HubSpot's Dharmesh Shah on large screen during his keynote at INBOUND at the Boston Exhibition and Convention Center.
HubSpot co-founder and CTO Dharmesh Shah on stage Tuesday at INBOUND PHOTO: Dom Nicastro

BOSTON — Twenty-one thousand people descended upon the Boston Exhibition and Convention Center this week for HubSpot’s annual INBOUND marketing conference.

What draws so many people to this event?

The mini pigs-in-a-blanket appetizers, former First Lady Michelle Obama’s appearance, co-founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah’s always-entertaining keynote and vendors with awesome outfits like this are naturally appealing:

But at the end of the day, we attend conferences to learn something. To solve a problem. To see how others are handling the same challenges. And to rub elbows.

We caught up with a few INBOUNDers on day one of the conference to talk all things HubSpot and marketing.

Marketing Strategy Rules

Bryan Manning, President, Manning & Company

Headshot of Bryan Manning
Bryan Manning

Bryan Manning runs his Cohasset, Mass.-based marketing firm, as well as teaching marketing at UMass-Boston. He had some advice for marketers:

"Know your company’s one-page summary of marketing strategy," he said. “Segmentation, targeting and positioning.” 

“Technology drives it," he added. "But first you have to know what your value proposition is and what your differentiation is, your competitors, your industry and your strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats.”

Watch what’s happening in the future, he added, and remember that “less is more.”

Inbound Over Email?

Mindy Pozenel, Senior Solutions Marketing Strategist, CAS

Mindy Pozenel headshot
Mindy Pozenel

Mindy Pozenel is based in Columbus, Ohio. She said her team relies heavily on email, which is “old and people are feeling overwhelmed.” 

“With your customers,” she added, “it’s always about relationships, and I feel like we’ve gotten away from that a little bit. I feel like it will come around more. Even if you have to do it in a one-on-one way, what’s the most cost effective way to do that?”

While her organization is investing in inbound marketing efforts, she realizes it comes with its own set of challenges.

“It will take a lot more time and investment,” Pozenel said. “And it’s newer.” 

Forget Tech, Honor Relationships

Amy Buckeridge, Managing Director, The Publicity Loft

Amy Buckeridge
Amy Buckeridge

Amy Buckeridge runs a Dublin-based lifestyle and beauty public relations firm that doesn’t rely on technology to get out its messaging.

“We are as successful as we are because of our relationships, and not because of the platform we’re using,” Buckeridge told CMSWire. “We do get away with not using a platform in that regard. And I do think you lose a little of your credibility if you funnel into what’s regimented.”

No big platform? What do they do?

“Old school,” Buckeridge said. “Picking up the phone. It’s my job to have those contacts. If I don’t know them I’m going to get to know them.”

From INBOUND, she’s looking for inspiration on how to be successful and creative in a high-pressured environment. PR never sleeps.

“How do we come up with more ideas? How do we work smarter?”

Attendees of HubSpot's INBOUND lounging on pink bean bags inside the Boston Exhibition and Convention Center Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017.
Attendees of HubSpot's INBOUND lounging on pink bean bags inside the Boston Exhibition and Convention Center Tuesday.PHOTO: Dom Nicastro

HubSpot Competition Heats Up

Dror Amir, Online Business Consultant

Dror Amir headshot
Dror Amir

Los Angeles-based Dror Amir views HubSpot from the strategy side. He works with teams trying to master digital through strategy and technology.

He credits HubSpot for “reading the map well” in this space and creating the inbound marketing category.

“Most clients say they see results from HubSpot and they have a lot of features,” Amir said.

While it was once the lone tech providers to help marketers do inbound correctly, HubSpot now has a lot of competition that is “cheaper and sometimes better.”

The competitors don’t offer everything HubSpot does, but if you just want workflows, journeys and email, for example, some providers offer that.

HubSpot competitors are “catching up.”

“I think they’re really starting to feel the competition,” Amir said. “I like it. It’s good for everybody. It’s good for them.”

Give Me Qualified Leads

Jason Becker, CEO, RICS Software

Jason Becker headshot
Jason Becker

Indianapolis-based Jason Becker said his team uses HubSpot software for outbound outreach as well as spotting inbound inquiries.

“The most important thing I’m looking for are tools that help my people perform better,” Becker said. “I want them to engage directly in the selection process and really count on them to figure out what’s going to make them their best.”

The most challenging thing with enterprise technology, Becker said, is it becomes an end in and of itself.

“Hopefully that doesn’t happen,” he said. 

Ultimately, he’s looking for qualified leaders and meaningful opportunities from software like HubSpot’s.

Marketing Inspiration

Aloise Timmins Ellinger, Marketing Director, Array Architects 

Aloise Timmins Ellinger headshot
Aloise Timmins Ellinger

Aloise Timmins Ellinger came to INBOUND from Philadelphia seeking inspiration — to think “outside of the typical box.”

Her team, although small, has doubled down on inbound marketing and content production.

It started with podcasts a couple years ago and then went on to webinars.

“We have a really small firm and didn’t know if the podcasts would work,” she told CMSWire. “It turns out it was a great idea.”

They even began getting clients onboard to speak on the webinars and podcasts and now have gone to live webinars in addition to recordings.

“The question is how to bring people in to see that. The sky’s the limit there,” she said. “Now everyone wants to create content around that webinar.”