The Art of Marketing
I was skeptical of the Art of Marketing at first. After all, there have been so many meetups, conferences, camps, tweetups, that it’s impossible to attend them all. Those of us who have been to a number of them begin to notice a common theme in the mix where a lot of the speakers pretty much say the same thing and use the same damn buzzwords. We get it, social media is awesome and old fogies are still trying to wrap their heads around it, so no need to bash us over ours. Oh, and there are always networking sessions and a stack of business cards to process.
I’ve only been back in Toronto for about a year now and during my 6-year hiatus a lot has gone on. Toronto has become, without a doubt, the hub for the tech community with numerous startups getting their feet every day, investors coming our of their shells, attracting foreign investment, creating imaginative new products and a huge host of people who are willing to talk about them on the internet and in person till hey are blue in the face. In the past, before moving away from Toronto I used to equate the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC) with the Auto Show, Software Expos (when I was a young upstart web-developer from 1997-2000 I would go to the Digital Equipment and Windows World shows there) and the occasional anime/comic con.
Since returning to my hometown I’ve seen so much has changed in such a short time. Those of you who’ve been reading my blog since the beginning are familiar with what I’ve talked about and hopefully you’ve gotten newfound respect for this great city. Social media and marketing has simply put Toronto on the fast track to greatness and that’s why conferences like the Art of Marketing are so successful.
There are plenty of free conferences to attend but we are now seeing a trend where events are slowly starting to charge and people are willing to pay (or get their employers to pay) larger and larger sums of money to attend. The prices are getting out of hand and people are coming out empty handed a lot of the time because attendees just want a job. No doubt that a new opportunity is priceless but there is no conference I’ve been to that promises you will find a new job at it’s end. So why do people go? Mostly to steal a hot idea from speakers that will land them their next job, help them keep their current one or just get out of a day at the office.
Yep, steal. Simple as that. Though it’s not necessarily a bad thing, I think it’s better to use what you’ve “stolen” to come up with your own original ideas. Attendees are just blown away by this “magic formula” called analytics, or by “social media” and are foaming at the mouth to be spoon fed the A-B-Cs and 1-2-3s by this expert and that expert and kiss some serious butt, when all you need to do is read and practice to get where you want to be. I would say of this phenomenon that I think people’s heads are in the right places, but not their hearts.
I’m definitely not speaking from on high on this one as I go to many conferences myself and have even spoken at a few so my hands are no cleaner than anyone else’s in that respect, but I go for a different reason these days.
I go to be inspired. I’ll never forget my first conference since being back, Wordcamp, where I met and had lunch with Mark Evans. At the time I was just writing blogs for clients but didn’t have a personal blog. Mark planted the seed in my head to start my own and. well, here we are. After meeting Guy Kawasaki, Avinash Kaushik, Gary Vaynerchuk, Sheena Iyengar and Jeffrey Hayzlett whichever organization I work for next will be able to use my now updated body of practical knowledge.
Meeting new people always inspires me and meeting my peers even more so. It can be hard to see all your friends with regularity – especially in this day and age where your twitter friends become your real friends, expanding your network to the hundreds – but chances are you will run into many of them at once at a conference. You never know who you will meet and after a while you may just get an idea that will be worth millions because you will see what no one else has noticed that’s right under their noses. Take the face time to share an idea and if you learn something new,don’t guard it too jealously as chances are the person across from you stole the same idea anyway
Read my Brother’s blog.
Interview with Gary Vaynerchuk by Robert Lavigne. Thanks for the ticket to the conference, Rob!
Extra photos on my Flickr stream