Over 24,000 registrants made HubSpot’s INBOUND 2018 conference a huge event for anyone interested in the evolution of customer facing business. The energy was pronounced as the lineup of keynotes and breakout speakers kept their audiences engaged and focused.
The marketing & sales funnel has been a metaphor used by organizations for the last decade or so as they develop ways to attract leads, nurture them and turn them into happy customers. HubSpot has been a leader in redefining the funnel using its Inbound Marketing methodology. Last week at INBOUND 2018, however, HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan called for the replacement of the funnel with a new metaphor – the flywheel.
The Flywheel As A Virtuous Cycle
The always energetic and entertaining Halligan presented a strong case for why the funnel is now a “broken metaphor” and that doesn’t reflect the new reality – that word of mouth is now the key driver of trusted business activity. Trust, according to many, is on the decline, so word of mouth (physical or virtual) helps to build the trust that forms the basis of long term, successful business relationships.
The new flywheel notion focuses on “Attract, Engage and Delight” as a continuous cycle where customers, and growth, are the focus. For those who have followed the evolution of HubSpot’s product strategy over the years, you can see how this model reflects well on HubSpot’s strategy. “Attract” is the role of marketers, and HubSpot leads with its well known Inbound Marketing methodology and its Marketing Hub products. “Engage” has salespeople interacting with organizations after they’ve been attracted. HubSpot has recently been gaining traction with its Sales Hub and free CRM. “Delight” is the concept that completes the circle, and now HubSpot offers a Service Hub set of tools to for organizations to continually delight its clients.
Know Thy Enemy: Friction
While the flywheel is an industrial age innovation, the idea that when organizations adopt an “Attract, Engage, Delight” focus as a way to build up a reservoir of trust and goodwill is a new spin of the old wheel. Friction slows or stops the wheel, and so the goal of businesses should be to remove friction from customer facing activities & processes. Halligan discussed several brands that are growing rapidly because they’ve developed businesses that create far less customer facing friction:
- Dollar Shave Club – makes getting great razors easy
- Spotify – personalized music made easy
- Warby Parker – super easy, stylish eyeglasses
- Lyft – transportation made instant
Customer Self-Service Is The Goal
Halligan estimates that in the future, 80% of business will be conducted on a self-serve basis. So, rather than tech investments that are focused on making employees more efficient, the real goal is to make customers more efficient by giving them tools to solve problems and use services without needing to talk with a human.
The Frictionless Flywheel Of Direct Mail
As sponsors of INBOUND 2018, the Postalytics team had a great opportunity to speak with many organizations and marketing agencies. We’re pretty fired up that HubSpot’s exec team is focusing on reducing friction as a mantra, as this has been a core tenant of Postalytics since our launch in 2017. Automated direct mail by definition reduces the incredible friction that traditional direct mail production processes creates. Think about all of the friction filled things that Postalytics eliminates:
- Phone calls & meetings between design, data & print providers
- Emailing and FTP’ing files around
- Not being able to use CRM/Marketing Automation data
- 4-6 week production cycles cut to 1 week to delivery
- Introduction of triggered direct mail from workflows
The new efficiency gained by marketers, salespeople and now customer service pros enables the use of direct mail in new, innovative ways. The hundreds of high energy conversations we had with clients and prospects gave us great ideas on how to continue to innovate and grow.
HubSpot Partner Day At INBOUND – Great New Product Announcements
We attended our first ever HubSpot Partner Day, and learned about lots of new new HubSpot features & growth. The HubSpot Workflow Extension project was announced, something that we’d been working diligently on behind the scenes with the HubSpot product team. This will enable a much smoother, less techie “frictionless” way of adding direct mail postcards and letters to HubSpot Workflows.
One of the highlights of Partner Day was Scott Brinker’s safari presentation.
Scott, HubSpot’s Vice President of Platform & Ecosystem, discussed the growth of HubSpot’s Connect program. Now with over 200 software partners, the ecosystem is an important part of HubSpot’s growth from an app to a platform. Most impressive was his ability to recite, in detail, the benefits of over 60 different partners without resorting to notes.
A-Rod? Invited To Speak In Boston?
As devote Red Sox fans, we were wondering what the INBOUND powers that be were thinking about when they invited the most booed Yankee of the past 20 years to speak on our home turf. Surprisingly, we were won over (slightly) with Alex Rodriguez’s humility and sense of humor. He spoke eloquently about how you’re going to fail in life, and that you’ll need to accept it, and embrace the process of growth that comes from failure. We were starting to feel a sense of compassion and warmth toward A-Rod.
Then we thought of this. We prefer this thought.
A Fun Lead Gen Survey
Ben Donahower of No Bounds Digital ran a cool (and very smart SEO) survey to highlight the different methods by which sponsors of INBOUND generate leads.
The Food Trucks – A Real INBOUND 2018 Highlight
A great addition this year was the ability of attendees (and sponsors) to grab lunch from a collection of Boston area food truck vendors. The Bacon Truck was the Postalytics favorite. Overhead in the back where the sandwiches are prepared while we were being served – “There’s no BS’ing in the bacon truck”.