Dear Marketing Conferences: Here Are 10 Things We Hate About You


We’ve all been there. You walk into a marketing conference, full of excitement and hope.

Oh the things you’ll learn! The free swag! The takeaways that‘ll dazzle your coworkers back at the office!

But then as the day rolls on, you’re inundated by countless boring slideshows, sales pitches galore, and booth workers who are a little *too* aggressive with their scanners.

That’s why we’ve made Advocamp different than your run-of-the-mill business conference. Advocamp is the largest customer engagement, experience and advocacy event of the year, happening December 4-8, 2017 in San Francisco. It’s the place to be if you want to learn, network and have fun with 1,000 customer-obsessed marketing, customer success and product leaders.

We asked our advocate community what they hate the most about conferences, and why they still somehow love coming to Advocamp.

Advocamp: the biggest customer engagement and advocacy event of the year
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1) Boring, dry speakers who talk forever

“Droning presenters…please just crack one smile!”
Justine Cross, Content Marketing Executive, Brightpearl

“The presenters go on and on and on—blah blah blah. Entertain the audience a little, let them interact with you, give them 5 takeaways and make it short and sweet.”
Jenni Adair, Director of Corporate Communications and Customer Advocacy, Aerohive Networks

Why Advocamp is different: Most of Advocamp’s presentation are 15 minute AMP Talks, with 5 minutes for questions afterwards. Keeping these short makes sure speakers pack tons of insight into their allotted time vs. taking forever to get to the good stuff.

“The speakers have been amazing. I always learn something and never feel bored,” says Jenni.

“There’s always something interesting going on [at Advocamp]! No lulls,” says Kayla Geigerman, Customer AdvocateHub Team Member, at BMC Software.

Yup, never a dull moment at Advocamp

2) When networking becomes more like title-dropping

                                     Do even you know who I am? 

“It’s the worst when everyone just throws their title around to impress each other. ‘I’m the Sr. VP Chief Marketing Officer-Director of Strategic Development. My teams have teams.’”
Ray Lau, Customer Advocacy Marketing Manager, PowerDMS

Why Advocamp is different: Advocamp tries to remove a lot of the formality and stuffiness of B2B conferences, so it’s easier for people to really connect with each other.

The dress code is camping chic (a.k.a. casual), and the atmosphere is different thanks to our camp-themed decor and easygoing networking opportunities.

“People are down to earth!” says Ray, about his experience at last year’s Advocamp.

#tbt to the time I made many new homies at #Advocamp. Hope our paths cross again, friends.

A post shared by Rob Zaleski (@robzie81) on

Friendly faces everywhere!

3) Making impossible choices of which session to attend

“Having to choose between the best sessions…Who needs that kind of anxiety at a conference?!”
Merry Richter, Director of Marketing Communications, Singularity University

Why Advocamp is different: Our sessions tracks are carefully designed for different personas so you won’t have to make tough decisions. They’re clearly focused on measurable outcomes and specific levels of knowledge (beginner to advanced).

This way, you know you’re getting the best stuff for your goals and knowledge level. (Check out last year’s best talks in this blog for an idea of what to expect.)

4) Ugly swag that weighs down your carry-on

This free branded frisbee seemed like SUCH a good idea                                            at the time…

“The ugly/useless swag that will end up in the trash or laid out in the break room for employees to take home.”
—Jacqueline Flores, Marketing Intern, G&A

“Those people you see at the conferences with the HUGE bags full of swag running around like if they don’t get that third branded water bottle—that we all know will simply collect dust and end up in a garage sale 6 years later—they’ll not live to see the light of day.”
Laura Olson, Corporate Marketing Manager, DocuSign

Why Advocamp is different: Advocamp has a more intimate feel that’s more focused on delivering value and meaningful conversations instead of stuff.

That being said…we do have some super-soft, high-quality t-shirts available this year to those who want to wear their customer-obsession like a badge of honor. Many of last year’s attendees told us they wanted a t-shirt like our Camp Counselors’ for themselves!

We’ll also have a bookstore with items from your favourite speakers, but otherwise we’re keeping it to the bare necessities.

5) Freezing cold conference rooms

             “Okay, I’m ready for the next s-s-s-speaker!”

“Honestly, hate that it’s so COLD inside the meeting spaces.”
Erin Kurosaki, Customer Advocacy & Event Marketing, InTouch Health

Why Advocamp is different: Okay, Advocamp is in December this year, so you’ve been warned to come prepared with cozy gear.

However, you can bask in the glow of our campfires* and the warm reception you’ll receive from our staff and your fellow campers.

*Disclaimer: there will no literal campfires at Advocamp. Only the proverbial kind.

6) “Presentations” that are thinly veiled sales pitches

“It’s about synergy…and engagement…but most importantly, OUR software.”

“The sales pitch booths that pretend that they aren’t sales pitch booths.”
Margaux Novak, Product Marketing Manager, Virgin Pulse

“The sponsored breakout sessions! The descriptions sound amazing and then you realize it’s just a product pitch! Grrrrrrr.”
Kourtney Burrows, Marketing Specialist, Genesys

Why Advocamp is different: “It’s highly relevant to my job, while also showcasing groundbreaking marketing content that can be applied cross-functionally,” says Davin Wilfrid, Senior Manager of Content & Customer Advocacy at QuickBase.

Plus Advocamp involves more than just passively listening. “The first day is workshop-focused,” says Kourtney. “You really get there into the nitty gritty with all other advocate marketers to meet, brainstorm and execute on what really needs to be done—facilitated by the experts. It’s invaluable.”

7) Case studies with sky high budgets you can never replicate

Great, we’ll implement these techniques as soon as one of us wins the lottery… 

“Presentations from martech vendors pitching their technology without any case studies or ROI stats from small to midsize customers. Not everyone has the budgets of these mammoth organizations.”
Tracy Staniland, Director of Marketing, PolicyMedical

Why Advocamp is different: We’ll let Amy Rosenberg, Manager of Marketing at Namely take this one: “User content! I got to hear from other users who are in the exact same situation that I am.”

That means real useful tips and strategies at every level, size and budget.

8) Presenters who seriously test your ability to stay awake

“Not being able to take naps every day.”
Liz Pedro, Director of Customer Advocacy, Five9

Why Advocamp is different: Head Camp Counselor Buck would never let Advocamp get boring. Have you met him yet? Check his video below.

“I love it when conferences spice it up with music and make a bit of a production. It’s much more fun!”
Sarah Lamb, Senior Strategy Analyst, ADP

9) Being too hangry to focus on anything

                                               The hanger is real.

“The jam-packed schedule that leaves no time for lunch. I mean, I’m all for hearing great content but if I’m feeling hangry I’m not paying as much attention and you’ll hear my stomach more than the speaker!”
Anna Tannas, Marketing Specialist, PolicyMedical

Why Advocamp is different: We’d never let your blood sugar plummet—there are snacks everywhere you look!

Camp wouldn’t be complete without s’mores! #Advocamp

A post shared by Influitive (@influitive) on

10) Networking that feels like it’s awkward or forced

                                       “So…do you come here often?” 

“When the people you’re sitting with all know one another because they met the year before or something, and you don’t know any of the inside jokes. And you kind of space out for a minute, and then realize that all of them are looking at you because they had asked you a question, but you weren’t paying attention, so you try to flub an answer…and then it turns out 3 of them are speakers that you’d come to see, that you told your VP you were interested in seeing and interacting with.”
Ryan Quackenbush, Advocacy Programs Manager, Apprenda

Why Advocamp is different: “The above doesn’t happen. And you get to say hello to Liz Pedro and Mike Beahm because you met them the year before. And just like real camp, you’re really sad to leave at the end,” says Ryan.

From our After Dark Party to our Bammies Award Ceremony, Advocamp’s friendly vibe makes connecting with others easy.

Will you be joining us?

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One Response to Dear Marketing Conferences: Here Are 10 Things We Hate About You

  1. Kieran says:

    #11) Click-baity “top 10 list” posts that are nothing more than an ironic attempt to get you to come to said marketing conferences.

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