I left #INBOUND13, Hubspot’s 2013 Inbound Marketing Conference, inspired and motivated to start making a difference and push myself to be at the top of my field.
The speakers, both in keynotes and sessions, delivered point after point of great perspective and advice to carry into all areas of inbound marketing. Here are my key takeaways from Inbound 2013, based on the words of wisdom from the conference’s top speakers.
“The Internet Was the First Thing that Wasn’t Invented with Marketers in Mind” – Seth Godin
Today, consumers are vivaciously consuming information at a rapid rate. In this market, businesses and brands are forced to find their niche and connect with their audiences. People are moving away from the normal – where outbound ads used to target. To reach these people, we must be in the business of connecting.
It’s a different world out there for marketers today. That’s where inbound techniques come into play. By understanding, engaging, and connecting with an audience, we can drive traffic and business. And, it doesn’t require outbound displays of money or power.
Seth Godin dove further into how connecting with an audience relates to business. You don’t need to invent a market. Look at Scott Harrison of Charity:Water. He didn’t invent philanthropy, he harnessed it. Harness your market. Make it different. Create at tribe.
Last year, Trip Advisor made more money than American Airlines. That should tell you something. The goal in this new market where inbound drives greater success than outbound is to be unique.
You can no longer be just good enough to get by. With the proliferation of the Internet came a proliferation of ideas, businesses, and brands. You need to stand out to be successful today.
“Our Technology Gives Us Super Hero Powers” – Chris Penn
Chris Penn, cofounder of Podcamp, gave an inspiring speech on how we can be super heroes in social media and online. With technology, we have super hero powers to make a difference.
We have the means…
Smartphones – Who needs Batman? We have an endless array of tools and gadgets at our fingertips.
Google – XMen? Nope! No need for a photographic memory with a digital novel in your pocket.
Blogs – While we’re at it, we can alter reality through projection.
And, we have the opportunity…
It’s seen in what’s out there today, people are taking ordinary ideas and making extraordinary things. For example, U-Shahidi developed open source social polling software that displays results on a map. Washington DC used this in heavy winter storms, to determine areas that might not yet be plowed. In times of natural disaster, this software has been used to find people in need.
Heroes are born from darkness because we desperately need someone to light the way. Technology gives us the means and the opportunity to solve problems, become a hero. Do we have the motivation?
“We Have to Become the People We Are Trying to Reach” – Brian Solis
I had the good fortune to meet Brian Solis at a Boylston Street Party, as a part of Inbound. The next day, I heard him speak on Engagement Marketing – and he was phenomenal!
Brian talks about how we must go beyond what our customers think they need. We need to become the people we are trying to reach and innovate based on their needs. This isn’t a new idea. This dates back to Henry Ford who said (paraphrasing loosely), “You have to see the world through someone else’s eyes in order to be relevant, to lead them.” If Henry Ford asked his customers what they wanted – they’d say a faster horse. It’s our opportunity as innovators to see the need and create an out-of-the-box solution.
“We have to become the people we are trying to reach.” It’s not about just creating a landing page, that’s not an experience. In fact, all websites suck. They are created for the person approving the design. We must engage our audience through a contextual journey, reaching who influences them and where they are influenced. This is where social media transforms into an enormous tool for inbounders.
There are countless examples of how consumers today are trying to experience the world through the web. Let’s look at product manuals. Would you rather read a 50 page product manual or watch a 5 minute YouTube video? Would you rather watch a review on the latest smartphone, highlighting all its tricks and shiny new parts, or would you rather be pitched an ad.
As we move towards the next great thing, remember that innovation isn’t based on technology. It’s based on connecting, passion, engagement, and experience. It’s based on how we interact and how we envision relationships with people. Look at Vine… who saw that coming? Hehe.
Jokes aside… You have all the tools at your disposal. It’s time to engage your audience and create an unforgettable experience. To do so, start with becoming your audience – understand the experience they are looking for. This is your moment to change not only how your business runs, but how to make your business more relevant.
My last piece of advice comes from the story of Icarus, told at Inbound by Seth Godin. The fable teaches us not to fly too close to the sun – we will get burned. For years this idea has prevented people from pushing too hard at any particular idea. What was cut from the myth was – Don’t fly too low; the salt water will weight down your wings.
Finding success today, whether you are an individual, a business, or a brand, is not about flying under the radar. It’s about stepping out of the norm. It’s about finding and owning your niche. It’s about connecting with your customers on a deeper level through social media and inbound marketing. It’s about being a rock star.
You can own your tribe. Why not start today.