The huge growth and success of #BrightonSEO was obvious to all in 2013. In just a few short years, this event has grown from a gathering in a pub to a huge, multi-channel event with over 2,500 attendees. However, the real success of Brighton SEO lies in how it has, and will, change the expectations for all other Search Marketing Conferences forever.
Quality of information.
The quality of information given in presentations at BrightonSEO is right up there with the longest running and most costly seminars around. Admittedly, SES and SMX tend, (right now) to be able to pull some bigger names for presentations, especially from the US, but who says a thing doesn’t affect how good the information itself is.
The sessions I attended were all well-thought out, clearly communicating ideas, and the ideas were all useful and actionable to the audience. No other conference I’ve attended does any better in this regard, so top marks.
Quality of Presentation
As a veteran of SES, SMX and lesser-known events, I’ve been able to see some exceptionally slick and professional presentations. Before Mike Grehan was running SES, he was one of the presenters I told people to watch and learn from, just as I had. By and large, the presentations at BrightonSEO are from speakers who are a lot less experienced and polished.
Also, where BrightonSEO is openly ‘free’, it has always tended to give speakers a lot of leeway for promoting their company in their slides and presentations. SMS and SMX have tightened up a lot in this regard, so the difference here was noticeable. In a few cases at Brighton SEO it seemed that the company logo of the presenter was taking up more screen space than the information was.
If that’s where it ended, then I’d certainly be taking marks away from BrightonSEO for presentation quality. Truth is though that it doesn’t end there. Perhaps it is because the speakers are less slick, less traditional, or perhaps its simply the more creative vibe, but BrightonSEO presentations tended to be a lot more original and creative.
Therefore my final conclusion about the quality of presentation is that BrightonSEO offers less slick polish, certainly less experienced presenters, but that creativity and originality, (and fun) are high. I would certainly like to see a little less self-promotion in the slides, perhaps just one single slide with a company logo at the end where you can contact them for further details, but apart from that, its about an even match with other conferences overall.
Venue and Facilities
The Brighton Dome and the Corn Exchange are certainly excellent venues, right up with the best offered by SES and SMX in my experience. The Dome in particular has a great atmosphere and is very comfortable. The bars are good, there are nice networking areas, and the access to local transport, restaurants, bars and hotels is absolutely first rate.
However, there was a lack of seating for many of the presentations in the exhibition hall, and nowhere near enough seating in the lounge areas for when the sessions were out. You will need to be prepared to be on your feet for hours at times, unless you ask someone nicely if they’ll give you their seat.
Again, my final conclusion is that in this too, BrightonSEO is on a par with SES and SMX. A bit less seating in the lounges and no cheap packed lunch I wouldn’t have ever bought is more than compensated by the awesome access to bars and restaurants, and the far easier access to travel than London will ever offer as a rule.
Price and Value
Yeah, this is the bit. This is why BrightonSEO changes the expectations for all other conferences, and is a serious black eye to SES and SMX both. BrightonSEO is a free event.
Looking at all of the things that make a conference worthwhile, and all the aspects of value, the only appreciable difference between BrightonSEO 2013 and SESLondon 2013 was a lunch I wouldn’t have bought at SESLondon.
I’m a huge fan of both Danny Sullivan, and of Mike Grehan. I’ve been a supporter of both SES and SMX for, well, more years than I care to recall. So I am posting this as a friend to both, letting them know that the game has changed. BrightonSEO cannot help but highlight exactly what one may be paying for at SES and SMX, and seriously, its a cheapo lunch.
In every meaningful regard, BrightonSEO stacks up perfectly well against any other conference I’ve attended. If anything, the fact that BrightonSEO packed as much great info into one day as it takes SES and SMX to manage in 2-3 really stood out. If I am taking time away from work to attend a conference, shorter is better.
I honestly believe that unless SES and SMX can both seriously rethink how they provide value for their very high ticket-price, then their days are numbered. BrightonSEO is a free conference and raises the bar of expectation on what is expected for free, and what one would pay extra for.
I would suggest that maybe SES and SMX need to start being even more selective about who speaks, and pay all their speakers. This will allow them to attract speakers who have nothing to gain from taking time off work to talk to the audience.
For many years a lot of attendees of both SES and SMX have always known that a lot of the speakers at these conferences are only speaking because they are paying to have a stand or sponsoring the event. That needs to stop at once if these conferences are to raise quality enough to justify a ticket of over £1,000. Because without that measure, without using the advantage of being a paid conference with money to spend on content, BrightonSEO is going to win.
This year, BrightonSEO was absolutely the event of the year. I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings.