I wrote a blog about a free conference I went to and how it was sales over substance. After recently attending the CIPD L&D Show in London I thought I would share my thoughts again to see what was done differently, and if it was better.
The same… but worlds apart
Both the conferences I attended contained a similar amount of people and setup; an area for exhibitors and different areas for the seminars. This is where the similarities end.
The CIPD L&D Show was not a free conference, though there was a free-to-attend exhibition and sessions. The CIPD L&D Show also opened up the seminars to experts and professionals who had real content and the passion to deliver it, rather than in-house employees.
Nearly all of the seminars I went to I came out of them learning something or going away with a drive to focus on something in particular.
Content not sales
The speakers would of course mention where they worked and their company or institution as it’s a great opportunity to enhance profile. They might mention throughout their presentation specific points of how their company did certain things but it was never done as a sales pitch. Passion was delivered and strong content provided, people would be able to go away and start trying techniques that had been offered.
I know for myself that I followed on Twitter and on Facebook the majority of the speakers at the seminars I went to. I found websites and put them into my favourite resources to go back and reference. Will I convert into a sale? Potentially. Do I have brand awareness? Most definitely!
Separating passion and sales
The CIPD L&D Conference was a great blend of the two; the free exhibitor floor had many companies trying to raise awareness and make sales. This was expected and if you moved yourself into that environment it was the mind-set you had gone into and were ready for.
On the exhibition floor there were lots of free seminars on offer. As I spent more time in the Conference I only saw the Ignite sessions (you can watch them all on Training Journal).
The conference sessions had passion and you could tell it was mainly about people who really wanted to provide some of the knowledge they had gained on their way to becoming an expert in their field or area.
Splitting the free exhibition and the paid-for conference made the conference feel complete and adjusting mind-set depending where you were was easy to do. The previous conference I had attended missed that – there was no divide between sales and content, a constant badgering of sales with next to no worthwhile content.
Knowing what people want
As a delegate we want to come away from the conference feeling the cost of the ticket was worth it for our own personal development and understanding. We take painstaking time to choose the sessions we want to attend because we are trying to maximise our own take away knowledge.
Delegates also understand that people and companies who have attended to exhibit have their own needs and requirements, cost to gain ratio whether that is sales or awareness for the brand.
We want the best of both worlds and can understand both sides of the coin.
I felt the balance at the CIPD L&D Show was spot on. I could flit between the two areas when I felt the urge, I could find like-minded individuals and get their opinions and network with them.
Content and passion and will always win over the hard sale and I saw a lot of passion and absorbed a great deal of superb content.