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INBOUND 2018: Key Takeaways

Lynn Spooner September 18, 2018 Marketing

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A record 24,000+ people attended HubSpot’s annual INBOUND marketing conference this year at the Boston Exhibition and Convention Center. With a diverse range of speakers and thought leaders from around the globe, INBOUND 2018 did not disappoint! This must-attend event is where industry professionals come together to learn, get inspired, and grow better together.

We’re excited to share some key takeaways from INBOUND 2018 — from a design agency’s perspective — about marketing, work, and life!

1. Being a change-maker starts with giving yourself permission to imagine what a better future looks like.

Beth Comstock, former Business Innovations Vice Chair at GE and author of the book Imagine It Forward: Courage, Creativity and the Power of Change gave an inspirational keynote in which she shared her experience of being a change-maker. Her passion for innovation opened new markets for GE and led one of the world’s largest companies into the future with accelerated new growth.

Beth shared that 65% of people do not feel creatively fulfilled at work. She went on to ask the audience, “who are you waiting for to make a change in your life? Your boss? Your mother? Yoda?” She continued, “change happens when you give yourself permission to imagine a better future, and then you make it happen.”

Here are five insights we learned about being a change-maker:

Lead the way with curiosity and experimentation.

Beth’s personal experience of being a change-maker includes an impressive combination of imagination, curiosity, experimentation, persistence, and overcoming fears of failure. She encouraged us to create our own momentum around our vision by leading the way in these areas. Don’t wait for others to tell you “yes”.

Dedicate time to discovery.

Change-makers not only need to focus on what’s happening now, but they must dive head first into exploring what’s new and what’s next. We’re living in an age of emerging and sudden change and companies not innovating or adapting will get left behind.

Recognize patterns of threes.

Beth shared how her ability to recognize patterns of threes helped her to better forecast trends. Trends can be the lifeblood of change and innovation for your business. It was clear to us that Beth was not the type of person to follow the lead of other companies. When she saw a pattern of three she considered it a trend and acted on it quickly.

Nurture and empower your team’s ideas and the people who seed them.

This approach will help encourage a more innovative, forward-thinking team. If 65% of people don’t feel creatively fulfilled at work, this is the imagination gap that has a great deal of untapped potential.

Be persistent and don’t be afraid to fail.

Beth encouraged us to be persistent with making our ideas happen, but find the courage to kill ideas early on. She reminded us that we will fail. And we MUST fail. “If failure is not an option, then neither is success.”

2. Delight your customers with every interaction.

Co-founders of Hubspot shared the idea that marketers must delight the customer in order to grow companies better. Many other INBOUND speakers reinforced this same idea. It’s clear that in today’s world, developing lasting relationships with customers is the key to strong brands. A delighted customer is a loyal customer that becomes a promoter of your brand. They feel thrilled by every interaction they have with your brand. Through word-of-mouth they attract new customers to your brand. They believe your brand not only knows and understands their needs but is genuinely interested in their success and listens to their feedback.

Here are four insights we learned about delighting customers:

Provide a remarkable customer experience.

Giving your customers a brand experience that focuses on their specific needs, interests, goals, and desires will leave them so satisfied that they can’t help but go out and sing praises of your brand. Brian Halligan, CEO & Co-Founder of Hubspot, says that if you design your business around delighting the customer, the business will grow better. Your advertisements, return policy, delivery method, product quality — all of it should aim to ultimately delight the customer.

Eliminate friction in the customer experience.

Brian Halligan also explained that in the B2B purchase process, we are moving away from an era that has so many interactions and steps in the process that create unwanted friction for consumers. Friction in the purchase process causes customers to lose momentum. Consumers today want a lighter, low-friction experience. If the old high-friction model is considered to be full-service, 9 to 5, and a buy-first approach, then the new low-friction model is self-serve, 24/7, and a try-first approach. “You don’t need to make your product 10x better, you need to make your experience 10x lighter,” says Dharmesh Shah of Hubspot.

Earn your customer’s attention–don’t steal it.

Dharmesh Shah of Hubspot stated that after people receive an unsolicited or unwanted outreach by a brand, 85% have a lower opinion of the brand. Giving consumers something of value before you take something they value (their time) makes the customer feel as though you’ve rightfully earned their attention. A big part of delighting customers today is speaking to them precisely when, where, and how they want to be spoken to as well as treating them like a person, not a brand persona.

Customers trust other customers.

Word-of-mouth about your brand is more powerful than ever. You can build more trust in a brand from featuring customer testimonials, case studies, and video interviews than you ever could get from marketing blog posts or emails. When it comes to influencing potential customers, nothing will ever be as trusted, motivating, or influential as what your current customers say. Happy customers are a marketer’s secret weapon for growth.

3. Leverage video marketing.

Video marketing was a big topic we heard about from many speakers at INBOUND. According to Cisco’s annual VNI report, video will represent 80% of all Internet traffic by 2021. There will be nearly 1.9 billion Internet video users by 2021. They’ll be watching 3 trillion minutes of video per month. The same study revealed that live video streamed in real time will grow 15-fold by 2021. So with an increasing emphasis placed on video by the major online platforms, modern consumers are using video to connect with brands and brands are utilizing video as a powerful storytelling tool.

Here are four insights we learned about leveraging the power of video marketing:

Create Better Targeted Videos.

With so much video content flooding consumers, it is more important than ever for marketers to focus. They should focus on the specific audience segments that matter most to their brand. Start your video content creation by thinking about exactly who your target viewers are. Think about where, when and how they can be reached, and what type of video will resonate and engage them the most.

Customize Videos for Specific Channels.

People engage with video differently on each social channel. This means taking a video and blasting it across all channels might not be the most successful approach. For example, YouTube videos engage audiences who are searching for very specific information that they will typically watch with sound. For this channel you will want to focus on videos that address the most commonly searched topics for your industry (answerthepublic.com is a great resource for this!). On Facebook, videos are typically viewed while scrolling quickly on a mobile device and are watched without sound. Videos on this channel should be kept shorter. They should have visuals with clear explanations, subtitles, and text, assuming the viewer will most likely watch with the sound off.

Explore VR and AR Engagement.

Virtual and augmented reality traffic will increase 20-fold by 2021. In fact, with technologies like 360-degree video and VR headsets, video marketing can be brought to a whole new level. Customers are eager to engage in this way with their favorite brands.

Invest in Video.

We have already seen brands and their agencies smartly investing in the video tools they need. They are training their employees how to create videos efficiently and effectively. Many are also testing the benefits of things like utilizing video template resources. Or exploring outsourcing video creation to specialized video media companies and video influencers. And, of course, they are acquiring new talent with video skills. In one session by Antoine Dupot, President and CEO of Katapult Marketing, we learned “8 Simple Techniques to Grow Your Business with Video Marketing“. He also outlined what a starter package vs. pro package might look like in terms of video equipment and costs.

4. Be passionate about what you stand for in an intentional and authentic way.

Wow, there were so many powerful speakers at INBOUND ’18 who passionately inspired us in a BIG WAY, beyond just marketing tips! Topics about innovation, being a successful entrepreneur, leadership, making a difference in the world with your skills, and being more intentional in creating a BETTER version of yourself and your business.

Below are the links to the free videos of the keynote speeches. These left us feeling inspired on a whole new level. You don’t want to miss watching these!

Deepak Chopra, Best-Selling Author & Founder, Chopra Foundation

Chimamanga Ngozi Adichie, Award Winning Novelist & Writer

Scott Harrison, Founder & CEO, charity: water

Alex Rodriguez, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, A-Rod Corp

Troy Carter, Global Head of Creator Services, Spotify & CEO, Atom Factory

Brian Halligan & Dharmesh Shah, Co-Founders, Hubspot

Additional speakers we loved:

Shonda Rhimes, Award Winning Writer, Executive Producer & Best Selling Author

Julie Rice, Co-Founder, Soulcycle & Chief Brand Officer, WeWork

Lena Waithe, Emmy Award Winning Writer, Producer, and Actress

Beth Comstock, Former Vice Chair, GE

In conclusion, these takeaways and insights are just the tip of the iceberg from our experience at INBOUND ’18. We’re always eager to step up our game. Hearing from industry thought leaders is a great way for us to keep moving forward. We look forward to what INBOUND 2019 has in store!



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