When I look back on growing my company, I realize just how valuable attending marketing conferences was to both expanding my knowledge of industry trends and growing my network. It’s not just the CMO who’s responsible for marketing anymore. Entrepreneurs and founders also need to understand how to market their products, their services, and themselves, so attending just one of these conferences can set you apart from others in your industry.
Here are 10 must-attend marketing conferences that entrepreneurs and leaders should check out this year:
1. iMedia Conferences (Various dates, various locations)
iMedia has planned nine different destination summits that will bring together many of the industry’s most influential senior marketers. Participation is by invitation only, ensuring that only qualified marketers are in attendance, and the focus of each summit ranges from data-driven creativity to the future of shopping to entertainment marketing. Senior Vice President Marti Funk said iMedia wants the conference to create a valuable, relaxed environment for attendees.
2. Transformation LA: The Idea Effect (4A’s) (March 16-19, Los Angeles, Calif.)
Transformation LA is all about thought leadership and the power of ideas in the advertising industry. Several leaders from major brands and agencies will be speaking. 4A’s is also taking advantage of this year’s location by bringing in film industry executives to offer an additional perspective.
3. The CMO Club Innovation and Inspiration Spring Summit (March 24-25, New York, N.Y.)
If you’re looking for a smaller, more intimate event, you might want to check out CMO Club’s Spring Summit. The club is geared exclusively to senior marketing leaders, and there is no selling allowed — a rule that must be hard to follow for this particular group.
In a chat with Pete Krainik, the club’s founder, you can tell that he truly tries to create an environment that strips away the BS and allows leaders to be transparent and share ideas.
4. Ad Age Digital Conference (April 1-2, New York, N.Y.)
David Teicher, senior editor at Ad Age, said that it’s no longer about digital marketing, but about marketing in a digital world. The focus of this conference will range from emerging technology to standing out in the current content landscape. The event will connect more than 700 marketing leaders and will provide new perspectives on a variety of topics, including storytelling, retail, and commerce.
5. PTTOW! (May 7-9, Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.)
Bring together some of the world’s most influential people for a few days, and you can expect big things to happen. PTTOW! co-founder Roman Tsunder believed a group that brought together leaders from every industry to discuss business, culture, and positive social impact needed to exist, giving birth to this exclusive conference. Attendees include Tony Hawk, will.i.am, and the Dalai Lama.
6. Westchester Digital Summit (May 15, New York, N.Y.)
If you’re an entrepreneur looking to network with a variety of power players, you might be drawn to the posh Westchester surroundings of this conference, which is put on by Silverback Social. Chris Dessi, the conference organizer, promises to provide attendees with energized and gritty commentary from a diverse group of speakers from some of the largest brands in the world.
7. Reputation Institute’s Annual Global Conference (June 3-5, Miami, Fla.)
Forming a solid reputation is a key part of marketing a company. Reputation Institute’s annual conference calls together the largest group of global senior executives and thought leaders responsible for advancing the management discipline of reputation. Most of the attendees are marketing, strategy, and communications executives from Forbes 2000 companies from around the world.
8. Brand ManageCamp (Sept. 18-19, Las Vegas, Nev.)
Brand ManageCamp was founded by a former brand marketing executive, Len Herstein, who had grown weary of leaving conferences unsatisfied. Created as a single-track conference, Herstein and his team spend a great deal of time and energy ensuring that every speaker invited is of “keynote quality,” hand-selecting speakers for their knowledge, passion, and ability to engage and entertain an audience of senior-level brand marketers.
9. FutureM (Oct. dates TBD, Boston, Mass.)
This conference will bring together visionaries in the digital technology and marketing industries to discuss and discover what’s next in integrated marketing. Conference attendees are mainly senior- and mid-level managers who can attend more than 60 sessions in three days, including panels, debates, hackathons, and roundtable discussions.
10. IGNITION: Future Of Digital (Business Insider) (Dec. 1-3, New York, N.Y.)
As opposed to the early-stage entrepreneur with an idea, this conference is geared toward established business leaders. Business Insider’s conference focuses on presenting easily digestible, to-the-point information — similar to what’s found in its publication. High-level, big-picture thinking will take center stage to help those who have pushed past the how-to phase. Last year, Elon Musk spoke and provided attendees with the opportunity to test drive Tesla cars.
Whether you’re looking to get into an exclusive, invite-only event or a conference aimed at generating new, visionary ideas, the 10 conferences above provide a way for leaders to network and return home inspired and ready to capitalize on the newest marketing and advertising trends.
Disclosure: I am speaking at the Westchester Digital Summit.