If you’ve ever been to an industry conference, you know that expo halls, while full of fun schwag and interesting people to meet, can quickly become overwhelming. That’s why you need a game plan. A conference isn’t just a place to network – it can also be a place to kick off important internal initiatives, shop around for new vendors, and extend the functionality of your current marketing solutions. Over 100 expo sponsors and over 3,500 marketers will be attending the Marketo Marketing Nation Summit this year, making it the perfect place to review your company’s marketing automation technologies and processes.
Here are some best practices for getting the most out the Marketing Nation Summit at the expo hall this year – it’ll make partying with us at our Exploratorium gala that much sweeter.
A full list of sponsors is available on our event website, so do some research ahead of time. Which companies in the expo hall will be most relevant to you and your company? Don’t stop there; you can research Marketo’s full partner ecosystem at the Marketo Launchpoint site, or use a third-party site like Crunchbase. Come prepared with a list of potential partners and providers of services that could benefit your company – this may depend on where you are with your marketing automation journey.
New to Marketing Automation: A Broad Approach
If you’re new to Marketo, you’ll want to target a group of solutions that address the entire marketing funnel. How can various marketing solutions work together to achieve separate goals? As you make a list of sponsors to explore at Summit, ask yourself if you’re missing technology in any of these key areas:
- Website management – A content management system is the backbone of your website. A CMS that is relevant for marketers will help you capture leads from your website, serve relevant content, and help you track when leads visit your site on an ongoing basis.
- Website analytics – A website tracking and analytics tool can help you understand which areas of your site are performing well and which areas of your site need improvement.
- Social media marketing – A social media platform will automate features such as posting, listening, and engagement, and provide information on the ROI of your social programs.
- Content marketing – Content marketing is a great way to start making a name for yourself in your industry. Depending on your goals, you can look at solutions that provide content creation, content production, or content distribution.
As you evaluate potential solutions, pay close attention to how they complement each other. How do they integrate with Marketo? At the beginning of your marketing automation journey, you have a relatively clean slate, so you can intentionally select solutions that integrate with each other – or with solutions you’re considering for later. Ask yourself what these solutions are accomplishing together that they couldn’t achieve separately. If you aren’t ready to implement all of these solutions simultaneously, use your research to help you develop a vision for the future.
Experienced with Marketing Automation: Vendor Audit
If you’re been using Marketo for a longer period of time, you probably already have various complementary marketing systems in place. For experienced organizations, the expo hall at Marketo’s Summit is the perfect place to complete a vendor audit. Are you still using the latest and greatest solutions?
Create a target vendor list comprised of the competitors of the solutions you’re currently using. Visiting these competitors in the expo hall is a great way of evaluating a solution without launching into a full blown sales cycle. If you don’t want to engage a salesperson directly, you can hang out on the sidelines while he or she gives their pitch to other folks. Collect details about their latest features, what their customers are saying about them, and the message they are highlighting at the conference. If you prefer to engage a salesperson directly, here are some questions to ask that will steer the conversation away from a generic pitch:
- What do your customers love about your solution?
- How do you differentiate from your competitors?
- What are the limitations of your solution?
Remember, the goal here is to glean enough information to decide whether you want to go through a sales cycle. If nothing you learn addresses pain points that you’re currently experiencing, move on.
The marketing technology industry is a particularly vibrant space, which means that marketers discover new challenges and solutions every day. If you’re looking to start a new initiative, the expo hall is a great place to discover what the latest trends and capabilities are. Some areas worth exploring this year include:
- Buying intent on social
- Predictive analysis
- Mobile marketing
- Customer engagement
- Advocate marketing
Some tips to keep in mind as you explore Marketo’s Marketing Nation Summit’s expo hall:
- Walk the expo floor with a colleague. When it comes to evaluating a solution, two heads are better than one, and you’re more likely to catch details.
- Take literature with you. Use these as a reminder of which booths you visited. Bring a pen, and write notes to help you remember you initial thoughts.
- Hand out business cards. Yes, you will get a lot of follow-up emails. But this type of follow-up will help you follow through.
- Take multiple trips to the expo hall. You don’t need to commit to covering all of your research goals in one trip.
- Don’t forget the schwag!
Marketo Marketing Nation Summit 2014
If you loved the Marketo Marketing Nation Summit 2013, expect even more of your visit this year. The number of sponsors for the event has doubled, and we have a new spacious layout at Moscone Center. Some of our sponsors are planning some cool things in the expo hall including:
- Wheel of Fortune – Spin the Wheel of Fortune at InsideView’s booth for a chance to win BEATS speakers, Chromecasts, rubber speakers and other cool prizes.
- Nerdy PhotoBooth – Show what a marketing nerd you are at Lattice’s photo booth. The top three nerdy photographs will be selected at the end of the conference to win a gift pack valued at $1,000.
- Customer Engagement Zone – Sponsors Influitive, Gainsight, Demandbase, Vidyard, Certain, and ReadyTalk are joining forces to create a dynamic engagement zone. Complete activities (like answering questions, meeting other attendees, and participating in webinars) to win prizes! Check out the details here.