One of the most challenging questions I face as the CEO of a digital media agency is “What are the best training events to attend in order to stay involved in the industry changes?” As we’ve stated in previous blogs, KeyMedia Solutions invests heavily into the continued training, education, and testing of emerging technology. To do this effectively, it means we also have to go outside of our circles, talk to as many people as possible, and engage within the industry. We’ve attended a lot of summits, conferences, classes, and workshops over the last four years and while there are some events we are eager to attend again, there are others that we’ve found to be a waste of time and money.

Below is our short list of 2016 events located within the United States that we feel deliver the greatest value for the price of registration. While this list is far from comprehensive, my hope is that you will find a nugget that will help you make a decision on where to apply your budget for training and education in the upcoming year.

#1- MozCon Local

February 18-19, 2016 in Seattle

Why we like it: Let’s face it, we all could use a bit more training in local rankings, content development, and SEO. This one is focused specifically on just that.

#2- ICON

March 2-4, 2016 in Phoenix

Why we like it: Not for the weak minded, this event is four days of working with experts to develop strategy, setting goals, and implementing campaigns.

#3- 4A’s Transformation Conference

March 21-24, 2016 in Miami

Why we like it: Through fireside chats, conversations, and never-before-seen presentations, you are able to engage with thought leaders in a way most conferences miss.

#4- The Un-Conference: 360 Degrees of Brand Strategy for a Changing World

May 02-04, 2016 in San Diego

Why we like it: To be fair, we have not yet attended this conference – but hopefully that will change in 2016. They limit participation to 50. And as their website states: No Attendees. Only Participants.

#5- SMX Advanced

June 22-23, 2016 in Seattle

Why we like it: Focused on advanced SEO, PPC, and Search tactics, this is one of the few events we have found that will help our experienced staff push their knowledge. Unfortunately, it’s already sold out for this year.

#6- MN Search Summit

June 24, 2016 in Minneapolis

Why we like it: This event grew from a local event to one that consistently surprises us with the quality of speakers and content. For actionable takeaways and engaging conversation, this is a must-attend event.

#7- Brand ManageCamp

Sept 15-16, 2016 in Las Vegas

Why we like it: The event organizers describe the conference as a “no-fluff zone” and guarantee that attendees will walk away with actionable advice from industry thought leaders. This conference goes beyond media and advertising, covering content, innovation, and leadership.

This is limited to 50 attendees – don’t wait too long to register!

#8- Advertising Week

Sept 26-30, 2016 in New York City

Why we like it: One of the largest events each year, Advertising Week brings together thought leadership, entertainment, and technology.

#9- ANA Masters of Marketing

October 19-22, 2016 in Orlando

Why we like it: Spend time in innovation labs and networking in the hangout zones when you’re not attending sessions.

#10- Ad:Tech

November 2-3, 2016 in New York

Why we like it: Ad:Tech is for everyone from the entry-level marketing specialist all the way up to CMOs. It offers five consistent tracks that cover results, ad, tech, entertainment, and blurred lines.

And if this is not comprehensive enough for you, check out Kristi Hines comprehensive list of 160 confirmed business and digital conferences in 2016.

Getting the most out of each even%20

Now that you’ve selected the event that you will attend – or send a staff member to – how will you ensure you get the desired result? Our company policy helps encourage our staff to bring back valuable and applicable lessons from each event they attend. Here is the KeyMedia Solutions’ policy for paid training:

“Any employee that attends a conference, class, workshop, or event is responsible for providing an oral report at a staff meeting within 30 days of attending the event.”

In this report, they need to provide three key takeaways. These can include:

  1. New technology or corporate process to test
  2. New insights and/or research into consumer behavior that we can apply
  3. New business generated from our presence at the event.

Not all of the items listed above apply to every event, but the report helps each member of our staff walk into an event with a specific goal (professional development, new technology discovery, new business) knowing they will have to report on what they learned and how they plan to achieve their new goals. Attending a training event is only worth your time if you take away usable information. Making goals and applying what you learn at these events will give your business what it needs to welcome in the new year and provide valuable knowledge to your staff.

If you know you’ll be attending an event in 2016, Lets connect over a coffee or cocktail while we’re there.