It’s September, which means that the twice yearly migration of digital marketing types to Brighton will soon begin. We’ve put together our teams tips for surviving and getting the most out of the UK’s biggest free digital marketing event. Our unofficial survival guide will equip first timers and regulars alike with tips and suggestions to get more from their day.
Calling all Brighton SEO veterans! Do you have a great survival tip that I missed? Share it with me in the comments and I’ll update the survival guide before each event, giving credit for any tips used (We all know that SEOs love a credit!).
Before the event
The free tickets to Brighton SEO disappear quicker than a bag of chips being attacked by Brighton seagulls. If you are reading this wondering whether you might want to go to the conference it is probably too late. “Friends” tickets are paid tickets that come with some extra benefits and are available for longer, but still sell out. There is a waiting list, but it’s l-o-n-g. If you haven’t got tickets and were hoping to be at the September event you are doing to be disappointed. Get yourself on the mailing list and up your game for April.
If you can’t make it
Life happens and sometimes people can’t make it on the day. If you have tickets and won’t be going let the event team know. It’s been known for there to be 1,500 people on the waiting list for free tickets, so give someone else the chance.
Get your boss to spring for a workshop
The day before the main conference is given over the full-day workshops delivered by expert practitioners. The workshops give the opportunity to get in depth into specialist areas as part of a small group. Workshop details can be found here.
Pro tip: Workshops also give you other benefits including the option to queue jump over subscribed conference sessions, access to the VIP WiFi and a perfect excuse to be in Brighton a day early and enjoy the pre-event socialising. They’re also a good way to get yourself a conference ticket once the free ones have been taken.
Check out the speakers
All Brighton SEO speakers are announced well in advance. Most are pretty easy to find and many are frequent social media users. Check them all out in advance and get a feel for what they will be talking about so that you can plan the sessions that you want to attend. You can see the list of speakers on the Brighton SEO website.
Pick your sessions in advance
Brighton SEO is multi-tracked. There are four main rooms plus deep dive sessions and clinics. Talks happen in each area simultaneously so you cannot see every session.
The sessions can be seen in advance on the BrightonSEO Sched . Plan your strategy in advance to maximise your chances of catching the sessions of most interest to you.
Forget switching rooms mid-session
The day is organised into sessions punctuated by breaks. The only practical time to move from one room to another is usually in the break, so plan your sessions accordingly.
Travel and logistics
Pack a phone charger
I don’t think that I have ever made it back from Brighton SEO with charge left on my phone, and that includes the year that I took a spare battery. Pack a charger or booster to avoid that “10% battery panic” mid afternoon. If you have a charger be prepared for a queue to form wherever you use it.
Leave the car at home
If you need to travel to Brighton, leave the car at home. Parking near the Dome is expensive, the station is nearby and you will probably regret not being able to drink on the day.
London folk: You are going to need to get up early
People travel from all over the world to attend Brighton SEO. However it is attendees from London, more used to having events on their doorstep who seem to suffer greatest shock from the early start. Pro tip: The latest train from London Victoria that you can catch and be at the dome when the doors open leaves London at 07:36
… or come down the night before
Many Brighton SEO attendees stay over the night before and avoid the early start completely. Be warned though, these are often the delegates who look most tired on conference day thanks to the “informal pre-party” that has been known to go on quite late for some. Pro tip: The #brightonseo twitter hashtag kicks off well before the event and is the most efficient way to track down other delegates.
Be prepared for a queue
Brighton SEO is a first rate event with excellent speakers, yet is also free. This combination is dynamite for the education seeking, bargain loving digital marketing industry and results in a massive migration to the South coast twice a year. This almost always results in a queue. Empty your bladder and grab a coffee on your walk down to the dome, put your phone away and embrace the opportunity to meet some of your fellow attendees.
— Wardworth Ltd (@Wardworth) April 10, 2015
Inside the Dome
Do not rely on the Wifi
Brighton dome WiFi is designed to cope with stand-up comedy audiences tweeting an occasional borrowed punchline. It is probably very capable under these circumstances, but copes less well under the stress of 1,500 digital marketing types doing what we do. Up your data allowance for the month, engage 4G and enjoy.
… and if you must use WiFi, you’ll need the password
The Brighton SEO WiFi password is traditionally something that seems easy to remember, but is surprisingly illusive. You’ll find it on one of the slides in the main hall, where it will flash past slightly more quickly than you are able to reach for your phone to photograph it. Pro tip: Check the twitter streams of @kelvinnewman and @brightonseo . Both will spend the first half hour of the conference answering the question “Who knows the #brightonseo wifi password?”
Get in quick if you want freebies
Event sponsors can be found in the exhibition space in the Corn Exchange and also in the Foyer. As well as kindly supporting the event many sponsors bring freebies in order to entice us all close to their stands. Do not expect those freebies to still be there by the first break. T-shirts particularly seem to be hot items, so get in quick.
That isn’t a urinal
Seriously – check before you pee guys. At some point there will be a tweet about someone peeing in the sink.
Consider whether you really want to get up on stage
At some point in proceedings, Kelvin Newman will invite a volunteer up on stage. Consider carefully whether this is a risk you are willing to take. Whilst you might be rewarded handsomely for your efforts, there is also a chance that you might be left wondering how you are going to carry a full sized arcade game cabinet home on the train.
— Pritesh Patel (@priteshpatel9) April 13, 2012
You might not get into the smaller rooms
Sessions in the smaller rooms tend to be oversubscribed so you might not get to see every session that you planned if you don’t line up early. There is always seating available for the main sessions in the Dome Concert Hall if you should miss out on another room.
Pro tip: Some of the paying tickets give you priority on the restricted sessions and are worth a look if there is a speaker that you want to guarantee to see.
If you do end up in a session you aren’t enjoying…
Please be considerate. Either leave quietly if you can or find something quiet to occupy yourself until the next talk begins. Whilst you might not be following or enjoying a particular session others will be.
Both types of social networking
Follow the hashtag
Anything worth knowing about Brighton SEO will get tweeted with the #brightonseo hashtag at some point. Activity kicks off well in advance and lingers for a couple of days after. At some point there will be a flurry of activity when someone announces “#BrightonSEO is trending”
Sponsors aren’t just for freebies
Without sponsors Brighton SEO wouldn’t happen. Talk to them, find out what they do so that you can recommend them to your boss if the need arises.
Don’t be a slave to your screen
Whether you are taking notes or engaging on twitter, don’t fall into the trap of spending the day on your phone or laptop. It is hard not to learn something at Brighton SEO, but you’ll definitely get more from the day if you give the talks your full attention.
Network (even if you hate networking)
Brighton SEO is attended by a lot of great and interesting people. Try to avoid the temptation to spend the breaks talking only to the people you travelled with, or being busy on your smart phone. Industry events like this offer a fantastic opportunity to learn from others in the industry and make contacts for the future.
Pro tip: The speakers are all usually really accessible and approachable too, but choose your moment carefully. Before they speak they might be nervous, and afterwards you might have to wait in line to talk to them.
Have lunch plans
Lunch at Brighton SEO is a “fend for yourself affair”. Discounts are offered at some nearby establishments, but with a couple of thousand SEO types pouring through their doors they can get busy. Brighton isn’t short of places to eat though, so it’s not a bad idea to have a plan, or check in on the hashtag for where others are heading.
Don’t forget to take your badge off on the train home
It’s never nice having to share your journey with a drunk stranger who knows your name.
… or better still – stay Saturday night
Official and un-official after-parties are an important part of the schedule for many. Rather than hurrying home on Friday night, why not stay over an extra night and “build industry contacts”?
Mat has been supporting content creators on the web since 1996. As Co-founder of OKO Digital, Mat became the first person in the UK qualified to AdSense partner status and repeated this first with Google Certified Publishing Partner programme.