When September and October roll around, many of us in publishing and advertising fields will be bombarded by conference invitations. These conferences all promise to offer the best venue to be successful. But what does that really mean? And how can you be assured that your choice in venue will return the best set of knowledge, insights, networking, and tools?
I sought out one of the best experts in events, networking, and return on investment (ROI): Sinan Kanatsiz, chairman and founder of the Internet Marketing Association and CEO of KCOMM, a full-service marketing firm serving over 800 clients worldwide.
Jeanniey Mullen: The IMA is quite a large, global organization. What is your success criteria for keeping an involved and active group happy to be part of your organization?
Sinan Kanatsiz: Education is a key ingredient of membership for us. Our members must have a college degree to join and our criteria begins there. We encourage all of our members to share their knowledge, opportunities, and technical accruement with other members that are in need to learn. Our association is free to join and that variable introduces us to many degrees of talent across every SIC code. Quality is another measure of success for us, so every detail of IMA is thought through with fine detail to ensure our members receive a unique, personalized benefit.
JM: I have been involved with the IMA for almost two years now and can’t tell you how impressed I am with the attention to detail. Your team goes out of the way to create a feeling that each member is a very valued contributor. I would almost suggest you were the Ritz-Carlton of the membership and event space. Why? What has compelled you to take such an approach?
SK: We like to ensure a comfortable and engaging experience for all. That is one of the keys to success. Create a successful environment for yourself and you will thrive. An environment that provokes dialogue, intelligence, and ideas is very important to me. I personally like to work in environments that make me happy. Whether it is in a hotel lobby, around my dogs, facing the ocean, or at the local Starbucks – the interactions in my visual environment springboard ideas, creativity, and opportunities. At IMA, we do that at great scale with our annual conference; this year we selected the ARIA convention center. There is no other convention space I know of that is this sexy, clean, LEED certified, and has plants/cactus growing inside the hallways. This gets me excited and we can’t wait to share with our hundreds of guests!
JM: Your event is coming up in September, right in the midst of a tsunami of events. For those people out there who are still making decisions about which events to attend, can you give us some insight into how organizations like the IMA approach planning events? What goes into the selection criteria for the speakers and agenda?
SK: With all of the negative news about the future of publishing, online, and even mobile, we all need to stop being negative and focus on innovation. Success will be a critical theme at the IMA. Adobe, Ernst & Young, and PR Newswire are a handful of anchor sponsors we met with well over a year ago to discuss this event. We are humbled by the accelerated growth of the organization and know there is a driving demand among the market to learn via our platform. We are on the pursuit of perfection when it comes to association management, annual conference, awards, and value for association members.
JM: OK, tell me the truth – what’s the most stressful part about creating the event?
SK: There are many nights I wake up in the middle of the night, having nightmares of details being missed or people not showing up. It is a natural insecurity built in every event planner. Fortunately my wife is among the best corporate event planners in the world, and she is always there to comfort me in times of shock and stress. She has been a driving point to IMA’s quality, successful conference logistics, and value to our sponsors. And while I am shattering advice on how to be successful in publishing: attention to detail is one of those key takeaways.
JM: What two pieces of advice would you give to someone deciding to attend an event? How will they know they chose the right one?
SK: We have been obsessed with creating a conference that is focused on content and flow. Many events you go to are disconnected and difficult to benefit from. We have the right balance of quality speakers, exhibitor showcase, and most importantly, fun. Having anchored our annual event in Las Vegas provides us with a myriad of options for entertainment, surprises, and VIP experiences for all. Stay tuned, the best days for IMA are right around the corner. My advice to attendees of any conference would be this:
- Create your goals ahead of time and be determined to achieve them, no matter what. Whether it is networking, learning, or sharing knowledge, don’t come to any event without a plan.
- Within eight hours of the event, email yourself the highlights. Everything at events sounds amazing, but a good night’s sleep, or a night out with industry friends, and recollection might not be as sharp the next day. Don’t wait to capture your inspirations until you leave. Email yourself throughout the event, or at most, eight hours after it is over. Short bullet points will go a long way to driving success when you return to work.
Well there you have it: event advice from the guru. This fall I plan to be busy speaking, and learning as much as I can at this collection of events: IMA, ABC Conference, PIVOTcon, MPA event, The Email Marketing Summit, and a few others. Where will you be?