After getting back from a great three days at Hubspot’s #INBOUND16 conference, I took some time sift through my notes, tweets, and conversations and reflect on the biggest takeaways. I probably could have come up with a list of 20 or 30 items, but I wanted to combine some of the biggest and most important themes that really resonated with me and that I plan to work on the rest of this year and throughout 2017. So, here’s the list:
Focus on your customers and making them successful. As Christopher Penn, VP, Marketing Technology, Shift Communications said, ‘In the old days you had the funnel but that’s not how people buy. Funnels are for marketers at the customer’s expense.’ There were a lot of sessions that focused on the shift of buying power from the marketing funnel to the customer journey. Organizations know that it’s cheaper to retain a customer than to keep acquiring new ones, so the point was really driven home as Brian Halligan, Co-founder and CEO of Hubspot, said in his keynote, ‘the most potent marketing channel isn’t marketers or salespeople, it’s existing customers providing referrals.’
Take a step back from outbound marketing. Brian Halligan boldly stated that cold calling is dead. Other sessions claimed that all cold outbound emails should be called spam. However, keep in mind this was a conference called ‘#INBOUND16’ so please don’t go scrapping all outbound efforts. The main takeaway I got was buyers are not as receptive to cold outbound outreach anymore (which is not shocking) and outbound efforts are more effective when done in combination with inbound marketing. Marketing and sales should really be aligned and doing any outreach efforts in tandem. One tip, if you’re going to send cold emails, is to make them relevant to the prospect (do your research), hit on the pain points of their persona and talk about problems first and solution second. And don’t get so personal that it’s creepy…there’s no need to let your prospect know you’ve been stalking them on every social media outlet for the last month to find out their likes and dislikes.
Get your strategy (a real strategy) in place. One theme that seemed to permeate in all the sessions I attended was the importance of having a strategy – whether that’s a business strategy, a sales strategy, a customer success or a product strategy. You’re probably sitting there thinking as you’re reading this ‘of course I have a strategy,’ but can you map the strategy to your overall business goals? If not, you don’t have a measurable strategy. Creating a webinar, writing a blog, or putting out a newsletter isn’t a strategy. They are tactics. Strategy is the hard work people don’t want to do, but successful people and organizations should be focused 50% on strategy and 50% on tactics.
Build sustainable growth. I really enjoyed Kyle Lacy’s, VP of Marketing, OpenView Venture Partners, approach to the growth process. He gave a list of the 4 P’s to building sustainable growth which include the below items:
- People: Hire for aptitude, attitude and agility and make sure your team is organized to win in a digital environment.
- Persona: Understand your customer and know their behaviors, motivations, goals and demographics. Jen Spencer, VP of Sales and Marketing, Allbound, gave a great presentation where she discussed how her company lives and breathes buyer personas and evangelizes these in everything they do. It creates a common language for everyone to use and ensures all content, sales efforts and development work is focused on the most important thing: the customer!
- Programs: Build a team that can successfully operate and optimize for product, pricing, promotion and channels. Instead of content marketing focusing on thought leadership that is about you, make it about your customer. Again, everything should be customer focused.
- Performance: Put the systems in place to track and evolve so you can efficiently manage all the data because better goal tracking leads to better results across the entire organization.
If you have some time, I really recommend checking out Kyle’s slides that he shared.
Start edgecrafting. I love the word ‘edgecrafting’ that I heard from Eric Keiles, Founder and CMO, Square 2 Marketing. Edgecrafting means that you need to look for the edge in what your company is doing, where the interesting things are happening, and market the heck out of that thing. There were many speakers who talked about this topic in different ways. If you aren’t saying something different than your competitors, reaching prospects in a unique and engaging way, and giving people a way to remember you then you’re probably not going to make it. The bottom line is to be thought leaders in what makes you different and don’t forget to be bold about it.
Feel free to comment below and add your takeaways from #INBOUND16.