Fun at Funnel?11/13/2012 | Follow Neil | Connect with Neil

I’ve just got back from Econsultancy’s Funnel event at Arsenal’s Emirates stadium and I thought it was worth sharing my thoughts about the event and content.

Firstly, the positive stuff (always a nice place to start). It was exactly what I expected. The focus was all about lead management and marketing automation (MA) and as I’m currently vetting suppliers in the MA area, it was worth a day out of the office. The three suppliers that I wanted to meet (Act-On, Eloqua and Pardot) were there along with a bunch of other companies. The venue was easily reachable from Kings Cross and the food/refreshments were good. I’m not an Arsenal fan, but it was nice to be in a football stadium (as it is a very nice one). So overall, a good use of my time.

Now the ‘constructive criticism’. The agenda could have been much better. There were two presentations that I enjoyed and made me think. John Fernandez from IntraLink talked about how he optimised his firm’s lead management processes and helped empower the sales team. Very interesting stuff, must think about how we score and handle leads. And Stan Woods from Velocity provided a very interesting case study on what they are doing with a company called Ubuntu using a marketing automation system.

The rest of the presentations that I saw (and I didn’t see them all) were too focused on sales pitches from each of the sponsors, rather than anything insightful or independent. It was interesting to see what these systems can do, but I didn’t get the independence that I would really want, especially considering the investment I’m looking to make. Plus, although there were seven presentations in each of the four streams, each one was only 20 minutes long (or there abouts), which meant that we spent more time in the exhibition area than in sessions. Great for the sponsors, not so great for delegates.

Although the venue and food were good, the ice-cold air conditioning, the poor quality WIFI and the lack of seating at lunch time were frustrating niggles. As my friend @cliftonlk tweeted “Oh the irony – 50,000 seats at the Emirates and nowhere to sit and eat our lunch!”.

At the start of Another Marketing Conference in October I started the day talking about the conflict between delivering a great experience for delegates and delivering value for sponsors. When you go to an exhibition you expect to be sold to, but normally you don’t pay to attend them. With a conference, you expect content. I don’t think Econsultancy were hiding the true nature of the day, but I don’t think it was very clear. I was offered a complimentary pass to the event, so I’m happy that I attended, however, if I had paid I would have left feeling disappointed at the lack of great content and the fact that I was there to be sold to relentlessly.

Marketing automation is a very dry subject and the numerous vendors in this sector are trying to dictate marketing conversations, especially in B2B, around this area. Obviously this is what they have to do in order to promote themselves but rather than give them a platform to promote, trusted brands like Econsultancy and some of the trade magazines need to do much more to provide us marketers with an independent view of the world.

away day


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