I just got back to Nebraska after a great week in San Francisco for the Elite Retreat 2009. First of all, I want to thank all of our Elite Retreat attendees for coming out! From small business owners to affiliate managers, it was an amazing group this year. I think everyone can agree that not only did they walk away with tons of new knowledge, tips and ideas, but there is a good chance everyone made some great networking contacts.
Secondly, I want to thank all the speakers at this year’s Elite Retreat – Neil Patel, Chris Winfield, Kris Jones, Stephan Spencer, Andy Liu, Brian Norgard and Michael Brito. And last, but definitely not least, Gary Vaynerchuk. Wow! He absolutely blew everyone away.
Also, while I seem to get all the credit… I want to thank my team – Tigh and Brienna. They did an awesome job. We have been receiving quite a few emails asking to be put on the waiting list if we decide to do another Retreat. Tigh has started to collect the names and emails of those people, so if you would like to be notified if/when the next Retreat will happen and have first chance to register, please email him directly, firstname.lastname@example.org
I arrived in San Francisco on Monday to get everything situated before the attendees and speakers arrived on Tuesday. We chose the Hotel Vitale this year, and it was a great choice. The hotel was very nice, and they were very accommodating. Tuesday people started to arrive, and we had a Meet & Greet scheduled for that night in the hotel bar sponsored by Affiliate.com. Scott Richter and one of their top affiliate managers, Jaz, came to the event as well. There was of course an open bar, and it was a great kick start to the event.
Breakfast was served bright and early the next morning, with sessions starting at 8 am. The layout of this year’s retreat was changed a little, and we decided to do all of the leaders’ presentations on one day, and then do a couple of ad hoc speakers on the second day while attendees had one on one sessions with the speakers.
We started off the day with Neil Patel speaking, followed by Kris Jones, Stephan Spencer, Andy Liu and Chris Winfield.
The end of day 1 culminated with a keynote by Gary Vaynerchuk. He absolutely brought the house down, and was a great addition to our leaders. Check out a little of the presentation below:
After everybody was overflowing with information, we had a reception set up on the rooftop terrace of the hotel. Of course it was great weather and open bar again. During the reception Gary, decided to do an episode for Winelibrary.tv which you can watch below:
Dinner (sponsored by Pepperjam) was taking place at one of, if not the best, restaurants in San Francisco – Boulevard. We had the entire downstairs reserved for our dinner, and lots and lots of wine available (each of them hand picked ahead of time by Gary V. himself).
People had a great time trying the wines, enjoying a great meal and getting to know one another. Afterward, everyone hit the sack to wake up for Day 2 of the Elite Retreat which started once again bright and early on Thursday morning. To kick off the day, I started with a presentation about conversions. I gave insight into the tactics I am using to really capitalize on my advertising efforts with platforms like MySpace and Facebook. I also spoke about the importance of creating your own landing pages and then testing, testing and testing those pages.
Unlike the other Elite Retreats, we really wanted to make sure the attendees got even more one on one time with all of the speakers. So after my presentation, the attendees started their one on one meetings with the speakers in another room.
For those not in a one on one meeting, we brought in the VP of MySpace MyAds – Brian Norgard – and the head of Social Media for Intel – Michael Brito. They not only gave great presentations, but also led amazing discussions and were totally open, ready and willing to field all the attendees’ questions. Here’s Brian speaking with the attendees:
And here’s a look at the video Michael Brito shot at the Elite Retreat:
At the end of Day 2, AzoogleAds gave away a ticket to their Playboy Mansion party to one of our smart attendees – Garrett. (Check out the authentic smoking jacket and pipe they gave him, too.)
The Elite Retreat attendees were also able to pick up some sweet shwag from the XY7.com team – everything from shirts to snacks.
We also had SureHits who sponsored and designed this years Elite Retreat shirts. They turned out awesome.
Thanks to the generous sponsorship by GetAds, later that evening we headed a couple blocks up the street to Waterbar for an amazing dinner (and an open bar…again!).
For the first time in Elite Retreat history, we also added a day three to the event with a field trip to Facebook. And thanks in much part to the hard work of the one and only DK (he’s with me in the pic below and runs the ThinkTank event), we were able to secure this once in a lifetime opportunity! We started off with lunch at the FB Headquarters. It was a great time – but people were pretty anxious to learn and see even more. So after lunch, we were able to meet with the FB advertising team, including Alex Schultz. For a couple hours we were able to learn from the FB team things that were working for other advertisers. Not only that, but we were able to ask them ANY questions that came to mind – an amazing opportunity. At the end, Facebook hooked everybody up with some coupon codes for free advertising on Facebook along with a Facebook USB drive loaded with tons of FB info. It was a great way to end the Elite Retreat!
Like I said before, if you’re interested in attending the next one – get in touch with Tigh (email@example.com) right away. After this year’s event, I have a feeling if we do this again, it will be sold out within hours. 🙂 Thanks again to the great speakers and sponsors. And most of all, thanks to all of you attendees who keep coming back for more and pushing us to take it to the next level year after year.
Sponsors for the event included: