There are so many digital marketing conferences these days. When I was working at Microsoft I think I could pretty much have spent my entire working week moving from one event to another, sometimes as a delegate, sometimes as a speaker. But the quality difference between one conference and another was extraordinary, and it was really hard to spot the duds before you got to the events themselves, by which time it was too late.
- Compare the speaker list to the sponsor list
- Look at the page where people can apply to be a speaker. Is speaking paid or tied to buying a sponsorship or exhibit?
If alarms bells start ringing, don’t bother registering for the conference. You just got back a whole day of your life to do something more worthwhile instead.
I understand the pressure on conference organisers. It’s never been harder to fill venues and the commercial imperative to turn a profit makes the appeal of free (or even paying) speakers very alluring. But I agree with Andy: you can’t charge people money to attend a conference and also charge speakers for the chance to address them. That’s deceitful and wrong. If you want people to pay to attend your conference, the least you can do is lay on some professional speakers who won’t try to sell stuff to your audience but will inform and entertain them, giving them knowledge that can really boost their careers.
Those, with very rare exceptions, are the sorts of conferences you’ll find me at these days. Either as a paid speaker or a paying delegate. Anything less is probably a waste of my and your time.
What do you think? Have you attended a great marketing conference where the speakers were also the event sponsors? Please let me know.