HeroConf – The Class Reunion of PPC

On Monday, about 100 PPC pros converged in Indianapolis for the first annual HeroConf, put on by the great folks at PPC Hero. Being the first conference, none of us knew exactly what to expect, but there was a sense of anticipation and excitement in the air in the PPC community during the days leading up to the show. Everyone was looking forward to a conference focused solely on PPC.

HeroConf didn’t disappoint. It was a day jam-packed with PPC goodness, covering everything from account structure to mobile to remarketing and tons more. The sessions were insightful, and the speakers were a who’s who of paid search.

Yes, I spoke 3 times and moderated a lunchtime roundtable, but this isn’t meant to be a brag. I am humbled to have been included in such stellar company. As I sat on the Q&A panel at the end of the day, I honestly couldn’t believe I was up there with 2 of the people from whom I learned PPC back in 2002 – Brad Geddes and Andrew Goodman. The days of me harassing them with questions on the search forums are behind me, and they’ve both become good friends. Still, it was an awe-inspiring experience.

Because of the small size, the best part of the conference for me was the networking. I think I got to personally speak with nearly everyone in attendance, which is unheard of at the major shows. At the meet and greet Sunday night, I met old friends for the first time – people I’ve hung out with every Tuesday at noon EST for PPC Chat. It was a total blast, and I stayed up too late both Sunday and Monday, but it was worth every second of lost sleep!

After last year’s SMX Advanced, I wrote a post saying the show was like homecoming. Well, if SMX Advanced is homecoming, HeroConf was a class reunion – the group you were always closest with and knew the best. The camaraderie and knowledge-sharing was unmatched – I don’t think I’ve ever felt so relaxed at a show, especially one where I was speaking so many times! Usually that’s a recipe for all-day nerves, but I felt totally comfortable because I knew I was among friends.

It would take me all day to list all the amazing PPC people I met at HeroConf, but I do want to give a special shout-out to a few who made the conference especially meaningful to me.

To Melissa Ferrigan, who was a friend before I was even doing PPC, I’m so glad you were there to share it with me.

To Matt Umbro, it was totally awesome to share the stage with you at the Account Structure and Q&A panels, and to geek out on PPC over drinks.

To James Svoboda, I really enjoyed hanging out at IND. Thank you for turning the usually-mind-numbing time waiting for my flight into a fun chat!

And finally, to Michelle Morgan, my PPC little sis, I had an absolute blast swapping stories and rants with you. I knew we’d hit it off, because we already had on Twitter, but I felt like we became true BFFs at the show.

And to everyone else I met, know that I feel blessed to have chatted with you. I can’t wait for next year’s show!

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PPC Networking – The Fun Begins

Welcome to March! The long, cold winter is nearly over, and we anxiously await the longer days and melted snow…. Oh, wait – we’ve barely had any snow, at least here in Michigan. But who doesn’t get excited about the coming of spring?

I get excited about spring because it means search conference season! Actually, every season is search conference season nowadays, unlike 5-10 years ago when there was really just SES. But in the spring, it’s easier to travel, and it just “feels” more like conference season to me.

As I write this, SMX West is wrapping up. I didn’t attend that show – the west coast is a long trip for me, especially in February when the weather can be iffy (although, as mentioned earlier, it ended up not being so iffy). But a lot of people clearly did, as evidenced by the Twitter fail whale caused by the volume of tweets from the conference. By all accounts, SMX West was full of good content for PPC pros.

On the heels of SMX West, SEMs will head to the East Coast for SES New York, happening March 19-23. Although I won’t be attending this year’s SESNY, the conference has a special place in my heart – it was the first SES I ever attended, way back in 2003 when it was still held in Boston. In a way, that’s where it all began for me. SES is always a good show, and this one promises to be no different.

And then in April, the good folks over at PPC Hero and Hanapin Marketing are holding the inaugural Heroconf on April 16 & 17. I’m super excited about this conference, because it’s the first-ever conference focused solely on PPC. The PPC Hero team has assembled a superstar lineup of PPC speakers, including some of my “idols” like Andrew Goodman and Matt Van Wagner.

I am honored to have been invited to speak at this conference – I’ll be speaking twice on Monday: Account Structure at 10:30 am, and Managing Large Budgets at 2:30 pm. I’ll also be on the Q&A panel at 6:15 pm. Whew! It promises to be a great couple days of PPC networking and knowledge. If you’re a PPC pro and haven’t registered for HeroConf yet, what are you waiting for? Do it now!

Following HeroConf, the summer SEM conference season kicks off with SMX Advanced in Seattle in June. This is one of my favorite conferences – it’s smaller than the big SES and SMX shows, and the content is all advanced – no beginner topics allowed! Seattle is a great city, and the conference is super fun.

I know it can be tough to break away from the daily PPC grind to attend a conference, and they’re not always cheap. But just like any profession, PPC is constantly changing and evolving, and its practitioners need to stay up to date on the latest tools and techniques. I can’t think of a more open and sharing industry to be in, and I have conference networking to thank for my last couple jobs in SEM. It’s really worth it to attend!

What conferences are you excited about in 2012?

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