Q1: Did you envision that we’d be here talking about the 4th annual Hero Conf event (5th in total)?
I always intended for Heroconf to be an important part of the PPC community but may have underestimated the scope. We founded it because of Hanapin’s own need. As a (then) small agency, we couldn’t afford to send our folks to NYC for a conference where only half the content was PPC-focused. We started small – with 100 attendees in Indianapolis, only half paid and have doubled registrations every year since. We’re expecting to welcome 500-600 PPC pros to Portland. I’m thrilled to see where we go from here and have some really cool announcements we think and hope folks will be excited about!
Q2: What spurned the new agency growth workshop and what can attendees expect?
We’ve always held the PPC Management workshop and wanted to add the Agency Growth workshop for a handful of reasons. First, we thought we were likely under-serving some attendees. Another is that this is the type of help I would have wanted when I started Hanapin 11 years ago. Finally, and more personally, is that it’s an opportunity to teach what I’ve learned. I started Hanapin with $2000 in a spare bedroom and we’re now a multimillion dollar company. I think the “how” is worth sharing. Attendees will get sessions on people, products, and processes (yes, that’s straight from Marcus Lemonis) to accelerate growth in sales, marketing, recruitment, training, and anything people want to discuss. Jeff Allen and I are excited to share!
Q3: You’ve once again increased the speaker list to 65. Why the increase? Do you believe that spreads the content out too thin?
Our goal has always been for attendees to have generous access to our speakers. You learn best in small settings. As attendance grows, we’ve continued to add speakers and sessions to ensure that our attendee to speaker ratio stays low. It’s 7:1 this year! I can’t verify but I think that’s the lowest among all search / advertising conferences. No long lines to ask questions! Attendees have a unique opportunity to network, to learn 1on1, and make connections they may not otherwise. I love the story of Brad Geddes changing his afternoon presentation after talking to people during the buffet line in year 1.
Q4: From your perspective, why are conferences important to attend rather than reading blogs for example?
In any industry, especially PPC, tactics are changing. There’s always big news and better ways of doing things. Conferences are an excellent way to stay abreast of the newest and best ideas, while making lasting connections. I’m a big believer in continual learning (we have a monthly, company-wide training day) and conferences promote that idea fully! Here’s a great article on conferences. Umbro may recognize it: The Hidden Benefits of PPC Conferences
Q5: How do you ensure quality control as the conference continues to increase in attendance and popularity?
One thing I’ve always been proud of is that we judge all @heroconf pitches free of identifying information. Round 1 is 100% blind and 100% merit-based. It’s a priority to find the newest and best content, regardless of who/where it comes from. We invited the top 15 speakers from 2014 also. For all our other activities, we just make a point to be unique and entertaining. I know that as long as we make decisions with attendee experience in mind, the quality and value will be more than worthwhile.
I also like the fact that the conference takes a chance on people – every year we see new and innovative speakers. Q6: How would you recommend attendees best network at Hero Conf?
More than half of the speakers are new this year. Guaranteed to have fresh, new points-of-view. We do everything we can to create ways for attendees to connect with PPC colleagues, old and new. There’s 11 events this year! In past years, average experience of attendees has been 3-5 years. So there’s ton of 1on1 learning that can happen. You can rub shoulders with folks who shape the industry, like Brad Geddes or Andrew Goodman and folks from AdWords or BingAds. You should follow folks and #heroconf on Twitter. I’ll reach out to attendees before the event to schedule time to connect 1on1 on-site.
Q7: What topics are you most interested in learning while at Hero Conf?
I’m looking forward to two things: the keynotes and 1on1 learnings. The best keynotes force you to look at things from a different angle and view everything else you learn through that lens. I think we’ve chosen keynotes that will accomplish that. I also love 1on1 meetings where I can pick the brains of folks individually and understand how they grow their businesses. There are so many people who have “been there, done that” and I’m looking forward to learning more from those giants.
Q8: Why did you decide to choose Portland as the location this year?
Location is one of the most important things that makes HeroConf different. We love hosting fun, unique cities that attendees likely haven’t visited before on the conference circuit. We also choose cities that are budget-friendly ($139/night hotels!). Just like Austin, Portland is a truly one-of-a-kind place and we can’t wait to showcase everything the city has to offer.
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