Last week, 10 Salted Stone team members braved the mosquitos and New England humidity for HubSpot's 2018 INBOUND conference in Boston, Massachusetts.
We ate, drank (big shoutout to the East Coast microbrewery scene!), pretended to be cool when Shonda Rhimes came on stage, cheered for our very own Tony Eades during the #AgencyUnfiltered panel session, and met up with some incredible marketing leaders, business owners, and technology partners. Sure, it all sounds like fun and games, but after Influencer Marketing Specialist Paige Sander took her 2,000th photo of the "Boston Tea Party" re-enactment, we got down to business and wound up learning quite a lot.
Below, you'll find a few of our takeaways, aggregated over 4 days of expert-led discussions and keynote addresses. These are largely predicated around two central themes that emerged throughout the week:
becoming a more human-centric marketer, and delivering a frictionless/seamless customer journey.
Show up. "Today's marketers and sales folks have so many tools, products, and platforms that allow us to connect with site visitors, leads, and our target personas. But, that doesn't mean we're all 'showing up' after the initial touchpoint.
Frankly, if a sales and marketing behemoth like HubSpot can manage to miss out on 40% of introductory sales calls in Q1 simply because it 'failed to identify the right representative', then maybe we all need to check-in on our omni-channel communications, the events they trigger, and our processes for moving the lead forward. This means responding quickly, of course, but it also means that while we're rolling out our bots or setting up review site profiles, we must also be rolling out our follow-up plans, identifying Directly Responsible Individuals (DRIs) and formulating a universally agreed-upon timeline for response."
Become feedback obsessed. "Identifying friction points across your entire customer experience is not an easy task. Developing an approach to help diagnose and eliminate those issues which cause resistance is, arguably, even harder. Still, we must pay attention to them. Word-of-mouth is, and always has been, the best form of advertising there is.
Solve consumer anxieties - don't create new ones. "When the CEO of Cora (a mission-driven feminine hygiene brand that has experienced 500% YOY growth!) candidly shared best practices for sustainable scaling, nearly all of them came back to one central tenant: you should be innovating constantly for your customers and making their lives easier. She recommended that marketers avoid the encouragement of Compensatory Consumer Behavior. Or, a mode of consumption that serves "as a reaction to, and as an attempt to make up for, a general lack of esteem or self-actualization." Start by highlighting the purpose of your brand's existence, be open about and work to earn trust."
Do good. "I've seen so many organizations rally around community-centric, philanthropic events and activities. Most importantly, this does wonders for company culture and provides meaningful ways to impact local change. But it also makes business sense. There's no denying that the days of garnering positive press for your brand or organization by 'pitching to journalists' alone is totally over. If you do awesome things for the sake of doing them, it will increase your chances of attracting media attention and good will."
Be yourself. "I attended a session about 'Authenticity-Based Marketing', which encourages the expression of courage and empathy through business communications and processes. It's so simple, and it's so true... we need to get past the 'best practice' hype and shiny, new tools and just focus on being authentic. Proactively, this means being up-front about your processes, being honest about your strengths, and being clear on what a best-fit customer actually looks like. Retroactively, it means thinking outside of the standard business box: 'maybe sending 20 handwritten notes is more effective than sending 500 emails'!"
Respect your reader's time. "There was a lot of talk about content "remixing" and recycling this year. At face value, these conversations didn't necessarily tell us anything new. They did tell us something important, though: most brands really need to slow the heck down on high-volume content production. There's so much noise out there that doesn't serve the consumer's need, desires, or professional development/education.
SaaS Content Creator Brittany Berger recommends updating old blog posts (polish & republish), creating email sequences and social fodder from old content, and turning old content into video, slides, and other shareable non-text based formats. Marketers can (and should!) give themselves permission to focus on honing and refining the content they already have. Make it timely, make it meaningful, and make sure it speaks to the person who's reading what you're writing. Basically: do the human thing, and don't waste anyone's time."
Alright, enough business talk! Now, enjoy some squinting Salties, and keep sharing your favorite #INBOUND18 takeaways and memories.