I have to admit, this week feels a little weird. Last year we were at Inbound and there were meetings, dinners, parties, get togethers, sessions, high fives, handshakes, and a ton of wows!
This year, not so much.
But Inbound is happening anyway and yes, I’m attending and yes, I’m speaking, and yes, I’m looking forward to what the team at HubSpot has put together for their annual conference.
Honestly, I don’t now what to expect. Beyond my session and what we have planned I don’t have much insight into what they are going to do. I’ve been on the Inbound website, but the experience side of the event is a little vague for me.
I’ve been to a few virtual conferences and not one has been great. They’ve been fine, the sessions have been fine, the speakers have been fine, and the platforms have been ok. Nothing has been excellent and because of this, my expectations are on the low side.
But if someone can do it right, HubSpot and the Inbound team are the crew to pull it off.
The first thing you’ll notice is the start time. The first session is at 6:00 AM ET. I assume this is for two purposes, first this is Noon for our friends in the UK, Ireland, and the Western part of Europe but this might also be for early risers on the East Coast.
Hope into a session before your day starts. Interesting idea.
I also noticed the session run well into the evening, with the last session starting at 9 PM EDT. This would be a nice start to your day if you’re in Australia or a nice way to wrap up your day if you’re working in the states. Although this might have changed too, while I’m writing this article the early evening sessions appear to have been removed.
Regardless, they definitely packed the day full of sessions.
Seventy-two sessions planned for that first day. That is a ton of content. Twenty-three of those sessions are run by HubSpot team members. Not good or bad, but I find the HubSpot content to be a little self-promotional at times. I think the ratio of HubSpot speakers and sessions to outside speakers is well balanced.
Day two looks equally rich with a similar start time and a slightly earlier end time.
Seventy-eight session planned for the second day. I’m sure there is a similar blend of HubSpot and non-HubSpot content.
Interestingly, I found over 120 On-Demand sessions at the end of Day Two. It looks to me like these are unique sessions but with that volume, I might have not noticed that some of the On-Demand sessions are rebroadcasts. But I also noticed that these were removed when I returned to the site and I couldn’t find any OnDemand sessions anywhere on the site at the time this article was written.
Perhaps these were taken down temporarily or put up pre-maturely, but I would expect Inbound to return these to the site at some point.
I am extremely impressed with the quality of speakers this year. Perhaps not having to travel to Boston has increased the ability to attract high-end speakers.
Of course, its always great to hear from Brian and Darmesh, but this year they also have Sandy Carter from Amazon, Bob Iger from Disney, Susan Goodarzi, CEO at Ituit, and Van Jones from CNN.
On the breakout speaker side, I was excited to see Ibrahim Ayub, Experience Strategist, at PwC, Eric Martin, Head of Twitter Brand Development at Twitter, Alixandra Nozzolillo, Director of Marketing & Communications at Harvard, Alon Alroy, CCO and CMO at Bizzabo, Nicolas Darveau-Garneau, Google Chief Evangelist at Google, Kim Orlesky, President at KO Advantage Group Ltd., Kelsey Foremost, Founder from Magic Words Copywriting, Hope Horner, Founder, CEO at Lemonlight And Ryan Longfield, Chief Revenue Officer at Gong.
If you want to get up a little early on Day 1, then I’d consider this 7:30AM session with, Nancy Harhut from HBT Marketing, and her session, 10 Scientific Secrets That Make Your Content Impossible to Ignore. Obviously, I like anything with science in the name and content remains critical for a number of key areas in our engagements like search, conversion, lead nurturing and more.
You all know I’m a customer experience fanatic so at 9:30 AM, I’ll be going to Dynamic Duo: From Customer Service to Customer Experience with Irena Rosenblit, Director, Agency Partners at HubSpot. Any additional education around the customer experience is something I’m looking for these days.
Obviously, at 10:30 AM Brian Halligan, Darmesh Shah and Chris O’Donnell’s general session will be interesting. These guys never disappoint, and I’m interested in the product vision they typically share at inbound. Brian is also generally good for some interesting insights into how people buy. This would be a don’t miss for me.
For agency owners, at 11:45 AM, the HubSpot Solutions Partner Network Program Spotlight. This is generally a fairly light session with updates and information related to the partner program. But it’s one that all agency owners should probably check out. If there is a recorded option, this is one you could watch at a later date, if necessary.
I might actually opt for that plan considering I’m more interested in the competing program with one of the longer sessions (90 minutes) Marketing Deep Dive Part 1: Growth in Turbulent Times: Monetization Lessons From Studying 18,427 SaaS Companies with Patrick Campbell, CEO of ProfitWell.
Then, the highlight of the day, an Inbound Debate. One of the new formats this year and one I’m specifically interested in because I’m participating in a classic debate with my business partner Eric Keiles. INBOUND Debates: Sales vs. Marketing (A Chicken vs. Egg Debate on Which Takes Priority). From 1:00 PM to 1:30 PM, I’ll tell you why marketing needs to be the priority and Eric will tell you why sales should be the priority. It will be a debate for the ages, don’t miss it.
After this debate and at 2 PM, I’d consider the session with Eric Martin, Head of Brand Development at Twitter. His session The New Customer Feedback Management should provide some interesting insights into how bigger companies are getting feedback from their customers. This is something we’ve worked extremely hard at in Square 2 and something agency owners need to get much better at.
I’d also consider at 2 PM Liz Simpson. Founder at Stymulst’s session on Sales Deep Dive Part 1: 5 Critical Strategies To Influence Executives & Close Larger Deals with LinkedIn. It’s another 90-minute session but I’ve always felt like LinkedIn provides some untapped opportunities for sales to connect and engage with prospects to support marketing’s air cover campaigns.
To wrap up Day 1, at 4 PM, I’d head over to the CEO and Founders Meet Up, hosted by Daniel Marcos from Gazelles Growth Institute. One of the key learning components I’ve always enjoyed at Inbound is talking casually to other CEOs and other agency owners around their challenges, issues and how they’ve pushed past those challenges to realize success and growth.
And with that, Day 1 is in the books. Let’s take a similar look at Day 2 next.
I’m going to suggest you start the day at a more reasonable hour on the second day. The 8:30 AM EDT session with Frank Bertrand, President from Fire & Spark. Google and SEO is a constant collection of shifting sand and staying on top of what Google is doing is important for agency owners. The End of Technical SEO: How Google’s AI Forces SEO Strategies to Be More Human is a great session to make sure your agency is on top of their SEO game.
At 10 AM, I’d join the HubSpot Meetup for HubSpot Solution Partners (Business Owners). I’m not sure how HubSpot’s Arden Brust is planning on facilitating this session but if agency owners are able to discuss challenges and share some of their best practices this will be a very valuable session.
Every agency owner has had challenging experiences with difficult clients. At 11 AM, I’m suggesting you check out Karl Sakas’ session, Don’t Just ‘Make the Logo Bigger’: Transform How Your Agency Handles Difficult Clients. Karl does a lot of agency consulting and has a wide variety of experiences that can help you manage clients better.
At 1PM on the second day, I’m recommending you spend some time learning about the customer experience. We’ve had more and more clients (bigger clients like we all want) talk to us about their CX (customer experience) projects. These are big, meaty marketing, sales and customer service initiatives. Hearing about CapitalOne’s CX project is time well spent. Katya Andresen, SVP Card Customer Experience is going to share An Anthropologist Walks into a Bank - and Other Thought Experiments for Brilliant CX, I’d try hard not to miss this.
During the 2 PM time slot, I’d check out Part 2 from the previous day. Liz Simpson. Founder at Stymulst’s session on Sales Deep Dive Part 2: 5 Critical Strategies To Influence Executives & Close Larger Deals with LinkedIn.
Then at 3 PM, an Ask Me Anything LIVE Session on How To Slash Your Sales Cycle In Half with Eric Keiles, CMO at Square 2. We’ve been using a number of innovative approaches to sales, sales operations and sales execution that almost always produces reduction in sales cycles for clients. Including but not limited to reference reels to remove references from the sales process, co-creation techniques that gets buy in prior to presenting final recommendations and email techniques that get prospects to act, moving stalled deals through to close.
At 3:30 PM I’m joining the CRO, Ryan Longfield of Gong to talk about How Exactly To Sell To the C-Suite. As agency owners we always want to be talking to the CEO and executive leadership. Gong has an interesting sales platform that provides insights that help reps close deals faster. He should have some interesting insights as well.
We’re almost done the second day, just one or two more sessions to squeeze in here.
For the 4:00 PM slot, I’m going to Ask Me Anything Live: AB Testing, Conversion Optimization, and Landing Pages with Khalid Saleh. Khalid is the CEO at Invesp but more importantly testing, experiments, and optimization of landing pages is one of the key lead generation improvement efforts that agencies can practice. And I don’t think agencies do enough of this, plan for and charge enough for this and its holding back your ability to show results to clients, so I’m hoping to learn a few important takeaways at this session.
Finally, I’m going to hear Emily Morgan from HubSpot talk about How To Build A Kick Ass Lead Nurturing System in HubSpot because I think most people are focused on new leads or net new contacts and there is an incredible opportunity to better nurture existing leads to drive more sales opportunities. What a great way to wrap up the event.
You should pay close attention to which of the sessions are live, which are pre-recorded and which will be available OnDemand. Some even are pre-recorded but will offer live Q&A. If there are competing sessions, you might be able to attend both, if you can find one OnDemand post event. I believe if you purchase a PowerPass ticket you will have access to sessions post event.
I’m expecting HubSpot to put on an amazing show, like they do every year. And hopefully, we can all be back together again in Boston in 2021.
Start Today Tip – Ongoing education is important. Many agency owners are sucked into the day to day and it prevents them from learning how to grow their agencies, run them more profitably, and provide a better professional experience for their team members. Events like this and others, give you a chance to take a breath, to learn, to talk to other agency owners and explore what might be possible for your business. Big or small, I’m sure everyone will get value from Inbound 2020. Enjoy and hopefully I’ll see you there virtually, of course.
Agencies 2 Inbound – Helping You Grow Your Agency Beyond Your Expectations!