Earlier this month, we had an unbelievably enriching experience as the Computan team were Boston-bound for INBOUND. That’s right, this year, we experienced the INBOUND marvel – this time as exhibitors. As usual, INBOUND was a breeding ground for inspiration and we gained plenty of insight by networking with some truly wonderful business leaders.
As sponsors of the event, we had the opportunity to share what we do with countless companies and marketing agencies looking to outsource their back-end development and technical needs. To generate leads, we had interested parties sign up for a 15-minute consultation phone call with us which would then lead to 4 free hours of work as a trial period for our services. We had great responses and generated some leads which have since turned in to what we hope to be long term partnerships.
Our INBOUND 2016 experience was priceless (well actually it did come with a price), so it seemed only right to share some of the highlights, lessons learned, moments of inspiration, and how we think we made an impact at INBOUND.
Election Day Buzz
The 4-day convention kicked off on Tuesday, November 8th – Election Day. The sheer excitement and anticipation of ushering in a new era in America added to what can only be describe as an electric energy surging through the convention center. With a Happy Hour at 4pm and Club INBOUND opening at 5pm, the excitement and vigor was undeniable. Everyone was in high spirits and were eagerly awaiting what was to come both within the conference and just a stone throw away in D.C.
The day was lively and intense, with connections being made left and right. We had outstanding success with generating leads and signing people up for introductory calls. People were riding the happiness of having a drink in their hand and to make a great night even better, acclaimed best-selling author and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk graced the stage with an inspiring keynote speech that night.
Rounding off the first night, everyone parted ways – some attending private after-parties and others returning to their hotels to tune in for the election results. The Computan team had come in from all over – some drove, some flew, some took trains etc. Some of us made it to the site with only around 30 minutes before opening. Needless to say, the team was ready to relax so we ordered some pizza, and tuned in for what was a lengthy and unexpected election night.
A Change in Tone
Walking in to the Convention Center the next day, it was blatant that others had shared a similar night. Tired from staying up into the early hours of the morning to watch the election unfold, and either elated or deflated by its results, the energy amongst INBOUND goers had drastically dipped. For a while, it felt like a dark cloud hung over the convention center on Wednesday.
Luckily, there was a Happy Hour every day and by 3pm on Wednesday, some energy had started to pick back up. While everyone seemed to bounce back over the following days, the energy of the first day was never quite replicated. Without a doubt, our lead generation during the first 4-5 hours on the first day blew the other days out of the water.
How We Made Our Mark at INBOUND 2016
Our booth was equipped with two TV screens and our team was provided with 10 admission passes. HubSpot had given us suggestions and guidelines to follow, and to be quite honest, we took the liberty to draw outside the lines a bit. While the suggestion was to bring only our own staff to represent us, as a smaller team we simply didn’t have the manpower to have so many crucial team members be M.I.A. and neglecting our clients. With that in mind, we hired some students to help us man the event, as well as, some customers who could serve as walking testimonials for our services. During downtimes, our customers got to enjoy INBOUND, visit exhibits, and enjoy some free food on us. We used a mix of students, customers and staff. That seemed to work and is what most of the other exhibitors were doing.
We were also given the suggestion to freight our equipment and swag items over with an indication to bring 9000 items to giveaway. We, on the other hand, wanted to make sure whatever we gave out was meaningful and to people we made a real connection with. If someone signed up for a call they not only got 4 free hours of support from us, but also their choice of a shirt or winter hat (toques as known to all of us Canadians). Being a little stingy didn’t seem off putting to anyone either and with there being 10 of us we did stand out since we all wore the uniform every day. Many people referenced how our logo and name sounded like we were trying to emulate the Wu-Tang clan and their logo.
We weren’t as liberal with giving them away until the end of the conference and we still have plenty to spare for future events.
The Best Of The Inbound Breakout Sessions
Our staff got the opportunity to take a lot in during the breakout sessions. The one that generated the most buzz at the dinner tables and commutes back home was ‘The Future of Virtual Reality and the Web: Where Great Experiences and Immersive Content Collide’ by Viget’s Zach Robbins. A few of our staff along with our customers attended this one together. This session looked at producing VR content, outlined examples of people doing it well and what kind of interesting applications the technology has for the future of marketing and business.
When talking about VR with our customers (marketing agency owners) that attended the session they all remarked about how much opportunity there is with VR and have already started dialogues with our technical teams about how to start implementing VR-based content for 2017. Sure, it’s a lot of onsite video and filming, which isn’t necessarily our sweet spot, but integrating, applying and optimizing that content for digital and digital platforms is.
INBOUND Inspirations and Lessons Learned
Making connections with so many great potential clients was exciting and opened our eyes to why we’re needed in the industry and the role that we fill. We spoke with so many business leaders and savvy marketers who’ve had terrible experiences with outsourcing their tech needs. They ran into communication issues, struggled to find the right people for the job, and often didn’t receive the work that they paid for. Listening to these issues, we were able to elaborate on what made us different. As a primarily North American company, we’re able to bridge the divide between our team (located all over the world) and the client to create a space of excellent communication, strong ethics, diverse talent, cost efficiency, and expertise.
Even more common were agencies who weren’t tech savvy, had no idea what they were doing and even struggled with some of the basics of the modern tech world and in our view lacking the ability to create a truly remarkable online presence. Now keep in mind, the INBOUND crowd is more connected to the tech world than the average bear, so if even they struggled with tech, we realized that there’s likely a huge number of agencies and business leaders out there struggling with where to even start. The gap between people, the marketing world, and technology became glaringly clear, as did the reaffirmation of why we do what we do and how needed we are in the marketing space.
Looking to the Future from a HubSpot Developer perspective
As a HubSpot partner, we were a little surprised to see so many HubSpot agencies shying away from the development side of marketing. As recently as 16 months ago it was almost unheard of for successful agencies with the means to do things in-house to outsource tasks like this. Particularly inbound ones. However, our team had conversations specifically with many top HubSpot partners about their challenges with attracting and retaining good web developers and keeping them engaged. To them, it’s not profitable and often times, the developers get so tied up in every-day tasks that they’re unable to stay current on new practices and technology.
This was a lightbulb moment for us as we realized there weren’t many developers building exclusively within HubSpot. Why not make a push into building more Hubspot modules and templates? We build countless HubSpot templates for our clients but INBOUND gave us some inspiration to start building HubSpot templates and modules under our own name and see how we can scale in that realm to let busy marketers know that a technical hand does exist to help them get their clients where they need to be.
Needless to say, INBOUND was a great experience for us and we can’t wait to soak it all up again next year. Let us know what you think of our HubSpot developer services.