INBOUND17 : What CMOs Need to Know

October 10, 2017 by Suma EP

If you’re part of the leading edge marketing world, then you couldn’t have missed out the excitement around INBOUND17 in the last week of September. In case you were unable to attend or missed all the action, here’s a roundup of what you must know from the event.

Team Niswey was at INBOUND17. The event had over 250 speakers, including Michelle Obama and John Cena (okay, Rand Fishkin and Bozoma Saint John, if you’re the marketing types :P). So it’s impossible for one person to know all that was talked about; definitely not in an event that was attended by 21,400 people from over 100 countries. That said, here’s Niswey’s take on what to look out for. 

Platform is Everything

Scott Brinker, @chiefmartec, has joined HubSpot as VP-Platform Ecosystem. Scott is probably most known by the iconic infographic he produces of the marketing technology landscape every year. So clearly, he knows more about marketing tech than most people put together. And by bringing him onboard, HubSpot is underlining its ambition to transform into a full-fledged platform from being a marketing automation tool. With many integrations such as AdRoll, Terminus, AdEspresso, etc, already under its hood, HubSpot is quickly expanding its marketing and sales prowess. And which CMO would not want that kind of prowess at her beck and call?

Account Based Marketing is Here to Stay

INBOUND17 had several sessions and a panel discussion on Account Based Marketing (ABM), thus firmly silencing the inbound vs ABM debate that has been on for a while. Before you say, ABM is outbound in some fancy terminology, the thing to always remember here is this: for ABM to work, you need to be using the inbound marketing philosophy. So, there is a clear distinction. While that may take a while infiltrating the inside sales teams, a CMO will have to sit up and take notice. And up their game on ABM.

Design – Yes, Design – the Brand Experience

Yes, you have the brand guide with its color palettes and font families and logo guidelines.

But that’s not what Brian Solis talked about in his session about customer experience.

Today, you have several touch points at which a prospect or a customer could engage with your brand. Have you thought about the experience you want to create at each of these touch points? And in this era of short attention spans governed by battery life and wi-fi connectivity, and rapid switching of loyalties, should you be leaving this experience to chance? Of course not. That’s the easy part. Now go and design your brand experience guidebook. And when you’re done, share it with us. Because more brands need to go this way.

Remove Obstacles to Creativity, and SEO

Two of the five keynotes of INBOUND focused on creativity. That is indeed a huge stand to take, for a marketing event. One was by Piera Gelardi of Refinery29 and the other by Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar, and co-author of Creativity, Inc. While the peppy Peira catered to the overwhelmingly millennial audience, Ed brought in Dumbledore-like wisdom (and style) to the topic, appealing to everyone. Both keynotes talked about the obstacles to creativity, among other things. And how it is up to the leaders to ensure that a culture of creativity and self-expression is nurtured. Which means marketing leaders now need to not just know their business, marketing technologies, new tactics but also be incredibly self-aware as well as empathetic to their teams. Yes, being a leader is always challenging. A marketing one, more so.

Self-awareness may just be the tool that Rand Fishkin was trying not to refer to in his session on the beliefs about content marketing that we bring to our game. Our cultural conditioning about marketing tactics may be keeping us from seeing the big picture, the longer-term game and hence miss a few buses entirely. You can catch Rand Fishkin’s presentation here.

What’s Coming Up, in HubSpot?

The event saw a lot of excitement around the Content Strategy tool that was launched a few weeks before INBOUND17. But that’s a feature you already have access to right now. What’s going to come up in the next few months?

First, HubSpot Sales Professional is getting a massive upgrade to give your existing CRM a run for its money, literally as well, because the pricing is enticing too (if you sign up now, you will not need to pay the full fee kicking into place November this year). So if you have seen HubSpot merely as a marketing tool, it’s time for a rethink as a marketing teams become the need of the hour. HubSpot becomes the center of your marketing as well as sales team, going forward.

Too many disparate conversations going on with prospects and customers? Slack, Facebook Messenger (oh if you’re not using this yet, and bots, then you should be, say Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah), email, etc. HubSpot Conversations bring it all into one inbox, let you tag team members, so conversations stay in one place, and hence become easily trackable.

HubSpot Customer Hub is likely to make it to the tool next year, bringing sales, marketing and customer service into a single place. “The Customer Hub is designed to help our customers help their customer be successful, and with it, you’ll be able to do customer service in a more inbound way,” says HubSpot. This handles the Delight aspect of the inbound methodology, as well as the Advocate aspect of the ABM methodology. Done correctly, you start getting more revenue per customer. I am keeping an eye out for this feature.


That’s what INBOUND17 was about, as far as Niswey’s trend watching on marketing strategies is concerned. There were plenty of sessions on getting the most out of content, messaging, Facebook, LinkedIn, videos, HubSpot features, and other tactical stuff. A quick search should throw up some of the insights picked up by attendees.

In closing, I want to highlight one of the key messages that kept getting repeated, time and again, across sessions. From Brenè Brown to Michelle Obama, from Piera Gelardi to Geraldine DeRuiter, from Catherine Storing to Katie Martell, from Ed Catmull to Rand Fishkin, and I am sure more that I couldn’t listen to:  the resounding message was to be you, be the authentic you. Shed the layers that are not you, overcome the conditioning of words and their impact on you, step into the uniqueness and craziness that is you.

Want to chat about Inbound Marketing Trends?

And how you can leverage them for your marketing goals?