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The Future of Marketing Conferences and Networking Events

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In this episode, Anton shares his thoughts on how marketing conferences and networking events have evolved over the past 5 years, and how he sees the value proposition changing over time.

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eCommerce Lifestyle Podcast Show Notes: The Future of Marketing Conferences

Table of Contents

How to Make Business Partners to Grow Your Business

digital nomad jobs

What’s up everybody? Anton Kraly here from ecommercelifestyle.com. Welcome to another episode of the eCommerce Lifestyle Podcast. I’m doing this one again today from the car, on the way to the office. I checked the audio from yesterday’s episode, the one I filmed on the way, or recorded I should say, on the way into the office yesterday, and the audio wasn’t as good as when I do it in my office with my good microphone and what not, but on the other hand, if I’m gonna do these things consistently, then I gotta do it whenever possible. And the eight minute or so drive into the office seems like a good opportunity, because not doing anything, anyway besides usually listening to old episodes of Howard Stern on Sirius on the radio.

So, I wanted to just get another episode out today, and I think the way I’ll do this, because this is probably episode four or five by now, but I think the way I’ll record these is, whenever anything relevant pops up that I think would benefit you, I’ll just go ahead and share that message was you. Or that story with you, or that tip or that topic, or whatever it may be. so, what was interesting is, this morning I was speaking to one of, I guess you can call them my brand partners. With all my different businesses, a big way that we grow, is by having relationships with, not our competitors, but with businesses that complement our businesses in different industries. So we definitely collaborate, we try to form partnerships, and we have connections with people, again in related industries, or in our industries with related services or products.

So this morning I was speaking to one of my brand representatives, and he was asking me about what I’m basically planning to do this year, in terms of different conferences. Now he was talking about different marketing events, because he as a brand partner, that’s his role at the company. Now my company, the company he works with. His role is to form relationships with people like me, and he goes to all of the different industry events to try to meet up in person, do dinners, and just kind of build the relationship, so we don’t go anywhere, and so we continue working together. So he went through a whole list of events with me. And he was asking like, “Oh you gonna be at this one?” And I was like, “No, I’m not gonna be there.” “So are you gonna be at this one?” “No, I’m not gonna be there.” And after like the third or fourth event that he mentioned, he was like, “Anton, are you going anywhere this year?” And I was like, “Honestly, I don’t think so.”

So it was just an interesting dynamic, because I asked him like, “Out of the people you work with, out of the other brand partners, are a lot of them saying yes, they’re going to be at all of these events?” Because to me it just sounds crazy, the amount of them. And he said, “Honestly no, most people, they don’t attend even one of them.” So I thought it was interesting, and I kind of wanted to share my thoughts on the future of live networking events, or the future of marketing conferences, and kind of why I’m not at a lot of them, and why I don’t think as many people as previously would attend are still attending.

Why Live Networking Events are Not Useful in the Age of Internet

live networking events

And it’s not that the events aren’t good, it’s not that they’re not worth the money or they’re a rip off or anything like that. That’s not the case. It’s just that now, in 2018, pretty much anything that you’re gonna learn, so directly learn from any marketing conference is something you could find on YouTube, or on iTunes, or on Sticher within 60 seconds of searching. And even more so than that, most of these conferences, if they’re three days long, and let’s say they have 10 presenters, most of those presenters have shared that presentation they’re gonna give there 20 times already, and again you could find it on their website, on a blog post they’ve written, on their YouTube channel, on a podcast interview they’ve done.

So it used to be that if you wanted to learn these new things that weren’t being talked about as frequently I would say, you know information wasn’t as readily available. So going back even five years or so, if you wanted those new things, those new techniques, those new hacks, you kind of had to go to these events so you can get that value from them, because that’s where it was. There weren’t as many podcasts, there weren’t as many YouTube channels, there weren’t as many blogs. There weren’t as many online courses, so information was more restricted almost. So with that being said, that whole going to learn things, especially for small business owners, which is what I am and which, you know I’m assuming is what you are, that value’s just not really there anymore. You’re not gonna go there and have your mind blown, and be like, “Wow, my business is gonna revolutionize over this next year or so,” right?

So now that, that part is pretty much off the table for everyone that gathers and gets their knowledge online through all those information sources I mentioned, then what are the other benefits of these live events? Well the biggest one, the most obvious one, the reason my brand partner was asking if I’m gonna be there, was for the networking opportunities. So a lot of us, again, small business owners, maybe you work alone, maybe you have a small team, there’s a good chance that you’re working by yourself or with a handful of people every day, so it is a good opportunity to go and connect with people that maybe you just know from the internet, or you know from Facebook, that you get to go and see in person, and have a conversation with and just build that relationship, right. Make it real.

Now the thing with that and the reason that for me personally right now, that’s not a big enough drive or a motivation to attend these networking events, is because a lot of them have you know 500, 1,000, 3,000, 10,000 people in attendance. So you go and you’re in a room with 3,000 people, and unless you already have these connections and these relationships with these people you wanna network with, you’re not gonna go there and just walk up to the people you seek out, because so is everyone else there. So it’s not like you’re just gonna show up at a thousand person event, and make friends with all these people you think you know from the internet. Because again. there’s just so many people and there’s just so much happening, and there’s just such a short window. So for me personally, and again maybe you relate to this, maybe you don’t, but I’ll tell you what events I do go to, and where I get the most value, because it’s not that I don’t see no value in networking.

How Networking with Small Groups of People Helps

ecommerce networking event

Networking is huge, and again, most of like what we do in our business, is trying to build brand relationships, like  it makes a big difference, so I do see that value. But the types of live networking events I like to go to, are usually either smaller Masterminds, where there’s 20 people or less, or where it’s literally just a group of people that start a Facebook chat, and say, “Hey, you guys all wanna go to dinner one night,” in whatever city. Now, this might sound crazy right, because some people will argue that the reason it doesn’t make sense to go to marketing events or these conferences, is because you have to buy a thousand dollar ticket, and because you have to buy your plane ticket, and get a hotel and is the cost all in at $3,000 to $4,000 worth it? Some people will argue that.

Well I have flown from New York when I lived there, from even Vietnam when I lived there, from Austin when I lived here. I’ve flown from other states, and even from other countries just to have dinners, just to have meetings. So it’s not the expense that I think is a good reason for people to say that, “I’m not gonna go to these networking events.” Like again, you should get way more value in return, but it doesn’t need to be a three day conference. It doesn’t who the speaker lineup is. But if you could get a flight, get a hotel, and have dinner with five people that are in your same industry or related industries and share tips, that’s gonna get you such a better advantage and such a better head start in your business and where you’re trying to go next, then going to an event with a thousand people in the room and sitting there with a notebook open. Like, that’s not going to take your business to the next level.

What is, is having those small more intimate relationships. Those smaller Masterminds. Now if you’re listening to this right now and you’re like, “Anton, that sounds awesome. How do I become part of these dinners or these meetups?” Well, there’s two ways, right? One type of Mastermind are the ones that people pay for. So I personally paid up to $25,000 a year to be in rooms with 20 other people that all paid $25,000 a year, to share tips and secrets if you wanna call it that, as to what is working now. Now those paid Masterminds, you know again the way you get in is to pay. So that’s a pretty simple in. The other ones that I actually find more valuable, the ones where there’s even less people, the ones where it’s “free” because there’s no admission fee, you’re just paying your expense to get wherever these meetups are. Those rooms you’re probably not gonna get into until you already have some authority, or credibility, or influence if you wanna call it that, in your industry. So, with that, you kind of have to put yourself out there a little bit more, if that makes sense.

So even if you have your ecommerce store and you’re selling, I don’t know, home bars. You still need to be out there talking about the home bar industry, and like have a face to your website and a face to your business. Form relationship with brands partners, so like your biggest suppliers. Form relationships with your rep at Google, and at Facebook, and then once you become a big enough player in that industry, you’ll start to get invited to those smaller, more intimate ones. But again, if you’re looking for these smaller groups now, they’re out there. The Masterminds, they’re usually just $25,000 to $35,000 a year. I personally think they’re worth it if you’re at a place in your business and your life where it makes sense for you. I know everyone’s in a different situation. If you’re a brand new business, it doesn’t make much sense, and also if you’re an eight figure business, it doesn’t make much sense. But if you’re doing a million, two million, three million, even five million in sales, it makes a lot of sense to connect with other people in that same range and a little bit above you. So for those, the paid Masterminds make sense.

Fun Networking Event and Vacation with Dropship Lifestyle

hawaii retreat

So I just wanted to share that. And where I like see things kind of going in the future, and this is a conversation I was having with my brand rep this morning, is that the events aren’t gonna go anywhere, but I really feel like the value is only gonna decline. And I hate to say that as someone who hosts technically, I guess you can call it a marketing conference every year, because I think that the value proposition to the attendee, is less and less desirable every year. Because again, if the events get bigger, if there’s too many people in the room, if the speakers speak at every other conference, if they gave their talk on a podcast last week, like the desire to attend and the value that the attendees get does go down. So I think everyone that is hosting these events, everyone that has an events based business, really needs to look at what they’re doing, and see how to modify things for where we are in this new information age, if you wanna call it that.

I’ll give one final example, which one thing, kind of like I guess got lucky that we’ve done since the beginning, but we still do now was my business, Drop Ship Lifestyle. So dropshiplifestyle.com if you’re not familiar with that one. We help people to build highly profitable, semi automated ecommerce stores, using to drop ship model. Now that business is an online training program, and most of it’s online. But once a year, we do a live event. But what’s cool about our live event is, we limit them to 120 people maximum, so you’re not again, in a huge room. You can actually meet people and network with other attendees and speakers. So one thing we do to make it, I guess sustainable, is limit it to 120 people, and we also make them four days long, and we also do them in different countries all around the world.

We’ve done them in Thailand, Hawaii, Mexico. This year is in Bali, in Indonesia, and the way we do it is, in the mornings of our events, our retreats, is the actual learning portion. So from 8 am til noon, you’re in a conference room, classroom, whatever you wanna call it, and you’re learning. And then in the afternoons, after lunch, we get on buses, we get on boats, and we go do some kind of fun activity. That way it’s not just a marketing conference. It’s learning, it’s networking, but it’s also like a vacation, so you get lots of benefits from it, which I don’t think that model’s gonna go anywhere anytime soon. Now if we said, “Next year we’re gonna have a thousand people there,” it wouldn’t make sense because it would take away from to whole networking and intimate feel of our retreats. So, just wanted to share that with you guys, and I’m really curious what everyone things about life events and marketing conferences. You know are you attending any this year, are you not? If you are, why are you going? If you’re not, why are you skipping, and definitely let me know.

If you guys, if you wanna leave a comment, I would love to hear from you. You can go to ecommercelifestyle.com. No weird spelling, just as it sounds. Ecommercelifestyle.com. Click on episodes, and then you’ll find this episode. And when you get there, just leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you, and let me know what you guys think. And that being said guys, I don’t have a real schedule for this thing. I will publish the next episode whenever anything pops into my mind, that I wanna get across to you. So have a good day, get some work done. And yeah, let’s get some sales. See you everybody.

Are you planning on attending any marketing conferences this year?  Why or why not?  Let me know in the comments below!

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