By Madison Fiore
There are hundreds of cannabis conferences and events out there, taking place throughout the year and across the country. You know you should be going to at least a few of them but the cost of tickets and travel adds up – not to mention the time away from work, tight budgets and a pandemic that is still very real. Besides, what would you get out of it?
A lot, it turns out.
As Founder and CEO of MATTIO+FIORE, a cannabis-focused paid media and performance marketing agency, I’ve attended and spoken at my fair share of industry events throughout my career. Every single one offered me something valuable, whether it was an idea, a new perspective, a business contact or a new client.
During the pandemic, many conference organizers cancelled their events, and those that happened looked different. New technologies and platforms were created for the sole purpose of preserving the magic of in-person events, enabling organizers to host their conferences online, but it simply wasn’t the same.
Virtual events in the prime of COVID were necessary to keep the cannabis industry moving in the right direction – but now that the world has reopened, I’m prioritizing in-person events. Here’s why.
There I was in October 2021 at the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference in Times Square, sitting beside some of my colleagues discussing brand building and marketing in front of a large audience. After wrapping up the session with some Q&A, I hopped off the stage and ran into Rosie Mattio, cannabis PR queen and Founder & CEO of MATTIO Communications, one of the longest running and largest PR and marketing firms in the cannabis space. We had met at other events in the past and took a few minutes to catch up. During our chat, I spoke about the opportunities for a paid media and performance advertising agency specifically for cannabis companies. I had been working in the performance marketing department at Hawke Media for about five years but, I confessed to Rosie, I was hitting the ceiling. I was ready to break out on my own and start my own agency.
Rosie shared that she was already at work creating a performance marketing arm to MATTIO Communications with her business partner, Mitch Rothschild. I politely declined her invitation to join as an employee, knowing that my next career path would be as an owner. We wrapped up our conversation shortly after and went our separate ways.
But the conversation wasn’t over. About a week later, I received a call from Rosie and Mitch who wanted to talk about the possibility of a joint venture for a performance advertising agency in cannabis. Just one and a half months and many meetings later, MATTIO+FIORE, a cannabis-focused paid media and performance marketing agency, was born. I had realized my ambition – to own and run a cannabis performance advertising agency – and built a strong business partnership from a simple chance meeting at an industry event.
And that is one of the many reasons why in-person conferences are imperative for industry and company growth. Hundreds of your fellow professionals are wandering around in the same space with similar synergies. It’s where old colleagues reconnect, new relationships are built, businesses grow and – if the timing is right – professional partners are found.
Interacting with your peers face to face is more important than one may think. We’ve all become accustomed to Zoom but it’s difficult to truly get to know someone and make that special connection through a screen. Industry events are where you see those clients, coworkers or colleagues in person and engage in meaningful conversations without the virtual veil. According to research conducted by Zippia, 68% of individuals would rather network in-person than virtually, and 95% agree that face-to-face interactions are foundational to successful long-term professional relationships.
Industry events are also wonderful learning opportunities, whether the knowledge comes from a content discussion or a great conversation. By chatting with people working across the supply chain, it’s easy to pick up on recent trends in the industry – even if it’s outside of your area of expertise, it’s always helpful to be aware of happenings in other areas of the sector.
It’s easy to get worn down by the day-to-day tasks. I have found that when I take the time to attend a conference, I reconnect with my original drive for entering the cannabis space. By speaking with the incredible leaders and creatives working to enact positive change in their communities and within the industry, and seeing the heart and authenticity that makes the industry so special, I leave with a higher level of excitement for what I do. Industry events reignite my connection to my community and my mission to normalize cannabis.
It’s impossible to know exactly what you will gain from attending an event, but the possibilities are endless. Industry conferences create the opportunity for parties to come together, share ideas and perhaps even start something new. They remind us that there are real people behind cannabis who have dedicated their careers – sometimes their lives – to having a true impact on something that matters to them and others.
Will you be attending your next industry conference?
If you see me, come introduce yourself. I would be delighted to meet you. Don't miss the Chicago September 13th and 14th event!
As the Founder and CEO of MATTIO+FIORE, Madison partnered with Rosie Mattio and MATTIO Communications to create a best-in-class performance marketing agency for the cannabis industry. In his former role as the Head of Growth at Hawke Media, Madison helped scale the company from a staff of less than 30 to 300+ employees. In 5 years, he also contributed to revenue growth, increasing annual revenue from $3M in 2017 to $30M+ in 2021. Primarily focused on the cannabis industry, Madison has become one of the most recognized experts in the space. Working with some of the biggest brands in the industry, he is a renowned thought leader and rising star, helping companies navigate ever-evolving marketing hurdles.
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