How INBOUND changed my life…kind of
by Rachel McCormick
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 25 seconds
Never did I imagine the shear greatness of what was called INBOUND. What I thought would be a neat marketing conference in Boston turned into a theatrical debut of digital start-ups and glorified gurus surrounded by an atmosphere best compared to a stylish dance club. Entering into the huge conference arena, I could only think to myself, “I am ready to learn about marketing,” while bobbing my head to Beyoncé on the loudspeaker.
Before you start thinking that the conference was just one really big excuse to have a giant party, let me get to what I actually learned. Out of all the speakers I had the privilege of hearing I want to hit on three who were really impactful, including bestselling author Seth Godin, world renowned and hilariously fantastic comedian Aziz Ansari, and bestselling author Daniel Pink.
Seth Godin is the first person to ever ask me this question - “What do you do once you get your ducks in a row?” It was weirdly mind blowing to think about what happens when you accomplish something. So much of a working professionals efforts are focused on climbing the ladder of success, but what happens when you reach the tip of the ladder? Seth says people spend too much time figuring out their ducks, rather than focusing on actually making a change happen. He says, “There will always be someone who says how dare you, who are you, who gave you the authority or you’re not as great as you think you are.” Harsh, right? Professionals, especially marketers who are supposed to have all the answers to what people want, should be the ones to ask questions before we do as we’re told. Ask why? Why is the source of so much inspiration, innovation, audience mindset, shopper theory, etc? Understand when to question work, and also be open to new opportunities. We get trapped when saying, “People like me do things like this.” Instead, say, “I’ll give that a try.”
Aziz Ansari, best known for his role in Parks and Rec, was a real treat. He and sociologist Eric Klinenberg collaborated to write Modern Romance, a study on dating in the digital age. Together, they shared their utterly hysterical and somewhat inappropriate evidence of how people are creating alternate personalities for online dating. While reading excerpts from the dating app Tinder, they clearly showed how conversations were perfectly acceptable online, but would NOT be so if someone said the same cleverly furbished pick-up line in a bar to an actual person. Because individuals have the protection of a screen and the Web between them, people are becoming more bold and outspoken than ever online. This is a real takeaway for social media. With social media becoming a popular tool to communicate with businesses, customers are more likely to rant about a poor experience online than at a store, and those rants can be shared with an infinite amount of people. In the digital age, I find it best to own up to mistakes, make it right and move forward. People have to trust in your brand online like they put their trust in a complete stranger on an online dating site.
Daniel Pink is a sales guy. He talked like a sales guy, he acted like a sales guy, and honestly, if he was selling me something, I would have bought it. His keynote was so enlightening, and although marketing and sales are different, they really work – or should work – together for the common good. His spiel was most focused on sales and information. As an example, he asked what people first thought about when they thought of a salesman. Sleazy, cheating and ugh were some of the top responses. This is somewhat because salespeople, back in the day – like before 1995 – knew more than the customer, so could potentially cheat them out of a good deal. With the digital age, however, this has drastically shifted. With information at our fingertips, consumers are going to salespeople knowing more than them, and being able to call them out on their bull. Dan shared how the best salespeople are considered overly extrovert and good people, but that isn’t the case. The BEST salespeople are a mix of extroverts and introverts…making me consider taking a job in sales – HA! But seriously, salespeople have to have character, be able to read someone and hold a conversation, but also share those detail-oriented characteristics of a real introvert to stay up-to-date on the knowledge being shared online.
INBOUND was a great experience. I can definitely say that I soaked up as much as I could and walked out of that overly decorated, ridiculously hipster-fied convention center as a better marketer. What I liked best about the conference is that they reignited that spark for marketing. The knowledge that campaigns don’t work sometimes or that people are always changing confirms why I love my career choice. If marketing was easy, it would be boring, and I am the kind of person who is always up for a challenge.
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