What I learned at the Inbound 2018 Conference

September 6, 2018

inbound marketing


Marketing in 2018 is not for the faint of heart

Pay attention! I am about to admit something that will lead to excessive eye rolling and maybe a gasp or two.

Ready? OK. Here goes... 

I have never been to a marketing conference before.

I’ve been a marketing specialist for more than a decade. I read all of the latest industry news. I’ve watched a few TED Talks. I regularly converse openly about the struggles of sales and marketing with local professionals. I follow industry influencers on every social media platform possible.

Inbound Marketing Kit | Online Marketing Savannah GABut I have never sat through the spectacular light shows of well-known keynote speakers or filled branded tote bags full of fidget spinners, pens and coffee mugs.

I recently embarked on my first Inbound conference, a four-day marketing event in Boston with inspirational keynote speakers including Deepak Chopra and thought provoking break-out sessions customized for my paint points. Before I even stepped into the plane to get here, I knew I would love it. What I didn’t know is how much I needed to be here.

Anyone with a smartphone or a laptop will tell you how much our marketing industry is changing. People are smarter and more cynical than ever before. Marketing and sales professionals nearly align with politicians when it comes to the trust factor or lack thereof, according to one of today’s keynote presentations by Brian Halligan, the CEO of HubSpot.

The theme of Inbound so far is that the future of marketing is about delighting the customer — providing a seamless experience from first point of contact and beyond. While inbound marketing is still effective, the entire culture of your company should align around your customers, said Dharmesh Shah, founder of HubSpot.

What does Starbucks offer?

Coffee? Yes.

But why do customers willingly fork over more than $4 for a cup of coffee? Shah said that customers are paying for the experience of recharging and relaxing.

What is your customer experience like?

Once of the most unique local customer experiences I can think of is Barbers of the Lowcountry in Bluffton, SC (who we have been working with for almost two years). The shop is owned by father and son Brent and Lou Nelsen. They have made the customer experience easy and fun. You can book online. You can have a sweet treat while you wait for your appointment. You can sip a locally-brewed draft beer from the comfort of the barber chair. The barbers use luxury shaving creams and hair care products.

Barbers of the Lowcountry also recently unveiled a mobile barbershop for special events and festivals. It’s the South, right? Who wants to sit in a hot truck for a haircut? Problem solved! Brent and Lou had the truck air conditioned!

If you read Barbers of the Lowcountry’s Google reviews, there is an occasional “great haircut” but what makes up a larger part of their story is the customer experience!

“ … Beer on tap comes with your service. It is super personalized and meant for the men! He still talks about his experience, 3 months later. We can't wait to return!”

It’s only Day 2 of Inbound 2018. My takeaway so far is that to grow with success in 2018, everyone in your company needs to work toward the same goal — put the customers first with an authentic experience that is effortless, meaningful, honest and memorable.

Heather Bragg is United WebWorks' VP of Client Relations. She has a surprising favorite food- find out more about Heather on her bio page.

Topics: Inbound Marketing