Affiliate Summit East is a conference for affiliate marketing. It took place in New York City over the last few days. My two business partners and I took some days off from our day jobs and headed to the conference to strike some deals and learn some tricks that we hoped would improve our business model. Since our business is only 4 months old (though profitable already!) we hoped that getting infused with some good networking and awesome speeches would improve our company's trajectory.
The experience was a lot different than I had expected and I've come away with some lessons that may be helpful to young business owners and people new to conferences. So if you are a veteran conference-goer, you may disagree with my assumptions. For the rest of us, maybe you can learn from my mistakes.
First of all, I want to say that the trip was a ton of fun. The folks who put it on are brilliant and the quality of the conference isn't in question at all. So kudos to all of the folks behind ASE.
If I had it To Do Over Again...
Get The Good Pass:
We chose the silver passes because they were the cheapest (although they were still $99 for early bird). The cheap passes got us into the lobbies and area with all of the vendors and a few keynotes. That's it.
If you are mainly coming to strike up some deals, then maybe this is the only badge you need. But if you want to see anyone speak, you'd better go up to at least the diamond or platinum. My partner had a Gold pass and that still only got him access to a handful of speeches.
Know What You Want:
We went into the conference expecting there to be a lot more direction. But basically it's like a huge bizaare of vendors and people trying to get you to do whatever makes them money... whether or not that makes you money too is for you to decide.
We realized after walking the 'Meet Market' that our business is fortunate in that we can grow to about 20x our current size without having to make one handshake or in-person deal. So the Vendors really had nothing to offer us.
Although this meant that the conference may have been less valuable for us, it is a good feeling to know we won't have to hit the pavement searching for deals for a long time... if ever.
Enjoy the Freebies:
I actually did enjoy the freebies a lot, but would have liked to more. There were a lot of open-bar type situations that looked like a lot of fun. We did end up going to the free Share-A-Sale party on the rooftop of the Empire Hotel. This was the highlight of my trip, and it helped me to remember how much I love Vodka Gimlets.
Enjoy The City:
Make sure to take off from the conference and enjoy the city. My partners and I did just that on Monday and it was the best day of the trip for me. This isn't to say that the conference wasn't great, but you have to enjoy the place you are staying too!
Use Twitter More:
I thought twitter was so dumb when it started, but now I love it. Watching the stream of #ASE10 on twitter would give anyone a never-ending source of stuff to do, people to meet, and insight into what others think about a speech or dinner or anything. Twitter and conferences are like peanut buttter and jelly.
Maybe Don't Go:
Truthfully, maybe you don't need to go at all. We likely could have stayed home and gotten a lot more work done in the same amount of time as what we spent in NYC and saved a lot of money. But we are a newish company and there is plenty more for us to do without outside infulence. If you are a larger and more mature company that needs to expand and can't without in-person sales, then conferences like this are a no-brainer.
ASE was a great time all-and-all. I'ce come away knowing that our business can scale a lot without having to do any of the things you need a conference for. And that's a great feeling.
I also learned that there are a lot of people making really good money doing affiliate marketing. That's good for my partners and me to see, because it shows you that it's do-able.
What do you think?
Did you go to Affiliate Summit East? What would you do differently?