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Conferences are an excellent opportunity to meet fellow professionals while learning about the upcoming trends within your industry. The best conferences offer a variety of invaluable experiences: High-profile speakers review new ideas or offer insights to learn from, new products and innovations are unveiled, and networking opportunities are plentiful.
To help those just entering the agency industry to identify the best conferences and events, we asked 14 members of Forbes Agency Council to share their selections. See what they had to say below.
1. SXSW Interactive
Everyone loves to hate on conferences they’re “forced” to attend, but I adore the serendipity of SXSW Interactive. Not only do you have a slew of industries and personalities you don’t always interact with, but also the chance to hear from/talk to/meet backgrounds and points of view you don’t usually get exposure to. It can lead to incredible cross-pollination of ideas and inspiration, no matter your industry. – Whitney Fishman, Wavemaker
INBOUND, by HubSpot, is an opportunity to learn about what’s new in advertising, get re-energized and grow your network. What I love most about INBOUND is that the speakers are recognizable figures who are not only inspiring, but who are also subject matter experts who can deliver relevant content that you can put into action the minute you get back to work. – Ahmad Kareh, Twistlab Marketing
3. MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum
Ann Handley and the team at MarketingProfs know more about how to use content to drive leads than just about anybody. And while most marketing conferences are dominated by consumer brands, this event focuses solely on the issues business-to-business marketers—and their agencies—face. – Scott Baradell, Idea Grove
4. Social Media Marketing World
For those who focus on social media marketing, one of the most comprehensive conferences is Social Media Marketing World. Attendees are surrounded by presenters with vast amounts of knowledge and have plenty of time to learn and network with others in their field. I have used what I’ve learned to help grow my clients’ social presence in addition to sharing what I’ve learned with my social team. – Rebecca Kowalewicz, Clearbridge Branding Agency
Philanthropy and nonprofits deploy billions to help improve society. Yet only one event, ComNet, gathers the communications professionals in the field of “social change” communications. It’s an important professional development opportunity for a field where communicators are often working solo within much larger organizations. It’s glorious finding your tribe when you are working alone. – Dan Cohen, Full Court Press Communications
SMX offers one of the largest search-based conferences, with locations available on the East Coast, West Coast, Seattle and London. Topics include new technological trends like visual and voice search and feature top keynote speakers, including yours truly. I attend a lot of conferences each year, and SMX is always one of the most informative. – Kristopher Jones, LSEO.com
RampUp is a MarTech conference that I found to be highly impactful this year. It’s less focused on high-level, not-actionable ideas and more focused on democratizing MarTech knowledge, with immediate takeaways that the broader community of marketing professionals can apply toward doing their best work. – Paula Chiocchi, Outward Media, Inc.
8. Content Marketing World
While the busiest show we attend each year is the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition (IRCE), I’m actually partial to Content Marketing World for the quality of the speakers and the wider breadth of businesses. Content Marketing World attracts plenty of the pay-per-click crowd, but it also brings in some attendees seeking more about branding and the less tactical facets of marketing. – Marcus Grimm, Web Talent Marketing
9. Traffic & Conversion Summit
Traffic & Conversion Summit, or T&C for short, boasts itself as the largest marketing event in North America. Speakers have ranged from billionaire Richard Branson to some of the top marketing minds in the industry today. This powerful event provides actionable strategies, countless networking opportunities and the inspiration necessary to take your agency to the next level. – Bryan Citrin, Chiropractic Advertising
10. Collision 2019
Collision 2019 in Toronto is going to be a must-attend event for anyone in the tech sector. Web Summit has set the standard for how connectivity and networking within a conference operate, and they bring you direct access to anyone at the conference via its own app. It’s a key event for anyone looking to network. – Michael Smith, iTribe Social Inc.
Must-attend conferences completely depend on who will be there and what your individual goals are for each. If you’re attracting new business, it’s paramount to attend top client-specific industry conferences to shake hands with prospects. To get smarter, you’d want to attend educational public relations and marketing panels or speaking engagements. One of my favorites is a hybrid of these, Culturati. – Kathleen Lucente, Red Fan Communications
12. Adobe Summit
Whether you use Adobe’s marketing technology or not, their vision presents the most compelling future for marketers in the digital economy. We are now in the age of customer experience, which connects customers throughout their full lifecycle and uses artificial intelligence to instantly personalize to an audience of one. There’s no better place to learn about the future than from those creating it at Adobe Summit! – David Kilimnik, Hero Digital
13. Agency Management Institute
Through peer networks, workshops conferences and more, Agency Management Institute (AMI) serves small to mid-sized marketing agencies so they can grow and increase their adjusted gross income and profitability. At the center of AMI are the peer networks, with some members who’ve been around for 20-plus years and, in some cases, some who are on their second or third generation of owners. It’s hands-down great! – Timothy Nichols, ExactDrive, Inc.
14. Brand Marketing Summit
The best conference I’ve attended recently is the Brand Marketing Summit. The event brands itself by stating, “The future of marketing is authentic engagement on a personal level.” That is exactly what attendees take away through networking with top executives and expert panels. I came away feeling invigorated and ready to put into practice much of what I learned. – Robert Macdonald, Impact Communications