It was back in 2012 that I first experienced Hubspot’s Inbound conference. I was asked to speak on topics related to agency – marketer relationships.
In 2012, I remember thinking “holy cow…this is like a revival…everybody is drinking the kool-aid!” Thousands of marketers and agencies hanging on the edge of everything told to them about the value, and the potential of inbound marketing.
Move the clock ahead 3 years and I get invited to speak again. This time my speech focuses on the importance of combining a smart outbound, proactive prospecting program with the power of inbound to more effectively build one’s business. I think I was one of the few people at the conference that uttered the word “outbound” among all the believers.
I knew that inbound was a growing movement.
It’s been an integral part of our efforts to connect with agencies and marketers – and it’s an integral part of our new business development programs that we run for our agency partners. But I had no idea just how much the popularity of inbound had grown.
In 2012 there were probably 3-4 thousand people present at conference. This year…over 12 thousand! It was an unbelievable experience seeing so many people engaged on one marketing topic…so many people who use and follow the principles of inbound to build their business and their clients’ business.
Quite the experience and quite the show.
And quite the reaction to my presentation.
At the start of my presentation I asked agencies if they were using inbound for their own new business development efforts. Nearly all of them were. No surprise there. And no surprise that only a small percentage also self-identified as using outbound strategies and tactics to help move their business ahead.
It was clear that what I was telling many of these agency folks was not part of their program – and probably would never be. Probably explains why there were a half dozen that walked out mid-way through the presentation…they simply didn’t like what they heard.
And then there were the 15 folks that stuck around. In 2012, I had 1, maybe 2 people wanting to talk with me after my presentation. This time they waited in line. I thought they only did that for the big time speakers…not little ole’ me.
Every person that came up to me after the presentation applauded me for bringing up the “out” word and talked about how they feel that with so many agencies doing the same thing, that eventually they’d have to get more aggressive in order for their content to stick.
They talked about the saturation of content and how reaching people by inbound alone (agency or otherwise) is only going to get tougher as more marketers and more agencies take it on as a tactic for building their business.
And just like non-inbound only agencies, eventually these inbound-only firms are going to have to spell out what makes their offering different or better – because just doing inbound isn’t going to be enough to convince a marketer to take a meeting with them and bring them on board as a partner.
So while inbound is here to stay…and I expect that 3 years from now if I’m invited to speak again, the attendance will continue to grow…but I also suspect that the topics will change and there will be more people talking about things we tell our agency clients about their business and how they can set themselves apart and how they need to use multiple platforms to attract the attention of marketers who are getting bombarded every day with a growing number of agencies vying for their attention.
So I thank Hubspot for inviting me and allowing me to speak on a topic that may have rubbed a few folks the wrong way…but hopefully inspired a few folks to change the way they manage their own business development and change the way they manage their marketing clients programs too.