I get asked this question about a lot by folks I meet: ”What are the best marketing conferences in the Midwest?”
Just for fun, click here to Tweet the question up there from your own Twitter account and see what you get back. Perhaps you’ll get a difference list than mine below.
In my opinion, there are really only a handful and I’ve listed below:
- Content Marketing World - Usually held in Cleveland, Ohio.
- The Ohio Growth Summit - Columbus, Ohio
- Social Slam - Knoxville, Tennessee
- The Social Brand Forum - Coralville, Iowa
- MIMA Summit - Minneapolis, MN
The good news for us marketers in the Midwest? You can go ahead and add one more event to the list!
My Recap and Review of GoInbound 2013
This new event is organized by Tiffany Sauder and her talented team at Element Three, an Inbound Marketing agency that holds the official title of 2012 HubSpot Partner Agency of the Year.
The team is located in Indianapolis, Indiana where the event was held. In a pretty smart move, they opted to host their first marketing conference at one of my very favorite hotels — the posh, yet extremely comfortable J.W. Marriott.
An Honest Review of the J.W. Marriott
Element Three’s inbound marketing conference will make the third time I’ve been a guest at the J.W. Marriott in Indy.
As with my other experiences, the venue might be one of the friendliest locations for hosting any size conference.
First, the accommodations are absolutely up to par with the brand promise that Marriott has grown to stand for. Clean rooms with large LCD televisions and a ton of other comforts are part of the experience.
The hotel bar as well as the restaurant make a convenient spot to hold impromptu business meetings or even the late night after hours if you’re the type to squeeze every last minute of networking time out of your trip.
As far as workout facilities, the J.W. rivals your favorite health club or gym at home. With an array of machines, free weights, a decent size lap pool and a huge hot tub, it’s easy to stay on your workout plan while your on the road.
My only gripe about the J.W. is the elevators.
It’s not common in the midwest to see high-rise hotels that require a room keycard swipe before the elevator will begin it’s ascent. I watched more than a few groups (myself included) stand around for a minute before realizing that the car hadn’t moved after the door closed.
My friendly advice – the managers might be able to prevent a lot of guest confusion by simply putting signs inside the elevator doors that remind guests to use their keycards.
That said, this hotel is outstanding venue that should be considered as a location by all the best marketing conferences.
What Makes the Best Marketing Conferences: Relevant Content and Energized Delivery
Jeremy King of Element Three would have the honor of playing MC for the day as the event kicked off at 8:30 AM sharp. As MC’s go, he was indeed a master, keeping things light-hearted and relaxed for everyone in the room.
Over the course of the day, he would have the duty of introducing each of the keynote sessions:
Brian Halligan, CEO of HubSpot
Jeremy wasted no time introducing Brian Halligan who would deliver the opening keynote speech. I couldn’t think of a more appropriate opening speaker since, as of the founders of Hubspot, he literally coined the phrase ‘Inbound Marketing’.
His inspirational talk cleverly outlined the competitive advantages that adopting Inbound Marketing culture can provide businesses of all sizes. It was an excellent catalyst that would weave the rest of the day’s content together.
Tiffany Sauder, Founder and President of Element Three
Element Three founder Tiffany Sauder would take the stage next, sharing her personal story about building an Inbound Marketing agency in a down economy. She would share the inside story as to how and why her partnership with HubSpot has made a difference for both her business and he clients’ businesses.
The theme was simple — becoming an Inbound Marketing business requires a cultural change inside any organization, and the leaders need to be ready to embrace that change before it will have an impact.
Nate Riggs, Content and Social Media Marketing Consultant at Nate Riggs, LLC
I was up after Tiffany’s talk and did a brand new presentation that I entitled Twitter Habits: How To build Micro-Blogging into Your Business Culture and Get Results.
This was a new keynote for me, and I’m usually a nervous wreck just before I debut new content. For some reason, I felt pretty relaxed in the atmosphere at GoInbound 2013, and I think the energy in the room really helped me flow well.
My full slide deck is below. If it looks like it might be an interesting keynote for your next conference or private event, you can always book me to speak at your event too.
Chad Pollitt, Director of Marketing for Digital Relevance
Chad spent the next 45 minutes tackling Pollitt the relationship between online content and how using the right distribution channels and techniques can help keep your sales funnel full.
What I liked most about Chad’s presentation entitled I only Stopped by for Your Tofu is that he quickly and neatly displayed an inbound marketing campaign process that left the audience with a complete framework that they could use right away.
No Tofu (or Dry Chickens)
Chad’s talk was followed a short break for lunch.
With most conferences you can expect the typical hotel risotto, served with a side of dry chicken. But as seems to be their style, the Element Three folks and the staff of the J.W. Marriott treated attendees to a full buffet spread that included steak, chicken and salmon, a variety of fresh seasoned vegetables, a uniquely flavored rice that was served cold and a potato dish that honestly delicious.
By the end of lunch, bellies were full and it seemed that the crowed was ready for a cat nap.
Marcus Sheridan, Founder of The Sales Lion, Partner at River Pools and Spas
Then, as if to dish out a mass-dose of double espresso, The Sales Lion took the floor.
I’ve seen Marcus present at least three times, and each talk has been full of practical and immediately actionable information that he delivers with the flare and fireworks that only the best marketing conference speakers seem to embody.
It’s always fun to watch the audience for the first ten minutes of Marcus’s talks in that event attendees usually look like prize fighters who have just be hit with a sharp jab to the face.
By the end of his talks, the room was alive with buzz, laughter and a whole new wave @TheSalesLion fans.
James Paden, VP of Product Development for Compendium
After what was probably the toughest act of the day to follow, James Paden, VP of Product Marketing at Compendium was called up next to talk about the numbers behind making content work for your business.
He shared tons of examples from Compendium’s clients that highlighted what content and Inbound Marketing could do at enterprise-size companies. I think out of all the presentations that day, people probably took the most notes from James.
Santiago Jaramillo, Founder & CEO of Bluebridge Apps
Following James, the audience was dazzled by a new up-and-comer to the world of Inbound Marketing — Santiago Jaramillo.
Santiago’s amazing back story includes immigrating with his family from Columbia as a kid and having to learn english on the fly, founding three successful companies, collaborating on papers with Harvard professors, working in Australia for Exact Target and teaching college students about mobile development.
For me personally, his talk on mobile was a game-game changer. In fact, I feel like it was one of the better presentations I’ve seen on the subject matter all together. Santiago made the case that, as marketers we tend to undervalue the power of the push notifications present in iPhone apps.
I pondered his talk over the three-hour drive back to Columbus, and am now convinced that there are some interesting connections to explore between mobile push notifications, and how consumers develop habitual and impulse purchase behaviors.
Wil Davis, Chairman at Ontario Systems
To close the days content out, Wil Davis took the stage to help the audience understand how they can reinvent themselves and their businesses around a set of value systems that work for both the individuals in the company, as well as the company itself. Wil spent hos session sharing a vast array of stories, told from the perspective of his 25 years of experience in all sizes of organizations.
It seemed appropriate that Wil’s talk brought the day full circle, back to the main idea that in order for business to embrace Inbound Marketing, cultural change is required.
What Makes the Best Marketing Conferences: Story Arch
I speak at a lot of conferences and with a huge variety of other co-presenters, all of different levels of experience, talent and passion. I can honestly say that as a speaker, it was a pleasure presenting with such an amazing group of subject matter experts.
GoInbound 2013 was one of the extremely rare events that gave attendees an amazingly valuable gift: Story Arch.
What I mean is that from Jeremy’s introduction and the opening video, each presenter worked tirelessly to tie their talk into the content, highlights and style of the presenters before and after them.
Many attendees and even the other speakers remarked as to how well the content flowed throughout the day and how many good and actionable insights they were able to take away from the experience. Thousands of tweets, and even a few local Indiana twitter trends stood as proof of the arch.
Who Should Attend GoInbound 2014
If you live in and around the states of Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan or Wisconsin and are looking for affordable and high-quality marketing conferences to attend, make sure that GoInbound 2014 is on your list for consideration.
I know that both Marcus and I, as well as a few of the other speakers have already agreed to come back and participate in some way, shape or form. And, after spending some time getting to know Tiffany and Element Three, I can tell you that they will be dreaming big for next years event.
What Does GoInbound 2014 Cost?
While it’s still way to early for solid pricing for next years conference, the cost to register for and attend GoInbound 2013 was a mere $250.
At that price, GoInbound would be less expensive than the majority of other Midwest marketing conferences I’ve listed above by more than $1000 oer attendee, yet with the same level of quality content, exciting speakers and a class act venue.
For marketers and executives in the Midwest, I’m willing to bet that GoInbound 2014 will provide a similar experience, so keep your eyes on Indianpolis.
Do you think you might attend GoInbound 2014 along with me next year?