Marketing keynote speakers can bring energy, entertainment and education to your conference or trade show. But the best speakers on the market bring a nice balance of all three. The big question you have to ask yourself is what mix are you looking for?
Most conference organizers will say they want the education first, the energy second and the entertainment third. But remember, you’re hiring a keynote speaker, not a workshop session host. The reality of most trade show events or conferences is that you want a keynote speaker to be entertaining and bring energy first, then pepper in just the right amount of education into their talk.
I have the unique perspective of not only being a marketing keynote speaker, honored to grace the stage at dozens of trade shows and industry conferences in the last 12 years, but I’ve hired dozens of the same. For 10 years, I programmed Digital Crossroads, a regional digital marketing event in Louisville hosted by the Louisville Digital Association. In 2012, I also traveled around the country with Explore, my own traveling marketing conference.
You could say that I’ve seen my fair share of excellent marketing keynote speakers.
The Three Types of Marketing Keynote Speakers
If your event needs someone heavy on the education and less on the entertainment, you’ll want to look for the marketing keynote speakers that tend to fall more on the academic and business side of things. I call this type the Knowledge Feeders. They just feed your audience with knowledge.
This isn’t to say they shouldn’t or can’t also be entertaining or educational, but they tend to be matter-of-fact, data-driven speakers that build logical arguments for their points and are super-informative.
Some of my favorite Knowledge Feeder Marketing Keynote Speakers out there are:
- Roger Dooley - Author of Brainfluence and Friction
- John Jantsch - The Duct Tape Marketing mastermind
- Ann Handley - The face of MarketingProfs and author of Everybody Writes and Content Rules
- Mark Schaefer - Multiple-time best-selling author
- Christopher Penn - The analytics guru everyone turns to
At the other end of the spectrum are people who lead with energy, even though they also bring plenty of entertainment (sometimes, a by-product of the energy) and great knowledge to your event as well. I call these the Show Stoppers. They might go deep into a topic, or lightly dance around general knowledge, but everyone will sit up and pay attention, for sure!
Some of the best Show Stopper Marketing Keynote Speakers I’ve seen are:
- Gary Vaynerchuk - Best-selling author, TV show guy, Mr. Everywhere
- Marcus Sheridan - Author of They Ask, You Answer
- Rohit Bhagarva - Another best-selling author (Likeonomics and Non-Obvious)
- Brian Fanzo - Mr. Millennial and Emerging Media Enthusiast
- Mitch Joel - Best-Selling Author and Marketing Futurist
And then there’s the meaty middle. The marketing keynote speakers I think bring a nice combination of education and entertainment, while not slacking at all on the energy. They are experts in their fields, but also experts at delivering solid takeaways while offering up humor, entertainment, thought-provoking ideas and keeping the energy level high with your conference or trade show audience. I call them the Sweet Spot.
The best Sweet Spot Marketing Keynote Speakers in my book are:
- Jay Baer - NSA Hall-of-Famer and Best-Selling Author (with impressive suits)
- Krista Neher - Author of five books on social media and an event manager, too
- Scott Monty - Former Ford social media lead
- Andrew Davis - Best-selling author of Brandscaping
- David Meerman Scott - Author of the legendary The New Rules of Marketing and PR
Keep in mind this is a short list of the marketing keynote speakers I’ve hired or seen over the years. There are at least 20 more who could easily be on this list as call-outs and probably 50 more on top of that I would highly recommend. (This is the paragraph I use to apologize to those not mentioned above. Heh.)
I would love to know who you have singled out as a great marketing keynote speaker in the time you’ve spent at conferences and seeing people speak. Who is most engaging, entertaining, educational, energetic? I want to know. It might force me to amend my list! Please share in the comments or drop me a line in the contact form.
Post-Script: Where do I fall in that group? My guess is that people might say I bring energy and entertainment, but lay a solid foundation of education thanks to my years of experience as a marketing practitioner. It’s difficult for me to put the analysis on myself, so if you’ve seen me talk somewhere, you tell me!
But yes, I’d love to talk to you about speaking at your next event. I can certainly promise you’ll get some dose of each of the three ingredients by inviting me to speak at your conference or trade show. Let’s chat about it!