Being in the PPC industry for over 12 years, I’ve attended my share of conferences. Throughout that time, I’ve encountered many differing opinions as to the value of conferences. In one instance, I heard that conferences hold little value because the same information can be found in a book or blog post. However, I’m a firm believer that nothing can replace the value of immersing yourself in PPC information for several days with a group of people who all share a common interest.
Beyond The Content
Can you find most of the same content on the internet? Of course you can. But can you have a conversation with the author of that blog post and get your questions answered in person? You’ve got a great chance of doing that at a conference. And it’s those one-off discussions and interaction with others that occur during a conference that are irreplaceable.
Some conferences I’ve attended have been better than others, especially back when the PPC industry was first evolving. At that time, the session topics were broad and didn’t leave much opportunity for immediate account action. However, even the conferences that took a broader approach still offered value. There was always another marketer to speak with over lunch and share ideas. There were always vendors to meet with and learn from. There were always networking receptions that fostered new business connections.
As the years went on and the conference material became more specific, the value of attending increased significantly. The conferences now spoke to us specifically as PPC marketers, and not as general online marketers. The sessions became more focused and it became harder to select which ones to attend because they all seemed incredibly relevant to the work I was doing at the time.
I found myself voraciously taking notes through many of the sessions and making myself a list of action items to complete when the day was over. I was able to go directly into my accounts and start applying what I learned. And that, right there, is value. Again, I could have learned about those things by reading various blog posts, but I wouldn’t have been as excited about implementing them as quickly as I did.
Network And Workshops
Besides the information available, I was always equally excited about the networking opportunities. Most conferences recognize the value of networking and carve out times during the conference for attendees to spend time together to talk shop. Many conferences provide this opportunity over lunch and through evening events as well. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve learned something about a new feature or a new platform just through conversation at a conference’s networking event. Many of those encounters have helped me to better perform my job, as I now have access to people who have been instrumental in guiding me through something with which I was previously unfamiliar.
And let’s not forget that many PPC conferences now offer its attendees the option of attending workshops during the conference. It’s a great opportunity to have some serious one-on-one time with another PPC marketer and have them go through your account, providing their insight and ideas for both optimization and growth. Right there alone is the opportunity to get that second set of eyes on the account and be enlightened on things you may have been missing.
Though not always possible to attend these workshops (mostly due to budget or time), it’s yet another way that a PPC conference can significantly increase its value to the attendee. Personally, my eyes have been opened to many things during one-on-one conversations with other PPC managers and have led to increased performance within my accounts.
With that said, I typically see a correlation between my conference attendance and enhancements to my accounts. Part of the reason is because I usually return from conferences so excited about everything new I’ve learned and can’t wait to implement to my accounts. I’m always making changes to my accounts, but attending a conference energizes me and motivates me in a different way. You’ve listened to the stories of others first-hand. You’ve heard about their successes. You’ve heard about their failures. And everything you’ve heard translates into actionable knowledge for you. That makes all the difference for me.
Besides my PPC knowledge, conferences have also helped with my career. Being a conference attendee introduces you to many different PPC companies and agencies. You get to know the people who work for those companies and get a feel for what the culture is like at those places. In a sense, you get to “know” the company a little bit. Again, it’s those connections that you make that can be priceless when a career change is wanted or needed.
In my case, I knew that I needed to transition to a new job and my conference connections were the first people I thought to contact. Using the knowledge I gained from attending several conferences, I knew which agencies would be a fit for me and which wouldn’t. While attending a conference last year, I was able to have interviews on-site and it resulted in a new job. Again, having that connection with the PPC community was invaluable at the time. I was able to reach out in a way that no recruiter could do for me.
It’s pretty understandable why I love PPC conferences and why I will keep attending as many as I can. Besides access to some of the industry’s most talented people and information, there are clearly bonds that can be made within the community that can lead to both personal and professional advancement. So in my eyes, PPC conferences are more than “worth it.” The increased performance that results in my accounts from the knowledge gained and the countless learning opportunities from other attendees make it a no-brainer.