Ecommerce merchants have many trade show choices. Here’s my analysis, as a former trade show executive, on the September events worth considering. I’ve also listed shows coming up in the fourth quarter that are worthy of merchants’ attention. If you think we should be covering an event we’ve overlooked, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
September: PPC Summit
Los Angeles, Calif.
September 21-22, 2010
Cost: $999 – $1,395 full conference depending on registration date. Other packages are available.
PPC Summit provides hands-on, in-depth information about paid search strategy and programs. Because the event is being expanded to include social media and search engine optimization, it has been renamed “Search and Social Media Success.” The event will offer three tracks dedicated to pay-per-click advertising, SEO, and social media, respectively.
Having attended a PPC Summit event, I can attest to the quality of speakers and the level of audience engagement, during the sessions and at the breaks.
PPC Summit has historically competed most directly with Search Engine Strategies (SES) and Search Marketing Expo (SMX), both of which also focus on search. SES and SMX are larger events that feature more sessions and full-blown exhibit floors. Search and Social Media Success will be a smaller event (hundreds vs. thousands of attendees) with a handful of tabletop exhibits. The event will now compete with other social media and online marketing events, since it is being expanded to include social media and SEO.
Shop.org Annual Summit
September 27 – 29, 2010
Cost: Free – $2,090 full conference for members, depending on membership type. $1,525 – $2,690 main conference for non-members, depending on retailer/non-retailer status and registration date. Other packages are available.
Shop.org targets and attracts the top brand-name retailers. Executive Director Scott Silverman is leaving the organization, but presumably National Retail Federation, which owns and manages the event, will find a suitable replacement. The change of guards should not affect this year’s show, as events like this need to be organized months in advance and the Shop.org organizers produce a well-run event.
Shop.org features compelling speakers. However, in the past there were complaints the same speakers were featured over and over again. A quick look at the current agenda says that isn’t true this year, or at least it’s not still true. There are fresh speakers and fresh content covering many of today’s hottest topics like multichannel strategy and optimization, mobile, social media, and social commerce. Unlike some other events that approach the same subjects from a pure marketing perspective, this event is about ecommerce and how to develop better, deeper, and longer-lasting relationships with customers.
The trade show floor is formidable this year. If past experience is any indication of present practices, know that the exhibit hours are very rigidly managed. Some conferences allow attendees to visit booths during conference sessions, but not Shop.org. Organizers want you in the conference sessions or on the exhibit floor, not both at once.
This year’s Annual Summit kicks off with an Online Retail Boot Camp that will cover social media and SEO. There is a newcomer’s reception that is well worth attending. Executive Director Scott Silverman has always given a warm welcome to new Shop.org members (and, yes, you have to be a member to attend events). I enjoyed the newcomer’s reception greatly and recommend it highly because it’s very well executed. Following the newcomer’s reception is the opening reception, which is a lot like similar receptions other events produce. However, Shop.org does a good job of paying attention to the details like food quality.
The following two conference days start off with a good breakfast and, again, if the past is an indication of the present, you’ll have access to more good and healthy food than you can consume. There are a couple of keynote speakers each morning with a networking session in between. Following that will be lunch and, then, one-on-one site reviews. In the early-to-late afternoon there are two sets of four concurrent breakout sessions with a networking session in between. All breaks and networking take place on the exhibit floor.
Shop.org is a great place to network and good source of information. If you want to learn from the big retailers and the people they work with, Shop.org is an event you’ll want to attend. It’s pricey compared to other events, but you probably won’t find a higher percentage of brand name retailers anywhere else.
The event competes most directly with eTail and Internet Retailer’s show. eTail also attracts brand name retailers but there are fewer of them. Internet Retailer focuses on the mid-market businesses.
Coming Up in the Fourth Quarter
October 3 – 7, 2010
Cost: $1,595 – $2,295 full conference depending on registration date. Other packages are available.
Dates: October 4 – 6, 2010
Cost: $1,195 – $1,595 full conference depending on registration date. Other packages are available.
San Francisco, Calif.
Dates: October 9 – 14, 2010
Cost: $1,499 – $1,699 conference for members; $1,999 – $2,199 conference for non-members. Other packages are available.
Dates: October 18-22, 2010
Cost: $1,695 – $1,495 full conference depending on registration date. Other packages are available.
New York, N.Y.
Dates: November 3 – 4, 2010
Cost: $1,185 – $1,695 full conference depending on registration date.
Las Vegas, Nev.
Dates: November 8 – 11, 2010
Cost: $799 – $1,899 full conference depending on registration date. Other packages are available.
Plan, Plan, Plan
If you want to get the most out of a trade show or conference, have a plan. It’s wise to familiarize yourself with the program, the speakers, and the exhibits (assuming there are exhibits) so you can make the most of your time.
Also proactively reach out to friends, colleagues, prospects, and potential vendors or service providers before you go. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish if you’re organized and assertive. Also be sure to follow up with people you met right after the show to close those leads, connect via social networks, and make good on your commitments.
Don’t overestimate your ability to remember conversation details. If you’re as busy at trade shows as I am, make a point of jotting notes down on business cards so you can remember your discussions and any promises you made.