Inbound 2022 recap: Actionable takeaways

HubSpot’s annual conference, Inbound 2022, took place just last week. Leann and I were fortunate to be able to attend. While we’ve been HubSpot partners for just 10 months now, we’ve been helping clients with HubSpot for years, and with digital marketing in general for nearly two decades.

“But Tim,” you may be asking, “I don’t even use HubSpot. Why should I care about their conference?”

The conference isn’t all about HubSpot! At one session, Leann and I actually sat next to someone who didn’t use HubSpot at all, but was still getting tons of value from the conference.

The speakers shared their insights on marketing, sales, and more. Let’s dive into what I learned from just some of those speakers, I’ll share my takeaway for each of them, then I’ve got an extra surprise at the very end!

HubSpot CEO Yamini Rangan

The first person to take the stage, HubSpot’s current CEO, Yamini Rangan, focused on the disconnection happening in business specifically, and in society in general.

From a business standpoint, she shared that companies won’t win by focusing on just managing their customers, but by creating true connections with their customers.

She shared that you need more than…

  • Data, you need context
  • Content, you need connection
  • Contacts, you need community

She then shared some tips to attract, engage, and delight your customers.

To attract, you need to diversify your content distribution. Two good channels to consider right now are TikTok and influencer marketing.

To engage, you need to bring context to the conversation. Tie your communication into the products or services your customers are using, or even the last blog they read on your website.

To delight, make buying a breeze and give your customers their choice of channels. Do they want to communicate through email? Through SMS? Give them options.

My takeaway: Start using SMS marketing. I connected with 3 different providers at the conference.

HubSpot co-founder & CTO Dharmesh Shah 

I saw Dharmesh Shah on stage twice during the week at Inbound 22. Both times he shared some insight on communities with some carefully timed and optimized laughs.

Forming a community can feel overwhelming. But the community doesn’t have to be huge to bring value, it just has to create community.

Dharmesh shared a framework he came up with for crafting I.D.E.A.L. communities:

  • Identity – Your community should be centered around something you care about that you even consider part of your identity. It can be roles you’ve had, products or services you’ve used, anything as long as you really care about it.
  • Diversity – The community should bring together people with common interests but different backgrounds and experiences. Keep that in mind as you’re inviting people to join.
  • Engagement – Create a “growmance.” Something you love that you’re willing to really work at to encourage engagement.
  • Action – Have something the community members can take action on. Make a transaction possible, whether it’s services, products, or something else.
  • Learning – Make it a learning experience for yourself. You’ll need to connect the dots between what you need to learn to build your community and how you need to learn it.

The number one skill you’ll need to build a community is writing. Dharmesh shared, “Copywriting is the most underrated skill of all the skills you could learn.”

In other words, you’ll need to write a lot. Creating a community takes a lot of writing posts, commenting on the posts of others, and even inviting people to join the community. You have to do all that writing in an encouraging, engaging way.

My takeaway: To set an online community up for success, create a posting calendar and execute it consistently for six months. Invite people personally and don’t be afraid to DM people asking them to comment on certain threads.

HubSpot Inbound Sales Professor Kyle Jepson 

One of the most tactically beneficial talks I attended was put on by HubSpot’s own Kyle Jepson. He focused on HubSpot’s Sales Hub, fitting probably three or four hours worth of content into an hour and a half.

Here are just a few tips he shared, focusing on information that’s usable in even the free Sales Hub.

  • When creating your deal stages, always use past tense so it’s clear when a deal should be in that stage.
  • Don’t create too many deal stages. Just use major milestones during the sales process.
  • Also don’t create too few deal stages. You need enough to make it useful.
  • To make it all about the other person, deal stages should be from their perspective, not the salesperson’s

There’s tons more I could share, but one thing I learned was the the free version of HubSpot’s Sales Hub has access to a lot of the functionality you would need in any CRM. Even if you’ve never used a CRM, it’s worth checking out!

Also, shout-out to Kyle for his selfie with me and for sharing some resources with me afterward. You’re awesome, Kyle!

My takeaway: Review my deal stages in Sales Hub and make sure I’m using the best practices Kyle recommended.

Sandler CEO David Mattson 

Full disclosure: I’ve been a Sandler client for over a decade and have interacted with David Mattson directly more than once. I’m a big fan, but actually had a conflict with another talk. Thankfully, Leann went to his talk and shared some insights with me.

David’s talk was on Frictionless Selling at the Intersection of Technology and Sales Methodology. A huge part of connecting sales methodology and technology is simply having a clear sales process. David’s tips simple steps were:

  1. Create a sales process
  2. Overlay good sales methodology
  3. Coach and train to your sales process & methodology

In my experience, sales processes are at least somewhat unique per company. I’ve had a lot of success in using Sandler for the second and third steps, combined with my company’s own sales process.

David also shared the Sandler Selling System. While I’ve utilized this system for years now, there’s a good chance it would be helpful to you. This is the format Sandler teaches for conducting any sales interaction, but especially sales meetings.

The individual steps aren’t necessarily self-explanatory based on their names alone, so I would encourage you to Google what used to be called the Sandler Submarine for more information.

Build Relationship

  1. Bonding and Rapport
  2. Up-Front Contract

Qualify the Opportunity

  1. Pain
  2. Budget
  3. Decision

Close the Sale

  1. Fulfillment
  2. Post-Sell

My takeaway: Sandler has TONS of free content online. Continue to consume that and continue to invest in their ongoing education for both me and my team.

Primatologist Jane Goodall 

One of the speakers I was pretty excited about was world-renowned primatologist Jane Goodall. Jane was interviewed on the topic of Rebuilding Our Collective Future, but also shared quite a bit about her own history.

When asked how she deals with her public image and living up to it, she shared that she envisions two Janes. One is the Jane Goodall the public perceives. The other is the person she actually is. Having a firm grasp on who she actually is helps her to stay grounded.

Jane attributes much of her success to having the support of her mother. She shared, “I had a supportive mother who didn’t get mad when I took earthworms to bed with me. One of the pieces of advice her mother gave her that still resonates with her all these decades later was, “Take advantage of every opportunity and don’t give up.”

From a young age, Jane read books like Tarzan and Dr. Doolittle. That instilled in her a desire to live with animals and write books about them. Others told her, “Dream about something you can actually achieve.” But with her mother’s encouragement, she was nonetheless able to achieve dreams that others thought were unobtainable.

My big takeaway was that we all need someone who believes in us and encourages us. It still takes a lot of work to achieve our goals, but encouragement is a vital ingredient.

My takeaway: Be on the lookout for people who will support me but will also give constructive feedback.

The Trends.co team 

I hadn’t heard of it prior to Inbound 22, but Trends is a service that identifies and shares emerging business trends before they’re common knowledge. They do research for you on an ongoing basis.

Here are some of my top takeaways from what the Trends team shared:

  1. Utilizing NFTs in marketing right now is a huge trend. That doesn’t mean you need to do things that are necessarily unique to NFTs. It’s more about utilizing the trend by using reliable marketing tactics and strategies. Create NFTs, then give purchasers unique, exclusive benefits.
  2. TikTok is trending—or will be soon—in the B2B space. More B2B brands than B2C brands are planning to increase their investment in marketing with TikTok.
  3. Influencer marketing can work in the B2B arena just like it can in B2C. In fact, B2B clients polled find co-branded or sponsored third-party content more trustworthy than content straight from a vendor.
  4. Direct mail that then ties into digital channels is one of the most effective options out there currently. It has doubled in effectiveness in recent years. The lower the word count on the direct mail piece, the better the campaign performs.

My takeaway: Look into options for direct mail that ties into digital channels, ways my company could use it, and ways we could utilize it for clients.

Freshspot Marketing LLC Marketing Strategist David Meerman Scott 

The author of five marketing books myself—three that are still relevant—I was especially excited on learning how to get more strategic with my book writing and publishing.

David Meerman Scott gave a great presentation. He’s the author of 13 books and is currently working on book 14. His biggest claim to fame may be The New Rules of Marketing and PR, currently on its 8th edition.

David shared that you should pick your book’s topic by finding unique patterns in the universe. Watch for things you’re seeing that nobody else is.

When picking your title, pick one you can own in search engines. Be sure the domain name is available.

When writing the book, be sure to build conflict. If you don’t have a bad guy, your book won’t be interesting. Figure out who your bad guy is.

Also when writing the book, don’t just tell, show. If you have a great system your readers can use, be sure to share stories of other people using it and how it helped them succeed.

When the book is written, you’re not done! Spend as much time marketing your book as you do writing it. Get interviewed on podcasts and ask them to release the episode the week your book is due to come out.

My takeaway: Take the SEO book I’m currently working on and rework it as needed to better align with the priciples David shared.

Brightcove CMO Jennifer Griffen Smith 

With all the content we put out here at T&S, I was very interested in the talk put on by Brightcove’s Chief Marketing Officer, Jennifer Griffey Smith. She gave a talk on Why Every Company Needs To Act Like a Media Company.

Now, I should note that she’s a bit biased, as Brightcove offers a video platform for businesses to share, stream, and host their videos. Nonetheless, she had some great info to share.

There were a couple of statistics she shared related to B2B businesses that stood out to me:

  • 97% of people polled are more receptive to sales communication from a business after consuming their video content
  • 81% prefer video over written content when learning how to use a product or services

Another interesting thing Jennifer shared was that they have an always-on streaming channel that’s managed by just two people. It includes both content they generate and content generated by other people. She said, “It’s by far blowing away content on our website.”

I had two main thoughts from that particular insight:

  1. You don’t have to create all the content yourself. Find people already generating content that you can partner with. Resharing video content can be part of your overall video strategy.
  2. If just two people can manage an always-on streaming channel, then you can probably do more than you think when it comes to video marketing, whether you do it all yourself or  outsource part of it.

My takeaway: Brainstorm ways to start using content generated by others. Spoiler: I’m doing one at the very end of this article.

LinkedIn Agency and Partner Marketing Director Tusar Barik
HubSpot Senior Director of Global Brand Marketing Amy Marino

Tusar Barik and Amy Marino teamed up to cover The Power of Creativity in B2B Marketing. Since we do a lot of B2B marketing both for ourselves and our clients, this was a must-attend session for me.

They kicked things off by defining branding as a set of attributes—both rational and emotional—that distinguish one company from another. Then they posed the question: So why do we over-index on the rational in B2B?

It’s easy to think of creativity as being subjective, and to a certain extent that’s true. But there are some principles that Amy suggested using as a checklist for your B2B marketing.

Is your B2B marketing…

  • Clear?
  • Persuasive?
  • Engaging?
  • Actionable?

No matter how creative their marketing is, HubSpot makes sure it still has all four of those qualities.

Another interesting statistic that I think Tusar shared was that at any given time, only 5% of your potential clients are looking to buy what you sell. Your band needs to make an emotional connection with them when they’re still in that 95%.

On a personal note, Leann specifically mentioned that she liked Amy’s dress, and I thought Tusar’s LinkedIn socks were awesome.

My takeaway: Make sure even B2B marketing makes an emotional connection. Also, figure out where I can buy some LinkedIn socks.

Wish you had gone to Inbound 22?

Maybe you now find yourself wishing you’d been able to attend HubSpot’s conference. If that’s the case, I’ve put together the second best thing! I’ve assembled a playlist featuring some great videos by some of the HubSpot 22 speakers.

If that’s appealing to you, feel free to check it out below.

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