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Insights from Inbound 17

Every once in awhile, you meet someone or you discover something that just simply resonates with you.

It is completely overwhelming though when this happens to you every hour on the hour over a full week. But that’s what INBOUND is and was for me...and I mostly expected this.

I am a reader, it’s one of my things. My idea of relaxing after work is reading. It doesn’t have to be serious news or books sometimes it’s also great think pieces and juicy articles. This is how I have come to know the names Roxane Gay, Issa Rae, Piera Gelardi, Brene Brown and Elaine Welterworth.

I am also a learner, I love having the tools I need to succeed. There are some people that have been instrumental teachers and role models for me throughout my career. Like Michelle Obama, Rand Fiskin and really the whole team at HubSpot.

It would be selfish of me to keep all of the wonderful learnings from HubSpot’s INBOUND conference to myself, I hope you enjoy the highlights.


New to HubSpot 2017

Inbound states that their purpose “is to provide the inspiration, education, and connections you need to grow and transform your business.” It’s an extension of the mission of HubSpot, a leading software platform with whom Hughes & Co. is a Gold Level Partner.

Inbound brings together over 21,000 growth driven marketers and connects them to some of the greatest minds in media, marketing and technology. This year that meant hearing addresses from the likes of Michelle Obama, Brene Brown, Dr. Ed Catmull, John Cena, Andy Cohen and HubSpot Founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah.

Inbound, is also where we learn what new products will be rolling out on HubSpot platform over 2017 and I’ve got to say this year HubSpot has answered a lot of our agencies wishes. Click here to get the full rundown, of what’s new to HubSpot. We'll cover these features in a blog later this week too.


“We have, mathematically, a better chance of surviving a plane crash than clicking on a banner ad.” - Jeff Rosenblum

People are exposed to ads every 2.7 seconds they are awake, that’s over 5000 branded messages per day.

This ad culture has created what scientists call repetition suppression, as a result ads no longer work they way they used to. Rosenblum noted that 89% of TV ads are completely ignored by millennials, they instead look down at their mobile devices now.

So what is the solution? Rosenblum said we should be communicating with people how they want to be communicated with. We need to solve problems not create friction. Brands should be focused on improving lives through their products or services. This has long been a part of the inbound strategy but, it’s really easy to forget and to fall in line with disruptive content.

HubSpot’s Kip Bodnar reminded us of this later that day, noting that internet users simply want to get the answers they need to make a decision. How do you do that? You stop burying them.

"I learn by doing and I also learn by f***ing up. - Issa Rae

Issa Rae Inbound 2017

Learning from failure was a common theme in many of the Spotlights at Inbound. From Issa Rae to Ed Catmull, President of Pixar and Disney Animation. Ed, noted that the team at Pixar is routed in failure and improvement. Going as far, as to say that “our job isn't to prevent mistakes. It's to respond when things go wrong. It's this response where creativity rises.”

Piera Gelardi had another idea about finding creativity. Within her company Refinery29, they strive to create the conditions for creativity. That means shaking it out (literally), getting out of their heads and building trust among coworkers by being just a bit more vulnerable. 

"More than half of Google searches get no clicks at all." - Rand Fishkin

Rand Fishkin at Inbound 2017

This might be shocking and discouraging to more than a few of you and while this is true, Fishkin armed us with the tools to help you find more opportunity through searches. While I won’t give those tips away, I will throw in another tidbit that Rand dropped. Many of us who work over 50-70 hours a week are actually creating net-negative productivity. Stop working so much!


Bozoma Saint John 

In 2016, Boz was called the coolest executive to ever take the stage at an Apple keynote. How did I not know of this incredible human before Inbound? Earlier this year, Bozoma stepped into the role of Uber’s Chief Brand Officer and is changing the narrative surrounding political loyalties (though she didn’t mention this) and is refocusing the Uber brand on the human stories that shape it. Check out her Spotlight here.

Elaine Welterworth

New to HubSpot 2017

“People asking why Teen Vogue is writing about politics are underestimating what young people care about and are capable of"

By knowing and more importantly understanding her audience, Elaine was able to create a rebirth and garner a whole new following for Teen Vogue. All because she wasn’t afraid to believe that young women care about more than beauty. She is shaping a new generation of informed, intelligent women.


Michelle Obama

New to HubSpot 2017

"Take a moment to know yourself. Know your truth. Don’t let what other people say define you."

Michelle was fiercely intelligent and fully grounded in her authentic self. She to me, is a role model for the ages and dropped so many lines that resonated, that I could write this whole article dissecting them alone. I think the above is quite explanatory, but a great reminder of how to lead with intelligence, truth and grace.

Many of these ideas are abstract and I am happy to say I also came away from these 4 days at Inbound a better marketer. With that, I am going to leave you with the closing video from the HubSpot founders keynote. I believe this is a message that deserves to reiterated. Growing better, not only bigger. 

Alex Blackadder

AUTHOR: Alex Blackadder

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