GE 202: How the Growth Marketing Conference Brought in $2M in 2 Years in Such a Competitive Space (podcast)

Vasil Azarov

Hey everyone, in today’s episode I share the mic with Vasil Azarov, CEO of the Growth Marketing Conference, a must-attend for startup founders and marketing execs.

Tune is to hear Vasil discuss how the Growth Marketing Conference gets a 30% attendance rate from their 100K community of entrepreneurs and marketers, why events are essential for generating attraction if you already have a product, why he believes that events are the future of marketing and sales, and the best way to build an audience fast.

Download podcast transcript [PDF] here: How the Growth Marketing Conference Brought in $2M in 2 Years in Such a Competitive Space TRANSCRIPT

Time-Stamped Show Notes:

  • 00:46 – Review, rate and subscribe to the Growth Everywhere Podcast
  • 01:03 – Eric introduces friend and special guest, Vasil Azarov, CEO of the Growth Marketing Conference
  • 01:29 – Vasil has been in the marketing and event space for the last 10 years
    • 01:50 – “Events are the future of marketing and sales”
    • 01:55 – They are the vehicle for connecting people and Vasil is very passionate about events
  • 02:09 – His previous event was sold to United Business Media
  • 02:19 – Vasil met his cofounders and joined them at Startup Socials—the company his partners were involved in at that time
  • 02:36 – In 2013, Vasil began with a startup marketing conference and they grew it to The Growth Marketing Conference
    • 02:44 – Their events bring in 2,000 people
    • 02:48 – They host events in 15 cities around the globe
    • 02:58 – This year their large event is in San Francisco
  • 04:10 – How are they different? They connect startups with larger enterprise companies under the umbrella of growth marketing
  • 04:46 – How much does it cost to attend the Growth Marketing Conference?
    • 04:51 – Early bird for $400 – $1,200
    • 04:59 – With a Lexus pass, it’s $700 – $2,000 (includes speaker dinner and workshops)
    • 05:09 – $300 for self-funded partners
  • 05:18 – How many attendees have they had go through their events so far?
    • 05:29 – 100,000 supporters in total, 30% have gone to our events in person (small mixer, workshop or larger conference)
    • 05:50 – Some subscribe to the blog and others to live webinars
  • 06:26 – Vasil started events in 2013, the large conferences took off in 2015
  • 06:45 – They have earned close to $2 million total with their growth booming in the last two years
  • 07:34 – The best way to build an audience is to invest into community building
  • 07:38 – “It’s never about just one single event, it’s always about thinking what is next—how are you going to engage your community after it’s over?”
    • 07:45 – They plan their events a year in advance
    • 07:58 – They have a lot of events leading up to the main events
    • 08:02 – Logistics and experience are important for planning events, but how you engage the audience IN BETWEEN these events is of the utmost importance
  • 08:38 – Vasil lists his core events for the year (inc. New York, San Francisco etc.)
  • 09:11 – How is he building his clientele today? It has been through virtual summits
    • 09:29 – It’s a fast way to build an audience quickly around a very specific topic
    • 09:37 – It’s an advantageous way to build relevant content, as well
    • 09:53 – Word of mouth—create an unforgettable experience
    • 10:12 – We send speakers gifts—wine that has the Growth Marketing logo
    • 10:40 – When you give a good gift, they remember you
    • 10:55 – Be very thoughtful about the gifts and swag you give your speakers
  • 09:50 – Eric refers to the book Giftology and highly recommends it to everybody
  • 11:54How does he structure the main events?
    • 12:07 – The art is putting the guests/content together, so that the whole day really makes sense
    • 12:17 – Vasil uses his conference from 2015 as an example – the conference went from user acquisition to conversion to customer retention
    • 12:50 – They include actionable workshops and work really well
    • 13:01 – They put everyone in one room for these workshops, so that attendees can build intimacy with speakers
  • 13:46 – Should you aim to break even or plan to make a profit?
    • 14:20 – It depends on the goal of your conference
    • 15:07 – When you’re starting out, breaking even is totally fine
    • 15:23 – Vasil advises people new to business of event planning should commit to doing this type of business for a couple years to see growth
  • 15:30 – What kind of people should those new to event planning hire?
    • 15:45 – Vasil just held a conference called Event Marketing School
    • 15:58 – Vasil recommends discovering the business by yourself
    • 16:22 – If your long-term goal is to make high quality events, hire a consultant to help you, not some event planner to do the work for you
  • 17:13 – What’s one big struggle he’s facing right now? – Vasil needs to build an infrastructure to plan and organize the events so that he can scale his business
  • 18:21 – What’s one big change he’s made in the past year that has impacted him or his business in a big way? – We heavily rely on email when it comes to ticket sales
    • 18:45 – They created a very clear process on data scrubbing so that they could clear their bounced emails in a short amount of time
    • 19:03 – They want the bounce rate to be fixed within a 2-day timeframe
    • 19:33 – This has helped them keep their list clean and convert the email list into attendees
    • 19:46 – He also puts all his tasks into Google calendar
      • 20:13 – He has 10 main goals that he wants to accomplish at the start of the week, check in on those goals mid-week, then track his progress at the end of the week and use this as the basis for his next week
    • 20:56 – One tool he’s added in the last year that’s added a lot of value? ZenProspect—they’ve tried Salesloft, Persist IQ, but ZenProspect is their #1 choice
    • 23:05 – One must-read book (and podcast) Hard Things About Hard Things
    • 24:49 – One blog he reads regularly? Growth Hackers
    • 25:33 – Connect with Vasil on Linkedin and on his website

3 Key Points:

  1. If you don’t have passion in what you’re doing, you won’t make it.
  2. It’s never about just the one event, it’s about having that next step or level of engagement with your following.
  3. The key to a successful event? Make sure your event structure and progression of topics make sense AND plan for high-level engagement/actionable workshops.

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