There are two industry conferences going on this week. ASAE is in Nashville, SISO in Philadelphia.
I already know I made the wrong choice by committing only to SISO. I'm not saying that because it's a bad conference. It's just not where my head is at. The content - and the conversation - at ASAE appears to be centered on "doing what's best for our constituent communities" while the content as SISO is all about "following the lead of the big shows".
At the risk of oversimplifying the difference, the former is about customer-centricism, the latter about profitability. Nothing wrong with profits. It just feels like I'm asked to make a choice between being mentored by Malcolm Gladwell or Gordon Gekko.
My reasons for attending SISO have more to do with my comfort level. I get to see a lot of old friends. I'll be able to shoot up to CT to visit my mother, who's been in the hospital going on six weeks now. Maybe even have time for a Colony pizza.
And I think I need to get out - with each day I spend in Pittsburgh, I feel I'm becoming more focused on growing our coffeehouse business than I am about trade shows. It's a hell of lot more fun for one thing, and it's all risk - Melanie and I gamble all the time on different marketing ideas and how to pull them off on a shoestring budget. There's an adrenaline factor in promoting Aldo Coffee that I rarely experience with trade shows these days.
I will note that I am excited about a couple of new seminars I'm involved with in international resorts development and of course, blogging. Right now, seminars are more interesting. Why? Tighter schedules, more timely content, more creativity in marketing, and they're better tuned to the respective client's audiences.
And seminar organizers seem much more willing to listen to ideas from outside their world.
I also spend a lot of time "out there" in the Web 2.0 world - perhaps too much for my own good - and with each day I sense more and more the same sense of something ready to explode in directions we can't anticipate that brought to mind working on Internet World a decade ago.
ASAE is embracing this shift. I missed out on the BloggerCon tonight. There won't be anything like that at SISO. I may even be the only one posting regularly from there each day, although Ted Doyle is presenting a blogging session on Tuesday and he'll certainly post about that session. Hopefully other sessions as well.
And that's another difference - ASAE has a lot of voices involved in Web 2.0 initiatives, none of whom have a financial interest in a specific platform or agenda. SISO is presenting one session on blogging with one presenter who's from a company that sells blogging tools. No other discussion needed, it seems.
If this all sounds strange coming from a guy who has made most of his income marketing top 200 events, it's not. Something smells eerily familiar. And this time I want to make sure I'm aligned with the right people to take advantage of it.
To my pals in CT who may not be doing anything Wednesday night... I'm up for a beer. Drop a line if interested.