Trying to decide which agency conferences to attend in 2022? Here’s my 6th annual roundup, including virtual, in-person, and hybrid events. [Last updated: May 2022, including COVID impacts]
My curated recommendations include 15+ events to consider—in chronological order—with a focus on U.S. and virtual events. I’ve noted events where I have experience as a speaker or attendee.
Know any agency conferences that should be on this list? Let me know! I’ll continue to update this throughout 2022. They’re listed in chronological order, based on confirmed (or likely) timing.
Want to pitch events as a speaker? Check out my book on speaking for agency lead-gen. But plan ahead—events typically recruit speakers several months to a year in advance.
January 12 to February 16, 2022 (virtually)
My agency growth bootcamp is designed to help you grow in 2022 and beyond. The Q1 2022 theme is “Work Less, Earn More,” and the format is 100% virtual.
Participants will create a custom 90-day plan to jumpstart your growth in 2022—and connect in their cohort of 35 highly-motivated agency leaders from around the world. Over six weeks, agency owners get live training, group coaching, and hands-on assignments to help them grow—and you’ll connect between calls in the private Slack community. The six modules are: Work Less, Earn More, Enlist Your Team, Choose Your Growth Strategy, Create Your 90-Day Plan, and Take Action.
February 7-11, 2022 (virtually)
This virtual conference on agency new business is from RSW/US. The previous event ran February 8-11, 2021—focused on business development. The inaugural theme was: “A Look Under the Agency and Marketer Hood: Frontline Perspective from Marketers & Agencies to Help You Win in 2021!” Last year’s topics included trends predictions from agency leaders and CMOs, benchmarks and best practices, and client-win case studies.
According to RSW/US, the 2022 event will run February 7-11, 2022 from 12:00-1:30pm EST each day. The 2022 them was “On the Road to New Business: Frontline insights from marketers & agencies to help you win.” Speakers included agency search consultants, marketing clients, agencies, and RSW/US team members.
February 21-22, 2022 in Orlando, Florida
This two-day agenda conference from the Bureau of Digital is tailored to digital agency owners. The 2022 event will have a hybrid format—a small group in-person, and a streaming ticket for those joining remotely.
Several of my clients have attended past Owner Summits—they reported good learning and networking—and I joined in 2019 to attend the pre-conference workshop day. The 2022 event will be held in-person (and virtually) at the Hard Rock Live Orlando.
I attended in 2022 via the streaming ticket. This year’s speakers included Nancy Lyons (Clockwork), Mike King (iPullRank), Tom O’Neil (The Nerdery), Boyuan Yao and Jahan Mantin (Project Inkblot), Dan Cederholm (Dribbble), Carl Smith (Bureau of Digital), Traci Barrett (Navigate the Journey), and Rob Harr (Sparkbox).
April 25-27, 2022 virtually
New for 2022, this three-day event from Ontraport focuses on agency growth. Topics include: “find out how top agencies are attracting more leads and closing more high-ticket deals, discover tech innovations that you can leverage to differentiate your service offerings, [and] learn how to shift to strategic services that bring in more profits with less maintenance.”
As of late February 2022, the speaker lineup includes agency experts like Jody Sutter and Lee McKnight.
May 15-17, 2022 in Scottsdale, AZ
This annual conference by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) focuses on C-suite issues, case studies, and research that leads growth. The conference draws primarily from PR and communications agency owners. The 2021 event was held in-person with a virtual option in Nashville, TN with the theme “Hitting a High Note in 2021… and Beyond.” I spoke at the 2016 event in Puerto Rico.
The spring 2022 event will be in-person in Scottsdale, Arizona. Vaccination or a negative PCR test will be required.
May 17-18, 2022 (plus May 10 and May 24) in Kansas City + virtual
Mirren Live focuses on agency growth. Topics include aligning agency and client incentives, the latest tools to run your agency, how to turn your website into an active lead-gen tool, and agency pitch demonstrations.
In 2021, the virtual event featured 30+ sessions with 60+ speakers and 800+ agencies attending. The theme was “Build a Faster, Smarter, Healthier Agency.” There was also a post-conference workshop, focused on self-marketing.
In 2022, the event is moving from New York to Kansas City, from the headquarters of agency Barkley, plus a virtual broadcast. The conference runs May 17-18, 2022, with pre-conference on May 10 and post-conference on May 24.
May 24-25, 2022 in Chicago
This second-year Agency Management Institute (AMI) event is from long-time agency owner and consultant Drew McLellan. Last year, the BABA Summit was held in-person in Chicago. The 2021 speaker lineup included Jay Baer, Robin Boehler, Liz Nead, Joe Pulizzi, Paul Roetzer, Robert Rose, Drew McLellan, and Eric Vardon.
As of late March 2022, the 2022 speaker lineup included Amber Naslund, Adam Carroll, Adam Pierno, Andrew Davis, Andy Crestodina, Carla Johnson, Drew McLellan, Jody Sutter, Len Herstein, Molly Eyerman, Molly Rose Speed, Pamela Slim, Stephen Woessner, and Susan Baier.
Use code “KARLSAKAS200” to save $200 when you register for the conference. The event notes: “Everyone attending the summit will either present a negative covid test or proof of vaccination.”
June 8-9, 2022 in Chicago
This members-only agency management conference is hosted by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s). The June 2021 edition met virtually, with a focus on pivoting. Rather than returning “to normal,” the event focused on returning “to better.”
Themes in 2021 included: creating inclusive work and cultures, pitching and new business in the virtual era, the future of work, building your agency for growth, and how agencies punch above their weight. The speaker lineup included both agencies and brands.
4A’s published the schedule and speaker lineup in late April 2022.
June 23-24, 2022 (virtually)
This two-day virtual conference from the Bureau of Digital is tailored to operations leaders at digital agencies. Last year, the speaker lineup included agency leaders and industry experts with agenda topics that included studio operations, delivery, outbound sales, revenue forecasting, team health, and ops tools.
This year will include “two days of moderated discussions based on topics you request.” I’m sending my Operations Manager, and I’ve recommended the program to several of my clients for their Ops leader. Apply here for 2022.
July 26-27, 2022 in Chicago
This annual Ad Age event is designed for small- to mid-size agencies. Pre-pandemic, the schedule typically combined an evening of networking and cocktails, plus a day of conversation and talks that tackle challenges and opportunities in small agencies. During the pandemic, this turned into a 3-day virtual event from August 2-4, 2021, with speakers for agencies and brands.
June 28, 2022 in Atlanta
“Our all-new ‘Landing the Plane’ seminar is a must for principals looking to maximize the value of their creative and digital firms by building towards a succession process… whether it happens or not. We are holding a 1-day intimate seminar in Atlanta, GA to help you plan an exit, whether that means a sale, an ownership transfer, or simply a better work/life balance. If you are ready to pick your head up and think about your particular future, consider joining us. Lunch, dinner, and all beverages (alcoholic and otherwise) are included.”
The event is in-person at Monday Night Brewing in Atlanta. Save $250 with discount code earlybird by May 31st.
September 6-9, 2022 in Boston + virtually
The 2021 event was held completely online, with more than 100,000 global attendees—up from 70,000 in 2020. Past keynotes have included Oprah Winfrey, Spike Lee, Adam Grant, Beth Comstock, Brené Brown, Ed Catmull, Michelle Obama, and Shonda Rimes. The 2021 breakout tracks included: Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, and HubSpot Academy.
I spoke at INBOUND in 2015, 2017, 2018, 2020, and 2021. My latest talk was an “Ask Me Anything” Q&A session about how to keep your best clients happy.
As of mid-February 2022, this year has brand new Breakout tracks… and in-person and digital (virtual) speakers:
- BUILD Your Business. Do you hear that? It’s your inner voice reminding you that your expertise can capture the attention of any audience.
- BUILD Your CRM. Knowledge is power and education is the key. You’re more than a teacher — you’re a coach, a leader, and a subject matter expert in your field — especially when it comes to HubSpot.
- BUILD Your Workplace. Whether your office is one from home with your dog always begging for playtime or in a socially distanced cubicle, your learning and collaboration don’t miss a beat.
- BUILD Your Purpose. You prioritize growth and balance (also known as mindfulness) to become the best version of yourself. You seek wisdom outside of your day to day in different industries and love to share what you’ve learned.
As of late February 2022, the in-person portion runs September 6-9 in Boston, and the virtual edition is September 7-9, 2022.
September 13-16, 2022 in Cleveland, OH
The annual Content Marketing World Conference & Expo (CMW) includes learning and networking with content marketing industry leaders. The 2021 event was held in Cleveland—including an Agency Strategies track—with an overall “Connections” theme. I emcee’d the Future Content Keynotes in 2016 and spoke about agencies in 2018.
September 19-22, 2022 in New York
This week-long event features seminars and workshops on topics like storytelling through different mediums, creating connections in the industry, what brands want, and influencer stories and lessons. The New York events are part of an international network that reports reaching 98,000 people.
As of early February 2022, the new event will be “live from New York” over September 19-22, 2022. Tickets range from $350 to $1,399.
September 26-27, 2022 in Philadelphia (or virtually)
This event is hosted by the Bureau of Digital for agency operations leaders. The previous event ran virtually over September 23-24, 2021, including keynotes, workshops, and small group discussions:
“Too often we are distracted by the urgency of today, and we don’t invest in preparing for the future. When what we really need to focus on is trying to solve for the ordinary—studio operations. By understanding the relationship between business development, finance, and delivery we gain the ability to unlock a world of new possibilities. Especially when we invest in our people and give them the tools to work better together.”
In mid-April 2022, the Bureau announced that the event would be September 26-27, 2022. If at least 50 people book a ticket, the event will be in-person in Philadelphia. Otherwise, the event will run virtually.
September 27-29, 2022 in San Diego + virtually
The 2021 event (September 13-15, 2021) was moved to the San Diego Convention Center, after becoming the virtual T&C360i in December 2020—including a 2021 virtual option.
Last year’s speakers included Magic Johnson, Martha Stewart, and Marie Forleo. In 2020, the conference included an “Agencies Only” track with agency-specific content. I spoke in the “Agencies Only” track in December 2020, on how to fix “profit leaks” at your agency.
The next event is scheduled for September 27-29, 2022. This year will not include the prior “Agencies Only” track.
October 17-19, 2022 in St. Augustine, FL
Hosted by the Digital Mastermind Group (DMG), this three-day agency conference features a mix of expert speakers, in-depth roundtable discussions among agency owners, BarCamp sessions with quick tips, and networking.
I was the keynote speaker at the October 2021 event, where I shared my advice to help agency owners “Work Less, Earn More.” It’s a nice group; they’ve found the right balance on learning, networking, and sharing.
As of early March 2022, the next event will be October 17-19, 2022 in St. Augustine, Florida.
October 17-18, 2022 in Philadelphia
This long-running digital PM conference is hosted by the Bureau of Digital. If you have PMs, they should go there… and ideally have already pitched you on going. (It’s a sign they’re not a “reluctant PM.”) I spoke at DPM Summit in 2014. To know other marketing tips and practices, people can check out https://legalmarketingstrategy.com/facebook-for-lawyers/ this site.
The Bureau of Digital announced October 2021 dates in December 2020, in a virtual format, after going online for the first time in October 2020. The 2021 speaker lineup included agency and in-house leaders.
As of mid-April 2022, the event is slated to happen in October 2022, in-person in Philadelphia—with further details coming soon.
TBD 2022 (previously: November 3-4, 2021 virtually)
This annual event targets agency CEOs and their top lieutenants, capped at 150 attendees in 2021 (up from 135 in 2018). The 2021 theme was “Innovation & Growth: The New Agency Model for 2022.” For 2020, Mirren rebranded the event from Mirren CEO Summit to Mirren Executive Leadership Summit—although the event has long been open to both CEOs and other top leaders—and moved it online.
Details for fall 2022 were TBD as of early February 2022.
Inactive Events for 2022
As of early February 2022, these previously-operating events were inactive for 2021 and (so far) 2022:
- AgencyCon (previously in September 2019)
- ClientCon (previously in September/October 2020)
- Content Jam (cancelled for September 2020; in mid-April 2022, was listed as returning in 2022)
- HeyOrca! Agency Conference (previously in October 2020)
- SMX: Search Marketing Expo (Agency Operations & Management, previously in November 2019)
- The SoDA Academy (previously in 2018)
If that changes, I’ll post updated information here.
Pick the Right Agency Conferences
Conferences can be great, but they can also be a time-suck—even if they’re fully or mostly online. Read my article on how to get more out of your next conference, including things you need to do before, during, and after the event. And if you’re thinking of organizing your own lead-gen event, see my 47 tips.
QUESTION: Which agency conferences are you planning to attend in 2022?
Note: This post was originally published October 27, 2021. We’re updating it regularly with the latest event info (currently: as of May 16, 2022).