5 Key Takeaways from INBOUND 2014

This post is written by Ankita Katuri, a friend and ex-colleague, who recently attended Inbound 2014 in Boston. Inbound 2014 is one of the most reputed and highly attended conference in the digital marketing space, organized by Hubspot. In this post Ankita shares her 5 key takeaways from the conference.


Come Together. Get Inspired. Be Remarkable

And we did. We were. And we aim to be.

Inbound 2014, was phenomenal, just as most of us expected it to be.

First off, kudos to Inbound for accomplishing the remarkable feat of drastic growth from when it first started out in 2010 with an attendance of just 1300 to over 10,000 attendees this year, that arrived from over 50 countries around the world! This exponential growth points ever so clearly at the rising inbound movement among organizations and marketing agencies around the world.


If you were unable to attend Inbound 2014, the folks over there have been nice enough to put most of the slide decks on their website. Check them out here as well as on the Inbound website.

Inbound, at its core, is all about transforming existing pushy, profit-oriented processes to an unequivocal focus on people– employees, prospects and customers.

In this post, I just wanted to share my top 5 key takeaways from the event- concepts, ideas and strategies that really resonated with me and all the various touch points that need transformation and a fresh mindset to truly deliver value


One of Inbound’s most profound takeaways came from Simon Sinek who opened with a powerful keynote – “Leaders Eat Last,” an Incredible Tale by Simon Sinek- on the responsibility of leadership. A few insights from Simon’s keynote:

  • “We are social animals and we respond to the environments we are in.  This is especially true in the workplace. When we trust people we are with, we trust that the work will get done.”
  • “Have a standard that you hire better than you in your functional area – A players hire A+ players
  • Great leaders would sacrifice the numbers to save the people. When push comes to shove, numbers never come to your rescue – people do.
  • Leaders are for the people; the people are responsible for the numbers.


  • It goes without saying, that content is the foundation of the Inbound methodology. And as one would expect, several of the sessions- whether they were about SEO, social media, email marketing or blogging- all lay heavy emphasis on the underlying concept of Think, Teach, Help.

A few highlights on what qualifies as great content:

  • Build content that helps your audience do something – content that equips your buyer succeed in something and encourages actions that make the community better
  • Content that provides recipes that help others do business with our without your great product.
  • Engage customers with what they want to talk about, not what you are interested in talking about
  • Initially, it was thought that for a company to excel in Inbound, it has to master the craft of ‘thought leadership.’ But the status quo has changed. As Chris Brogan suggested, shift your focus from being a leader to being a helper.



  • Hook sales activity with useful, valuable, relevant content. But always provide value, whether or not your prospects buy. For instance, if you are offering a free webinar and you offer a discount on a paid webinar that you plan to have the following week where you can delve into more detail – make sure that the free webinar is of true value to your audience as well!
  • 80% sales come from between 5-11th contact with that person. Now, more than ever, it is important to engage in warm and personable sales
  • Help buyers reach their level of ownership. Get buyers to love you!
  • Hubspot announced its move into the CRM space with much gusto. The company officially launched a CRM solution that is built on the same database as its marketing platform. Sidekick, a sales acceleration tool (and a new and improved version of HubSpot’s Signals tool), was also introduced. Both the new Hubspot CRM and Sidekick have singular focus- Inbound sales, which means that now you can conduct prospect research, understand context, learn your prospect’s social media activity and personalize every single interaction and the entire consumer buying process.
  • Inbound is no longer just something that marketing does—it’s an approach that that penetrates all customer touch points.
  • David Meerman Scott advises, “Instead of selling, you educate and inform.”


  • While several B2Bs are now starting to see that social media is a crucial aspect of their marketing endeavors, and not just a nice-to-have option, social selling is more than just making perfunctory posts on twitter, linkedin and facebook.
  • Socially surround the folks/networks your buyer trusts. People buy from people that they know, like & trust.
  • Create engaging content – that which people can and want to share with their communities.
  • Scott Monty, EVP Strategy at SWIFT communications quoted Cicero, “If you wish to persuade me, you must think my thoughts” and emphasized the important of speaking in a tone that will resonate with your buyer personas.
  • Despite all the intelligence, techniques and technology, social selling comes down to building authentic relationships with potential buyers that are grounded in truly delivering value and resolving pain points.


Malcolm Gladwell’s amazing keynote David & Goliath: The power of the underdog revolved around Why Being ‘Disagreeable’ Can Help You Transform an Industry.I want to highlight a few points he made, that I personally thought, were incredibly wise:

  • Successful transformations reframe the problem that makes the solution possible. They erase existing boundaries and start from scratch. Seemingly small innovation can revolutionize industries when we look for new solutions to old problems
  • It’s simply not enough to have great ideas, focus, and disincline; you also need to be the kind of person who will tune out the naysayers and follow through on your revolutionizing ideas. Once other entrepreneurs open themselves up to new ideas, ignore the noise and get to working, they, too, can transform industries.
  • The most successful entrepreneurs not only have courage and imagination, they also have a sense of urgency. They’re not willing to wait. They have a burning desire to get something done. It was the same kind of urgency Jobs’ had. The Apple co-founder visited Xerox PARC, where they had been working on a mouse-controlled computer for years, according to Gladwell. After Jobs saw the innovation, he immediately returned to his office and pushed his team to make the first Macintosh and then he went to an industrial designer and had a mouse built to accompany it at a much cheaper price than XEROX.


“Remarkable results rarely come from avoiding risk. You must try new things.” –  Dharmesh Shah

All of these bold, inspiring talks served as hefty reminder that in order to see a change in our teams, our organizations or something as large scale as the world, the change must start within us.

There has to be a revolution in the way we approach marketing. The challenge for marketers today is to be aware of context and the concerns of their audience. The modern day buyer has immense power on how and when they will engage with a company. More often than not, they are not affected and influenced by blatant advertising messages. The only way to truly set your brand apart and to survive amidst fierce competition is by understanding the modern buyers’ buying habits and personalizing your marketing as well as sales efforts to reach out and connect with them.

Author bio:
Ankita-Katuri_smallAnkita is an Inbound Marketer and tech enthusiast, with a passion for channelizing content into creative marketing and communications solutions for SMBs. She currently works at coMakeIT, where she is tasked with delivering real business results through a unique content strategy.

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