Inbound 2019 Recap

About the Author: Tejas Panchal

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Inbound 2019 was incredible. It’s was a chance to take a 3 day break, learn, develop and get inspired by and from like-minded people. So much was going on. Elizabeth Gilbert was there, talking about the importance of relaxing, setting priorities, setting boundaries and having a visceral knowledge that “it’s all going to be alright”. Alex Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit spoke of the importance of gender equality, the struggles of combining motherhood and career and his vision of implementing paid maternity lives for dads in corporate culture (I think his wife Serena Williams should at least get some credit for this feministic approach). Jennifer Garner and John Foraker from once upon a farm spoke about leading a startup that’s a purpose driven company.

There were talks and breakout sessions and networking events, HubSpot as always proved they’re the kings of content.

While it’s still fresh in my head, I’m sharing the highlights from the 6 talks that left the highest impact on me. Here goes.

1. Marcus Sheridan –  Magical content: 7 secrets to content that generates the greatest results, ROI and lasting impact


Marcus Sheridan is the author of the bestselling book “They asked you answer”. The book became known as the bible of inbound marketing. He’s also partner of Marcus Sheridan international and of the global marketing agency IMPACT.

Marcus spoke about how most content fails to generate real results and ROI. The reason, as he sees it is companies’ lack of willingness to address their buyer’s most basic questions.

He detailed “the big five” – the subjects that move every buying decision, in every industry:

  1. Cost – when you’re not sharing the cost of your product or service on your website, you’re making the buyer feel frustrated and that you’re wasting their time. Most companies feel uncomfortable sharing their pricing. Common excuses are:
    • Excuse: They don’t want their competitors to find out. Answer: everyone knows their competitor’s pricing so it’s not really a secret worth protecting
    • Excuse: They don’t have one size fits all costs. Answer: no problem – write a range
  2. Problems  – openly talk about the problems with your service/product. This is the greatest way to build trust. Your content should feel unbiased – the most effective way is to discuss who your product or service is NOT for.
  3. vs/comparisons – your potential buyers are doing comparisons anyway – make it easier for them
  4. Reviews – Be outrageously honest. Explain the pros and cons, so people can decide which is the best choice for them.
  5. Best – Your content should have a singular obsession with the customer (and no one else). It should never try to sound smart – that deters people. Be real, create content that resonates. Address their obvious fear and reservations.  For example, when filling out a form on a site there are fears of getting interrupted. Create a video that addressed their fears and is titled “see exactly what will happen if you fill out the form”.

  1. A very awesome example of such video

This was a very practical talk that I plan on implementing ASAP. I’m also excited to say that Marcus will be interviewing on my podcast so stay tuned.

2. Larry Kim –  3 growth marketing principles for creating your unicorn

Larry is the founder and former CTO of WordStream that was acquired by USA Today, for $150 million in July, 2018. He’s currently the founder and CEO of MobileMonkey a Facebook Messenger marketing platform. Larry is all about building unicorns and in a fascinating talk he shared actionable tips on how to do just that:

  1. Be somewhat delusional – big ideas = big results. the power of projection. This works because you get the right people around you. The people who are inspired by your crazy plan. They can make your dream a reality.  It helps force epic change.
  2. Epic change – You need a completely different and better product. Create a unicorn growth hack to create unicorn conversion rates. For example, in WordStream they used a grading tool for lead collection instead of asking people to fill out a form.

Here’s how he broke down unicorn conversion rates vs “donkey” ones:

unicorn conversion rates vs “donkey” ones

Typically a small percent of our work generates the largest percentage of our results. In every blog, a small number of stories (10%) generate most of the traffic to the blog (60%). The same goes for social media, and for email marketing, once in a while, you have something that performs much better than the average.

Larry Kim top email subject lines last quarter

Example of one email that outperforms the rest dramaticall

And once you hit jackpot, what should you do? Make unicorn babies! once you find a growth hack, clone it and get leverage off your successful ideas.

Gotta love unicorns. I’m excited to say that Larry too will be coming on my podcast.

Those swings are a myth. Not once did I get a chance to sit on one. Always occupied. 


helping you navigate your startup to marketing stardom

3. Brian Halligan – New type of disruptors.

Co-Founder of HubSpot Brian Halligan spoke about a new wave of massive disruption that’s happening these days.

Disruption as a business concept is talked about in the book “the innovators’ dilemma” by Clayton Christensen, and is being overused these days.

Nowadays there are companies that are experience disruptors. How they sell is why they win.

Those companies share 5 things:

  1. Focus on “experience market fit” (rather than product-market fit). Example: the company Carvana – they took the cringe-worthy process of buying a car and provided a great experience.
  2. Frictionless. “Dollars flow where the friction is low”. These companies are good at pulling the friction out of the flywheel to get it to really spin. Example: Atlassian – a B2B SaaS. Their marketing department focuses on generating active users and not leads. They removed negotiations from the sales process.
  3. Personalization. They all have a hospitality approach. Example: Netflix. They avoid buyer personas. They replaced personas with data to personalize the experience.
  4. Selling through customers. Not just to customers. Example Glossier: good at encouraging customers to create content.
  5. They’re business model busters. They rethink the old business model. Example: Chewy, they have an amazing return policy – “keep the wrong size, give it to a friend we’ll send you a new one with the right size”.

All disruptive founders embrace unconventional wisdom. They’re about adding value. How they sell so why they win.

Love it.

4. Darmesh Shah – Facing fears: Growing better by growing bolder

Darmesh, the other co-founder of HubSpot, spoke about the five fears that you need to face on the path to growing better:

  1. Fear of commitment – a hesitation to commit often stems from wanting to hedge your bets. When you commit to nothing you compromise everything. Commitment is crucial.
  2. Fear of differences – the best possible time to build a diverse team is right away. Being different is not just ok. It’s better.
  3. Fear of change – the future of work is about flexibility

  1. HubSpot have over 200 remote employees. Remote is a sought after feature. You can open up the pool of talent when you recruit remote employees.
  2. Fear of disappointing – it’s ok to disappoint some people by focusing on specific products and ditching other products. Too much choice is friction. Don’t be afraid to disappoint a few in order to delight many.
  3. Fear of inferiority – build trust, deliver the experience, all the experience and nothing but it. You’ll always have competition, maintain trust and you’ll win.

5. Marc Ensign – Stop “standing out” and start getting paid: how to build a personal brand they can’t ignore

Marc is a speaker and advisor who specializes in leadership and personal branding. He says standing out means nothing unless you are chosen (examples are Elon Musk, Gary Varynerchuc, Oprah, Tony Robbins etc). Marc’s core message is that there are 3 foundations for building a personal brand:

  1. Identity – you are able to clearly define who you are and what your brand stands for in a way that’s inline with your authentic self. People want to know that you got here but that you went to hell and back to get here. Questions to ask yourself:
    • Who am I here to save? (vs who is my target market)
    • What is keeping them up at night? (vs what problems do they have)
    • How can I help them in a way that’s unlike anyone else? (vs how can I solve their problems)“You can’t leave behind someone else’s fingerprints when building a legacy”
  2. Visability – the ability to command attention by visually communicating your identity in a way that’s consistent in everything you do. Look at everything that you’re doing through the lens of your identity.
  3. Authority – you are the clear leader within your industry and you have the credibility and evidence to prove it. The hard part is deciding what to do, where to be present. The answer: pick what’s most comfortable to you. When you’re uncomfortable people sense it. Build relationships and be generous – put your stuff out there with blind faith that if you’re out there and sincerely want to help people, it will show in everything you do and people will relate and respond. Get to a place where people love you.

6. Dan Gingiss – Don’t just create content, create experiences!

Dan is the author of the book “Winning at social customer care: How top brands, create engaging experiences on social media”, the host of the Experience This! Podcast and a regular contributor to Forbes.

The competition for content is super hard. Dan suggests to focus on existing customers, when creating a remarkable experience for them, you win. Nobody shares an average experience. People share things that they love and that they can’t stand.

30% of customers say that after a bad experience they’ll post a negative review online. 50% (!) say they’d post a positive review. Nowadays the customer experience bar is on the floor. That’s an opportunity to step over the bar and stand out.

The wise approach – Witty Immersive Sharable and Extraordinary

  • Witty – being clever and a little bit different. Sometimes changing a word can make a world of a difference “we’re probably the lowest price in the city”
  • Immersive – get customers to feel your brand in their bones. Example: a startup called imperfect produce – they sell fruit that have a distorted shape and so can’t be sold at grocery stores. They track individually how much produce you’ve saved and helped the environment. They send customers the info.
  • Sharable – example: – a hand created thank-you card service. When people receive the card they hang it in their office as it’s a piece of art.
  • Sometimes it’s enough to add a hashtag to your collateral.
  • Extraordinary – the best way to be extraordinary is to reduce customer effort. Reduce friction. Example: Hilton hotels have a floor light that turns on with a sensor when people step down from bed to go to the bathroom.
    Another example: Chewy (twice mentioned in this context in one conference). A customer gave a negative reviewed and they:

    • issued her a refund though she never asked for one.
    • suggested four other kinds of products that the customer might prefer
    • sent their love to the customer’s cat
    • asked her to send a pic of her cat to the hall of fame they have at their office.
      Even though she left a negative review – where would she go next time she needs to shop for her cat? That’s extraordinary.

In order to be WISEr, once you’ve created all of these great experiences – be Responsive. If someone compliments your brand in public and essentially write you a commercial – you should at least write back to them. You wouldn’t ignore a compliment in real life, don’t do it on social media. Not responding causes 15% churn.

Example of responsiveness from Southwest Airlines

Example of responsiveness from Southwest Airlines

To practice what he preaches Dan handed out cards that invite people to give him feedback for the talk and inviting to an invitation only webinar if they fill out the feedback on the day of the talk.

Final thoughts,

I’ve learned a lot these past few days. I make it a habit to read industry blogs and stay up-to-date, on a daily basis, which makes me wonder why conferences with good content are beneficial. But they are. There’s always something different about taking entire days off for sheer learning. I’m off to implement. You’re welcome to join me.


Tejas Panchal

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