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34 key things we learnt at INBOUND 19 in Boston

Written by Jack Cribb

18 | 09 | 19

INBOUND19  |  
15 minute read

Boston; home of the American Revolution, the Boston Red Sox and for a short period of time, a whole bunch of Inbound Marketers. That’s right. In early September, the capital of Massachusetts opened its proverbial doors for INBOUND 2019 which, in case you don’t know much about it, is a huge event entertaining key speakers and big thinkers from the business world and the super-curious practitioners of the inbound methodology.

INBOUND 19

I asked Rikki, Mark, Sammie, Andrew, Mayzin, Tom, Amy and Caroline to spill the beans on the most important things they learned, their favourite moments and any information that blew their minds.

The Five Cs Model

INBOUND 19 introduced Amy and Andrew to the Five Cs Model by Dylan Selberg. So naturally, we had to ask them about it:

Amy: 

The Five Cs Model is something I had never heard of before going to INBOUND. The aim is to look at each problem through all of these lenses: Climate, Company, Competitors, Collaborators and Customers. For me, this made so much sense but I'd never thought of it before. I’ll definitely view any problems through this lens in the future.

Andrew: 

I’d like to start implementing the '5 Cs' framework the HubSpot Product team use for their product work - but for our marketing campaigns!

Improving relationships

A big theme the Digital 22 team took away from INBOUND 19 was about improving relationships both internally and externally. Here’s what the guys had to say:

Sammie:

Teamwork and building relationships with your team is important! As well as allowing yourself to evolve as a colleague, manager, leader and that it’s OK that you don’t always get things right. It’s really important to connect with your audience, be authentic and have the human-to-human connection, rather than the customer and ‘business’ keyboard.

Amy: 

I think the most important thing I took away from INBOUND was "Your customers are not your colleagues.” This talk was from Margo Aaron. I write lots of emails across a range of clients so for me, this was key as I get bogged down trying to write an email the client will like, not what their audience base will like. 

We have to start speaking the reader's language and make inside jokes about their pain points to show that you’re on their level. I’ve already started implementing this into my day-to-day work so I'm excited to see the results.

Tom: 

Another thing to think about is the magic of proximity, something I took away from ‘Turning Fans into Customers and Customers Into Fans’ talk by David Meerman Scott. How if you take the steps to get a closer relationship with one another, you can create a powerful shared emotion. 

Try to use this more with clients by either working closely with them and visiting the office more often, as well as bringing other parts of the team into projects to create this shared emotion.

Mayzin: 

Denise Jacobs ran a great workshop on how to create better ideas together. She told us that rather than saying ‘yes but,’ you should say ‘yes and.’ It’s much more collaborative and positive to work with the ideas you have rather than shoot down someone else’s idea completely. 

Because who knows - that idea might actually have been better than yours!

Utilising new technology

The inbound methodology relies on innovative technology, so keeping up with trends and developments helps us stay on track. At INBOUND 19, Caroline and Andrew experienced some great talks concerning how we use technology to aid our clients:

Caroline: 

One great talk I went to was from George Thomas. It had some great ideas on implementing video into the sales process.  He provided 14 top tips on how to implement this type of strategy. It’s definitely something that I need to start doing more of.

Andrew: 

I hate to use the AI buzzword, but some of the new tools around content ideation and report formulation seem absolutely amazing. Paul Roetzer's talk on building an AI content hub was brilliant and gave me a tonne of new tools and software to look into!

Favourite moments from INBOUND 19

We asked the guys what their favourite moments were from the whole of INBOUND 19:

Mark:

Professionally? All of it - we had a fab team who all connected and made every part of the trip perfect. Unprofessionally? The Grand (the nightclub on the last night).

Sammie:

There are so many. I loved getting to know my work colleagues, the sunshine in Boston (as it was predicted rain for most of our stay), the food, the energy and vibe at Inbound, that everyone was so hungry to learn and so enthusiastic with it. 

The only thing that was missing… tequila shots.

Tom: 

Definitely the first evening at INBOUND 19. You could see the size and the popularity of HubSpot with thousands of other people doing the same as you. The whole group was giddy, excited and ready for the week. Beers and canapes helped!

Andrew: 

The learning itself was great. I particularly enjoyed Alexis Ohanian's opening keynote - even with all the jet lag. Also, I can't get away from how good the food was this year! Sweet Cheeks was incredible.

Amy: 

I have so many favourite moments from the trip but I think by far my best moment was from the last night. Sneaking around the house putting food on Andrew's face. I've never laughed so much in my life! 

But just going down the escalators and seeing the venue for the first time really was something else. It took my breath away.

Mayzin: 

Yes! Andrew falling asleep and us putting food on his face. He’ll kill me if I share any pics to the web though… Also, the learnings were fabulous. Can't wait to implement them. And the food was amazing too. The pancakes we had for breakfast at Mul's Diner and Burger King's breakfast OMG!

Rikki:

Apart from the talks (which were all great this year), my favourite parts of the trip were Sweet Cheeks (great BBQ food), The Grand (brilliant DJ) and Andrew falling asleep with people messing with his face (sorry Andrew).

Caroline: 

Hypergrowth was amazing! The day had it all from beatboxing to the entire Drift workforce high-fiving at the entrance. Plus, some amazing talks from professional rock climber Alex Honnold and Ryan Deiss. 

Another was from my favourite Billy Gene who had everything in his talk; humour, audience participation and the main message of how everyone needs to get on video as that’s the best means to attract with your audience.

New ideas and surprises

Here are a few of the new ideas from INBOUND 19 that blew the team’s minds:

Mark:

My favourite and the most important talk was by Micheal Litt - the Vidyard CEO regarding the mistakes they've made on their growth journey. I came back with loads of ideas to take our business to the next level.

Also, yeah... apparently public speaking is the population's number one fear after the fear of dying at number two!

Sammie: 

I learnt that story is everywhere. So many times when it comes to social and content writing and curation, you get writer's block and sometimes the key is taking it right back to basics. What is your story? How did your story evolve? What are the foundations of your story? And how can this resonate/connect with your audience?

Rikki:

I got a very in-depth revenue-building model from Mark Roberge from Harvard. Lots of KPIs and processes involved which I love. The thing that blew my mind the most was the Facebook organic reach stats. I knew it had been dropping and was in a bad place but to see it is as low as 0.5% was a shock. 

I also can’t wait to start an ABM campaign for our agency. I went to a talk on Sigstr about how they got started with this and it was less complex than I expected. I can't wait to give it a go.

Mayzin: 

The flywheel is apparently not a flywheel anymore! According to Ashley Faus who did a fantastic talk on the new rules of content strategy, it’s a playground. 

So, just like kids in a park who don’t necessarily go from the swing to the slide to the seesaw in that order, buyers can also go from a particular buyer’s stage to another stage in any order. It doesn’t have to be from Awareness > Consideration > Decision. It could be Awareness > Decision > Consideration and back again.

Caroline: 

Messaging is critical and it’s vital that your homepage really reflects who you are. Often is the case that messaging gets lost and by doing so, you reject potential customers.  Always work to the five-second rule. 

If people can’t fully understand what you do within those five seconds, they’ll switch off and look elsewhere.

Tom: 

Go out of your comfort zone and take the risk. All of these successful people doing the talks had taken something and made it their own. They motivated me to push myself more into my role and to become a thought leader to start the conversation. 

Seeking discomfort is key to growing.

Andrew: 

A couple of the talks I went to really made me challenge some of the thinking around fundamental inbound milestones such as personas. As technology improves and on-site experiences become ever more personalised, we need to think as much as possible about the individual and the 1-1 experience they will have with our organisation. It’s not necessarily a set list of shared persona statements/values we are working with.

Top tips for attending INBOUND

Here are a few ideas for anyone curious about attending an INBOUND event in the future:

Tom:

Go to talks which you wouldn't usually know a lot about or isn’t your area of interest. (It seemed the talk I was looking forward to the most was the least motivating). Use your laptop to take notes and take pictures of bigger slides makes it easier to share and less time as you don't need to type up your notes after. 

Finally, don’t go for your dinner during the lunch rush! I went at 2pm and hardly had to queue so I didn't miss a talk!

Mark:

Sleeping is cheating. Quick two-minute power naps whenever possible throughout the day.

Rikki:

Book your sessions, don't queue as you’re unlikely to get in popular talks. Also, make sure you fully read the talk description and not just the title as they can differ quite a lot!

Andrew: 

Don't focus TOO heavily on purely tactical talks even though you will be tempted. Go to some inspirational talks too - they aren't too cheesy most of the time!

Amy: 

Have fun! You’re there to learn, but enjoy it as the talks are really good and inspiring. I would advise mixing them up - I did very few email marketing-based talks and I wish I had booked on some different ones to break those up.

Caroline: 

Catch up on sleep beforehand as you never stop.  Go to sessions that you wouldn't necessarily pick as these are often the best. Wear comfortable, flat shoes as you walk for miles and miles. Nothing can prepare you for the scale of the conference.

Sammie:

Be open to learning, take everything in and absorb the atmosphere. Make connections. Comfortable shoes, stay hydrated and take snacks...and don’t fall asleep around your work colleagues.

Mayzin: 

Be aware that some talks sound amazing but the actual content was strange. However, you’ll find some gems in there. Bring comfy shoes. Don’t fall asleep because you will get food and/or pen on your face!

Inbound marketing, done by experts

There’s a treasure trove of information to absorb from INBOUND 19. Attending INBOUND helps us to apply this knowledge and create successful campaigns for our clients and it's also what makes us experts in all things HubSpot.

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