Must-Attend B2B Marketing Conferences for 2020: COVID-19 Update

The conference and event business has been turned upside down, so my annual post covering the must-attend B2B marketing conferences of 2020 is due for a refresh.

The conference and event business has been turned upside down, so my annual post covering the must-attend B2B marketing conferences of 2020 is due for a refresh. No surprise, some events have been canceled, but I am pleased that some organizers have pivoted quickly, creating virtual events that will allow us to learn, keep in touch, and stay up to date in our field of B2B marketing. Kudos to them! Let’s show our support by attending.

Marketing Conferences Converted to Virtual

May 27-28: B2B Marketing Ignite USA 2020 — UK’s B2B Marketing.net had planned to bring its successful annual conference to our shores, specifically to Chicago, but now the event is virtual. If you’re not already a member of their US online community, I suggest you sign up.

May 28: Marketing Leaders Forum APAC — For B2B marketers in Asia. Free to those registered for the October in-person events, and now turned virtual.

Marketing Conferences Operating as Expected, for Now

These organizers are holding out hope that marketers will be able to convene face-to-face sometime later in the year. As the time approaches, they may make the decision to postpone, cancel, or go virtual. Keep an eye on their websites.

Aug. 10-12, Boston, B2B Sales and Marketing Exchange — A fruitful merger of three smaller B2B conferences, DemandGen Summit,  FlipMyFunnel and REVTalks, launched in 2019.

Sept. 29-Oct. 1, Chicago, B2BNext — All about B2B e-commerce business and strategy, co-founded by Andy Hoar, formerly Forrester’s top analyst in the category.

Oct. 4-6, Scottsdale, ANA BMA Masters of Marketing Conference — The ANA is moving its reincarnated BMA conference to Scottsdate from Chicago this year. Dates have shifted from May to October.

Oct. 7-8, Singapore, B2B Marketing Leaders Forum Asia 2020 — THE Asian event for B2B marketers. The Sydney event is postponed to Oct. 26-27. Melbourne event, Nov. 19.

Oct. 7-8, Chicago, Reach 2020 — Launched in 2019 by G2Crowd, this one-day conference is all about getting the most value from B2B ratings and reviews sites.

Oct.7-9, San Diego, Digital Transformation Connect — For senior execs in B2B companies, a place for meetings and networking with a customized list of peers and vendors. Attendees must qualify to be invited, by filling out the Contact Us form.

Oct. 13-16, Cleveland, Content Marketing World — Still growing, still thriving.

Nov. 3-6, San Francisco. MarketingProfs B2B Forum — Especially hoping that this operates, as I am delivering a one-day workshop on B2B marketing strategy and planning on Nov. 3, with Allen Weiss.

Nov. 5-7, Carlsbad CA, Seismic Shift — All about sales enablement, an important topic.

Canceled Events

Sept. 16-18, Boston, Connect to Convert — A division of the giant LeadsCon, with a solid B2B marketing track.  Will run again in 2021.

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

Get Used to It: Your Customers Want Stories

Earlier this month I was in Cleveland for Content Marketing World, where the theme was “The World of Stories.” Who doesn’t love a good story? At our core, humans are storytellers, and we are receptive to them.

Joseph Gordon Levitt and Joe Pulizzi at Content Marketing World disucssing storiesThat is … unless you’re marketing to the robots who might eventually become our overlords if Amazon doesn’t beat them to it.

Earlier this month I was in Cleveland for Content Marketing World, the very place that gave me the swift kick in the pants to launch this blog (and then later “What Were They Thinking?”).

The theme was “The World of Stories,” which sure, sounds quaint. Who doesn’t love a good story? Most of us were raised on them: the bedtime story, the stories our grandparents told us about our families, crazy stories about parties gone awry in college, bad date stories, weird work stories … we love them all (or maybe that’s just me).

At our core, humans are storytellers, and we are receptive to them. Story is the universal language … and remember, you don’t need words to tell a good story.

So this past week I heard about (and in some cases, saw), the stories GE produces. Learned about Death Wish Coffee’s brand story thanks to Jay Acunzo. Skyword’s founder and CEO Tom Gerace shared with us a story about Indian detergent-maker Ariel, and how it convinced husbands and fathers to #sharetheload.

I was blown away by the stories Casey Neistat creates using video and his wild imagination. Coca-Cola shared how their customers create stories around their brand (and fun ones at that!) Colson Whitehead — an amazing writer — shared his story of becoming who he is now, weaving together well-placed jokes, anecdotes and simple truths about what it’s like to really be a writer.

Scott Stratten shared the story of how he took down a Canadian telecom who was posting BS reviews of its app (all while not wearing pants — what a life!). And Hollywood actor, director and maybe the most adorable guy (aside from my boyfriend Johnny) Joseph Gordon Levitt shared how he created the HitRecord at a time when he couldn’t get hired, and how it has blossomed as a diverse community of artistic collaborators.

Yes, these were keynotes and sessions … but they were all stories. Stories inspiring the content creators in Cleveland to head home and tell more stories. To build connections. To entertain. To inform. To help their customers become even more successful at what they do.

At our core, we are all storytellers, from the Fortune 500 CEO to the copywriter, from the small business owner to the SEO strategist.

What’s YOUR story?

9 Content Marketing Tips From Cleveland

Cleveland: It’s not just home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, LeBron James and the Cavs, and one of my favorite speakeasies. It’s also home to Content Marketing World — one of my favorite conferences.

Content is a big dealCleveland: It’s not just home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, LeBron James and the Cavs, and one of my favorite speakeasies. It’s also home to Content Marketing World — one of my favorite conferences.

I missed Content Marketing World this year due to a huge project I took lead on — and if you asked any of the people on my team — that made me super bummed.

But the good news is that my “What Were They Thinking” partner in video antics, Taylor Knight, was able to make the trip and soak up all the glorious content marketing knowledge in the great orange glow within Cleveland’s convention center.

Aside from coming back with a ton of video footage from interviewing some of my content marketing heroes, like Ann Handley and Robert Rose, Taylor also had a bunch of relevant takeaways to share.

So without further adieu, here’s Taylor doing a little Sass Marketing guest blogging about her favorite things from Content Marketing World 2016:

content marketing worldLast week, I had the opportunity to attend Content Marketing World in “The Land” — Cleveland. Thousands gathered to hear the best minds in content marketing speak about their successes, challenges, failures and predictions for the future.

There were so many amazing sessions and keynotes (including Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill and comedian Michael Jr.), so I wanted to share my top three takeaways with everyone who wasn’t able to attend. Here they are:

Takeaway 1: It’s Not the Best … It’s the Best Promoted

Andy Crestodina, principal and strategic director at Orbit Media, shared in his keynote that it’s not the best content that wins, it’s the best promoted content that wins. He said marketers should concentrate on two things to succeed:

1. Original Research
This can be observations you make about a trend, an aggregation of information from other sources or surveys you conduct. “What do people in our industry often say but rarely support? Find the missing stat,” explains Crestodina.

2. Strong Opinions
Your content should take a stand because strong opinions lead to shares. Crestodina suggest marketers answer the following questions to create great content:

  • What do you believe that most people would disagree with?
  • What do you think will happen in the future that people don’t agree with?
  • What questions are people afraid to answer?

Takeaway 2: Slow Down

Ann Handley, chief content officer at MarketingProfs, told marketers to “slow down.” It may be hard to know when to slow down because the norm has been to rush, rush, rush and create as much content as possible. Handley says answer these three questions before creating content:

  1. “So what?” This is a shortcut to empathy and connecting with your audience.
  2. “Wait, what?” This is figuring out the “why” before you even get to that what.
  3. “Does this sustain us?” This can mean either be sustaining you or your brand.

Takeaway 3: Build a Network for Success

Mitch Joel, president of Mirum, gave a keynote titled “Content Is Dead.” This seemed a bit shocking considering we were at Content Marketing World, however, Joel gave the audience great advice.

He told marketers that they should concentrate on building a network, and then the content you produce for that network will succeed. In the future, (when every marketer builds up that network) other changes will happen. Joel says the future of content marketing is:

Augmented Reality + Virtual Reality = The “Next” Platform
Data + Machine Learning + Artificial Intelligence = Actionable Content
Permission + Marketing Automation = Customer Loyalty

Extra, Extra

I couldn’t stop with just three! Here are a few more of my favorite tips and takeaways from Content Marketing World 2016.

• Facebook “views” are counted when someone watches the video for three seconds or more. Measure for longer views and a better sense of engagement. — Chelsea Hunderson, social media marketing manager, HubSpot

• Measure content in real time, then change strategy in real time. Things are constantly changing and they don’t always go according to plan. — Lars Silberbauer, global director of social media and search, LEGO Company Ltd.

• When it comes to content marketing, executive needs to do more than buy in — they need to endorse content marketing. — Deanna Goldasich, CEO, Well Planned Web

• If you want people to share something, you have to know what they want to say, then say it better. — John von Brachel, SVP of content marketing, Bank of America

• A one second delay in page speed can decrease conversions by seven percent. — Arnie Kuenn, CEO, Vertical Measures

• Dates on your blog will make your content look old. — Andy Crestodina, principal and strategic director, Orbit Media


Content Marketing Master ClassAhhhhhhh it sounds like this year’s Content Marketing World was sooooo good as usual!

But guess what? If you’re like me and missed it — and that realization is eating away at your soul … no? Just me? Okay then —guess what? You could attend one of six Content Marketing Master Classes!

The Content Marketing gurus will be touring the country with this 1-day master class, so check out the site to see if there’s one coming to a city near you and sign up! You won’t regret it, AND you’ll have fun!

‘What I Did on Summer Vacation …’

Happy Day After Labor Day folks! Hope you got all your barbecuing done this weekend, because now it’s back to school, back to reality and back to work. Summer hours are a thing of the past, but before you stow your flip flops, here are some of my favorite things I’ve worked on during the Summer of 2016.

Happy Day After Labor Day folks! Hope you got all your barbecuing done this weekend, because now it’s back to school, back to reality and back to work. Summer hours are a thing of the past, but before you stow your flip flops, here are some of my favorite things I’ve worked on during the Summer of 2016:

Amtrak WWTT videoA Weekly Whacky Video Series

From KFC to  Zappos’ #ImNotABox, from McDonald’s to T-Rex chatbots … this has been a busy summer of video for me. I launched “What Were They Thinking?” with our associate content editor Taylor Knight on June 3, and we have created 14 videos together (actually 16, since we did some extra work to get ahead when possible). It seems as though our audience gets a kick out them, which was my goal: to entertain while shedding some light on the good, the bad and the utterly confusing things in marketing. This past week we shot a video based on my first viewer suggestion, which was awesome to receive, and great fun to put together.

Compelling Content MemeRobert Rose Dropping Serious CM Knowledge on the TM Audience

I met Robert at the 2015 Content Marketing World (2016 CMW is going on right now, and I sadly can’t be there due to a MASSIVE client project, so ALL my content love to the some of the hardest working folks in Cleveland!) and got to see him speak multiple times throughout the event. Following that, I caught a number of his webinars and podcasts, and knew that the opportunity to work with him myself was high on my 2016 to-do list. Well, during this past June’s Intergrated Marketing Virtual Conference, I did just that, moderating his session, “The Content Show That Never Ends: Repurposing Like a Media Company.” Not only did I get to use song lyrics from Emerson, Lake and Palmer in my intro of this wonderfully smart dude, but he broke down repurposing content in a way I hadn’t thought of before. The virtual show is still available on-demand, but only through Sept. 27, so register and CHECK IT OUT!

Snapchat fear memeInsta Stories Being Easy Like Whoa

I know, I know … I shot a video back in the spring about how whoo-hoo, look how easy Snapchat is! I created an account for Sass Marketing … and then barely did anything with it because it was such a headache. Then Instagram Stories came along, I rolled my eyes, but then sat down and wrote a Pros and Cons list about the newest Insta feature (you know, an app I use CONSTANTLY) and decided, okay … maybe this could work for me. Then Taylor shot this fantastic video breaking it all down, and well, I highly recommend watching it:

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I got access to Instagram Stories in mid-August, and I have to say, I’m a fan … personally and professionally … which leads me to this:

Sass Marketing Facebook PageThere’s More Sass on Social!

That’s right … there’s now 200 percent more sass out there on the interwebs (I think … math and I don’t get along). I launched a Facebook Page AND an Instagram account in August because I didn’t want to keep hijacking our brand accounts. So find me in both those spots to get behind the scenes photos and videos from my “What Were They Thinking?” shoots, random photos of my desk and whatever other antics I get up to.

What fun things did you work on this summer? Tell me all about it in the comments!