Last week I attended Inbound, the key marketing event hosted by Hubspot in Boston. The event was attended by nearly 25,000 people, which demonstrates how vibrant the marketing space is, how big inbound activities have become, and how central they are to a great marketing strategy. I want to discuss some of my key takeaways from the event.
Moving from the marketing and sales “funnel” to the “flywheel”
It’s clear that marketing has been a very dynamic space for many years. However, during this time, it has too often been relying on the same old concepts. At Inbound I saw promising efforts to try to change this – for example, in Hubspot CEO, Brian Halligan’s keynote, he spoke about how we’re seeing a change of paradigm, shifting from the traditional “lead funnel” to the “marketing and sales flywheel”.
Now this may sound like semantics and marketers spending too much time coming up with a fancy new name for an old concept, but my initial reaction is that the metaphor does have some value. In a flywheel, as explained in Hubspot’s blogpost, the more energy you put in, the faster it spins. It reflects the importance of the customer experience, and how both satisfied and dissatisfied customers can now impact more than ever before (such as via social media) your brand, and the awareness that future customers have of your business.
For example, here at Belatrix, we work really hard to ensure our customers have a great experience when working with us. Customer referrals are a strong source of new business for us. So we’ve seen first-hand this circular process in action – where we bring on-board a new customer, they have a great experience, and then advocate for us, helping attract new customers.
We’ve also created a new area this year called, “Customer Success Management”, which specifically aims to improve how we work with our customers, to ensure a smoother process from the moment a customer hears of Belatrix to beyond the completion of their project. At its heart, this is what the flywheel tries to represent. I’m not sure if the term “flywheel” will catch on in the same way as the funnel has, but nonetheless it’s a useful metaphor to explain some of the changing dynamics.
Technology was ever present throughout the event
As a technology company, we’re very much aware of how digital technologies are impacting every business. For years, marketing has been at the forefront of using technology, particularly as brands sought new ways to outcompete their competition.
This year at Inbound, there was barely a talk that didn’t mention technology and how best to use it for marketing and sales. Most of the sponsors of the event were tech-based companies providing SaaS, integrations, and also AI services for better and improved results. Tech has become the cornerstone of marketing and sales and where a major part of investment is going. It’s worth noting that many of the sponsors were relatively new companies, startups with great potential offerings and tech services, to improve the current stack.
Moving to “frictionless” sales processes
At the event, I saw how more and more companies are moving the concept of marketing to a “frictionless” sales process based on the correct use of technology. As the amount of human interaction decreases, so there is less friction, and hopefully increased customer satisfaction. Building such processes however are much easier said than done.
We know the people want that personal touch – and businesses that can provide it, help generate authenticity with prospects and customers. So it’s a blend – creating a frictionless process, that uses tech and automation, while also providing human touchpoints where appropriate.
Were you at Inbound? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!