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Why I Go to Pubcon – And Keep Coming Back

For the last two years I’ve made the long trek to Vegas to speak at Pubcon. Coming from Knoxville, Tennessee that’s a fairly lofty expense for a boutique marketing agency (especially since I brought two different team members this year). But the trip is incredibly valuable year after year, and there are several reasons why I recommend it to people. Here are a few of my top reasons to consider attending Pubcon in the future, or one of their regional conferences:

  1. Great Keynotes. The keynotes were all stellar. Scott Stratten led off this year with a really strong and energetic start. I’d heard him give a similar speech at Pubcon SFIMA earlier this year, but it still kept my attention. Each member of our staff had a different favorite keynote speech, which I think speaks to the quality of the speakers overall. Bill Hunt was awesome, and it was the kind of speech where I felt smarter at the end of it — it was entertaining, but I definitely learned things.
  2. Sessions that are actually RELATABLE. Frequently at the big tech conferences, you see speakers from huge brands (really huge brands) and that’s cool, but not remotely relatable. I love hearing about cool strategies from major brands (Starbucks, Coca Cola, Nordstrom) and the like, but they’re talking about budgets with 2 more zeroes than my average client has. Maybe 3 more. In some cases 4. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me to have these amazing brands represented when the average attendee does not have the same experience, whether they’re in-house or agency — or have a budget that is in the same stratosphere. It’s cool that they’re talking about some of the things they’re doing with analytics with their 30 member team, but the average digital marketer is wearing more than one hat and doesn’t have 30-member analytics teams from which to draw. It just doesn’t make sense or seem rational to me.
  3. Idea Exchanges. Most attendees are super open to discussing ideas brought up in sessions and at keynotes and want to compare notes. Even though many of us “compete” at the agency level, most of that flies out the door in the spirit of cooperation and sharing knowledge. We made several contacts with people in the Southeast and are talking about doing an agency exchange and sharing notes and ideas.
  4. Women! This is crucial for me and one of the most important things I notice at Pubcon — women are represented and represented well on panels! There are women in PPC sessions, analytics sessions, and technical SEO sessions. There are panels made up entirely of women — I moderated one of them — and they aren’t all relegated to content or social topics. It is so refreshing to see a compelling representation of smart, savvy, and strong female voices sharing knowledge and expertise. I know it’s something the organizers at Pubcon have worked towards, and I have shared my thoughts with them about how awesome it is. Those of us who are used to being one of the only women in the room notice it and appreciate it.

All in all, Pubcon is an awesome conference and I’m going to keep submitting my speeches. I have tons of notes I plan to share on my experience this year, including some notes and highlights on the panels on which I spoke, moderated, and served as track chair, but also other sessions that had some great information to share. If you have the opportunity to attend a digital marketing conference, I strongly recommend it and encourage you to give it a try. You may get the magic idea, tip, or trick to change your marketing in a powerful and effective way.