Sunday, August 25, 2013

Inbound Marketing Conference: Conclusions

My experience: [Travel and Day 1] [Day 2] [Day 3] [Day 4] [Conclusions]

On my first day in Boston (travel and day 1), I wrote about a few goals I set for myself in attending this conference. They were:

1) Learn what I don't know
2) Take home three actionable items (by the end of the week)
3) Figure out who to follow for continued education
4) Photograph the experience and showcase my time in Boston

Great success! I have achieved each of my goals. In a nutshell, having these goals helped me to focus. If you let yourself, you can get dragged every which way, swirling with no rudder in an endless eddy of marketing STUFF.

I realized I didn't know very much about inbound marketing - and how it differs from "traditional" or outbound marketing. The conference had some humor which served as great education as well:

Learning a bit about the differences helped me to determine where I can focus moving forward in my education journey - specifically in what I could apply to my industry, as I work in a non-profit chamber of commerce in a relatively small market.

My to-do list actually ended up being 9 items that I can start moving in the next week. Three stand out as something I can implement almost immediately that will start things in the right direction:

  1. Create a series of blog posts/FAQ page for sales to use as a resource and for potential members to find on their own.
  2. Place all Govt. Affairs content on the website/blog and NOT in an email! Just email links with bullet points and an invitation to JOIN the cause.
  3. Brainstorming session to determine "personas" among the membership, then a survey to the entire membership with an incentive to respond (giveaway, big time sponsorship, etc)

Figuring out who to follow to continue my education in inbound marketing was pretty simple. Just look to the speakers of the conference! I will definitely be following Seth Godin more closely as we move forward - and I've discovered a stream of Arianna Huffington's posts and her Google+, where she posts things that resonate with her. These resources will help me keep tabs on some of the issues that BIG organizations are looking at. She spoke a bit during her keynote about Burnout being the disease of our civilization, which really resonated with me.

As far as photographs go, I've placed my collection of images on my Google + Page.

My overall recommendation: If you do marketing, go to this conference. Hubspot runs a great event. You will learn a lot. You will have things you can apply to your business, no matter your industry or profession.

If the $1500 price tag is too high for you (I work at a non-profit with no budget for these kinds of things), they have a program called "Hustle" which allows you to get your ticket for free if you can convince a few other people to pay full price for theirs. I even went so far as to stay with a friend in Boston so I didn't have to pay the $200/night for a hotel room either. My total expendature, including airfare, food, public transportation, was less than $500. Well worth every penny, even if I had to pay it out of my own pocket (which I thankfully didn't).

I am looking forward to next year!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Inbound 2013 Marketing Conference: Day 4

My experience: [Travel and Day 1] [Day 2] [Day 3] [Day 4] [Conclusions]

Today was the final day of Inbound 2013.
Lectures started a little later, because last night was "inbound rocks," a concert that I did not attend. As an introvert and someone who generally doesn't care about live music - I don't feel like I missed out on very much. I did NOT hear everyone today talking about how amazing and life-changing it was, so I'm going to stick to my story.

Today's opening keynote was not my cup of tea. For all I know, Nate Silva is an excellent speaker and a really smart guy, but his talk did not resonate me, did not inspire me, and I'm not sure I learned anything from it as a result.

That's OK. The rest of the day followed very much in the vein of inspiration and focus as the previous days. No need to go into a lot of detail there - more of the same excellent content from good speakers.

The one thing that really was big was the final keynote of the conference, given by Scott of charity: water.

His presentation was highly emotional, involving, exceedingly well executed and just great in every way. I am not only looking for ways to involve myself personally in charity: water, but I am working on a few ideas to bring the entire community of Flagstaff, specifically the small businesses, into working together on it as well.

No idea what I'm talking about? Watch this:

We saw some really good videos for charity: water this week. I'm having a hard time finding those videos on their YouTube Channel right now - but I'll be posting more about this in the future.

Here are my final photos from the conference. Nothing particularly special to see here, just a few loose ends I tried to tie up.

Lunch was fairly informal. Many people ate sitting on the ground in groups of 2-4. Some took their lunches into the auditorium, which had actual sets (no tables) and there was typically the end of some kind of presentation going on while most people were getting started on lunch.

Hubspot staff was amazing throughout the whole event. They had help desks on every floor with 2+ employees available to help at all times. They had someone stationed at each escalator as well. Very well done. 

Scott and one of my favorite slides of his. On the left, is some seriously bad water. On the right is what you and I take for granted every day when we turn on the tap.

I am really looking forward to next year!

Overall: this was 100% worth it. I heartily recommend that anyone serious about learning marketing (the right way) come to one of these. Hubspot has a program called "Hustle," which allows you to get your ticket for FREE if you can convince 5 other people to pay full price. 

I will do a followup post as well in a few days once I've had time to digest everything and determine what my goals will be moving forward: how will I apply what I've learned to my company and my life?

Also - Hubspot will be loading videos of the presentations and keynotes. I'll be sure to include a few of those that I found most relevant/inspiring. First, and most importantly, is Arianna Huffington's keynote.

It's nearly 50 minutes long - so give yourself some time to consume it, then some time to digest it.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Inbound 2013 Marketing Conference: Day 3

My experience: [Travel and Day 1] [Day 2] [Day 3] [Day 4] [Conclusions]
(need to catch up? here is DAY 1 and DAY 2 of my experience at Inbound 2013)
Another amazing day today! I managed to wiggle my way into sessions by even better speakers than yesterday, with much more relevant material to me and OMG it made a huge difference.

Time flew by! From one session to the next I barely had time to take notes, tweet a few things, shoot a couple pictures and I was already on my way to the next one. Tearing myself away for an hour lunch break (something I use to help digest the information from the morning and prepare for the afternoon) was much more difficult than usual.

Today's keynote was by Arianna Huffington. The Founder, President and Editor in Chief of the Huffington Post. Talk about heavy hitter! Despite her accent and her claim that it has helped her win business negotiations because the other side simply can't understand what she's saying - her talk was extremely well thought out and delivered. Easily my favorite session so far, not just for the content but for the humble, confident aura she gives off that makes it seems like she is just chatting with you one-on-one.

If you ever get the chance to hear her speak - do it. No questions asked. Just do it.

The theme of today was inspiration. I chose talks that offered me a chance to look at things from a different point of view than usual. These presentations served to inspire me to try new things, to re-think my current activities where needed in both my personal and work lives.

For instance: three of the presentations today discussed the value of the individual employee and how ensuring their happiness is the first step to ensuring your customer happiness. It seems like this is a theme throughout the whole conference. Employees come first. From the nap rooms at the Huffington Post to unlimited vacation to transparency and open communication, these values really struck me as the future of "work."

The small city of Flagstaff is about 10 years behind the times with technology, marketing, and social media. I *really* hope we pick up some of this stuff BEFORE 10 years is up; it may mean the difference between retaining Millenials in our community and watching them disappear to organizations that "get it."

In my personal life, I was inspired today to continue practicing two things that I have been working in or dabbling in for the last several years. My love of photography and (to a lesser extent) writing are why this blog exists. If I am to continue learning and growing in those fields, I need to continue practicing both. I'm planning to participate in NaNoWriMo this year - as an effort to complete a life-goal of mine to write a book. I am also casting around for a way to continue taking photographs that are meaningful to me personally.

The speakers today were a bit more spunky than the crowd I listened to yesterday.
@RedHeadWriting being profane

Lots more profanity, but a lot more genuine as well. They seemed less interested in selling me something, or selling me on themselves, and more interested in helping me (and everyone else around them) grow into the best person they can be. Not just the best marketer, but the best overall person. After all, people do business with people.

With a focus on people (or humans, as Dharmesh chose to call us) - Inbound 2013 is really about so much more than marketing or sales or social media or lead generation or networking. It's about freeing yourself from the constraints of "regular" marketing or "regular" business and instead interaction with PEOPLE as yourself. It seems the thought leaders at this conference (and I'm guessing others as well) believe that the future of business lies less in technology and more in simply being honest, open, transparent and generally a good person.

Arianna Huffington's keynote really resonated with the entire crowd.

Did I mention there are over 5,000 people at this conference?

Erika Napoletano being less profane

Lines for excellent speakers (and bestselling authors, of which there are 17 at this event) are typically long. Showing up early is the key unless you're willing to sit on the floor - which happens a lot to me.

"Club Inbound" had a live DJ tonight. He works for Hubspot in the IT department.

The charity: water "water walk" developed into a bit of a competition tonight...

Hubspot CEO David Halligan wandered through and chatted with the participants. Really cool to see him. Highly amusing to watch him take ONE step and be accosted by another person with their business card in hand, personal pitch ready to go. Seems a little "outbound" to me...

I put my camera away after "Happy Hour" was done with and headed to have dinner. Because I am staying with a friend who lives 2 hours from Boston (conference-going on a non-profit budget) and because I'm not a big fan of One Republic, the band playing tonight, I bailed after dinner and was home by 9:30.

Tomorrow is the last day of the conference. I'm excited to grab a few more inspiring nuggets and start preparing my recommendations for the office back in Flagstaff. That will probably take me a while, with all my notes and tweets and such to sift through... now that I think about it, it's fairly daunting.

I will have a blog post tomorrow detailing the final day, as well as a followup post about my report for the office and the after-event stuff that goes into ensuring all this knowledge actually gets *used* and applied by the right people.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Inbound 2013 Marketing Conference: Day 2

My experience: [Travel and Day 1] [Day 2] [Day 3] [Day 4] [Conclusions]
Wow! What a day!

So far, it's been a 17 hour day for me - and I'm still going, though a little more slowly than I was earlier.

Today was the start of real classes/lectures/talks/keynotes and the first day that most of the 5,300 registrants showed up in the building.
We heard from a number of excellent speakers, as well as a number of people who had a difficult time getting their message across.
Perhaps I am just picky - but in chatting with a few people over drinks and appetizers during happy hour downtown, it seems the consensus is that some of the speakers just are not used to public speaking.
It isn't so much that their content sucks - it probably doesn't - but that their delivery somehow jumbles up the message in a way that makes it difficult for the audience to "get it."

I sat in on 7 lectures today, from the keynote by Seth Godin to non-profit marketing to how advertising will save the world to the annual product announcement keynote by the Hubspot cofounders.
Three of those talks were inspiring, informative, and everything I had ever hoped for.
The rest left me either confused, nonplussed, bored, or some combination of the above.

Seth Godin is great. A dynamic speaker, he managed to touch on themes from nearly all of his books without once sounding like a sales pitch or an author. He simply came across as an expert - and rightly so.

 We heard from charity: water as well - they took the opportunity to launch their big marketing campaign for the year today. More info about this year's big charity: water project here.

A lot of the topics I heard from today are designed to get people thinking about WHY they need to give up the old ways of "traditional" or "outbound" marketing, in favor of the new "inbound" marketing. We spent a lot of time learning about transparency (it's coming for you, so you might as well embrace it), as well as the strategy behind content and context marketing, mostly in the long term.

The talk I took the most notes from was from Hubspot's very own Mark Kilens. He talked about the "Pillars of Delight" and focused on how "customer satisfaction" isn't good enough anymore. We need to go way beyond satisfaction to create long term relationships with our clients. We need to delight them in such a way that they become our biggest (and thus most valuable) assets.
He talked about how your clients should be your best sales people. He also touched on a topic that is very important to me personally - and one that Seth Godin is always talking about: Employees come first.
Delighted, empowered, happy employees will go above and beyond for every customer because they truly believe in what the company is about. They believe not only in the product/service, but in the WHY that motivates the company as a whole and the WHY behind each product/service.

I see a lot of organizations in Flagstaff that get away with treating their employees like crap because they have a readily available source of cogs they can plug into the machine of their company.
Low skill jobs = low level of investment in employee = high turnover.
This message came across loud and clear from multiple speakers today: Focus on your employees.

Some resources I will be looking into soon:
the book "Start With Why"
the movie "The Naked Brand"
of course, the Hubspot platform and the tools that come with it.

Time for bed! Up and at 'em in 5 hours for another full day.

free portraits today: "there is no excuse for a crappy LinkedIn picture"

beautiful Keynote stage

Hubspot founders

charity: water "Waterwalk" area has people carry 40 lbs of water to get a feel for what undeveloped nations go through for the simple necessity of obtaining water each day

Cool area in "Club Inbound"

Meeting authors during happy hour on Boylston St.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Inbound 2013 Marketing Conference: Day One

My experience: [Travel and Day 1] [Day 2] [Day 3] [Day 4] [Conclusions]

So every year, there is a huge conference in Boston. Actually, I'm sure there are a great many big conferences in Boston - but this is the world's largest inbound marketing conference. 5,000+ attendees, world-renowned speakers, the best and brightest in modern marketing from all over with everyone gathered in one place.

2013 will be my first year at this conference and also my first trip to Boston. I will do a post each day to detail what I've learned, what went on, and my impressions and reviews of the various experiences I have.

First: travel and day one.

I did very minimal prep for this event. I've got Evernote on my devices so my notes sync to whatever device I am using at any given time. The Inbound App for IOS and Android is excellent and I am using it to manage my schedule, as well as double-check info about other participants (I am horrible at spelling names). I bought a battery-recharging device so I can keep my phone going at all times. This one came from the airport and is called the mophie powerstation mini.

Though the conference theoretically starts Monday, if you are not a Hubspot customer and not getting a certification in one of their products, you get Monday to yourself! Take some time to wander around the city, perhaps drop in on Registration to get your lanyard/name badge and explore the layout of the building.
This is also a good day to download the Inbound App (if you haven't already), and look though the detailed agenda to find the speakers you would like to see and the topics you want to learn about. Make sure to jump in the conversations that are happening on Twitter and make your presence known!
I did coffee a few blocks from Hynes and allowed myself to people-watch and soak up the feel of the city for a few hours in the morning. You won't get much of that from inside the conference center, so you might as well enjoy it!
As you soak up the city, think a bit about what you want out of this conference. What are you really here to learn? What goals do you hope to achieve while you are here? Spend some time working up a list of things you hope to accomplish. Mine are fairly simple:

1) Learn what I don't know: this sounds vague - but I have a pretty good idea about what I know when it comes to marketing. I know my strengths and some of my weaknesses. One of the things I hope to accomplish is to learn as much as I can about the aspects of marketing that I am completely foreign to, that I have never heard of. This goal is focused on making my education in marketing a little more well-rounded.

2) Take home three actionable items: by the end of the week, I want three plans in action, three proposals forming on paper for my team back home that we can begin implementing ASAP.

3) Find the experts and create a plan for continued education: this is a HUGELY diverse crowd! Speakers and attendees alike have a lot to share. This goal is focused on followup with the right people and forming a few relationships with people who know way more than I do. Cultivating this with a mentor or two or three will help me when I encounter a roadblock in my plans or when I need to bounce ideas off someone who speaks my language, when no one else in the office does.

My secondary goals include exploring Boston, and coming up with 150 or so photographs that I can use to really showcase the experience.

I love the view from the third floor of the convention center. Will spend much time up here.

inbound marketers use their phones.

inbound marketers use their phones. a lot. 

The answer to every question is "more coffee"

Overall, a very good first day! Tomorrow morning is an earlier start, so I'm off to bed! Charging my various electronics too. Heavy use during these few days means my batteries will not last very long.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

High Mountain Trail Rides - and a wedding

I've never been much of a horse person, but my girlfriend Kristen definitely is.
We went out Saturday morning and spent some time on the trails behind Mormon Lake with a local company called High Mountain Trail Rides.

Despite my complete lack of affinity for horses, I very much enjoyed myself. I brought my camera and took a few photos while we were out there with the goal of supplying the company with the images.

Our guide for the day, Josh.

Another ride with the same company

This picture was a complete happy accident

Then, as Kristen and I were wandering among the horses doing some detail shots, a phone call came in that there was to be a wedding! A couple decided they were going to elope and do the wedding that very day. They hired the wagon team at High Mountain Trail Rides. They not only forgot to hire a photographer (gasp) but they forgot to even bring a camera! I volunteered Kristen and myself to do a few photos of them before they set off on their hour-long romantic wagon-ride/wedding.

Overall, a fun day! The pictures aren't quite commercial standard, but I think they represent the experience we had during our morning. If you like horses, I highly recommend this crew. They will do everything from pony rides around the stable to a 2 day camping extravaganza. Family owned and operated. Doesn't get better than that.