Interview with HeroConf Founder Pat East

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) interviewed Pat East (@pateast), Founder of HeroConf. The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

What are you most looking forward to at this year’s conference?

Personally, I’m looking forward to reconnecting with folks. Last year had such great energy and a spirit of community and camaraderie. There was so much learning, the great mix of talented teachers and eager students made the event fun. I’m excited to learn from the in-house folks. It’s still PPC, obviously, but in-house is different from agency life, so I’m interested in their POV. My expectations for the keynotes are high! The HC entertainment & Austin itself will be awesome & fun!

Why did you decide to increase the number of speakers to 47?

Speakers/topics are key reasons why folks attend! So, we’re doubling down on what they really value. Our goal is 200 attendees, which is double 2012, so more speakers maintains a low attendee to speaker ratio. We’re targeting 4:1. It also increases the total expertise, especially in e-commerce and in-house. 1/5 of our speakers are e-commerce; 1/3 are in-house. In addition to Google & Bing, there are brands like Dell & Finish Line & niche speakers like a trademark attorney (@internetcases). We also added a day to the agenda, which naturally required more help.

Looks like Austin will be the epicenter of the PPC universe! Speaking of Austin, why is the conference being held in Austin this year?

There’s a ton of reasons! Austin is a really cool & fun city. It’s bigger but similar to Bloomington, so it’s familiar to my team. It’s also the 4th biggest city of PPC Hero readers in the US (behind NY, Chicago, and SF) and filled with Internet Marketers. We wanted to keep the conference affordable too, Austin is easily 20% cheaper than other metro areas. You won’t break the bank! Last year was Indy, so moving it around the country gives folks a chance to join us if geography prevented attendance last year. Last, despite our global client base, Hanapin Marketing has been viewed as a regional firm. A different city helps change that perception.

Let’s talk about last year’s conference for a minute. What were the best parts of Hero Conf 2012?

Getting to put faces to names was fun, and the experts were super approachable. We’ve formed good partnerships from Hero Conf 2012 that benefited @ppchero /@Hanapin and Hero Conf 2013 will benefit from some of those too! The learning was equally as big too. After a couple of hours, it became clear that our attendees were sharp and wanted really in depth information. So, a few speakers changed their presos during lunch! I think getting lots of customized info and info that is not generally seen on blogs or at other conferences was particularly valuable to everyone. The sponsors we also amazing last year. They hitched their wagon to us in our first year and really made the conference possible!

What did you learn from last year’s conference that has helped you prepare for the 2013 conference?

A few things we’re improving this year and a few things we’re intentionally replicating (but lucked into some of them last year). Improving: More days and more speakers, specifically inviting e-commerce and in-house. And, the website is 1000x better. Last year, experience level was no less than 1 year and on average, 3-5 years. It was unreal. Intentionally replicating: Good venue, low costs, agency & search engine speakers, great keynotes starting our conference and setting the perfect tone for the entire day. This year’s keynotes will be awesome! (More later.)

Speaking of improvements, what features and/or events will be new at this year’s conference?

Entertainment! We’ll have a singer/songwriter on Monday night and a comedian on Tuesday night. Erin Ivey is booked, and she was named the best unsigned artist in Austin. The comedian is still being worked on but the two finalists have both appeared on Comedy Central and Letterman, so either way, it’s going to be a good night! We’ll have four keynotes in lieu of just one. Kevin Lee and Bryan Eisenberg- the original CRO guy before CRO was even a term- plus one of the Bing evangelists. And the head of product development for Google AdWords, which we just confirmed, and I’m super excited about!

For those who can’t make the conference this year, is there a way for us to participate and/or learn?

Good question! Follow #heroconf during the conference. We’ll be pretty heavy on social, as you would expect. We’ll have transcripts posted to@ppchero too, just like we did for 2012. We’re also trying to coordinate a Skype Q&A, which non-attendees might be able to attend. There’s lots of logistics to work out with that though, and we’re just at the beginning stages. Fingers crossed!

Why is the conference 3 days this year instead of 2?

I alluded to this earlier, speakers/topics are key reasons why folks attend! So, increasing the days is part of doubling down on what they really value. Two days of traditional conference (tracks) affords for more topics and more networking. We’ll have 4 keynotes instead of 1 also. The last day is a 1on1 workshop. It’s half a day, not a full day like the other two. Separate focus and separate registration. Also, a consistent piece of feedback from 2012 was it was a long day. We wanted to reduce that without missing important topics.

Talk about the planning that has gone into this year’s Hero Conf?

We started last year, right after April. We had already selected Austin, we just needed a venue. Our event management firm handled most of that. (I really can’t say enough about them – Speaker outreach started in the Fall. We’re doing a ton to promote it, lots of email marketing, blog posts, and partnerships (like this one). Entertainment is a new logistics this year, so that’s new on our plates. (More later.) Bigger sponsors too, so there’s more logistics to help them.

What should attendees expect from the 1 on 1 workshops?

Insights and custom help! To do that, they’ll get lots of 1on1 and personal attention. Hanapin folks and speakers will be exploring and analyzing your account with you. You’ll get a laundry list of the various opportunities in your account, both short-term and long-term. You also get hands on help tackling challenges you’ve experienced in a particular account. The workshop is a great way to ensure you’re not missing any “gimmes” from account blindness. For anyone who registers, the ROI on the workshop will be HUGE! Assuming you’re spending at least $10K per month, spending 1% of your annual budget is good business sense. You’ll generate an annual and recurring ROI for 4 hours of work. The workshop is a great chance to gain tactical experience from the strategies you’ll learn from the first two days. Kayla wrote a fantastic summary on PPC Hero: Invest 1% of Your Annual Budget and Increase PPC ROI

What do you expect Hero Conf to be in 3 years?

We expect it to be the one conference PPC managers must attend every year. Maybe adding a vertical-specific event. I think two days is about the max any attendee can handle, but I could see us increasing the # of tracks to create more opportunities for content. More involvement from the social networks liked LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook since advertising will grow substantially in that industry. Cooler, funner cities that aren’t traditional venues for SES/SMX. Maybe international. I’d love for the # of attendees to continue to grow. There’s hundreds of thousands of advertisers; we’re getting a sliver at 200. As long as we maintain the core of Hero Conf- PPC only, low attendee to speaker ratio, and affordable- sky’s the limit!

In general & across any industry, what have you found to be the biggest barrier in conducting an effective PPC strategy?

The biggest barriers to conducting an effective PPC strategy are probably communication and ‘out of your control’ factors. Explaining what our Account Managers do to clients can be difficult dependent on the client’s understanding of PPC, making sure all team members are on the same page, etc. are all crucial to a PPC strategy being implemented as planned. There are also things you can’t directly control (algorithm changes, budget allocation from a client) that could occur in the middle of your strategy. It’s crucial to be able to roll with these changes and maintain communication, even when your plan changes!

Register now to guarantee your spot at the must-attend PPC conference of the year!


Just for PPCChat members, Pat and ZAGG ( are offering your choice of ear buds or portable recharger.  Just use the coupon codes below.

“hc_zaggsparq_ppcchat” for the portable charger

“hc_zaggearbuds_ppcchat” for the ear buds

More PPCChats

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCchat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.

PPCChat Hero Streamcapper

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; WebRanking SEM Manager in Minneapolis, Minnesota, #PPCChat Streamcap Grabber, SEO Blog Author. Connect with me @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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3 Responses to Interview with HeroConf Founder Pat East

  1. […] just finished today’s #ppcchat (every Tuesday at Noon EST, hosted by @matt_umbro). The streamcap is already live. We only had an hour though, so here’s five questions that we didn’t […]

  2. […] just finished today’s #ppcchat (every Tuesday at Noon EST, hosted by @matt_umbro). The streamcap is already live. We only had an hour though, so here’s five questions that we didn’t […]

  3. […] Interview w&#1110th HeroConf Founder Pat East […]

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