Confession: I am a conference geek. Having moved from a profession (journalism) where conferences are considered a waste of time and money to a profession (library marketing) where training and personal growth are core job competencies, I am a huge fan of the conference.
A good conference can be a great opportunity to network with other marketers, both in libraries and in companies. You can learn from each other, commiserate, complain, laugh, and share ideas. The best conferences have a varied agenda, so you have a chance to learn about trends in marketing and changes in other jobs within the library system and the world at large. You’ll come away inspired, energized, and ready to take on the world.
I’ve done a lot of research for the 2017 edition of the Best Conferences for Library Marketers. I looked for conferences featuring speakers I am familiar with, run by organizations I trust, with an agenda of topics that I think will be of interest to my readers, and at a price that’s not prohibitive. Most of these conferences will offer you a discount if you contact them and ask… they all love libraries and they love the idea of library marketers mingling with brands. Just be sure to email early! Dates are based on main conference attendances only. Some conferences have labs or special classes before or after the main conference, which I left out because they add to the price of the ticket.
This list is all based in the U.S. again. I apologize to my international readers but I can’t confidently recommend conferences abroad. Please give me your recommendations for non-U.S. conferences in the comments, won’t you?
June 8-9 in Minneapolis, MN
This two-day conference in June covers a lot of topics that apply to library marketing, including measurement, working in silos(!!), and coaching your staff. Also, actor and literacy advocate Levar Burton is a keynote speaker!! A conference pass is $1400 without a discount.
June 24-25 in Chicago, IL
So we all love attending the American Library Conference. All the librarians! All the swag! All the free books! Their marketing track is pretty extensive and touches on a range of topics like planning library promotional videos, effectively marketing system-wide programs, and crisis communication. Registration fees for ALA members run from $175-$300 and registration for non-ALA members is $400 if you register by June 16.
August 2-4 in Cleveland, OH
I have a colleague who regularly attends this conference put together by Overdrive and she always comes back with great insight into the digital platform used by many libraries. This year, the conference includes ideas on promoting books on social media, using their reports to gain insights about your users, and a first look at their product road map. Plus there is a marketing exchange! Tickets are affordable at $200.
September 6-8 in Cleveland, OH
2017 will mark the fourth year that I’ve attended CM World and I couldn’t recommend it more. It’s huge, with dozens of top-notch speakers and tracks on every subject you can think of. New this year, there are breakout sessions on Friday included in the price of a main pass so you get even more bang for your buck. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know how much I learn at this conference. I swear I mention it in a half of my posts. They usually have an exciting keynote speaker. The 2017 headliner hasn’t been announced yet but last year we heard from Mark Hammill and the year before that was Kevin Spacey. A main conference pass is $1100 until June 2, and they will give you the non-profit discount if you ask, which amounts to about 40 percent off the price.
September 25-28 in Boston, MA
Authors Elizabeth Gilbert and Adam Grant are the headliners at the 2017 Inbound, put together by Hubspot (I love their free online marketing courses.) This event is enormous… they had 19,000 attendees in 2016.There are 250 sessions and literally every marketing thought-leader attends and leads at least one session. Hubspot believes in the mapped customer journey, a concept that some of the most forward-thinking libraries are embracing. I always find it helpful to hear how business marketers are working. An all-access pass is about $1100 until mid-May, but be sure to ask for a discount.
November 15-16 in Raleigh, NC
A huge lineup of marketing experts headlines this conference (if you go, be sure to see Ann Handley, Rand Fishkin, and Neil Patel.) This conference hits all the topics that affect library marketers, including email marketing, design, and user experience. The best part is that an all-access pass is only about $345 if you book now.
November 16-17 in Addison, TX
This conference targeted specifically to library marketers is now in its third year and addresses many of the challenges you face in your daily work within the context of a library. I have not attended, but my supervisor has and says it covers a range of topics including social media and PR. If you’re new to the library or marketing world, this is the place to be. Plus there is plenty of time to network with other library marketers who share your unique job! Registration is not yet open for this event, but you can sign up for updates and you’ll be the first to know when tickets are available.
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