What Did You Get Out of Affiliate Summit?
I know it is kind of late for a post about Affiliate Summit but Hurricane Irene kind of got in the way. There is nothing like grabbing everything you own in a few hours and fleeing town to delay writing a blog post.
This year at Affiliate Summit East 2011 I had the chance to take in the full day SEO training with Sugarrae. I was not sure what to expect and for someone that doesn't take notes at all, I left with over 26 tips that will no doubt help in building future sites and improve existing sites. While I won't get into specific details about the SEO training I will say that I was really glad I added this to my Affiliate Summit schedule.
This year we booked the Hilton on the first day it became available to register. If you read my post about Affiliate Summit East last year you will totally understand why. We got in on Friday night unpacked and went to the Old Castle pub for some dinner. This seems to be the home of Affiliate Summit after hours since the drinks are half price of the Hilton lobby bar and the staff is very friendly. We met up with some affiliates and had a few beers and talked affiliate marketing. I know I couldn't hang out all night since the SugarRae training was starting at some ungodly hour in the morning.
Saturday morning I was up at the crack of dawn to get ready for the session. Not knowing if there would be breakfast I ran over to the 53rd street deli and bought a breakfast sandwich. So far my eating healthy plan seemed to be going out the window. I knew coming into Summit that my new eating better lifestyle would suffer but it is the price you pay. So as I am waiting to get my egg sandwich a couple of guys with Affiliate Summit passes come in and I engage in conversation. Turns out they are there for the day to learn about affiliate marketing and starting an affiliate program for a sports product they invented.
I talk to them for a bit and we exchanged cards. I make a connection before the conference even started. If I had stayed at another hotel that wouldn't of happened. I head over to the SEO training and get ready for the day. Think I had like 5 cups of coffee already, 8am is not agreeing with me. I am really looking forward to the training session and it was good that I had people around me in the room that I knew.
For a detailed account of the session you can read Eric Nagel's post about the SugarRae SEO training class. I found the training valuable as it validated many things that I have been doing right over the years. Glad I was doing things right but she also explained why it was right. It was well worth it and I am glad I attended.
After the training we headed back to the old castle to grab a bite to eat and a few drinks before heading over to the Buy.at party. I needed a few drinks if I was going to wear pink which was the theme of the party. It was a great location for a party. The views of the city was amazing. They really know how to plan a party. The party was great, we were lucky as one of our clients “Rob from Party Beans” was able to make it at the last minute. It was good to talk about affiliate marketing with affiliates with the client there also. It was good because they had donated to the charity auction.
I admit I took it easy at the party since I knew I had to set up for the meet market table on Sunday. Setting up a meet market table is a task in itself. I am glad they give you a few hours to set it up. I had to make what seemed like 10 trips back and forth between the show hall and the hotel room to get more supplies. I got to know the staff people working the show floor on a first name basis.
The meet market is Debbie's job as I went to sessions and met with new affiliates. Of course one of the sessions was the SEO site review which I love and I am so glad it is included at every Summit. Between sessions I was in the bloggers lounge until it was time to break down the meet market table. One thing that surprised me was the amount of meet market tables that started taking down their tables early. I understand it is a long day but the last affiliate you talk to may be the best one of the day. It could be the one great connection that you as a merchant can make. Affiliates are in and out of the meet market in-between sessions.
Some affiliates didn't go up to the meet market until late in the afternoon. I know that when meet market opens it is usually packed like crazy and back in the day I use to wait until after the rush to start going through meet market. It just doesn't make sense that you would pay for a table and then leave early. I saw the same thing with the booths on the last day of Summit. It is just a shame that companies are in such a rush to leave and leave business on the table. I didn't get a chance to get to the booths this year until about an hour before it was over. Just bad scheduling on my part as I was busy meeting with affiliates.
It is so strange to me how times change. Years ago I would have been recognized as NYFalcon since that was my online persona for years. It would be no big thing if that is how people knew me at Summits since no one really used their real names. More and more people see my conference badge now and recognize me from our podcast. It is very strange when you are talking to someone and they say they know me from my voice because they listen to the podcast.
On Sunday as I was walking back to the bloggers lounge I was walking along side an affiliate and I started to talk to him. He looks at my badge and says “Vinny I know you, You are the pink unicorn guy from the podcast.” I was startled when he said that since I didn't get it at first. He had to remind me of the unicorn picture on “The Affiliate Thing” podcast. For all things to be known for this was not expected. I couldn't help but laugh and thinking what a big kick it wold be to Lisa Picarille.
This Summit was by far the best one that I went to when it came to making connections with affiliates. It seemed like everywhere I went there was affiliates looking for new programs to run. Can't wait until Affiliate Summit West 2012. I may be putting together a session of my own. It is on my to-do list which grew a lot after this Summit.
Did you attend Affiliate Summit East this year? What was your biggest take away?