Inbound Takeaways: Part II

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Hubspot’s Inbound marketing conference is the largest gathering for inbound marketers in the world. This year, Hubspot hosted over 50 countries, 10,000 attendees and 150 sessions. I had the privilege of attending last week with our owner Gary Miller and our director of digital content, Ben Kirst.

Considering this was my first conference experience, let’s just say the bar has been set pretty high.

The Perks

We fully enjoyed our four-day venture in the heart of Beantown. We walked around the city taking in the skyline views (when Ben wasn’t getting lost), enjoyed seafood galore (and the best crab cake I’ve ever experienced) and had the opportunity to learn and interact with organizations just like ours.

Headliners included public influencers like Martha Stuart, Malcolm Gladwell and Simon Sinek (who’s the most phenomenal public speaker, if I may say so). But for me, the most captivating ideas came from the small influencers – the individuals who regularly practice inbound and have real experiences to bring to the table.

10 takeaways from Inbound 2014

1. Embrace the DARC side.
Mike Volpe explained what exactly makes a good inbound marketer. According to the Hubspot CMO, we need to hire those who show DARC: Digital, analytical, reach and content. In this day and age, we need the ability to create remarkable content — but only if we’re going to measure and understand the importance of that content. Trust a well-rounded, versatile mind over a depth of knowledge in just one area.

2. Be Human. Seems simple, right? But far too often, organizations’ only measure of success is performance metrics. I don’t fully buy that “SEO is so 2009,” but I do see why there’s so much more than results alone. How will you interact with your audience and delight your customers? When we understand our buyer personas from the very beginning, we can be human – which ultimately, is what our consumers want.

So stop hiring for talent, and hire for people instead. Create a culture. Remember that relationships mean far much more than numbers do.

3. Repurpose everything. Hubspot’s favorite term is “remarkable.” But how to get there is the issue. The conference taught us to plan for what’s going to make you stand out. In the content world, repurpose your creations. Turn a blog post into a white paper. Turn an infographic into photos for Twitter. And hello – video! Google owns Youtube, my friends. Use that to your advantage and create original and shareable pieces.

4. Don’t overdo it. Guy Kawasaki, chief evangelist of Canva and former chief evangelist of Apple, emphasized how easy it is to create an effective blog post in a few simple steps:

  • Be bold. “Honestly, if you’re not pissing people off, you’re not being bold enough,” he told us.
  • What is your value? If it doesn’t entertain, inform or assist, you need more.
  • Schedule, then schedule again. “If someone sees you post the same thing twice, that’s their own social media addiction problem,” he said. It’s OK to post more than once a day, and OK to post old content. We must.


5. Inbound is all or nothing. It’s the agencies and organizations who all adopt to inbound who see the most value and success. Hubspot offers excellent integration tools to set businesses up for success. Not only can it help customer relations and gaining new business, it can help organizational structure from within. But to get there, everybody must be on board — from marketing, sales, operations, finance and beyond.

6. Hubspot’s new CRM system is no joke. Speaking of integration, Hubspot’s new system amazed me. Co-founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah announced the launch of Hubspot’s free CRM and Sidekick sales acceleration. And it’s a game changer.

The CRM connects to Gmail, Outlook and Google Apps and automatically logs emails with your contacts. It features a timeline view to help sales teams see deals, tasks and navigate opportunities in one single view. As they walked us through the process, you could hear the enthusiasm of current Hubspot users whose lives just became ten times easier.

7. Find relevance in an ADHD world. Internet users today have a 2.7—second attention span. 2.7 seconds! As content marketers, we have to work around this. Peter Shankman, an author and speaker (who fittingly suffers from ADHD) shared that although our digital world is chaotic and oversaturated, all it takes is some sincerity. We must do two things:

  • Brand everything you do. Shankman created a Youtube video that went viral and eventually received a share from Lance Armstrong, but guess what – he never gave himself credit anywhere in the video. If you have a valuable piece of content, give your brand credit. Nobody else is going to.
  •  Build rapport among existing audience. We won’t always stand out among the crowd. But we can build trust from within. Trust will break through the clutter and make us relevant.

8. Shift storytelling to story-making. David Berkowitz, CMO at MRY, gave a powerful speech about the end of storytelling. As a writer, hearing this is a punch to the gut, right? But it makes sense – when all we do is tell stories, we don’t get to a personal level with our audience.

We need to move to relationships, not one-way streets. Listen. Relate. Respond. Only then can we unlock memories and personal experiences with our brands.

9. Promote, promote, promote. This hit home for me. Chad Pollitt, co-founder of, emphasized the fact that our content has to compete with 2.73 million blog posts that go up every single day. Instead of trying to mass produce and keep up with the crowd, we actually need to step down content production.

The solution? Promotion.

“It’s an audience problem, not a content problem,” Pollitt told us. We don’t need to create more content, just focus on our reach of that content. Define personas, assess our audience, identify our influencers and the promotion will take care of itself.

10. It’s a great time to be a marketer. As a journalism grad (and someone who soon learned it may have been the wrong path), I couldn’t be more excited about my career. Inbound marketing can change the way organizations do business. We’re in the midst of a thriving industry. So cheers, fellow marketers. It’s great to be us.


What now?

Although I am Hubspot certified, I have yet to experience the true value of the platform. But after attending three days of information-packed sessions and speaking with agency members from all over the country, I can certainly understand the culture and following that Hubspot has built. After all, people have transformed the way they buy and live — so shouldn’t businesses, too?

If you attended Inbound, I’d love to hear your thoughts and takeaways! Connect with me on Twitter @KristnSullivan or with the Quinlan team @QuinlanCompany.

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