INBOUND 2022: Sessions From Day 3
by Digitopia | Updated Oct 3, 2022
That's a wrap for INBOUND 2022!
The third and final day included speakers from HubSpot, LinkedIn, and the 44th President of the United States, President Barack Obama to finish it off.
The Digitopia team compiled a detailed summary of two sessions that team members attended so you can benefit from the insights shared at the event, even if you couldn't attend.
Here is a breakdown of the sessions, click on the links to skip down to the sessions that are most relevant for you:
- What’s Next: The Power of Creativity in B2B Marketing
- Spotlight: A Conversation with President Barack Obama
What’s Next: The Power of Creativity in B2B Marketing
I run our global partner marketing at LinkedIn and have been there for 5 years thinking about how to build out our ecosystems.
What is a brand and what makes up a brand?
A brand is a set of attributes that distinguishes one company from another. Its what helps a company stand out.
With B2B it’s particularly important. It’s building mental availability. From the B2B perspective, I don’t think we give enough credit to branding. We don’t think about branding as much as B2C does. If Coke or Pepsi was B2B, how would they market? They would talk about the features and functions: it's brown and fizzy and gives you caffeine. It wouldn't be centered on emotions like they do now: "Taste the Feeling."
Brand is both rational and emotional. The best brands give you the feels. If you’re a marketer that can create an emotional connection with your customers, that’s the most powerful connection you can make.
Brands can make you feel joyful, seen, included, and invincible. Iconic B2C brands are legacy to marketers, but B2B is the next frontier for the creative perspective.
Reaching Your Audience Through Branding
At LinkedIn, we have an institute called B2B Institute. We decided that there wasn’t enough research centered around B2B, it was all B2C.
During this, we found the 95-5 Rule. Of your current customer database, only 5% are in market at a single point in time. You need to market to the 95 so you are top of mind when they move into that 5.
83% of the B2B purchase cycle is done without talking to anyone. This is where brand is so important. A brand is your first interaction with a company, it’s your first impression.
We need a bit of a reality check before we get into creative. It’s been a tough year for businesses. It’s becoming more expensive and less efficient to put out media and budgets are tightening.
Gartner just released a survey that 9.2% of a company’s revenue is spent on marketing. But how to spend it is always a battle between brand or demand.If you have a dollar to spend, are you spending it on brand or towards a KPI that you know you can report on at the end of the month?
Everyone is talking about the macro-economic environment right now. Everyone is confused if we’re in a recession or if we’re not in a recession. It’s uncertain. Whether a recession happens or not, some of the biggest brands were created during a recession: Microsoft, Trader Joes, and Apple to name a few.
When they started, they weren’t household names. It’s important to invest in your brand no matter the size of your company.
I got super into Formula 1 during the pandemic. My friends and I would talk about our favorite team, Mercedes. Technically, the team name is Mercedes/AMG/Petronas. None of use knew who Petronas was, so we looked it up. Petronas is a Malaysian oil company. We looked up their competitors. We had no idea who their competitors are. I won’t be in the oil industry, but now I know their name. When you’re thinking about brands, you want to be talked about and thought about. Petronas will be thought about for me when I see my favorite team. Brand can be added as a fuel to demand.
Audiences are bigger than you realize, particularly for B2B. There are many people involved in a B2B purchase cycle. In 2017, 6.3 people on average are the size of the buying committee, now it’s up to 8.6. And it’s not directly people who will be using or your target audience. They’ll be finance, CTOs, etc. Having a brand that reaches beyond only your target audience is important.
Core Principles to Evaluate Your Creative
These principles work for any company budget or size and what we do at HubSpot.
1. Is it clear?
Would my mom understand this? Could she at least take away that HubSpot is the brand behind it?
2. Have I been clear about why my brand is better?
3. Is it engaging?
Does it give me goosebumps or giggles? Does it give you an emotional connection? For example - there are very few mascots in B2B. But if I said a gecko or an emu, you would know exactly what brands I’m talking about.
On the paid side, there is a 44% higher click through rate if there is emotion added into paid ads. Only 5-10% of B2B nrads are actually doing this currently.
4. Is it actionable? Do I know where I’m going to go by clicking through?
Regardless of what medium this is on, you need all of these factors to open that door and create that mental availability when they’re thinking about solutions to purchase.
You are selling to people, even in B2B. A B2B purchase is the most emotional purchase you can make. Your job, your livelihood, or your career may be on the line. It affects what your colleagues and boss think if you are staking your personal brand on a product. A professional is a person no matter where they are, if they are having dinner or taking care of their kids. Invest in insights and really understand what the field is that influences your buyer.
You want to strike the balance between being emotional and actionable.
What we thought about at HubSpot was we wanted to make sure we made a couple of big bets.
- Build large-scale awareness about the brand. we wanted an iconic brand so we had to do TV. But the way we did this was in how we told our story. We went all in for adding humor and light-heartedness to something that is typically quite stale.
- What are the 1-2 big bets you are taking this year? It should be something you’re going to own and do better than every single one of your competitors. And stick with it! It might not be TV spots, but stick with it. Brand is not built overnight, it takes time and consistency.
- B2B decision makers are human. We are all people and we need to make them understand while connecting on an emotional level. Forge an emotional connection.
At LinkedIn, we want to recognize great creative and get people together to celebrate the work they do. #B2Brilliant celebrates creativity in B2B brands and encourages people to think outside the box with B2B. At LinkedIn, there’s a knowledge marketplace and an opportunity to share and help people get better at what they do.
Spotlight: A Conversation with President Barack Obama
Speaker: President Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States of America.
On the Queen of England
There’s only a handful of people that are who you want them to be. The Queen was one of them. It's incredible when you think about 70 years of maintaining that kind of grace and elegance through such remarkable changes around the world.
When I met her, my first impression was she looked just like my grandmother and same attitude. Was no-nonsense, didn’t have patience for fools, and had a dry sense of humor. Behind the scene, she would make these gestures. When my family came to London in my second year in office there was no expectation we would see her, but she invited them over for tea. She insisted the girls take her golden carriage out on a drive through the palace grounds, and none of this was ever reported. She did it quietly.
When you meet with leaders, you exchange gifts. You never want to be out-gifted! I wanted her to actually be able to use the gift. She loved British Broadway Showtunes and the iPod had just come out. I thought let's get an iPod and fill it with British show tunes. The British tabloids thought it was entirely inappropriate but I think she used it quite a bit.
Unitedness These Days
I think we are more divided than we were when I made my speech. People remember that speech, but the title of the speech was the “Audacity of Hope.” The key takeaway was the idea that hope is not blind, willful optimism. It’s not sticking your head in the sand. It’s people fighting and struggling to make the world a little bit better.
It was the description of the world as we would like it to be, but we have to fight for it. What I maintained then and I believe is still true now is that we have more in common than our public discourse would allow for. The problem is our national conversation has broken apart. Part of this is due to technology and the explosion of social media. It’s hard for us to realize the phone that is in everyone’s pocket is 10 years old.
Rather than having a single story even if it was flawed, now we have individual stories and are now living in different realities. Cable news wants to accentuate differences and make us mad. They know that if they make us mad, they get more clicks and more viewers. That has helped break us apart. Politicians aren’t brave enough to push against that resentment or accelerate it in some cases.
The US is a multi-ethnic and multi-racial and multi-religious society. We aren’t going to agree on everything all the time. What should bind us and what we should work towards is democracy. Democracy stands for respect of a certain set of rules and processes whereby we sort through these differences. We admit we don’t know everything and we have blind spots and are willing to learn others' points of view and listen. And we follow the set of conventions and rules to make a safe space for this. You can say it, but I can also answer back, with better speech.
That’s why we have certain rules about elections and even if you’re not happy, you accept the results. Because there is something that is more important than my immediate interests.
I think we all have a role to play in understanding and maintaining those norms, habits, and roles of citizenship. Democracy is not self-executing. We continually have to agree and re-up to maintain these norms and rules. This comes out of a set of rules that are connected to the scientific process. To know something is true, we have to observe it, repeat it, and consider the differences between fact and opinion in hypotheses. Then we test it, if it doesn’t work then we start over with a new hypothesis. It’s how we find what’s true in the world. Using logic and reasoning - we should affirm this and not reject it.
Let me make one last point about this, it is important for those of us who like to think of us on the right side of some of these debates to know that we too have not always lived up to some of these rules. I don’t want to get into a long debate, but there is a certain level at which, with very good intentions, young people and not-so-young people want to shut down debate.
And if someone says something not quite the right way or if it could be interpreted as offensive, they don’t listen instead of saying I should listen and try to understand. You can't wake people up if you turn your back on them. At some level, we are all connected. We have a common humanity. You are understandable to me and if I’m listening, I can find a place in which we see each other and we may be able to change each other’s minds or agree to live together without beating each other over the heads at least.
When the founders of United States were in startup mode, what was the best feature they built into it and the worst bug?
The best feature is the architecture I just described. Them figuring it out (and there was no way for them to know this would work); it was a radical idea. We’re going to set this thing up where people have a chance to vote, there are different branches of government, and people can speak their minds about rules, procedures, and amendments. And make a better country through debate and vote and we can resolve differences peacefully and sustain this.
I agree with Winston Churchill that the US Constitution is the best expression of ideals and individual rights and dignity. They got that right in a lot of ways.
The obvious worst bug was that it didn’t apply to everyone. It didn't apply to anyone who wasn’t white, anyone who was a woman, and not even to white men who didn’t own property.
This led to struggles, some of them fierce, to build who is “we the people”. Who constitutes the body of politics. Civil war, union struggles, civil rights movement, women’s rights. If you think about it as code, even with some of those glitches fixed we still have some others that pop up.
One of the challenges is that it’s hard to update that constitution. The process is really challenging. This means the Supreme Court has enormous power to interpret the meaning of these words and if you get a court that looks at the intentions of the people that wrote them, that means you are inherently freezing social norms to those of people from 200 years ago and I would suggest that’s maybe not the best way to think about it.
Now the country is in Scale-up mode, how are the Founding Fathers thinking about it?
Now you have to assume the colonies are a pretty rag-tag operation. So for them to see it became the mightiest nation on earth and that their ideas held together, I think they’d be pleased at that.
Listen, I do not want to duplicate the era of trying to pretend I can get into the heads of long-dead people and assume what they would think. One thing they most certainly could not have anticipated is how our US Senate works. And how Wyoming with half a million population gets 2 senators and so does CA with 11 million. They could not have anticipated that.
Many of you are so young that you haven’t seen a functioning Senate. It used to work, they used to pass bills and debate. Some of it is structural. Because both Wyoming and CA have two seats, what was already a slight anti-majoritarian feature of the constitution by design, has been amplified so that in the US senate at least, a 35% of the population may have 50% of the representation. This is why it’s so hard to get things done.
That’s an example of where can we create a system that still protects minority and rural ideals but still pass bills that benefit.
2050 - what does the world look like?
It will be hotter, for one thing. I don’t say that as a pessimist or a doomsayer. I am actually cautiously optimistic that we have it within our power to arrest and eventually stop the pace of global warming. Those of you who studied it know that just as a car races toward a cliff, you have to put on the brakes or it will keep going for a while.
It’s going to be at least 2 degrees Celsius warmer, which is significant and has dire consequences. Economic cost, human cost, and disruptions.
I don’t think that’s an excuse for inaction or to crawl up in a fetal position. Your generation of younger people are much more conscience about this.
Everyone has a role to play but even if we don’t solve it immediately or perfectly, the difference between 2 degrees or 3 degrees warmer could be the difference between 3 million people displaced or killed. That’s worth working towards.
Beyond that, I think we are at a moment both here and in the US that we’re a little bit at a fork in the road where either we figure out how to live together in our multiplicity and diversity and differences and find ways to cooperate, or we’re going to duplicate what we saw. Connected to that battle is a big debate between an old style of government and power (top-down hierarchical, might makes right) or an inclusive rights-based more cooperative form of government. And that battle between authoritarianism and democracy is duplicating itself around the world. It can be tempting to people who want to keep things as they are. Change is scary. That contest is one we’re in the middle of right now.
“No drama Obama” was your nickname in office. You seem to thrive in crises - how do you stay calm and make decisions?
It helps being born in Hawaii because it's always 80 and sunny. You grow up kind of chill. Some of it is temperamental. Within our family, we have what we call the round faces and the long faces. It’s like carnivores and vegetarians. The long faces, we just cultivate the land and the round faces are fierce.
I think the thing that is applicable across the board, for leaders in business, military, or any circumstance, is it is very useful to maintain a long view. Particularly in crisis.
There might be things we have to do right away (put out the fire, patch the hole in the boat, get vaccinated), there’s always an urgency for dealing with what's right in front of you. Emotionally, what I’ve been good at is things are never as good as you think or bad as you think they are. I never if rarely watched cable news or got news on social media. That’s specifically designed to elicit an immediate emotional response and get you wired up and has nothing to do with the long view or even what is actually going on.
Most big decisions in a crisis and in not, involve probabilities. If a crisis has happened or you are confronted with a big challenge, that means there is no perfect 100% answer.
I used to say about being President, by definition if someone could solve it easily, then it would not reach my desk. It’s one of the few expressions that if something rolls downhill, in the white house it rolls uphill. If it stinks, send it to the President.
There's often a 51% chance we get the outcome we want, a 30% chance it doesn’t work, and a 10% chance it’ll make it worse. When we went after Bin Laden the CIA came with all these complicated statistics that made it worse than it was already to make a decision. But what you did figure out was if you set up a good process for decision making, you can make ultimately the best judgement call with confidence. It doesn’t mean you will be right every time, but you know no one could have made the decision better.
That’s why you want a diverse viewpoint around the table. That’s why you want different perspectives. That’s why the way you measure information is not based solely on station or where you’re coming from but on the quality of data or analysis. In the situation in the room, you have the big cheeses around the inner table. In the outer table are folks like you. If I needed to make a big decision, I’d pick a random person from the outer table and I’d ask what they thought. I knew they were preparing the memos that the big cheeses were reading, and they knew it better than them.
Some of it is just representation. If you have a critical number of women on a board, you will make better decisions. You also have to build a culture where people feel free to speak. That’s one of my blind spots.
We had amazing women in the white house, but a lot of the senior women wouldn’t speak in meetings. That's because the guys would repeat points they made 15 min later like they said it or talk over them. A group of senior women came to me and said they were willing to quit and I had to realize that even though I asked women their opinion, I didn’t check the men to create a safer environment. All that does two things 1) made me confident I was making good decisions and was at peace that we were thorough and prepared and 2) it gave everyone ownership of the decision. Everyone had their say, we made a decision, and we learn from it.
When Michelle and I were about to leave the white house we asked what’s our next chapter. We were pretty young. There were all kinds of causes I care about, the problem is not that we have good technical solutions. If we applied it, we’d immediately reduce the trajectory of greenhouse gas. The human element is what stops us so often. Let’s focus on how we systematically develop and train the development of leaders throughout the country and the world.
We meet with them, we train them, and we have cohorts in Latin America, Africa, and here in the US. We want 100,000, a few million, young people who are doing extraordinary work already to feel like they are not alone and part of a community that will come alongside them and support them.