the research I’ve done, CMW is fairly comparable to CMC with it’s smaller size and excellent sessions. They have 225 speakers and 123 hours worth of keynotes, sessions, networking, and entertainment. They’re also a little similar to Inbound, in that Content Marketing World gathers a mixture of traditional and atypical speakers—last year Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Casey Neistat (American film director, producer, and creator of popular YouTube videos), and a traditional GE executive. CMW doesn’t skimp on the education. You can check out their 2017 schedule to get an idea about the kind of sessions they may host in 2018.

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Specialized Marketing Conferences

B2B Forum

San Francisco, CA

November 13-16, 2018

  • $1995.00 All-Access Pass
  • $1095.00 Conference-Only Pass

If you need to up your B2B marketing strategy, perhaps the most informative conference out there for smaller companies is the B2B Forum. They don’t have a schedule up for the 2018 conference, but their 2017 conference illustrates a large breadth of excellent information. You have sessions focusing on macro B2B marketing topics (e.g., How to Capitalize Today on the Technology and Human Behaviors Shaping B2B Tomorrow), sessions solving common B2B marketing problems (Engineering Stories: How to Market Technology to Humans), and sessions providing practicable and actionable information (e.g., Teach Me How: Facebook Live Video).

You may hear about Ignite. Ignite is another popular B2B marketing conference, but it caters to large-sized businesses. And because their conference is held in London, this conference makes the most sense if you’re trying to make headway into the European market. B2B Marketing Exchange is another popular conference, and it best suits marketing departments that are trying to strengthen the alignment with their sales department.

SMX Advanced

Seattle, WA

June 11-13, 2018

Nerd alert! This is an SEO conference for the Rand Fishkins of the world. So this conference is “exclusive”—you’ll need some mad SEO skills to fit in. In fact, their landing page tries to scare away inexperienced search-engine marketers by stating that the “sessions are fast-paced, Q&A-packed . . . . and don’t stop to cover the basics.” If you fit that esoteric niche, this is the conference for you!

VidCon

Anaheim, CA

June 20-23, 2018

  • $550.00 for Industry

If you’re looking to improve your video marketing content, send your videographer to VidCon. This conference is best suited for companies with a full-time videographer who knows everything about being behind the camera, but they could use more instruction on how to apply their skill to SMB marketing. Because, looking at the 2017 schedule, this conference is jam-packed with interesting and useful sessions. So if you are a larger-sized company that’s really on your video-marketing game, this is an excellent resource.

video marketing strategy ebook

Explore the Canadian Options

If you want to put a stamp in your passport, you should consider one of the many Canadian marketing conferences. The benefit? Canadian marketing conferences tend to run a few hundred dollars cheaper. Not only are the conference tickets cheaper, but “the US dollar is pretty strong right now, so coming up to Canada is like getting a built-in discount!” So if you’re on a tight budget and close to the our northern neighbor, you should check out what Canada has to offer. Here are some of the more well known marketing conferences that take place in Canada.

Call To Action Conference (CTAC)

Vancouver, BC

August 27-29, 2018

  • $299.00

Sponsored by Unbounce, CTAC focuses on one of the most crucial elements in marketing: the call to action. If your company can’t subsidize a lot of your conference costs, one of the most affordable conferences you can attend is CTAC. The plans for 2018 are not out yet, but last year’s conference hosted some big names like Rand Fishkin, Mitch Joel, Mari Smith, and Scott Stratten. The conference is two days and surprisingly the $299.00 covers breakfast, lunch, and great speakers.

The Content Experience

Toronto, Canada

August 21-22, 2018

  • $399.00 for Super Early Bird
  • $850.00 for Full Conference Pass

Enjoy a three-day conference and explore the most diverse city in the world! The Content Experience is sponsored by Uberflip, and last year they had sessions led by some smart and talented people—check out the 2017 schedule.

Plan & Finance Your 2018 Marketing Conference

There is at least one conference in 2018 that will help you succeed and grow in your marketing efforts. So plan early and get funding! Remember to choose a conference that best fits your needs. And to get the most out of your experience, look at our blog post “Best Conference Tips for Growing Your Small Business.”


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