I’ve been to numerous marketing and advertising seminars, boot camps and conferences, but I’ve never been to anything as big as HubSpot’s annual INBOUND 2014 marketing conference. In its first year, it drew 1,300 attendees. This year, more than 10,000 from 50 countries attended. Buzz around “inbound marketing” — a term coined by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, HubSpot cofounders — marketing automation and HubSpot software has grown exponentially.
Here are my takeaways from the event. They came from a range of sources, including HubSpot partners and experts and well-known authors such as Simon Sinek and Malcolm Gladwell. I found their insights useful and hope you will too:
1. “Sacrifice is leadership.” – Simon Sinek, author
Sinek wrote the book, Leaders Eat Last, in which he details how it takes a selfless investment of time and energy to become a great leader. When we are willing to sacrifice for our people, our people are willing to sacrifice for us. Teams become stronger with this mentality.
2. The New Marketing Mix – Paul Roetzer, PR 20/20, HubSpot partner
Analytics, automation, coding, content, digital ads, email, mobile, public relations, search, social, tech, Web … that’s how Roetzer defined the new marketing mix. While this definition is not universally accepted, it was certainly eye-opening. This mix revolves around digital skills many companies lack; that’s led to a talent war for tech-savvy, hybrid marketers.
3. “Product is to marketing as culture is to recruiting.” – Dharmesh Shah, HubSpot CTO
Marketing today is relying heavily on recruitment. So exposing the culture — not necessarily the perks, but the people — is key to growth. Shah made reference to HubSpot’s most viewed slide deck ever, The Culture Code.
4. “Do you want people to like you on Facebook or love you in real life?” – Shah
It’s easy to get caught up in metrics such as likes and followers. But when people love your business, it creates a ripple effect. They become advocates who refer, share and engage with your content and, ultimately, purchase your service.
5. “Always be helping.” – Brian Halligan, HubSpot CEO
From both an agency-to-client and client-to-client perspective, the culture has changed to where the prospect — not the sales person — has the power. Instead of ABC (always be closing), sales people must ABH (always be helping), transparent, strategic, proactive and willing to serve as a guide.
6. “Reframe the problem to make the solution possible.” – Malcolm Gladwell, author
Gladwell, who wrote David & Goliath, told the story of Malcom McLean. He was resisted by those tied up in the old way of “shipping” and he reframed the problem, inventing detachable metal shipping containers that considerably cut costs. He had courage to change the framework.
7. “Marketers used to want advertising ideas. Today, they want ideas.” – John McTigue, Kuno Creative, HubSpot Partner
Internal marketing agencies rely heavily on strategy, often outsourcing creative. As they help their clients navigate inbound marketing, inbound agencies constantly offer ideas and upsell. “It makes them (clients) feel safe,” one agency representative said. “They don’t care if numbers are down, as long as you have a plan to bring them up.”
8. “Create one big rock piece of content, strangle the s**t out of it, then go bury it in the desert.” – Jason Miller, senior content marketing manager, LinkedIn
As content marketing takes a shift toward quality, creating a big, relevant piece of content is highly recommended. This can include an e-book, white paper, “an all-encompassing guide to whatever conversation you want to own.” Then, launch it like a product launch, with email, blog posts, company page, sponsored updates, SlideShare, etc. It’s how LinkedIn got 18,000 percent ROI from one piece of content.
9. New Tools Within HubSpot
This being HubSpot’s big annual event, it was a natural opportunity to announce new product features. Among these, an updated Campaigns tool and the new HubSpot CRM (customer relationship management) system. I saw the Campaigns tool in action. It’s integrated and easy to use, and while I won’t go into details, you can learn more about it here. As far as the CRM, in a nutshell, it reduces work for sales people and adds useful data. Learn more about it here.
10. The Vanilla Issue – HubSpot Partners
This is mainly an observation. But many HubSpot Partners, certified agencies that offer HubSpot for clients, were at this event. Many of them compete with each other for the same business, with HubSpot referring four or five partner agencies per company looking for one. However, all these agencies essentially provide the same service. Therefore, I see brand differentiation becoming increasingly important in the future.