Conferences are hard work. Getting a venue, inviting speakers, selling tickets and attracting sponsors takes weeks and month to do. [Note: I know the pain first-hand from organizing the mesh and mesh marketing conferences]

Even after all the organizing, you’re not quite sure about attendance because most people don’t buy tickets until the week or two before the conference happens. People don’t know their schedules, they don’t know if they can be out of the office or they’re not sure whether it’s worth the investment.

It’s like holding a party and not sure if anyone is going to celebrate with you. Lots of uncertainty given the financial investment.

Why the hesitation about conferences?

Are people really too busy or have conferences lost their appeal? There is so much information online, including videos of just about everyone. Anyone you might want to hear at a conference can be found on YouTube.

What about the opportunities to learn something new and think? What about meeting new people and discovering new opportunities? You can’t do that watching videos at home.

Conferences are still relevant because they let people escape their digital cocoons. They give people a medium to get out of their comfort zones and connect with new people. For anyone looking to network, conferences still work.

It will be interesting to attend Elevate Toronto this week. It’s an ambitious three-day conference “celebrating the best of Canadian innovation”. Three days is a long time. When I was organizing mesh, we started to sell one-day passes to our two-day event to make it easier for people to attend.

That said, Elevate Toronto is operating in a burgeoning tech landscape. It is the fastest-growing technology market in North America, according to a CBRE report. Let’s see how the energy and enthusiasm within the community translate into attendance.

Here’s a “Monday Marketing Minute” about the value of conferences:

I work with fast-growing companies looking to grow even faster with marketing that actually works. My consulting, CMO-for-Hire and coaching services are driven by frameworks and processes to create strategic messaging, brand positioning, strategies, and content that drives awareness, leads, and sales.

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