Party Talk

Learning aloneAs a passionate HubSpot customer, I smile at HubSpot’s email, devour blog posts here, and regularly scour Twitter for anything about inbound marketing. With no degree or formal study in marketing, I’ve acquired much of my marketing expertise from reading this material on weekends, during lunch hours, or on my hourly ‘check email’ breaks.

As a content creator, I tend towards the introvert. I’m invigorated by a three-hour battle with a jquery plugin and drained by a 45-minute interview, even when it’s with a cool wind geek who even plugged the blog post on her Facebook page. Yes, it’s true — even though most people don’t bite, I’m scared of ‘em.

Despite my aversion to humans and corresponding love for reading anything on the screen — especially if it’s a blog post with at least one image and heading tags in orange — the lessons that have stayed with me the longest have been learned socially. By “socially” I mean learned in one-on-one interactions. (I interrupt this blog post to inquire why no one has ever thought of calling these websites “anti-social media,” since they interrupt dinner conversations, football games, funerals, weddings, and worse.)

I learned that graphic designers need to focus their ideas on a client’s business goals not from reading a book or a self-help article but from a conversation in 1995 at a HOW Magazine design conference. This lesson stuck with me throughout my whole career and I still remember the person who suggested it – David Esrati, whose business card brilliantly said “We make you more money than you pay us.”

After the annual HubSpot User Group meeting each year I’ve returned to the office all jazzed up, ready to become a blogging maniac like Marcus Sheridan or a landing page wizard like the folks at Lynton Web. It turns out that, despite my tendency to stay home from parties, I’m inspired the most by stuff I learn at meetings.

Here’s where I absolutely plug an upcoming event!

HUG meeting October 9If you’re in the situation of doing inbound marketing or sales all by yourself, or mostly by yourself, user group meetings are especially valuable. That’s why I jumped at the chance to co-lead the local Boston HubSpot User Group (that, and the unfettered access to the HubSpot fridge).

Our first meeting will focus on lead intelligence. We’ll hear from some sales people about how they use lead intelligence to improve their sales process, and we’ll hear from some of the HubSpot team about how HubSpot 3 can improve lead intelligence and lead management. The panel discussion will be great, and of course there will be eats there. But the best part is going to happen in the discussion afterwards, when someone will convince me that Myspace is not dead or to make all my web sites pink. Please come meet me — I’ll be the one in the back row taking notes with a pencil!

Less Push, Longer Batteries . . . Or, Do You Really Need To Know This Right Now?

Who knew that the iPhone sucked through its battery juice so quickly? My old MetroPCS phone (“smash your phone to smithereens to stop getting spam texts from Fashion Bug”) used to last me a couple days, even when I spent my entire lunch break chatting with my darlin’.

Today I got a couple of text messages and suddenly noticed my battery had gone down to 23 percent. Yikes! A quick search on “how to preserve your iPhone battery life” yielded the following insights, among others:

  • “Push” notifications drain your battery faster
  • You can manage these by clicking “Settings” and then “Notifications”
  • Facebook’s notification settings are located within the Account Settings within the actual Facebook app.

After having received a “push” alert that an acquaintance is going grocery shopping at DeMoula’s, I got a little more intimate with my Facebook app. I had to tick off fourteen separate boxes to tell Facebook not to ping me when I was tagged in a photo, or a friend was nearby, or someone wants me to participate in the latest app from Appville.

Otherwise, these things would have come through with the same alert level as a text from my son saying he was locked out of the house. And/or, drained the battery so my son couldn’t reach me at all if he was locked out.

Really, Facebook?

When Less Is More

Instead of spending money on visors, tee shirts, pens, and SWDW (stuff we don’t want), HubSpot and the other sponsors of Inbound 2012 sprung for a celebrity appearance and concert by Cyndi Lauper. Here, the songstress appeared with Charlie Musselwhite and a couple others to give the Tuesday morning session a taste of what was to come that evening.

Imagine a bunch of marketing executives going to a conference to hear other marketing executives advise them on how to market better. You might imagine that this is like the kings of bullsh*tters telling bullsh*tters how to bullsh*t better.

When I think about conferences, I also think about the trade show / expo bits. I work in the wind industry, where you’d expect conferences and trade shows to be conducted with some modicum of environmentally-minded restraint. I vividly remember suggesting our company get a PR boost out of having our booth consist of a few tatami mats and links to our literature online. “If our booth isn’t tall enough, we won’t be seen,” was the rejoinder. And at wind industry conferences, like most others, the halls are a cluster of sensory confusion that rivals Times Square.

At the last wind industry conference I attended, my tree-hugging, earth-friendly inner child got sent to the basement somewhere while I became a total “SWAG ho,” loading my conference-branded tote bag with visors and baseball caps and flashlights and Post-IT notes and pens that don’t work and a gorgeous solar-powered calculator from a Canadian land management consulting company (I figure to owe them some link love because I adore the calculator). Trade shows and conferences are where marketers really show off their creativity and try to get into people’s long-term memories through tangible “goods” (in quotations, because is another branded water bottle really “good”?), through memorable experiences (thank you, Enxco, now EDF Renewable Energy, for the espresso), or through amazing booth architecture

So you’d expect last week’s Inbound 2012, the rapidly growing annual conference for inbound marketers, to rank very high in the volume of, well, bullsh*t. After all, the sponsors at this show are marketing to marketers, so we can’t be ordinary! At the risk of sounding like Willy Wonka, forget the 8GB thumb drives and come up with 96 ZB fist drives!

The crowd of inbound marketers who entered the sponsor lounge at the Hynes Convention Center were greeted by tasteful arrangements of white, mushroom-shaped furniture, a few lightweight architectural elements, and sponsored kiosks with useful services such as Internet-connected computers or Keurig machines. The minimalist nature of the booth elements allowed the sponsors’ names to stand out much more prominently than they do at most convention centers. Appropriately, the first thing you saw was HootSuite, a company in the forefront of social media metrics. Sponsor staff gave out very little swag. No one was even giving out pens. (A good thing, since trade show pens usually don’t work and you have to resort to writing very hard and then doing gravestone rubbing with a pencil later to see what you wanted to remember). The sponsor lounge became a place to relax, get things you really needed, and chat with the sponsors. Isn’t this what sponsors want folks to do?

HubSpot itself gave out very little swag. While I had secretly been hoping for a baseball shirt like the one I got at the same show in 2010, I was thrilled to receive just a few items – a collection of excerpts from five of the leading inbound marketing books, a wiro-bound conference program chock-full of inspirational quotes and only a handful of ads, a fortune cookie that actually tasted good, and a temporary tattoo. I got more swag from RCN on the subway on the way home (and threw it out almost immediately. Do I really need another plastic cup?)

I “spoke to” (okay, tweeted at) Rachel Sprung, HubSpot’s [cool job title alert] brand and buzz coordinator, to compliment her on the conference’s restraint. Greater sustainability is one of the value propositions of inbound marketing, although it doesn’t play as well as ROI for those who make the spending decisions. In a longer email exchange, Rachel replied that they enforced strict guidelines about the amount of stuff sponsors could bring in, either as freebies or as overbuilt booths.

Trade show participants are already beginning to value lower-impact booths, and there is a movement toward lighter-weight booths, recycled materials, and so on. Wouldn’t it be great if more conference and trade show organizers followed the lead of HubSpot and imposed stricter guidelines on their participants? Without these guidelines, participating in a trade show is like nuclear escalation — your neighbor’s booth is taller this year, yours will be taller next year.

Amidst all the hype and genuine excitement of the show — the way the art, science, and practice of inbound marketing is revolutionizing marketing practice — HubSpot and its sponsors quietly achieved another milestone. They used a marketing conference to demonstrate marketing with a lot less bullsh*t. If other conference organizers follow their lead, our planet will become greener. To borrow their phrase, this is marketing people love.