Appirians Head North for Conex: The Content Experience Conference

September 3, 2019 Joe Shearer

August 20- 22
TORONTO - The Royal Conservatory of Music

The 2019 Conex convention rocked Toronto for three days of learning, collaboration, and good times, leaving an indelible mark on the city and those who attended. An Appirio Marketing contingent made the trip north to attend and found three full days of tactical workshopping goodness, with a little actionable learning thrown in for good measure. 

What is Conex? 

Conex: The Content Experience is an annual conference in Toronto, Canada covering all things content marketing. Conex was started by Uberflip in 2016. Marketers from all over gather each year for learning opportunities for digital and content marketing strategy and demand generation.

The conference is put on by Uberflip, a Content Experience Platform (CEP) for marketing and sales, and more than 750 marketers from around North America attend each year. 

What is Uberflip?

Uberflip enables marketing and sales professionals to use content more strategically, creating amazing personalized digital experiences that map to the buyer’s journey. Uberflip specializes in experience management, journey acceleration, and audience intelligence, and provides its customers a host of top-notch resources, unparalleled knowledge, and, as you'll learn later, unmatched customer experience. 

The Conference

Speakers included a mix of known industry leaders like Neil Patel and Convince and Convert's Jay Baer, along with a variety of thought leaders and industry professionals, including former Appirian Latane Conant. Baer is an original Uberflip investor who was an emcee of sorts throughout, not only leading multiple sessions but dropping in between sessions to keep the crowd warmed up and eager to hear what was next.

Account-based marketing (ABM) was a big topic of conversation this year. ABM is a strategic approach to marketing, using account awareness to assist in creating custom marketing experiences through personalization. By creating a highly personalized experience for clients, companies can reach them on a more personal level, anticipating their needs more effectively and creating a better business relationship.

As a living, ever-changing entity, the conference's organizers this year put a twist on the formula, adding breakout sessions based on feedback from last year, where presenters met in smaller groups to expand on their ideas. 

Day 1 started with a kickoff session welcoming everyone to Conex, with a highly informative session from Marisa Cavanaugh, Executive Marketing Manager of McGraw-Hill Education, who discussed creating centralized customer content experiences both internally and externally. Her tips on adequately representing customers and creating personas to target your customer base and increase engagement were particularly enlightening. 

A breakout session featuring Baer and Convince and Convert Strategist Anna Hrach expanded on creating personas based on hard, measurable data, as opposed to a "gut feeling" approach, where personas are created based off of and created by people based on their own experiences. Baer and Hrach posited that many businesses are led astray by poor planning and not following the numbers to determine who clients actually are and made their argument for having a data-driven approach. 

Day 2 found Neil Patel discussing repurposing old content to spur new engagement and maximizing ROI with minimal effort. Ambient Strategy CEO April Dunford also discussed positioning yourself for peak success in competitive markets. 

The conference's final day saw MarketingProfs Chief Content Officer Ann Handley discussing how to strategically create content in a fast-paced, now-now-now culture. Coyote Logistics CMO Christina Bottis hosted a conference-highlight session on building customer experiences that convert, in part via a tremendous analogy between building content as you do a Mr. Potato Head toy. 

The conference closed with "Content Feud," a fun marketing competition pitting Conex speakers against audience members in a Family Feud-style competition complete with surveys, buzzers, and shouts of "GOOD ANSWER!" One audience member even had fans holding signs to cheer him on (FEAR THE BEARD!). 

Conex 2019 Content Feud main stage

The number of presenters and a variety of topics offered a great deal of learning opportunities, but future conferences could benefit from bringing in a more diverse array of professionals from the marketing and sales communities.

The Culture

Conex was held at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, a beautiful facility that offers an eclectic mix of old-world style and contemporary attitude. According to Wikipedia, the building is the original site of McCaster University, and the Conservatory has occupied the building since 1962. The structure was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1995. 

It's a gorgeous venue and is walking distance from the posh Kimpton St. Georges, the official hotel of Conex. A Tuesday night networking party lit up the Kimpton and its Fortunate Fox bar/restaurant, with marketing pros hobnobbing over hors d'oeuvres and drinks. 

Conference organizers also served breakfast and lunch to guests, with a fun variety of foods that included gluten-free and vegan options—mindfulness in practice. Also nice was the bamboo plates and cutlery, which displayed both environmental consciousness and a sense of class.

Swag was also plentiful, with official Conex gear including a tote bag (given to all attendees upon check-in), metal water bottles, stickers, hats, note pads, and pens. And don't forget the lanyards affixed to your conference badge. Other companies on hand included Vidyard, who had multiple stickers and an adorable stuffed robot toy, PFL, whose dress socks were a hit of the convention, and others who had fun and interesting trinkets to offer the crowd.

Conex: The Content Experience Swag - bottles, notepads, a baseball cap, Conex stickers

Perhaps the unsung highlight of the entire affair was the opportunity for collaboration with other Uberflip customers. Meeting other professionals in the industry between (and during) sessions gave us the opportunity to exchange notes, share experiences, and get new ideas. We would have never had the chance to share and learn from other marketing professionals we met without this interactive portion of the conference.

A special nod to Uberflip's Nathan Dunleavy and Stephanie Totty for their efforts to go above and beyond on customer service. Each took significant time out of their extraordinarily busy schedules to give our reps one-on-one conference survival skills and best practices, as well as tips on the best after-hours spots to maximize the Toronto experience. They have proven they are committed to fostering customer success both on and off the Uberflip platform, and they were two bright spots in an already tremendous experience.

About the Author

Joe Shearer

Joe is a Content Writer at Appirio. A 20-year veteran of the writing and editing game, he has produced high-performing content for a variety of brands.

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