I get asked this question quite often from clients, new employees, friends and definitely family members. Sometimes I even ask myself it. So, I thought it would be a good idea to explain why we spend lots of time and effort on something that has never made us money and that we never even planned to make money on.
I have personally gotten so much out of speaking at and attending Internet marketing conferences over the years. I can point to so many different clients, partnerships and friendships that were spawned directly from conferences or opportunities given to me by people like Danny, Brett or Matt. The big 3 (SMX, Pubcon & SES) are probably also indirectly responsible for BlueGlass coming together because if it wasn’t for them, we probably wouldn’t have formed such a tight bond so quickly. Those conferences (and a bunch of others) are worth their weight in gold.
My goal was to never replicate or replace those conferences but rather to build on what they stand for and to hopefully be responsible for doing the same for others. The fact that we have been able to do this for our attendees’ careers and businesses is probably the achievement that I am most proud of after the first year and few months of BlueGlass. When someone emails me and tells me that they got a new job directly as a result of our conference or that they are now speaking at other conferences as a result of the break we gave them – that alone makes it worth it to me.
Loren, Dave & Jordan (the founders of Search & Social which merged into BlueGlass) built their brands and ultimately their business around the conferences they put on. It sure as hell put them on my radar in a big way. They lost a lot of money each time but they were forming great relationships and creating brand advocates.
When we decided to merge, we all decided that conferences were one thing that couldn’t go away. We’ve gone through a lot of changes in the last year and there have been more 100+ hour work weeks than not. It would have been really easy for us to say that we weren’t going to do a conference and just say “at some point in 2012″ but we knew we had made a commitment to people and that there was a real demand for our conferences. Lots of emails, Tweets & Facebook messages reinforced this ;) So, we decided we would stick to what we had set out to do.
Our first two conferences lost money. Actually, if I’m being completely honest, they both lost a lot of money. But in my eyes, they were a complete success. The other question I get asked a lot is, “Why don’t you charge more?” As I said above, conferences weren’t ever put in our business plan as a profit center. They were put in as break-even (something that my wife reminds me of :)) But we’ve had amazing things happen directly as a result of our first two conferences.
It’s a great way for us to get to know new people and to build stronger relationships with clients, partners and form new ones. We love being able to show people the stuff we’ve been working on in a controlled environment without ever having to “sell” them (we don’t do any advertising or promos during our conferences).
This conference is a special one for us because it will allow us to finally showcase all of the hard-work we’ve put into the last year. We’re going to show people some amazing things that we might be releasing in 2012 and show our clients what they have to look forward to. It also allows us to sit down with people and figure out how we can leverage what they are doing with what we are. It’s more important to us to get the right people there than to make money on the conference. It’s just that simple. And with the help of Danielle we might just break even on this one!
When I read stuff like this – it makes it all worthwhile:
“Of all of the search marketing conferences I have ever been to, I have taken the most notes at this conference. I came here and just consistently heard about new tactics and topics that I have never heard before. As someone who has been in the industry for a while, and thinking that I know everything I need to know, this was very surprising to go from session to session and leave with notes and ideas that I am going to follow up on with my team.” — Jon Henshaw, Co-Founder & Director of Product Innovation at Raven Tools
For me personally, this will be the first conference that I am speaking at in 2011. I think I spoke at about 15 conferences in 2010 and then decided that I needed to take a break in 2011 to completely focus on what we were doing with BlueGlass. So I have vowed to make this conference better than our others and to make it truly represent what we set out to accomplish: an intimate event with the best speakers and the best possible networking. Two days where our attendees don’t have to worry about anything (all meals, parties & everything else are covered!) but learning, networking and ultimate building their business.
Is there really a need for YAIMC (Yet Another Internet Marketing Conference)? Probably not. Do we feel a responsibility to give back to the community and help people? You’re damn right we do. So as long as we can keep doing that, we will keep putting on conferences….
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BlueGlass TPA was originally set to be 50 people. We sold out on August 18th. We had a bunch of requests so we opened up 25 more tickets. There are currently 11 of those left. If you are serious about growing your business or career and want to see what makes BlueGlass events so special – register soon because we are capping this at 75 tickets no matter what.