The latest episode of our Podcast, Take Flight is here, and this is one not to be missed. Listen to our team’s and client’s roundup of the event of the year—HubSpot’s Inbound 2022.
Episode 11 of our podcast, Take Flight, is out! In this episode, we’re recovering from the thrill of INBOUND22, and we’re getting an in-depth roundup from our colleagues and clients about their experience at INBOUND22.
Inbound is HubSpot’s annual blockbuster conference, and this year it ran from September 6-9, and September 7-9 for virtual attendees. This was the first time that it was a hybrid event, so we had our remote team dialling in from different venues, and our Managing Director, Darren Leishman, representing Spitfire Inbound, along with our longstanding clients, Tandy and Wendy. Marlene Oosthuizen, Spitfire Strategic Inbound Adviser, also shared some of her thoughts and highlights from the conference.
Here are each of their takeaways from Inbound22.
‘I think there was a very big theme around being unique or different. Because you have to stand out in a very noisy crowd. You want your clients to look forward to your emails, to be inspired by you, to feel happy, to feel something interesting, excited, because everyone is sending stuff to everyone at the moment. And that was a big theme. Like the internet, your email everywhere is a very big, noisy space. And if you don't stand out in that space, or offer your clients something that's really individual, and valuable to them, then you're just part of the noise.’—Tandy,
‘So the thing that I think people should take away from any conference of this nature, is to find something that is applicable to their business, to their here and now, and then to find something that's applicable to their business in 12 to 15, 18 months to maybe two years time, and to work towards that. If you try to take all the learnings and apply them immediately, you're going to change too much, and none of it is going to stick. So what are the one or two key takeouts that you are going to apply? And for me, I think the connected customer is something that I want to explore more, and figure out.’—Darren.
I think the key takeaway here is going back to uniqueness and creativity. So, as we discussed in a digital world, the only thing that you can be is different in your approach and strategy. And I think that extends into the ways in which we sell. So don't be afraid to be different, whether it's in marketing or sales or wherever you are.’—Marlene.
‘To me, it was all about creating organisational alignment. I think as Tandy said, we’re all bombarded with everything and we've got to be really mindful that our customers don't get caught up in our internal process, and that we constantly shop our own product, and just really ask ourselves the hard questions, and make sure that we're actually providing our customers with what they need, and we are constantly evolving to make sure that we're moving with them, and with the times.’—Wendy.
Besides the powerful and compelling sessions during Inbound, our team and clients were also thrilled about HubSpot’s new and exciting product updates. Inbound marketing is evolving and we need to find new ways to engage with customers and prospects. The HubSpot CRM is central to this, and with some of the new features, we’ll be well-equipped to move towards more unique solutions, and strategies to grow and accelerate our movement from customer management to customer connection.
Rejuvenating, eye-opening, and profound—every speaker at Inbound 22 brought their A-game. To call this conference exceptional is an understatement. Dive right in and listen to the full episode of the Inbound22 roundup.
Listen to Episode 11 in full here:
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Full Transcript below:
Welcome back to Take Flight. We're your hosts, Chaz and Motso, Inbound Implementers and Social Media Specialists at Spitfire Inbound.
Inbound Christmas was here!
And every year we get super excited. This year was no different. Inbound22 went back to Boston. So, we had a team both in-person, and dialling in remotely from South Africa, to make sure we caught all the talks and updates, for us to bring it back to you, and share so that we can all gain from the awe that is Inbound.
We have the in-person team with us here today, which is our Managing Director, Darren Leishman, and our longstanding clients, Wendy and Tandy. And then it's us representing the remote team alongside Marlene, our Strategic Inbound Adviser. Welcome everyone and thank you for joining us today. I'm going to jump straight into the first question with you, Darren. Tell us about being back in Boston.
Cool. Thanks, Motso. Good to be back, I must say. So, yeah, Boston is a phenomenal city and yeah, we've been there a number of times. So I've been to Inbound, which I think is my fifth or sixth one, but I haven't been there for four years, so I saw a few changes. But for me, what was really interesting was the vibrancy of the Inbound community. It was a smaller event compared to previous years. So I think the last time Tandy and Wendy were there, it was around 26,000 people that attended the event. And HubSpot kept this one quite a bit smaller. So there were around 10,000 people at the convention centre, and I think another 50,000 people were joining online, all over the world. And we went from in-person events to online or virtual events, and this was the first time I was at one where it was a combination, or a hybrid event, of an online virtual event. And although we were primarily in person, it seems like the two have integrated pretty well. But for me, the highlight was the ability to reconnect with people who I've met over the years, sit in a meeting room with them, and have those deep conversations that are much harder to do virtually. So just being able to sit across the table, stand at the bar, or meet in the passage, and just shake someone's hand. So, I’ve been able to come down the escalator and bump into Dharmesh Shah, the founder of HubSpot, which was an absolute highlight for me. And I think it shows how connection, and human connection, and being physically present, does foster those relationships. So I think that for me was the highlight and the key takeaway.
I'm seeing a theme there, but we'll be getting into that a bit later. Wendy for you, how was it being back in Boston?
Oh, my goodness! So again, it's such a privilege to actually find yourself in a space where you are completely inspired. Like it happened to me the first time I went, and this time, it just happened again. It was so beautiful to actually attend sessions that completely reinforce what we are doing at home. So we often tend to think that because we're in South Africa, we take a bit of a back seat when it comes to global markets and initiatives, and whatever, but guys, we are doing the right thing. So it was just absolutely reinforcement for me. It's just really inspiring.
Amazing. And Tandy for you, how was it being back in Boston?
Yes. I mean, similarly, it's quite difficult to change the narrative, because I think we all felt very much the same. So again, it's about being in a space where you can immerse yourself in different people, in different learnings, in reinforcing the ideas, the business, the leadership, and the sales sort of stuff that's going on all around the world. And I think as a leader of a business, it's very important to sometimes extract yourself from your day-to-day stuff. And Inbound always offers me that incredible opportunity to immerse myself in a different space, and to learn from others. But I think again as Wendy says, it's really cool to know that we really are up there with the top thinking in the world, and then just to be inspired by different people's ideas, the different scenarios, and lectures or whatever deep dives that we attended. And they were really filled with so much. I was scribbling. I sent home at one stage, I said you write fast; you listen fast; you eat fast; you walk fast, because there's so much happening, and you're trying to be a sponge, and just absorb everything you can while you're there. But it is really an incredible, and a privileged opportunity, to be able to go and immerse yourself in that space.
It sounds incredible. And obviously, we were on our side, and we felt that as well. So I can't imagine what it felt like to actually be there, live in Boston. Marlene, it sounds like our experience was a little on the other side. Like not as exciting, but will you just talk us through how we did it here?
So it was really awesome to attend virtually as always. We had a couple of venues set up across Johannesburg, and for the remote individuals at the company to join, and make sure that we get maximum exposure, and that everyone could attend all the sessions that they wanted to, that were available online. I think, despite not being at the physical venue, we were still very much connected, and what was really inspiring and exciting to see was the collaboration and unpacking of the sessions between the teams, and following each presentation. The sparking of ideas was really insightful.
So obviously the theme of the connected customer was a big one. And being at Inbound, you felt connected. Being virtual at Inbound, we felt connected. Darren, I'm just interested, do you think that the downscale of Inbound this year, was a COVID thing, or that they found value in that? Because obviously, it hugely impacted your experience in a great way.
So it was definitely a conscious decision for them to reduce the numbers, and to change the format of the event. And yeah, we've seen the events shift over the years. So the first time we went, and I think each year you get something slightly different out of it, you go with different objectives. But I think having it scaled down allowed it to be a little more in-depth, and more personal, but it was still 10,000 people, right? So it was still loads of people. It's not a small event, but yeah, it was the ability to connect with people. So they changed the format with the deep dive sessions, being an hour and a half. I thought, whoa, okay, it's quite long to sit in a one-and-a-half-hour presentation, and you would get to the end of this long session and go, 'Hmm, I could have done another 30 minutes of that.' So I think the presenters, certainly the ones that I attended, did make full use of that time. And then there were some really short powerful sessions that delivered a very impactful message. So I think it was intentional, and I think it worked.
Wow. That's perfect. So yeah, I think during the entire conference, the theme of the connected customer was a big one. So let's talk a bit about the connected customer, what is a disconnected customer, and how can we make our customers more connected.
So I don't think there's one answer to it. So Dharmesh and Yamini both spoke about it, and it was a pervasive theme throughout the conference. And Wendy, Tandy, and I discussed this at length over a few margaritas. But for me, I think the connected customer is something that we've always aspired to. I don't think it's unique, right? I don't think it's new. I think it's just saying, 'How do we do this in a new environment?' So having a human connection, and being able to sit with your customer across a desk, discuss the challenges that they face, and have a meaningful connection with them, has always been what we aspire to in the marketing, and a sales environment. That's hard to do at scale and it's hard to do digitally. So, I think what Dharmesh is talking about is building a community, and to build a community of like-minded people that are able to mutually benefit, or you know, there's a mutual benefit to being part of that community. On the converse, I saw a lot of people at Inbound looking at technology, and how they can utilise technology to facilitate human connection. And they're layering more and more technology on top of one another without actually going, 'How do we make this more human?' So my takeaway from it was, how do we make better use of the technology we have, and make that, or use that as an opportunity to really deeply connect with the people who we want to deliver value to, and not just throw in another piece of technology that we'll hope will build a connection. Because I think that's superficial and will not be sustainable. And like we just see an explosion of software and technologies. And choosing a technology that allows you to actually genuinely connect with your customer, and understand what they want from you, I think is really important, in this age of rapid development of technology.
100%. So for the HubSpot junkies like us, and with what you've just said, all the updates that they announced in the Spotlight, how do you think they are going to help us? Or how can we apply them to drive towards that connected customer, without it just being another layer of software?
So I think that we have to always approach it from the perspective of being human, right, and saying, 'How does this help our customer, or prospective customer make a more informed decision?', and not 'How do we use this to sell, or how do we use this to brainwash, or change a person's mind or change their perception?' ‘How does it help them solve the problem that we are able to solve?’ And I think if we do that, then all the advancements, so there's lots of cool stuff that HubSpot launched, right? And we can talk through that ad nauseum, but when we're applying that, it's going, 'How do we make sure that we are not doing this for our own benefit, we’re doing this for the customer's benefit?’ So if we are using it to visualise the customer journey, which is something that I think's really cool that HubSpot has introduced, we are not doing that solely for our own benefit. We’re doing that so we give the customer a more engaged, andmore connected experience of our business and our sales process. And we deliver on their requirements. And I think if we take that at the forefront of our decision-making, then all the technology that we bring will add value rather than detract from the process.
100%. I wanted to open the conversation up now to the actual product updates they announced. We were very excited on our side, especially Marlene. I know that there were one or two of them that really ignited excitement as to how you're going to apply them to your customers. What were one or two specific highlights from that product update for you?
Oh, Chaz, why do you have to limit me to two?
Or three or four. <laugh>
So there were so many things to get excited about. I think the biggest one for me, and Darren will attest to this. I've been wanting to do a multichannel with WhatsApp strategy for the longest time. That's probably one of the biggest updates for me that I want to see roll out. And yeah, I agree with what Darren said. It's about the application and the communication strategy that we're going to use. So that's a big one coming up. And then the other huge thing is the data management and quality update. I mean, having a CRM with, I don't want to say dirty data, but incomplete data sets, that's not useful for a marketer at all. So I'm very excited about the quality updates.
So Marlene, I think from our perspective on the quality updates side, what's exciting for me is that it's AI-driven and that you'll be able to automate that updating. So for the longest time, we've always looked at databases going, ‘How do we do this very heavy, intense manual cleansing of databases, so that we can be more professional and more personal?’ And having technology that does that data cleansing for you, that's what computers do really well, and that's what software does really well. And that frees up the creativity in the people that are executing the marketing, to not be worried about data cleanliness, but to be thinking about the customer and how they can help them.
Yeah. I was really excited about Campaign 2.0 for that exact reason. Just the advances that it's going to add to reporting, for example, without us having to kind of sit and scrounge around, it's already there; it's all integrated, and we have more time to expand on what that data actually means. Wendy, is there anything specific about the product updates that stood out to you?
So you guys have actually covered the ones that I'm really excited about. But there was another one, which will allow us to prioritise our deals and sort them. So, you know, from a salesperson's perspective, it really helps to get them to focus on what's important. And again, just to go back to basics, like really just simplify the process.
Back to basics, always from a Wendy. And like you said, we are already on those conversations that they were having, now it's just to be inspired to instil them.
Absolutely. I mean, the WhatsApp integration is a huge thing. That's becoming sort of our primary source of communication, so that was very exciting too. I mean, Kyle's session! Darren, you attended the session the day before, but I was so excited. I wanted to tell him to just slow down. I could have spent the whole day with the man!
Absolutely. Yeah, there was so much happening that trying to communicate it all on here is very challenging. But yeah, I think the fact that HubSpot is continually evolving, and continually updating, and staying in tune with the market, for me is really exciting, that they're delivering these new tools and technologies based on the input that they get from their customers. So they're living and breathing that, right? So, people like Marlene and Wendy, who are using the tool on a day-to-day basis, are putting forward these ideas, and HubSpot is building those ideas to enhance the product for the customers. So that talks back to this connected customer, HubSpot is living and breathing that connected customer experience.
So in a nutshell, Darren, just to add to that, we are all being bombarded with the whole, 'How do you balance hybrid versus in person? How do you balance technology?' And to me, they've really listened. So I felt like it was done intentionally, and very mindfully, which we now need to translate, and put into our tool.
Okay. Moving away from the HubSpot updates into the talks. Tandy, this one is for you. What was your favourite talk during the conference?
Now that's hard. I think I had two favourites. I mean, almost every talk that I went to was amazing, but I think two really stood out for me. One that I attended was about Three reasons your sales team is not doubling their sales numbers with Amanda Holmes. She was amazing, absolutely amazing. And she had so many great ideas, but just the whole way she spoke and her energy, was just captivating. She was amazing. Actually, there were three that stood out. So then I also attended the one around mindful communication for remote work. And that was also really interesting. And I think that communication is an issue that comes up, in most businesses, but we definitely found in our business, over the last couple of years or maybe always, one of the things whenever we are drilling down into why things are not working, communication is always one of the things that pops up. And she just had so many wonderful things to say about how to communicate better and how to communicate properly based on the fact that not everybody is always in the room. And I think 'not everybody is always in the room' is so relevant, not only to remote work, or hybrid work but also because as businesses scale and grow, not everybody is always in the room. We started out with five of us in a room all the time together, and knew everything that was happening to where we are now. And so we use that instinctive knowledge of what's happening around us. And therefore, that communication is so much more important. And then on the last day, Wendy and I attended one of the HubSpot talks on 10 examples of RevOps and how it can grow your sales. And also another incredible speaker who was just so full of lovely ideas, and really valuable information. And also some of it around communication, and around all sorts of things, but I think those were my top three.
I love that. We know that Wendy's was Kyle Jepson. Darren, was there a talk that stood out to you the most?
No, I think for me, there's always the surprise one. And so, I went to the talk by Dr Jane Goodall. And although I know who she is, and I wanted to hear what she had to say, she just had so many pearls of wisdom to share, and was so humble in her approach to life. And the simplicity of how she delivered the message, for me, was so authentic. And yeah, she really stood out for me as a highlight, possibly because it was so different to everything else, but I found that really inspiring.
She was delightful. She was absolutely delightful.
And that resonated digitally as well. I mean, we were all sitting in South Africa, I think it was at around nine o'clock if I'm not mistaken, and we were also just in awe. She was unreal. Marlene, I remember we were talking, and that was also something that really surprised you about Inbound in general when it came to those speakers.
Yeah. I think the overall vulnerability of all the speakers was surprising. I feel like this really tied into their messaging, and made the talks even more relatable. I feel like this is an emphasis of the movement towards relevance, reliability, and, overall, the connectivity of everyone. And like Darren said, the community as a whole, so that was really sweet.
And I just want to find out from you guys all, obviously we attended a three day, or four-day conference. Were there any mantras or insights that you would carry out throughout the year that you got from the conference?
Yeah, absolutely. I think there were definitely things that you can do. Amanda Holmes has a mantra that she taught us, which I've already been using a bit. And I certainly think, the mindful communication skills. I think those skills you can take, and just immediately begin to apply in your own space. And then I think it's really important that we bring a lot of these things home, and we teach them to our teams too, because they weren't privileged to attend these sessions.
Cool. And Darren?
So the one that stood out for me was a quote from Jane Goodall, where she said that ‘Hope ‘should be seen as a verb.’ She was talking about the environment, but I think this can be applied to life overall, right? So hope should be seen as an action rather than an emotion. So we often talk about, ‘I feel hopeful’, or ‘I wish I had hope,’ whereas she was saying that hope is generated by the action, right? So if you want something to happen, take action. And then you can express hope as a verb, as an action, rather than as an emotion. And for me, that was really powerful, to go, like ‘Be the change you want to see.’
Yeah. I also really like that she gave the analogy of the light at the end of the tunnel, where hope is the light at the end of the tunnel. But at the end of the day, you're still on the other side of the tunnel in order for you to reach that light, and there will be darkness. And obviously, that could be a metaphor for hard work as well. So yeah, Jane was the crowd's favourite digitally, and in-person as well. For me, Emma Grede. Tandy, Wendy, and Darren, did you guys manage to watch her at all?
No, I didn't attend.
Oh, my goodness. You have to watch her On Demand. She was also really cool, such a powerful woman in business at the moment. And one thing that stood out from her talk that I will apply as a mantra, she was just like, 'I'm a gut instinct person.' And as much as there are things that need to be thought out, being in the business space, sometimes you do just need to go with your gut. And if we are surrounding ourselves with the methodologies and surrounding ourselves with the goals, and ways that we want to move forward, then our gut should be aligned with that as well. So I really enjoyed that.
So for me, I think the biggest thing is just that you owe it to yourself, as well as your customers, to think outside of the box, and to be unique and bold with your approach.
I think there was a very big theme around being unique or different. Because you have to stand out in a very noisy crowd. You want your clients to look forward to your emails, to be inspired by you, to feel happy, to feel something interesting, excited, because everyone is sending stuff to everyone at the moment. And that was a big theme. Like the internet, your email everywhere is a very big, noisy space. And if you don't stand out in that space, or offer your clients something that's really individual, and valuable to them, then you're just part of the noise.
A big one for me was, I attended the last session. My last session was all about RevOps, which sometimes is a bit of an interesting concept, right? But it was unbelievable. And so to me, it was all about creating organisational alignment. I think as Tandy said, we’re all bombarded with everything and we've got to be really mindful that our customers don't get caught up in our internal process, and that we constantly shop our own product, and just really ask ourselves the hard questions, and make sure that we're actually providing our customers with what they need, and we are constantly evolving to make sure that we're moving with them, and with the times.
Cool. So I think I'm gonna close off this conversation. What is it that you would love our listeners to remember from today's episode, or should be asking, or something that they can remember after listening to this episode?
So the thing that I think people should take away from any conference of this nature, is to find something that is applicable to their business, to their here and now, and then to find something that's applicable to their business in 12 to 15, 18 months to maybe two years time, and to work towards that. If you try to take all the learnings and apply them immediately, you're going to change too much, and none of it is going to stick. So what are the one or two key takeouts that you are going to apply? And for me, I think the connected customer is something that I want to explore more, and figure out, because at the same time as people are saying, ‘We want to be more connected’ there's also a drive for customers to be able to self-service. So I think it's being present and relevant at the right time, at the right pace, for your customer, and being available to them. So I think if you can be available to your customer how they want you to be there, then you are moving in the right direction. I think that would be my key takeout.
I think the key takeaway here is going back to uniqueness and creativity. So, as we discussed in a digital world, the only thing that you can be is different in your approach and strategy. And I think that extends into the ways in which we sell. So don't be afraid to be different, whether it's in marketing or sales or wherever you are. Yeah. That's it, in short.
So I think similarly to Darren, I agree that you can only implement some of your stuff, and you have to have a bit of a plan around that. Except for me, as I said earlier, it's to bring back some of their thinking, and then to really be able to teach it to my team, and embed it first internally, before we can start to make 'Wow' great plans about what we're going to do for our customers. And I really think it's important that the internal team gets up to speed with it, and we teach it to them first. And then we can sit down as a team, because we like to run it as an inclusive team, and then decide what of this is really valuable to take forward in the business, and how we plan to do that strategically over the next year to 18 months.
Definitely. I think instead of it just being looked at as the connected customer; you have your connected workforce by using your connected platform which is HubSpot for us, equals the connected customer. And just starting from the bottom and filtering that through everything that we do with the inbound methodology.
Yes. And I think also, Wendy and I have to align on what we each brought back, because we tried to attend different sessions, and obviously, she's sitting more on the systems side, so there's so much wonderful stuff that we need to take and work out what we can apply, and what works for us.
Perfect. Does anybody have anything else to add before we close off?
I'd like to add that it was an absolute privilege to represent Spitfire. We had a couple of really proud moments, both as South Africans, and as Spitfire clients. Spitfire is doing a phenomenal job. I think you could actually see the reverence and respect from all the other partners. And yeah, it was really a privilege. You guys are doing a good job.
Oh, I have to second that. Well done guys! They know exactly who you are at Inbound.
Thanks, guys. That's really cool to hear.
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