Posted: June 3, 2016
We could write a book about the benefits of attending as many higher ed marketing conferences as possible. However, we know that travel budgets are limited and your institution needs you back at the office to keep the ship afloat. When it comes time to pitch that choice conference to your leadership team, try presenting this quick list of benefits.
1) Discover Actionable Tools You Can Use Immediately
It’s been our experience that conference planning committees strive to select presentations that set attendees up for success. Most conferences want their attendees to leave each session with a list of things they can begin doing tomorrow to advance their institutions. More than only a case study of how another school did it, you’ll often learn the step-by-step processes and practical tools that can be applied to your unique situation.
To get the most return on your conference investment, we recommend selecting sessions based on your challenges and weaknesses - rather than attending the sessions on topics you've already mastered.
2) Make Valuable Connections with Peers Across the Country
One of the most refreshing things about a conference is meeting new people who have empathy for the challenges you face. Whether you’re a marketing department of one at a small college, or part of a team of 20 at a large university, you’ll find it’s extremely helpful to share stories, successes, failures and lessons learned with people who are doing this work every day, just like you.
The value of being connected to a network of diverse marketing professionals extends beyond just the length of the conference. If you make an effort to keep in touch with the people you meet, you'll be able to leverage these relationships long into the future.
3) Become a Speaker and Build Brand Awareness for Your School
If you’ve recently overcome a challenge at your school, a conference may be the time to share your success! Most events have an open call for proposals where marketers are encouraged to submit their ideas for presentations. In addition to positioning yourself as a thought leader in the industry and building awareness for your school, speakers are often offered discounts on registration.
4) Conferences Focus on Targeted Subject Matter that Applies to Your Role and Responsibilities
There are many different conferences out there to meet the needs of all types of higher ed marketers. For example, if you are a marketing professional who focuses more on the technology side of things, eduWeb is probably right up your alley. Or, if you’re a community college marketer, NCMPR will allow you to learn from institutions who serve communities like yours across the country. If advancement is your area of expertise, CASE offers regional and national events. In order to make the best case for why you should attend one of these focused conferences, review last year’s program and pinpoint sessions that would have added value to your school. Having tangible examples of ways you will improve can make all the difference.
5) Reinvigorate Your Passion for Serving Higher Ed
Constant requests for new marketing materials with little strategic value can start to wear you out. Chasing down print collateral pieces that clearly violate every page of your brand guidelines is exhausting. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day challenges of work and begin to lose your perspective on what’s most important. In our experience, we’ve found that taking a few days “off” to attend an educational conference will leave you feeling rejuvenated and excited to make a difference at your institution.
6) Learn About Opportunities to Collaborate with Outside Help
Most conferences offer the option for select vendors to sponsor the event. In addition to the free snacks, exploring the exhibit hall is a great way to learn about the numerous solutions that can help improve marketing efforts at your institution. You’ll find higher ed publications, technology providers, research firms, marketing agencies and more. The exhibit hall is a low-risk opportunity to engage with these providers and learn what they do without having to commit to anything that is cost or time intensive.
Now you’re ready to make the case for investing in the conference you’ve always wanted to attend. We wish you safe travels and hope you enjoy! If you happen to see VisionPoint in the conference program, we can guarantee that it’s a session you won’t want to miss!