What do you get when you mix large archways, exposed ceilings, old brick, even older trains, a thousand chairs facing a stage, several goldfish, 54 thought leaders, and 1,300 bright-eyed, bushy-tailed attendees? An inspiring, informative, and impactful digital marketing conference held in the St. Louis Union Station!
This was the first conference I have attended since beginning my professional career, and to say I was impressed, and slightly overwhelmed, is an understatement. Not only did the event have a variety of topics to discuss (tech, data, social media, email automation, etc.), but there was a wide variety of speakers as well. Every person currently in the industry from start-up, medium, to large, had a thought leader to hear and garner wisdom from. Being that this is a Midwestern conference, the majority of the attendees and speakers were from the greater St. Louis area, but there were others who came from much further away to present.
The day began with 1 of 3 keynote speakers and then moved into 50-minute break-out sessions with short breaks in between each. There were also two 30-minute networking breaks during the day where everyone refueled themselves with coffee and continued to meet other professionals/students in the industry. The sessions were a combination of speakers presenting alone or in tandem with another speaker, and several panel discussions.
I had the opportunity to meet with several of the speakers throughout the day including, Travis Sheridan from Venture Café; Gabe Trataglia from Pandora; Michael Halbrook from Adobe; Steve Carter from eHarmony; Michael Becker, author of Mobile Marketing for Dummies, and many more. The encouragement I received from these brief interactions was priceless. One of my favorite interactions was with the Database Diva, Lori Feldman. She was relatable and personable; asking me about my career path, and complimenting me on my demeanor when interacting with her and other speakers, as well as my ambition in terms of getting started in the industry by diving in head first.
My task for the day was to capture as much b-roll as possible. More specifically, b-roll of the speakers AJi/Jeff Julian would be interviewing during the day. While I knew I would be moving from room to room during presentations, I had underestimated what 1,300 people looks and feels like. Almost every session had all the seats completely filled, with several sessions where attendees were standing in the back of the room. Many times I had to squish my way into a corner, or use my tripod as a monopod in order to get the video I needed. What I also underestimated was the weight of the equipment I was carrying all day; I should have lifted weights for weeks before lugging this set up around Union Station for 9 hours (insert image)!
The thing I enjoyed most though, was the attitude and atmosphere of the conference. There wasn’t an air of competition, or a mindset of “I’m better than you”. Everyone involved seemed to genuinely want the person next to them to succeed. Being that I have just started my career, knowing that my industry will help me learn, grow, and excel is enormously encouraging.
What’s even more exciting and encouraging is that next year, MDMC will be spread across two days! This will multiply the amount of networking attendees can do, as well the amount of speakers who can present, and the knowledge imparted to everyone!