Category - Events

Join us at SaaS North in Ottawa!

SaaS North Event - Floor Plan Map

It’s almost here! Canada’s largest SaaS conference for scaling up is just around the corner, and we’re so excited to join our fellow Canadian SaaS pros at the Shaw Center on November 26th & 27th.

If you’re in the Ottawa area, come to the Eastern Ontario Pavilion and say hi to Vanessa (she’ll be the one in the bright blue Knak t-shirt – hard to miss.) Stop by to chat about what’s going on at Knak and pick up some awesome swag (come on, you know you want a pair of Knak sunglasses!)

SaaS North is Canada’s go-to SaaS hub for founders, execs, service providers, investors and their teams. Don’t miss these action packed two days of networking, knowledge sharing and access to resources to scale your business!

Check out the full speaker list and agenda on their site.

Choosing a Conference: When and How to Invest

Conference Presentation

The end of the year is almost here, which means it’s time to talk budgets. We don’t want to get into the specifics of your budget (we’ve got our own to plan, thanks very much), but if you’re considering attending a conference next year, we want to help you evaluate the options and determine which events will deliver the best ROI.

What’s your motivation?

Each organization has their own motivation for attending conferences, and they usually boil down to some combination of networking, learning and lead generation. Those three things are definitely nice, but at Knak, we base our conference decisions on a few key things:

  • Will our current clients be there?
  • Will our prospective clients be there?
  • Will our competition be there?
  • Will our partner be there?

The Knak team recently attended MarTech East in Boston, and our decision to go was pretty straightforward:
We are Marketers who love marketing, and we have a product that makes life simpler for our fellow Marketers. MarTech East is a huge marketing technology trade show, so having a booth there gives us great visibility along with a chance to connect face to face with our clients and our prospects.

As you’re considering conference options, spell out why you want to go. Do you have a new product to introduce? Do you want to increase visibility into your organization? Who is going to be there that could help you reach some goals?

The “why” and the “who” are going to dictate the “where” here, so once you nail that down, compare your reasons to your list of options and see which event is the best fit.

What’s the cost?

Once you’ve found the perfect conference, it’s time to make your case for the budget dollars. Here’s how to determine your break-even benchmarks and ROI.

  • Add up the out of pocket expenses first:
  • Travel and accommodations
  • Booth rental
  • Sponsorship, or other partnerships that can add visibility
  • Signage, brochures, and anything else you need to print
  • Dinner, drinks, coffee, etc with your clients and prospects

And then figure out what you need to do to recoup that amount. Can you:

  • Assign value to the interactions you’re hoping to have
  • Figure out how many new accounts would cover the cost

When we were planning, we added up the expenses and then determined how many leads, demo requests, and new clients we’d need to justify the expense. We approached our budget with those goals in mind, which made it easier to show senior management that we’ve carefully weighed the costs/benefits and determined that the ROI would be worth it.

A note here: most of us are good at thinking qualitatively about the cost of conferences, but it’s important that we don’t neglect the quantitative costs as well. An out-of-pocket investment now can lead to long term returns over time, and a quantitative approach to budgeting can help you make smarter investments in the long run.

Maximizing your spend

Once your conference has been approved, it’s time to maximize your investment.

Invite, invite, invite
Personal connection is tremendously valuable here, so don’t leave it up to chance.

  • Have your sales team and customer success team reach out to their contacts and set up 1-on-1 meetings in advance
  • Personally invite people in your database – clients and prospects – to visit you at the event
  • Send a map of the expo floor plan, offer a giveaway, invite them to meet you for coffee between sessions, etc.

Be genuine, and let them know you’re looking forward to connecting in person.

Also, take a close look at the list of presenters and sponsors, and search the event’s hashtag to find attendees. See someone you want to meet? Reach out via social media and request a quick meet up while you’re there.

As the event gets closer, keep promoting it. Send an email, use social media, put a banner on your website. In addition to the meetings your team has set up, you never know who will reach out to request a meeting of their own.

Plan your space
Our real estate friends aren’t wrong when they say location is everything. If you’re going to spend the money to be there, make sure you’re in a good location and not buried in a back corner by the vending machines.

Register early enough that you can strategically select a booth. It’s even better if you can see which other organizations have already picked their spot so you can see where the competition will be located.

Drive traffic
While you’re there, drive traffic to your booth with social media posts, geo-targeted ads, or consider hosting a friendly competition at your booth.

Invest in your VIPs
Use the event to further the relationship with your existing clients. We hosted a VIP dinner at MarTech East, and the evening was great on several levels:
We got to hang out with our clients who are some all-around great people.
We got to introduce our existing clients to some of our prospective clients, giving them the chance to serve as brand evangelists for the evening.
We got to rehash the best keynote sessions of the day with people who love marketing as much as we do.

Whatever you do for your VIPs doesn’t have to be elaborate. Just make the effort to connect and let them know you appreciate their business.

What to do when it’s over

Debriefing after the event is just as important as your pre-event planning. Get together with your team and revisit your key learnings:

If the event was beneficial, consider re-booking right away. Many conferences offer a discount and priority booth selection if you book the next show during the current show.
Find out what conversations they had with new leads, prospects, clients, competitors, etc.
Make a list of everyone you want to follow up with, and get started: it’s important to make contact quickly once you return.

Keep in mind that it’s important to track results over the long term. Some of your prospects may convert long after the show is over, but if you’re tracking prospects properly in your marketing automation platform, you’ll have a record of your contact and can use the data to make decisions on next year’s show.

The Perks

In our years of attending events, we’ve found a few bonus side perks that are like the icing on the conference cake.

  • Recruitment – what better place to find future team members than at an event with 15,000 amazing people who already work in your field? If you have open positions, keep an eye out for someone who might be a good skill- and culture-fit for your organization.
  • Team-building – we’re largely a remote team, so trade shows are a great opportunity to actually have our team working together in the same place.
  • Client stories – at our last few events, we took advantage of the fact that we were in the same physical location as many of our clients and created some short video testimonials.

We’re already planning our attendance at Adobe Summit 2020 (it will definitely include our clients, our prospects, and our competition, so it’s a bit of a no-brainer for Knak).

It’s just one of literally dozens and dozens of great options for next year, so to help you pick the perfect conference, we’ve compiled a shortlist. Check out our 2020 Marketing Conference Guide, and find the event that’s going to drive results for your organization.

The 2020 Marketing Conference Forecast

Before we dive in, we’d love to know what’s on your can’t-miss conference list for 2020! Fill out this short survey to let us know what marketing conferences you’ll be attending next year, and you’ll be entered into a draw to win a $50 Amazon gift card!

The events you don’t want to miss, all in one place.

We love conferences. Aside from being a fun break in the routine, they’re a great way to:

  • Get our team’s creative juices flowing
  • Hear from experts in our field
  • Hang out with people who love marketing as much as we do
  • Maybe take a quick peek at what our competitors are up to

Unfortunately, we don’t have an unlimited conference budget, so we’re super intentional with our conference spend, and we’re making it easy for you to be, too.

Here are our top conference choices for 2020 – listed chronologically – and some info to help you see why they might be worth wrapping into next year’s budget at your organization.

Modern Marketing Express
January 23, 2020
San Francisco, CA
Data-driven marketing can deliver impressive results, but there’s plenty of misinformation about it that can derail your strategy. Oracle’s Modern Marketing Express is designed to connect marketers with the innovators, influencers and thought leaders that can help make sense of it all.

Adobe Summit
March 29-April 2, 2020
Las Vegas, NV
With 400 sessions and labs across 11 content tracks, Adobe Summit is the place to join the leaders in marketing automation, analytics, advertising, and commerce for five days of groundbreaking customer experience insight.
Hint: Register by December 15 to save $400 on the regular price of a full conference pass.

West: April 15-17, 2020
San Jose, CA
East: October 6-8, 2020
Boston, MA
The MarTech experience is carefully choreographed to help senior-level marketers find actionable tactics to solve today’s marketing challenges. Join key members of the martech community and learn to deliver exceptional customer experiences and better ROI. The Knak team attended MarTech East in 2019, and we’re planning to be back in 2020. Check out our recap here.

True North Dreamin
April 23-24, 2020
Vancouver, BC
TND is a coast-to-coast-to-coast Canadian Salesforce community conference. It’s heading to Vancouver this spring on a mission to connect Canada’s SFDC pros, and in our experience, it’s an action-packed two days, full of training, team-building, and swag. Our Sales Operations Director attended the 2019 event and had an amazing time. Check out her thoughts here.

EiQ Gathering
April 30, 2020
Atlanta, GA
EiQ Gathering delivers cutting-edge email marketing trends and innovations. The sessions are a cool mix of creative, strategy, and data-driven marketing designed to give email marketers an edge, and the event stands out with their unique approach to thinking beyond the inbox.

SiriusDecisions Summit
May 3-6, 2020
Austin, TX
SiriusDecisions Summit is the place to be for B2B marketers. With the unveiling of new B2B innovations, sessions dedicated to best practices and new technologies, and a chance to connect with an elite community of sales, marketing, and product leaders, Summit blends content and community in the best possible way.

Email Innovations Summit
June 1-3, 2020
Las Vegas, NV
This conference is laser-focused on email marketing’s latest technology, strategy, and design innovations. EI Summit also goes the extra mile with sessions designed to help marketers incorporate their learnings into their overall strategy once they return to the office.

June 10, 2020
London, ENG
September 2020 – Boston, MA
November 2020 – San Francisco, CA
HYPERGROWTH is where marketing rule-breakers go for hands-on training, real-life examples, and industry-leading innovation. Hear from the masters who are using Conversational Marketing to drive conversion rates, pipeline, revenue and more at their businesses, and experience an event that’s unlike any other.

July 6-8, 2020
Seattle, WA
MozCon is a one-track journey into the depths of search marketing. Learn from the experts on SEO, conversion optimization, data-driven decision making, and more, and connect with fellow marketing pioneers at lunch-time discussions and evening parties. Plus, we hear they’re very generous with the swag and fist bumps.

Marketing Artificial Intelligence Conference (MAICON)
July 14-16, 2020
Cleveland, OH
AI is poised to have a major (think trillion dollar) impact on marketing, but let’s face it: most marketers struggle to understand how to implement it in their day-to-day strategy. MAICON is the answer, and it’s a can’t-miss event for marketing leaders who are ready for the next frontier in digital marketing. Plus, we love that it’s geared toward a non-technical audience, so attendees without a background in analytics or data-science will fit right in.

Litmus Live
August, 2020
London, ENG
October 2020 – Boston, MA
November 2020 – San Francisco, CA
Litmus Live is where email nerds get together to talk design, strategy, and development. A favourite of the Knak team and email marketers worldwide, this is the place to be for sessions on data-driven design, advanced personalization, improved workflow, and way more. Our lead email developer attended the London 2019 event: get his thoughts on the speakers, content, and sessions here.

August 18-21, 2020
Boston, MA
INBOUND is a four-day event for creative marketers, start-up founders, and out-of-the box thinkers who are ready to consider some big ideas. It’s a huge event (26,000+ attendees and nearly 400 sessions), but it’s a great place to consider your existing opportunities for growth from a new perspective.

Call to Action Conference
September 29-October 1, 2020
Vancouver, BC
Based on the traditional IQ framework, CTAConf is a single-track experience that covers the six core elements of marketing intelligence. Full of actionable tactics and brilliant speakers, it’s a unique approach to digital marketing that’s expertly curated and not to be missed. View the 2019 recap, including session recordings and speaker slide decks here.

Content Marketing World
October 13-16, 2020
Cleveland, OH
Meet the best and brightest in the content marketing industry, and learn to create an epic content marketing strategy. With sessions covering storytelling, AI, demand generation, and more, marketers will leave with the tools they need to grow their business and build their team.

November 9-12, 2020
San Francisco, CA
SFDC’s Dreamforce user conference is packed with keynotes, demos, workshops, and sessions (more than 3500 of them) designed to let you get up close and personal with the technology of tomorrow. Be inspired by new ideas, and leave ready to challenge the status quo and build your career.

SaaS North
2020 TBA, November 26-27, 2019
Ottawa, ON
SaaS North is Canada’s largest SaaS conference for scaling up. We love it because it’s right here in our hometown AND it gives us a chance to hang out with our fellow Canadian SaaS pros. With an intentional focus on scaling for SaaS companies, tracks are designed to help drive growth at every stage.