I went to INBOUND 2015 in Boston at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center this September.
The following post is written as a helpful guide to anyone as a cheeky way of me swaying anyone who THINKS that they are going to network with like minded marketers and social media managers and mingle amongst committed marketers and attend sessions that will develop useful skills to propel their business of marketing forward.
To my dismay these are not the what you will find at Inbound 2015 – let me explain by using the sarcastic and fun post written by a HubSpotter from the HubSpot blog.
Ok, so I know there are all these people trying to convince you to go to INBOUND this year. “You’ll have so many chances to network,” they say, “The sessions will teach you all about inbound sales and marketing.”
Blah Blah Blah.
Don’t let them woo you with their sweet talk about industry insights and promises of a fun-filled four days in Bean Town. I’m here to set the record straight.
Here’s why you should avoid registering for INBOUND at all costs.
1. BOSTON IS DREADFUL IN SEPTEMBER
The leaves are changing color and the air is filled with occasional crisp breezes, yet the sun is beaming down and the temperatures are still in the 80s. Is it summer or is it fall? Come on Boston, make up your mind! Whatever this hybrid-season is just ain’t gonna cut it.
You’re probably thinking, “That’s cool, I’ll just avoid going outside.” Think again. Boston is one of America’s most walking-friendly cities, so you’re bound to wander a few blocks by foot.
If you are forced to hit the streets, just try your best to avoid the maze of historical sites, regional restaurants, and natural landmarks. But be warned, you can’t throw a stone without hitting a baseball park, brewery, or stop on the Freedom Trail.
Yes, Boston was simply beautiful. The weather even though it was hot as balls it was fantastic to have the warm sun on your face when you stepped outside after being in a dark cavernous “night club” of marketing. HubSpot did a great job of providing a bunch of food trucks in theBCEC’s lawn and sitting outside was a fantastic option. Except for a complete and total lack of trucks, beverages and seating. Friends waited a half hour for the salad they wanted. However all the food from the trucks was exceptional especially the Bahn Mi that I had 2 days in row – and would have eaten again on the 3rd if they were there. With my first choice nowhere to be found I went for the shortest line which was also yummy and provided by the japanese truck with a chicken and veggie bowl.
2. PREPARE TO BE SURROUNDED BY SALES AND MARKETING NERDS
You know those people who get super into inbound, and can’t stop rambling on about their jobs and the sales or marketing industries? This event is crawling with them.
Do you really want to spend four days hearing how people have used inbound to transform their careers? Learn about the tactics they used to double their website traffic? Hear the nuances of their smarketing implementation strategy? I don’t know about you, but talking with a small city’s worth marketers about conversion rate optimization and customer acquisition costs doesn’t sound like my idea of a fun Tuesday.
3. TALK ABOUT SESSION OVERLOAD
You know that feeling when you walk up to the bulk candy section of a store and become paralyzed by choice. Deciding which INBOUND speakers you want to see is kinda like that.
With over 200 sessions to choose from, spanning 8 different tracks, talk about some serious content overload. It’s, “do I want M&Ms or Skittles?” times a bajillion! Prepare to become a marketing deer stricken motionless by the INBOUND high-beams.
Sure they have an event app and interactive online scheduling tool, but what’s all the effort for anyways? A few measly marketing take-aways.
Yes, the Keynotes are stellar and the entertainment amazing (Brené Brown, Seth Godin, Amy Schumer, Chelsea Clinton !!!)
Sessions however are the nitty gritty and the meat of a conference. I can go to conferences and have a great time and meet people – But sadly the general sessions are fundamental and worthless to a seasoned marketing professional. I’ll say that again. WORTHLESS – If marketing and Inbound marketing are your specialty whether you use Inbound or not… these sessions are for beginners. If you love what you do and love new technology and tools like I do, this is just not your conference for learning. The few sessions that I attended in the Executive track were also lacking in passionate conversation and ‘tools’ to improve your overall business acumen.
The most impressive part of Inbound 15 tracks and sessions is the impressive use of click bating to get you to choose a session. For me and everyone I spoke with – we felt the sessions were not as described but were strategically marketed to sell you the products. I won’t even talk about the long lines for sessions that people waited on… it was amazing – why they didn’t leave earlier to get to a session I’ll never know, but a lot of sessions had lines that took forever. This included exiting sessions where people would rush through a single set of doors and not even think to use another door to their right or left where there was no one. Sadly the BCEC staff were terrible in these instances.
There’s free coffee all over the place, throughout the day. Seriously. Forget INBOUND, just stop by your neighborhood coffee shop, shell out $6 for your usual latte, go home and read a few blog posts. It’s roughly the same experience.
No, no, no, no, no, Coffee was insanely scarce. One minute there would be a trio of coffee urns outside a group of sessions on one side of a long hallway and then they would be empty or gone. There was never, ever enough coffee.
Dunkin Donuts was a sponsor and in the morning had a plethora of Urns of coffee – but by the time the morning keynote was finished – so was the coffee and nothing was replaced. The afternoons were swell if you could get to the Urns of Iced Coffee provided by DD – but if you got out of session late and waited in line for your lunch a good 1/2 hour you never could make it to an iced coffee in time.
5. MARKETING AND SALES ARE NOT FUNNY BUSINESS
Ok, fine. I’ll admit that some of the breakout sessions and keynotes may be more helpful to marketers than that game of Candy Crush they would have normally dedicated their Tuesday afternoon to. But Amy Schumer – seriously?
I don’t see what thousands of people rolling in laughter at INBOUND Rocks has to do with enjoying an event? She may have 1.17M Twitter followers, several movie credits, and an Emmy nominated self-titled TV show, but that doesn’t mean she’ll be more entertaining than your regularly scheduled Thursday night- parked in front of the DVR watching Food Network re-runs.
Lier, Lier. Hells no! The marketing and sales are HubSpot marketing and sales not business marketing and sales. Let’s not get them fooled. Inbound 15 is a wonderful sales tool for gaining HubSpot users – it’s brilliant, wonderful, fantastic and an impressive tour de force in creating a movement towards a pyramid scheme. But hell no is this a marketing and sales conference.
6. DO YOU REALLY WANT TO EAT FOOD FROM A TRUCK?
Despite the fact that the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center is fully equipped with everything from salads to stir-fry, most attendees feel some inexplicable desire to redeem their inclusive meal tickets at trucks?!
You may think those mini lobster rolls, street tacos, and kabobs are a great representation Boston’s best local eats, but in reality they’re nothing more than delicious distractions to keep you from enjoying that nice homemade PB&J sandwich you normally pack for lunch.
7. YOU’LL BE EXHAUSTED FROM ALL THE “HAPPY HOURS”
Ready to shut down the computer, go back to your hotel room, order some some room service, and call it a night when the sessions end each day? Not if INBOUND has its way you wont.
Every night those horrible monsters will try to drag you out to happy hours across the Seaport district, tempting you with libations, roof decks, apps, and networking. Don’t be fooled by these promises, the night will most likely extend beyond this hour of happiness into a full blown evening filled with dinner, drinks, and conversations with other attendees, speakers, and HubSpot employees.
Yes, Boston was fun. But let’s all remember …we want a seat at a 8:30am Keynote which is the whole dang reason you schlepped to this thing. If you are under the age of 26 – take advantage of the Happy Hours. HubSpot and the sponsors/partners do an amazingly fun job of keeping you entertained.
8. I KNOW ENOUGH PEOPLE ALREADY, THANKS THOUGH
Which brings me to networking.
I guess people like to attend INBOUND to meet other people in the marketing industry? Thousands of like-minded professionals hanging around Club INBOUND, sharing everything from computer chargers to business cards and ideas? Pass.
Why shake hands with 200 new people in 3 days when you could just scroll through LinkedIn for a few hours? Personalization and putting a face to a name and a handshake are totally overrated
There is no doubt that this environment could make event the sturdiest wall flower go out and meet new people. From being carted in on the shuttles from your hotel to waiting in long lines for sessions – there is plenty of opportunity to meet people. As always you just need to be mindful of the type of people you want to meet. Friends, Like minded peers, job opportunities, B2B leads… think before you chat because before you know it you are dancing and drinking with an awesome new friend who you’ll never talk to again after spending 3 days with them.
9. INNOVATION SCHMINNOVATION
I’m not a developer, so why should I give a cat’s meow about HubSpot’s upcoming product launches? When the iPhone 5 came out, I didn’t care about the fingerprint recognition technology, and when HubSpot announced their free CRM, I didn’t bat an eye about that either. There may be some “cool stuff” coming down the funnel for HubSpot, but being a late adopter is AOK in my book.
Absolutely the only thing Innovative about Inbound15 are the new products HubSpot launched. Unless you are a HubSpot user – this isn’t exactly innovation. The tools are available all over the place just not packaged in the HubSpot orange bubble with a hefty price tag.
10. WHO REALLY WANTS TO MEET ALL THOSE HUBSPOTTERS ANYWAYS?
Few places on earth will you find more HubSpotters in one location than the INBOUND event, and let me tell you – this is not a good thing. Seriously, employees from all of HubSpot’s national offices (yes, even Dublin and Sydney) flock to Boston and then you’re the ones who have to deal with them.
You’ll see them staggered all over the event, asking if they can help, telling you about our Culture Code, offering to demo tools for you, and answering your every marketing question. It’s like, “we get it you know all about inbound, get over it already.”
Sales training akin to a used car sales conference. HubSpotters are ABCing you. Always. Especially if they’re good.
These millennials get an A for effort because they are flocking to the inbound community like kids to free extra guacamole at Chipotle. I don’t think they even realize how much of a pyramid scheme this all is.
If you want to use the tool for your business – send the person who uses the tool at your company they’ll have a blast. Just make sure they book a session with someone to go over any questions or issues – the HubSpotters that are all around are not for the most part advanced technicians. I highly recommend setting a time to meet with them.
Ask yourself this question. Do I want to use HubSpot? Do I want to sell HubSpot as part of my business model?
If either of these answers are no… then ignore the HubSpotters.
If you want a job in sales, tech or customer service at HubSpot this conference is a fun and great way to get a feel for the orange kool aid they will make you drink.
RUN, DON’T WALK (AS FAR AWAY FROM INBOUND AS YOU CAN)
Yes, if you are expecting a Social Media, Inbound, Technology savvy conference – RUN as fast as you can from this event. If the keynotes are exceptional and you think there is value in hearing them live and that alone equals the price tag well then have a blast and meet great people. If you are invited and have a free ticket – book an Airbnb nearby save yourself the pricey hotel fee and have yourself a great time.
But if you want to learn and evolve as a marketer to become more informed in your field, this is not the conference for you.