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  • Bob Hoffman


One of the downsides of making your living as a professional loudmouth is that you have to do it in public. This means participating in conferences. As everyone knows, there’s nothing in the world as dreary as a marketing conference, with the possible exception of an SEO webinar or lunch with a yoga maniac.

It is my good fortune that when I speak at conferences I am usually billed as the keynote, which often means I get to speak first. Speaking first has one great advantage. After I speak I can wait until no one’s looking then sneak out the back door and find a nice quiet bar.

I was at a conference a few months ago and I decided to be mature and hang around and listen to some other speakers. I’ll never make that mistake again. Here’s what I learned:

- The future is going to be amazing. No one’s going to have to do anything. Everything will be done for us by AI, or robots, or Jeff Bezos. We won’t have to work, rotate our tires, or chew our food. 

- Robots, by the way, will be stealing our jobs, our airline miles, and our children. 

- Women will also be amazing. When they run everything there will be no poverty or inequality or wait times at the Genius Bar. One exception: that nutty jailbird from Theranos.

- Advertising, on the other hand, is not amazing. In fact, it’s dead. It’s going to be replaced by the metaverse or NFTs or 6G or something. 

- Better expect the unexpected because if you expect the expected than your expectations will be unexpectedly...I don’t know...something very scary. 

- China and India are going to have their own internets which will be better than ours because your password will be embedded in your brain or your kidneys and you won’t have to update Adobe every half hour.

- Data is not only the secret to marketing success, it also makes your car’s engine run smoother and – something you probably didn’t know – it makes a great Father’s Day gift!

- Facebook is changing. No, really, they mean it this time! They’re going to be double-extra careful with our data, our bank account numbers, and our drug bust records by taking all our files and putting them in Ziploc bags. And if anyone tries to break into them they will suspend them and not let them open another Facebook account for almost twenty minutes. Unless they use another name.

​- Consumers love your brand and want a relationship with it and want to join the conversation about it and share it with their tribe... or, wait a minute... (DISSOLVE TO 30 MINUTES LATER)... brands mean nothing to consumers. The internet has disintermediated everything and the whole idea of brands is totally stupid and obsolete... (CUT TO PANEL DISCUSSION)

​- Gen Z is a whole new species of human that is even cooler than millennials. You have to get rid of all those idiot millennials because they are stupid dinosaurs. If you don’t have a Gen Z strategy in place by tomorrow 9 am you are already too late and you are dead. By the way, we are holding a 3-day Gen Z Insider Summit in Orlando next month...

- Consumers will love your brand of peanut milk even more if your brand purpose aligns with their values and they know you are committed to world peace and single-payer pet burials.

- And, by the way, everything is changing and if your business doesn’t transform you will be left behind and die. It doesn’t matter what you are, you have to transform into something else. It doesn’t matter what you transform into as long as you stop doing whatever it is you are doing and start doing something that requires AI, robots, or Jeff Bezos.

Bottom line: The only sensible reason for attending a marketing conference is to get as far away as possible from the dreary reality of marketing itself. Like Disneyland, marketing’s Conferenceland is much cleaner, prettier, and safer than the actual thing.

My advice is stay the hell away from marketing conferences unless, of course, I’m speaking. In which case, bring the whole family.

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