Attending Marketing Events

Attending marketing events are an important part of working in the industry. They deliver a great opportunity to learn new skills from industry influencers and fellow marketers.

The year 2020 almost put an end to in-person events, but COVID also highlighted just how important human interaction is. Marketing events moved online and tried to replicate the value that came with in-person events. Some were more successful than others, but all events tried to encourage being ‘face-to-face’ as much as possible and offering give-aways that would be present in real life.

Let’s take a look back on some in-person events I attended.

B2B marketing expo 2016

The B2B marketing expo is a great way to learn about the marketing industry. Let me take you through my thoughts and share some of the things I learned over the two day event that was held on the 11th and 12th May.

ExCeL Arena Atrium

About the Venue

The ExCeL Arena is a great venue with a lot of space right next to London City Airport and the Millennium Dome. I was impressed by its size, capacity and clear ability to hold almost any type of indoor event. The expo was among a lot of other events I noticed, some of which I would love to have attended.


The exhibitors at the stalls were all very friendly and encouraged me to ask questions about their products and business. Whenever I had a question, it was answered with great subject knowledge and desire to show me how their organisation could help me achieve my goals.

Exhibitors ranged in seniority, sometimes including managers and directors. Being able to meet the people behind the organisation, driving it forward and in a position to answer almost any question you had was great. To me, that shows just how seriously exhibitors take this event.

Keynote Speakers

The keynote speakers were amazing. They were people from the exhibiting companies, but far from trying to sell their product, they offered solutions. I’m in the consideration stage looking for tools that could help me to do my job effectively, so this was great for my needs. It’s great to come to an event where people aren’t just trying to sell their wares.

But don’t just take my word for it:

yes, made it home yesterday. Great show, inspiring speakers.

— tessarogers (@tessarogers) May 13, 2016

Sales Expo

B2B Marketing Expo Sales Expo

The elephant in the room was the Sales Innovation Expo. To me, there was a clear divide between the sales and the marketing sides of the hall. With purple on the marketing side and a very clear red for the sales side. I also felt a different atmosphere on the sales side. I didn’t spend too much time there, but I think the reason for the difference is that both sides were very focused on giving their audience what they needed so I picked up on the different approaches.

Why Did I Attend the B2B Marketing Expo?

I attended the expo because I wanted to get some fresh ideas to use at work. I have an idea of what I would like to do and an idea of what the end result will be, but It’s always a good idea to get another perspective. I needed to see if there was anything out there I hadn’t thought of before and also continue learning. In marketing, you can never know everything and learning is something I really enjoy.

Another great reason to attend, was to find the tools and organisations that would help get [IMI Truflo Marine] where they want to be.

Expo Awards

The best way I can share my experience with you is to pick out a few highlights and present them as awards. Here are my choices for some very arbitrary awards.

Shiniest Business Card Award

Everyone likes something shiny. Okay, I like shiny things! Remember never to make assumptions about your audience but you can always find out through testing and research. These guys can help you connect with your target audience as they specialise in creative ideas as well as analytics.

Winner: Native Digital Creatives –

Thickest Business Card Award

Aron Reeks

Bigger is better. Well, not if I have to store this card with the rest of my collection! Maybe bigger (or in this case thicker) is better because I remember the card. It felt quality and stood out without the need to resort to an outlandish design. It is for that reason that I am giving this award. I must add that Aron Reeks’ talk on using analytics to learn more about the way users interact with your site and so work out places they’re dropping off to improve your site was very interesting. User Experience (UX) is a big part of keeping your website on top.

Winner: Evosite –

Standout Stand Award

Lead Forensics Stand

With all the flashing lights but missing bells and whistles, I have to say there can only be one winner here. I didn’t really go and approach the stand as I know what they can do; help you to identify your audience. I’ve used their product before and found it to be very good as part of an integrated marketing strategy. It must be said that according to the carpet, they were on the sales side, but their tool works great from a marketing perspective.

Winner: Lead Forensics – (If you visit their site, they’ll probably know who you are if you do it from your work computer)

Friendliest Stand Award

Peridigital Stand

It’s really hard to say who is the friendliest because everyone was great, but I really enjoyed visiting and talking to the official Google partners who had a lot to share about using paid advertising like Google AdWords as part of an integrated marketing strategy thanks to the talk given by Mike Ncube. I think I now have some good ideas I can try to put into practice and if I need someone to set my campaign up, I know where to go.

Winner: Peridigital –

Knowledge Award

Shane Redding

I had to give this to the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing (IDM). I am biased as I’m a member and enjoy studying for marketing related qualifications with the IDM. I’ve previously studied for and collected my Professional Diploma in Direct and Digital Marketing at their Teddington HQ, but I’ve heard that they may be moving to a Central London location in the near future.

I was impressed by the speakers that shared their expert knowledge with us. The talks were of extremely high quality and the short 30 minute bites provided an accurate representation of what marketing professionals would stand to gain on a full length course. Training from the IDM can really boost your ability and career.

If you do decide to sign up, please don’t forget to say that I referred you!

Winner: The Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing –

Best Seminar Award
One great thing about life is learning that something is much simpler than you first thought. This particular seminar helped the audience to understand that email automation doesn’t need to be super complicated and something only for the big boys. This talk outlined what email automation was and how it could bring positive results for businesses large and small.

Winner: Judy Boniface –

Best AI

Insight Bee Robot

I’m always happy to talk to robots or Artificial Intelligence. I used to have one myself in a chat room that would welcome visitors and act as a bouncer if they used foul language. I was really happy to meet a self-confessed robot who used quite natural language. There was a clear script or story line he wanted to pursue, but he was very good at going off script including successful attempts to make jokes. I won’t lie, his jokes were much better than mine!

In the end, it was kind of like me when speaking another language/ living in another country. Conversations follow the same path but with slight variations and that’s how you become comfortable and then able to use that language. I wonder if he will learn in a similar way and gain the ability to hold more complex conversations as time goes on? It certainly is a very interesting time to be around.

Insight Bee Robot Human Interaction

This Naked Scientist podcast presents a sneak preview of the new robot exhibition at the Science Museum in London; 500 years of robots. We use robots all the time in marketing to perform a lot of automated tasks. I wonder how long it will be before we start using lifelike robots to perform marketing tasks such as market research? I’m sure the robot I met could have gathered a lot of data through its conversations.

Winner: Robot –

Honorary Award
I was on the B2B marketing side of the divide, but I was lucky enough to hear one of the sales oriented speakers. I was impressed by the message and the way he helped us all to look inside ourselves and try to improve. I’m all about improving, so I had to give the honorary award to someone who helps people to succeed. Honorary because I attended to learn more about marketing but his talk really resonated with me and will help me to develop both personally and professionally.

Winner: Jim Cathcart –

Review and Improve

The huge task I have now is to go back, trawl through the information I’ve gathered and make sense of it. A bit like a marketing campaign, you can get a lot of data back but the most important thing is to create insight from that data.

I’m already trying to apply what I have been learning over the past few days. The main message I’ve taken away is that It’s all about building a relationship with your customers.

The seminar by Tim Tucker at the IDM Academy about Copy Writing gave me some great ideas on how I could improve the way I write. I’m making a change right now with this post to try and write in a way that gives value to the reader. Previously, I explained the writing style I wanted to use would be more appropriate for press releases, but I think I’ll keep that locked away for very occasional use.

Tim Tucker Presenting IDM Masterclass

Once I’ve gone through the information I’ve gathered, I’ll present my findings at work which will be very positive. From this analysis, I will be able to make a marketing strategy to develop the business and move it into new markets.

I’d happily recommended the B2B Marketing Expo to anyone looking to improve the way their business markets itself. You will pick up great marketing insights on a strategic level that you can put into practice yourself and get the contacts you need to move your business forward.

Smart Summit London 2016

I attended Smart Summit London (Internet of Things exhibition) held on 21st and 22nd September 2016 at Kensington Olympia, London, to get a clearer idea of the kind of automated technology available and what marketing applications there might be for the Internet of Things (IOT).

As a marketer, I deal in data and how I can use that data to find new customers, or provide a better service for existing customers. The IOT provides a great opportunity to use data we as consumers create every day but don’t usually harness to provide us with real benefits.

Why Did I Attend Smart Summit?

My mindset was on looking at the data companies have now found ways to collect for useful purposes and how that could be applied to marketing. For example, a fridge that monitors its contents. Perhaps a client could purchase advertising space on the fridge’s monitor to suggest products the consumer might like? Even better would be to offer the user the opportunity to opt-in to a series of recipe videos that just happen to feature brands that have paid to be mentioned.

One of the main reasons I attended was because Smart Summit was so close to the Technology for Marketing event being held the following week. As such, I didn’t have a solid idea of what I would get out of it, but saw Smart Summit as a way to build up knowledge in another area of marketing.

How Was the Venue?

The venue had a compact vibe and as such, spending a singe day, or even a morning or afternoon would be enough to see everything. I feel that this event was an opportunity to target specific organisations or technology providers you want to interact with and go straight to them, not so much for someone to learn more about new technology outside of the keynote speakers.

Speaking Highlight

I was especially interested to hear from Rikesh Shah, Lead Digital Relationship Manager for Transport for London (TfL).

Rikesh has been working with TfL for over 15 years in various marketing and communications roles. Currently, he is a senior manager at TfL, responsible for Digital Partnerships which involves supporting the development of a wide range of customer facing digital products and services – including open data – that supports TfL’s objectives as well the company’s digital strategy. Rikesh has a degree in Economics/Social Policy and an MSc. in Marketing Management as well as being a Chartered Marketer.

Rikesh’s talk was very engaging and definitely the kind of thing I was looking to get out of this conference. Rikesh spoke on important topics including how data can be used to improve TfL’s services.

In terms of Rikesh’s career, it’s definitely the kind of path I’d like to take. I’m especially interested in helping the West Midlands region’s growth strategy and Rikesh is contributing to something similar on a larger scale.

Key Business Sectors Represented

Smart Cities

At the Smart Cities portion of the summit, the following key decision makers in attendance:

Government authorities, city leaders, town planners, construction companies, connectivity specialists, transport providers, investors, travel agencies, technology providers, industry associations and Press.

Smart Homes

Those being represented at the Smart Homes portion of the summit in 2016 were:

Standards bodies, technology providers, TELCOs, energy companies, semiconductor companies, application service providers, CE providers, home security companies, home automation organisations, service providers, media companies, content owners, and software companies among others.

While there, I discovered a few companies with products I found particularly interesting that had good applications for marketing. I especially liked:

For Future Exhibitions

A lot of different types of people and companies were in attendance but I didn’t really see any opportunities to get in contact with any businesses. Or rather I didn’t see any businesses I could work with from a marketing perspective.

My decision to attend wasn’t planned as far in advance as I think would allow me to get the best out of the event. Attending was a last minute decision as I had some spare time. Having an idea of the exhibitions you’d like to attend at least a month beforehand, even if you don’t yet have a solid plan would produce better outcomes..

The next time I attend this exhibition (and pencilling it into my diary a little sooner), I’ll take a closer look at the type of organisations and people that will be there and make a definite plan to get in contact with specific types of people for specific reasons.

Overall, it was a good event, but for me, the main reason to go back would be to hear the speakers. They had a great selection, speaking on some very interesting topics. I feel I’m of this opinion because Smart Summit London was designed not for marketers, but for people looking to invest in hardware and the vendors reflected this.

Why Should You Attend?

To sum up, I’d say Smart Summit London was a small, focused event that offers a lot to those looking for smart hardware solutions for their building projects. If you’re a home owner, designer or building contractor that wants to offer systems that make use of advanced technologies, then this is the place for you. If you know specifically the type of solution you’re after, I’m sure you’d find a good provider at Smart Summit.

Technology For Marketing 2016

2016’s Technology for Marketing (TFM) event was held at Kensington Olympia along with the eCommerce Expo and Customer Contact expo. Held over an action packed two days from the 28th to 29th September, TFM is one of the must-see marketing events in the UK.

I had originally signed up for TFM only, but after reading the literature, it seemed as though I’d have access to more than one event. Once I’d entered the venue, it quickly became apparent that the events were all related. I could see that there was a lot of value to be had in seeing as much as possible, not just on the dedicated marketing side, so I went to as many stands as I could.

The numbers alone highlight TFM as a must-see event. Over 230 companies were exhibiting and 200 speakers shared their insights with the marketing professionals present. I was also really excited to see that Joe Pulizzi from the Content Marketing Institute was going to speak. I really enjoy listening to This Old Marketing podcast that he hosts with Robert Rose, so it was great to see him in the flesh.

The venue was huge. Although TFM was held at the same location as Smart Summit London, it was held in a larger part of Kensington Olympia. There was a huge main floor area, with a balcony surrounding it at first floor level. This lead to the eCommerce Expo, with great solutions for online retailers.

Atmosphere wise, the event was friendly, with approachable exhibitors and busy without being too crowded, even at the most popular stands or when the biggest keynote speakers were talking.

Keynote Speakers

Because I made a small plan beforehand, I could decide on the keynote speakers I wanted to see and get the most out of my time at the exhibition. I only saw one of these keynote speakers, but here are all three and what they came to speak about:

Joe Pulizzi, Founder, Content Marketing Institute – The Myth of Content Marketing: Most marketers who say they do it, really aren’t
Ritesh Patel, EVP & CDO, Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide – Caring for humans: Learning how pharmaceutical industry embraced technology to get closer to the customers
Dave Coplin, Chief Envisioning Officer, Microsoft UK – Re-imagining the future of technology

Themed Speaking Theatres

There were four themed speaking theatres where marketing topics in the same area were covered:

  • Data & Analytics Conference Theatre
  • Marketing Automation & Cross-Platform Conference Theatre
  • Search & Email Marketing Conference Theatre
  • Social Media & Content Marketing Conference Theatre

Speakers for the theatres included:

Andy Dubickas, Director Global Solution Consulting, Visual IQ
Stephen Ingledew, MD Marketing and Customers, Standard Life
Theresa Regli, Managing Partner and Principal Analyst, Real Story Group
Mike Talbot, CTO, 3radical
Jon Stanesby, Director Strategic Services EMEA, Oracle Marketing Cloud
Doug Kessler, Creative Director & Co-Founder, Velocity Partners
Mike O’Brien, CEO of Jam Partnership, Course Tutor and Digital Lecturer, The IDM
Graham Compton, Director, Business Edge Technologies
Louise Hunter, Channel & Alliance Senior Marketing Manager EMEA, Juniper Networks
Olivier Choron, CEO & Founder, Tremolo Software
Catherine Toole, Chairman, Sticky Content

eCommerce Expo

On the first floor, there were a lot of companies providing support for online retailers. Ranging from physical solutions behind the scenes like warehouse management and stock control through to customer facing solutions such as the international payments processing company Payoneer.

I didn’t spend much time in the eCommerce expo area, though I did get to see all of the exhibitors and there were a few keynote speakers up there on the first floor. I do think it delivered a good mix of vendors and keynote speakers.

Another company that stood out for me, were Order Wise. They had a solution that went from online sales, right back to inventory reporting. Their solution reminded me of other software providers I’d worked for in the past.

Customer Contact Expo

I also took the time out to visit the Customer Contact Expo. In the build up to TFM, I didn’t intend to visit the Customer Contact Expo, but as I’m always open to new things, I thought I would see how much I could learn from it.

The vibe I got from the Customer Contact Expo (CCE) was different to Technology for Marketing and the eCommerce Expo. I think the main reason for this could be the location. CCE was in the West Hall on the first floor, away from the main National Hall entrance on the ground floor.

CCE seemed quieter, with less footfall, though it also had its own entrance. As with Technology for Marketing, everyone at the CCE was very friendly and I think I asked a lot more questions of the vendors in this part of the exhibition than anywhere else.

Of particular note, were Greenlight CRM and Living Actor, providers of interactive, intelligent avatars that can actually converse with visitors to help them out.

Making Connections at Technology for Marketing

One of the most important parts of attending a conference is making of connections with other marketers. Of course, it’s important to listen to keynote speakers, find vendors that solve your problems and of course, get out of the office to clear your head.

Never forget that making those human connections will build a strong network of professionals you can explore ideas with. If you have a marketing team at your office, you can bounce ideas off your colleagues, but knowing people that can come at problems and provide ideas from another perspective is invaluable.

I managed meet and exchange business cards with quite a few fellow marketing professionals and hopefully we can work together in the future. Remembering that a friend from my time in Japan was looking for new translation opportunities, I thought I could help out a few translation companies at TFM. After the event, I got his permission to pass on his details to two companies that provide content translation services for many languages around the world including Japanese. Hopefully they get in contact with him.

Technology for Marketing Final Thoughts

I found the entire event to be a success. The venue was great, the people were great, the speakers were great. I was also able to connect with a lot of people and organisations.

I would recommend everyone working in the marketing to attend if they’re looking for solutions for their organisation. I’d also recommend business owners looking for marketing solutions to attend also.

Although our world is becoming increasingly digital, some decisions can’t be made solely through a computer screen. The human element can’t be ignored and the ability to socialise, make new contacts and ask important questions of and even compare so many potential service providers at once is invaluable.