Bell Curve

Lessons from Inbound13: Extreme Creativity, Performance Enhancing Technologies and Selling Inbound Marketing

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Inbound13 conference in Boston, MA sponsored by HubSpot.  Hubspot is the creator of an inbound marketing platform that turns marketing into a science for business success.  Ideas from this conference are still spilling out of my ears… so before they fall on the floor and disappear, here are some of my biggest takeaways.

Extreme Creativity

Bell CurveKeynoters Seth Godin and Arianna Huffington both advocated that we allow our soul’s true purpose to arise – and that this is where we’ll find success.   Even though many companies are still locked into an old mode of marketing, it  is no longer helpful to provide mass marketing to the average audience.    Why not?  As Seth Godin pointed out, the normal bell-curve that marketers used to create their offerings is melting – and the most successful companies are catering to the edges of the curve.    Whether its hipsters searching for cool apparel at,  new generation crafts lovers shopping at or  conservative political zealots fighting to stop Obamacare, there is a company for that.

Godin also talked about how humans are natural connectors.  He got all five thousand people to prove his point by synchronizing our clapping, in the dark, just by reading his 1 sentence PowerPoint slide (it read “Please clap  your hands, slowly, in unison until I say ‘Stop’“).  “Stop! Eight seconds! Not bad.“, Seth quipped.

He went on to outline the six elements of good connecting, emphasizing that it takes real work.  “There are no shortcuts!“, he admonished.   Seth Godin’s six elements of connecting are:

1) Coordination

2) Trust

3) Permission

4) Exchange of Ideas

5) Generosity

6) Art – “Art is the work of a human doing something personal and real that might not work.”

It seems this last point is the one Seth really believes and invests in.  As he pointed out, “Competence is no longer a scarce commodity. .. If you can write it down, someone can be found to do it cheaper.

Performance Enhancing Technology: The Nap

Arianna Huffington gave an inspiring talk that encouraged us to live our lives as if everything is rigged in our favor… a quote from Rumi (the 13th century Sufi Poet).  As with Seth and his emphasis on Art, Arianna advocated the start of her talk to “Manage FOR creativity.”   She is a master communicator when it comes to unleashing that part of each of us that radiates creativity.  The key, Arianna shares, is to “reconnect with your own energy.”   We are all living in a time famine – and we value time more than money.

Arianna spent half of her talk discussing the benefits of naps as performance enhancing technology – and encouraging us to “sleep our way to the top“. As a napper, I was happy to hear this!

And there is an App for that!  She encouraged us to check out her site’s section called GPS for the Soul.  Filled with tips on sleeping, finding serenity and mastering work-life balance, this is clearly a passion for Arianna.  An application for iPhones has been developed to help us de-stress.  The video describing the iPhone App GPS for the Soul is here.

Near the end of her talk, Arianna shared this call to action, “Failure is a stepping stone to success.  If you aren’t willing to fail, then you aren’t willing to succeed.

Then, in a challenge to each of us,  she invited everyone in the audience to submit their writings the the Huffington Post and provided her personal email to connect.  I was inspired and dropped her a line with an idea for a post.  Low and behold, I received a warm thank you note with instructions on how to continue from Arianna herself.  I’m always impressed when celebrities are willing to connect with the public so directly.  My personal post is in the works.

Selling Inbound Marketing.  In a word: don’t

Of course, as a principal in a digital marketing agency, I wanted to learn how best to sell Inbound Marketing Services. I attended  at least four sessions that spoke to this topic.   The message I received was loud and clear.  We are not selling services.  We are not selling inbound.  We are not selling HubSpot.  We are selling results.   All of the presenters advocated NOT leading with the technology – but rather seeking to qualify the pain points of the prospect first.   As it turns out, many prospective clients are not great fits for Inbound Marketing.  Our job as a Certified Philly Marketing Labs is a Hubspot Certified PartnerAgency partner should be to help companies understand if they are a fit – and, if so, how they can best move their business forward with Inbound Marketing.

This is good news for clients and agencies alike.  It gets everyone on the same page.  This approach forces the tough conversations about really being committed to success from the beginning of the relationship.  The discovery process is multi-faceted, but it comes down to examining whether  a prospective company is willing and able  to devote the necessary resources to being successful.

I’d love to hear your reactions in the comments – or from other Inbound Marketers who have insights from or about Inbound13.  Looking forward to Inbound14… I hear they are considering Hawaii!

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