The Blogger On a Budget’s Guide to Attending Conferences Without Breaking the Bank

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Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 1.20.25 PM I love conferences. I am passionate about networking, look forward to learning, and nothing makes me happier than connecting with my old friends while making new friends. You know what I don’t love about conferences? The price!

In fact, I attend significantly fewer conferences than I used to because $ 3000 – $ 5000 to attend a conference simply doesn’t work for me.

Many conferences are priced in a way that appeals to businesses who are sending their employees, rather than independent contractors who can’t buy a $ 1700 badge.

I keep reading that if I’m not willing to put out the investment for an expensive conference, I’m not serious about my business. I’m calling b.s. on that nonsense. You can be serious about your business and budget conscious at the same time.

What follows are some ways content creators on a budget can attend conferences without heavy investment.

1. Take advantage of early bird pricing

All conferences offer different levels of pricing throughout a period of several months. If budget matters to you, take advantage of the earliest pricing offered – which is also the cheapest. Most conferences offer rates at upwards of 50% off full conference pricing.

2. Pass on redundant events

Have you noticed a lot of the same people speak at all the similar industry events? Have you noticed they give the same talk over and over? Rather than waste your money on conferences that don’t offer unique content or change up the speaker lineup, save your investment for events that provide something different.

3. Check out different area hotels

While official conference hotels usually offer a discount, there may be cheaper options. See what other nearby hotels are offering price-wise. It may be worth it to book at a hotel across the road or down the block, rather than the conference hotel itself. If you’re staying out in the boonies, don’t forget to factor in the price of gas or cabs though. It make no sense to save on a cheaper hotel if you’re putting out even more money on taxi cabs.

4. Don’t wait until the last minute to book flights

Check flights early. The later you book, they more likely you are to book at some of the highest pricing offered. Don’t be afraid to check on some of the airlines that offer low, low prices and have frequent sales. For example, Frontier Airlines often offers promotions where you can book a flight for $ 35.

5. Virtually Attend

Sometimes conferences offer “Virtual Tickets,” that is, a recordings of all the conference sessions at a lower rate than it costs to attend in person. If you can’t afford to physically attend a conference, look for early bird pricing on virtual tickets to see if that’s more cost effective.

Other considerations:

  • Roommates: Personally, I prefer to unwind alone sans roommate but budget-conscious conference attendees can save by rooming with one or two others.
  • Food: Look for cheaper local eateries that are off the beaten path, rather than hotels that cater to tourists or high-end diners. Check Groupon and local websites to see if there are any coupons available.
  • Conferences that aren’t so expensive: Maybe instead of trying to attend conferences you can’t afford, look to find the best ones that are priced within your budget.
  • Attend local conferences: Since travel and incidental costs add up, attending conferences locally means you cut out a significant expense.
  • Volunteer: Some conferences will allow you to attend for free if you volunteer to help out. Just remember that if you volunteer it could mean you’re spending the entire time behind a desk or minding a door and not really seeing much of the conference.
  • Speak: Most conferences offer speakers a complimentary pass in exchange for speaking.

So there are some of the ways a budget-minded content creator can save money on conferences. What do you do to save costs?

Speaking of saving money: Super early bird registration for NMX is now open. Register today and save 50% off the price of your ticket.

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2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends

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The secret to content marketing success: document a strategy and adhere to it.

Two critical factors differentiate great content marketers from the rest—having a documented content marketing strategy, and following it very closely, according to the findings of the fifth annual content marketing study issued by MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute.

Just 35% of content marketers have a documented content marketing strategy, although 48% say they have one but it’s not documented, the B2B Content Marketing: 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends—North America study found.

Content marketers who have a documented strategy are eight times more likely (60% vs. 7%) to rate themselves as being effective content marketers vs. those who have no strategy, written or otherwise.

The No. 1 initiative that B2B marketers are working on now is “creating engaging content,” the survey also found. That has been a persistent challenge, regularly cited by respondents in the past five years.

“This is a challenge that isn’t going away,” said Ann Handley, chief content officer of MarketingProfs and author of Everybody Writes. “With so much content being produced these days, companies really need to be focused on creating engaging, relevant content for their audience instead of just pushing their sales messages.”

The study, sponsored by Brightcove, includes findings from 1,820 North American business-to-business (B2B) marketers from among 5,000+ marketers surveyed across 109 countries and 25 industries.

“This research is incredibly important so that savvy marketers can benchmark their content marketing strategy, processes, and budgets against their peer group,” said Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute and author of Epic Content Marketing.

Other key findings from the report:

  • 70% of B2B marketers are creating more content than they did one year ago, even those who say they are least effective (58% of them say so) and those without any type of strategy (56% of them say so).
  • Measurement is a key area where B2B marketers are struggling: Only 21% say they are successful at tracking ROI; however, having a documented strategy helps (35% of those with a strategy say they are successful).
  • Once again, infographics was the tactic that had the greatest increase in usage (from 51% last year to 62% this year).
  • 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to distribute content, making it the social media platform used most often (they also say it’s the most effective social media platform).
  • 58% of B2B marketers use search engine marketing, making it the paid method used most often to promote/distribute content (they also say it’s the most effective paid method).
  • More B2B marketers say they are challenged with finding trained content marketing professionals this year (32%) than last year (10%).

For detailed findings, see the full report:

2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends for North America from MarketingProfs

About the study: B2B Content Marketing: 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends—North America reports findings gathered from the fifth annual content marketing survey conducted by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, and sponsored by Brightcove. It includes findings from 1,820 North American business-to-business (B2B) marketers from among 5,000+ marketers surveyed across 109 countries and 25 industries.

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