Gregory is a prolific figure in the digital world with over 20
years' experience in the industry, recently as the Managing
Director of Latitude
and now Managing Partner at Capero. Co-founder of SAScon
Ventures, he tells us about all things SAScon….
lots of long trips to London to attend and contribute to digital
conferences, he and other top digital northern players decided it
was time to bring a fresh concept to the Northwest. Six
years ago they used all their experience, contacts and skills to
launch SAScon, which is now a two-day industry event organised by
the digital community for the digital community. It's a
Search, Analytics and Social Media Conference and is hosted this
year on 16th &
Since its launch it has become a key
event in the digital calendar with each year getting bigger and
bigger and continues to host world class Search and Social expert
speakers with attendance over 300 digital marketing professionals
from across the UK and beyond. It has found its home in the
convenient and complementary location of Manchester Metropolitan
University Business School, an ideal setting amongst the
blossoming talent of tomorrow.
Candidate is a key sponsor for the third year running and we
were keen to pick Richard's brain on this year's leading event. He
tells us about hangovers, dancing monkeys and
SASbot; their own SAScon Chatbot!
Richard Gregory Sascon Co-Founder
Clearly SAScon is the digital
event of the year in the Northwest - where did the idea come
SAScon was actually born out of a couple of conversations
following a London event. I'd been on a panel, with a couple
of people from the North, talking to an audience with a heavy
northern contingent. An after event pint resulted in the "How hard
would it be to do this on our own doorstep?" question...and here we
Digital conferences across the
region grow in numbers every year, why is SAScon so successful and
continues to grow despite the competition?
SAScon is created by volunteers from within the industry
with a programme that excites us and seems to resonate with our
audience. We also endeavour to keep the prices low since we're not
doing this for financial gain. Even a full price SAScon ticket is
about a third or the price for the equivalent two-day event in
London. Last, but not least we have really supportive sponsors that
make sure we can run the event and keep ticket prices low.
What do you think SAScon has
achieved over the last 7 years?
Apart from a lot of hangovers, I honestly feel that
SAScon has played an important part in bringing the Northwest
digital marketing community together and solidifying our reputation
as one of the most advanced regions for digital marketing.
Over and above the great speakers, I'm also
convinced there's huge value in the networking that takes place
throughout the two days - not just at the Thursday night
However, on a more granular level the
event has created all sorts of memorable events for the attendees,
including Neil Walkers rap in the early years, Jeff Couglan's
keynote supported by animated dancing monkeys, and the queue of
people lining up for selfies with Larry Kim last year.
What are the newest elements
to SAScon this year?
Every year we listen to delegate feedback and this year
we've made a number of improvements:
the number of single presenter session,
since attendees find them more useful.
- Actually reduced the programme to two tracks at certain points
in the day (past attendees flagged there were too many
- Added a new "unconference" element where anybody can come along
and have their say on a topic close to their hearts.
- In the expo space we've added some cool interactive areas so
people can get hands on with VR, AR and eye tracking tech, in
- This year we've also introduced a 'Dragon's Den' style
session to showcase some of the great new start-ups we have in the
North West's "madtech" scene.
- Finally, the guys at myclever Lab have
created our own event chatbot - the SASbot. Why not head over
Messenger to talk to her?
Hopefully this year's attendees will like the changes and give
us feedback to keep enhancing the event.
What's been the most exciting
development(s) in Search & Social this year?
As you'll tell from above, I'm pretty excited by the
developments in AI and chatbots, whether it's
Facebook's wit.ai platform or
Google's new Allo application. This tech really cuts across
search and social, but in all honesty, that's probably more about
next year. For me, this year has really been above
the rise of eCommerce marketing, either from the
continued expansion of Google & Bing Shopping, through to the
increasing use of social ads to
drive eCommerce transactions - something we'll be
debating on day one.
What makes the digital sector
in the Northwest so successful?
We have an abundance of great agencies and digitally
savvy brands in the region with a great supporting network,
Digital and a local presence from the BBC, Google and Microsoft. Combine this
with the quality of living in the North, it's no wonder we're
seeing an increase in people relocating here.
How important is attracting
new talent to the region for the sector's continued growth?
It's a huge issue. Businesses are struggling to grow
their teams and salary inflation is creating cost pressures. While
higher salaries can be great for the individual, they're a real
challenge for employers.
Finally, Richard, what is the
secret to success in Digital?
It wouldn't be a secret if I told you ;-)
If you want to find out more about what is happening at
SAScon and how to buy tickets click here.
Do you want to be part of the famous social event on Thursday
the 16th? Check out our
great line-up and what you can look forward to!
Hope to see you there!