I came away with so much to consider from my last two days at MarketingProfs’ Business to Business Forum, hosted at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel, that it’s not easy to know where to start. What I can do is jot down a few initial reactions, as much to remind myself as potential readers, of the many parts of the forum that I’d like to explore more fully in my own continued reading and professional development, as well as I’m sure, in coming posts.
That’s how you should feel at the end of a conference–not as if it’s the end of the learning, but rather the beginning. I have so many ideas to review, actionable steps to incorporate into my own work, and new contacts available to me now, as a resource. I also have a better vision of the marketing profession as a whole, and digital trends that are of particular relevance to my skill-set and interests.
And inspiration! If a conference can both inform and inspire in such an enjoyable way (the food was great, too, and there was a magician at dinner and a game show finale the next day), as well as provide the right environment to encourage new professional connections (including a cocktail reception Tweetup), then it’s really done its job well. MarketingProfs’ Business to Business Forum most certainly did all of that for me, and the many other participants who reported their positive experiences on Twitter, under the hashtag #mpb2b.
My favorite sessions from the two days included these timely Business-to-Business topics: search marketing, developing online communities, measuring the ROI of social media efforts, and mobile marketing. In addition to traditional panel sessions and business case studies, MarketingProfs provided an interactive round table discussion and one-on-one consultations on SEO, e-mail, web usability, blogging, and Twitter. A full range of sponsor and exhibitor tables added to the educational and networking diversity of the event.
I also hugely enjoyed the luncheon keynotes. On Monday, Steven Johnson (who happens to appear on the cover of Time magazine this week, in the lead story “How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live”) spoke about “The New Models of Innovation.” In his talk, Johnson likened social networking to the late 17th/early 18th century coffee house. (Be sure to check out his interview, with MarketingProfs’ Kyla Cullinane, about Twitter, what it means for businesses, and why he thinks Twitter shouldn’t be dismissed.)
On Tuesday, Barry Schwartz, Professor at Swarthmore College, presented “Practical Wisdom and the Remoralization of Professional Life” to the lunch-time crowd. (For Schwartz’s appeal to virtue in business, see his MarketingProfs interview, as well as his recent Ted talk: Ideas Worth Spreading. To Schwartz, practical wisdom is “a combination of moral will and moral skill,” which gives us the judgment to treat others well, both in life and business. Schwartz notes in his interview that “if you treat customers well, they tend to come back.”)
I don’t have the space here to go on as much as I might like, but both speakers connected life (including history, culture, and current issues) to business, in such unexpected, powerful ways. Long after the trends and technologies of the informative, but more time-sensitive B2B sessions have passed, I think forum participants will remember the solid business principles, rich humanity, and good humor of these keynote presentations–all of which I have come to appreciate and regularly expect from my MarketingProfs’ membership.
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