Top 5 Takeaways from INBOUND 2016

Along with 19,000 other marketers from over 90 countries across the globe, CPG was all over HubSpot’s annual conference #Inbound16 last week in Boston. Representing our team was yours truly, in my rookie outing, and our own marketing madman in his second Inbound experience, Peter Cartier. With eye opening keynotes from the likes of Gary Vaynerchuk, Anna Kendrick, Alec Baldwin and Reshma Saujani, we were also treated to a smorgasbord of practical and immediately applicable breakout sessions from some of the brightest minds in sales and marketing. For those of you that couldn’t join us, here are my top 5 marketing and sales takeaways from the experience.

1. Time to Take Bigger Bets on New Platforms

In his opening keynote, @GaryVee challenged every “mother f’er” in the audience to think bigger, take more risks, and embrace change now. With his trademark in-your-face, irreverent manner, Gary reinforced that we’re living in the greatest era of communication change since the invention of the printing press. We can be fearful and deny that new platforms are disrupting traditional business models or rewire our own processes and relevantly integrate these new tools into our solutions. Marco Polo? AfterSchool? Glympse? Candidly, I’d never heard of these apps. Have you? Just like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube have become the new ABC, CBS, and NBC, we must be open to explore these and other emerging channels. And if you’re asking your interns to figure this all out, you’re leaving yourself highly vulnerable.

2. The Trust of One Leads to the Acceptance of Many 

Mark Zuckerberg often shares that “nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a friend”. As the slide below highlights, word of mouth referrals are the most relied upon piece of information when making a B2B purchase. Throughout the conference, multiple speakers spoke about Referrals and the difference between a Referral, Recommendation (even more valuable), Introduction (even greater value), and the holy grail… Advocacy. This makes sense, right? So, why do less than 20% of marketers include client recommendations on their website or collateral materials and less than 10% of companies deploy a referral process. Clearly, we have a low cost opportunity to make a big impact.

3. Embrace Your Inner Imposter

Identified in the late 1970’s by Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, the “Imposter Phenomenon” highlights an overwhelming feeling among high achievers who often feel over-evaluated by others. Today, over 70% of business leaders and millennials (who entered the workforce at a time of significant technology change and constant comparison on social media) experience the anxiety and fear associated with “Imposter Syndrome”. Enter Anna Kendrick: Oscar nominated actress, (soon-to-be) best selling author, and social media sensation. Her key to success? She refuses to “fix” that inner imposter. She shared that the sanitized version of ourselves that we curate on social media doesn’t fool anyone. In her words, “we’re all flawed” and these flaws are what make us interesting, allow us to stand out and bring us together. Be authentic. So, continue to fake it til you make it… and have fun while you’re doing it!

4. Email isn’t Dead or Dying Anytime Soon

According to Brian Halligan, CEO of HubSpot, email is alive and well and still works as a viable communication vehicle. His main email takeaway: Less is More. In fact, Less is Much More! Consider that of the 1 billion + emails opened each month and tracked by Litmus Email Analytics, 55% of those emails are opened on a mobile device first. With that in mind, emails less than 100-125 words in length have a much greater response rate. HubSpot experts also challenged the Tuesday/Thursday late morning send mantra. Looking to step out and take a big risk? Shoot for Saturday!

5. The New B2B is B2H and the Way to Win at SEO is Through HEO

A lot of acronyms here, I know. The key letter is H which stands for Human. There was a consensus from most attending that our B2B marketing efforts and communications have become too mechanistic, stale, expected and bland. We need to be more human, more relatable and, perhaps as Anna Kendrick would say, more real as we share our stories. Similarly, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has and continues to be a favorite topic. Dharmesh Shah (Founder/CTO of HubSpot) introduced the term HEO (Human Enjoyment Optimization) and professed that through true HEO and the related happiness we deliver through our marketing, communications and related experiences, we can ultimately reach our top results objectives. While this just scratches the surface of the forward-thinking ideation and tactical applications that were shared at Inbound 2016, I’m excited with the positive direction sales and marketing continues to forge thanks to inbound methodology and smart teams working together to satisfy the numero uno in all our business lives – the customer. We’re already registered for next year’s conference. #InboundRocked #2017orbust #Seeyounextyear