Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sounding all too familiar

I’m getting a little worried about the state of marketing and social media conferences being held in Toronto. On any given week, I get at least one announcement about a “Must Register” conference I shouldn’t miss. I read each conference outline carefully looking for new information, new case studies and, yes, some new and refreshing speakers. But I keep seeing same old, same old. For such a burgeoning sector like marketing and social media, I’m surprised we aren’t seeing a slew of new best practices and case studies that the players are willing to share.

Our agency is earmarking a lot of dollars to attend these conferences and the last thing we want to come away with is: “I’ve heard it before.” I have two staffers at Mesh this week, so I hope to hear about some original new ideas they picked up.

Recently I received two conference overviews from the CMA. One was a word-of-mouth conference called From Mass to Grass and the other was a branding conference entitled Brand Navigation. Both conferences offer up some fine speakers, but frankly I’ve heard a number of the speakers before and not sure I would spend $745 to hear them preach the same gospel.

Here’s my suggestion. Maybe organizers can start implementing a “pay as you go” model. Let’s say you just want to attend the luncheon keynote and one plenary session. Well, you just pay for a pass for those sessions. I would probably attend more events this way. Case in point, there are two individual sessions at the aforementioned conferences that suit my needs. The closing keynote at the WOM conference by Douglas Rushkoff looks very promising and original, while Chris Staples is also giving a fascinating closing keynote at the branding conference. Actually, I could listen to Staples recite the phone book for $745 – he’s simply brilliant!

Right now there’s an insatiable appetite to learn and glean as much information and best practices from leaders who are pioneering social media against marketing, branding and PR. But I hope conference organizers don’t keep retreading the same solutions and faces just to sell tickets. After all, shouldn’t conference organizers be guided by the fact that they should produce great conferences with compelling content, than just use these events as a license to print money?

I do live in Wonderland, don’t I?

1 comment:

mynameiskate said...

It's actually a great idea, Julie! I find myself in the same boat sometimes - wishing I could just attend one or two talks. Even more difficult when they are spread out over two or three days.

Being on a couple of organizing committees and sharing the idea that the NEW and different would be welcome (especially, my bias, women speakers), I've found I've run into a lot of resistence. That other committee members are convinced that people just want the big names. But if we hear more from people like you, we may sway the vote :)

Also, in regards to Mass to Grass (disclosure: I'm on the organizing committee), I'd like to invite you to enter our contest to win a ticket (or a pair) for your fav non-profit or small biz. Or just for yourself. You can check out the details at One Degree -

Cheers .. Kate