The Impulse Creative team recently spent (most of) a week in Boston attending INBOUND 17, Hubspot’s insanely awesome annual conference for +20,000 marketing pros.
It was fun.
It was exhausting.
It was a huge financial investment.
Here’s Why it was Worth Every Penny
You probably don’t have the time to read industry blogs and take classes all day.
Yeah, me either.
I’m too busy logging billable time, meeting deadlines, getting content to developers, collaborating with designers and strategically representing our clients in the world.
So I risk losing touch with trends, laser-focusing on the wrong aspects of my work, and plowing forward in the absolute wrong direction. No one admits it, but it happens to creatives all of the time.
It’s dangerous (and super easy) to stop paying attention to our industry.
You’re crazy busy. I get it. But the marketing world changes fast. Some days, it feels like if I stop paying attention to Twitter for two seconds, everyone else starts writing their blogs in Klingon and communicating using only digital pigeons.
It’s a lot to keep up with.
Thankfully, instead of making a half-assed commitment to reading my bloated folder of 2017 blog emails, I got to spend a solid 3 days just shutting up and listening.
Calibrate Your Compass
For those of us in the trenches of inbound marketing at a HubSpot partner agency, the annual INBOUND conference is a chance to step away from your laptop and calibrate your compass.
People who speak to the world on behalf of clients all day have to stop and rethink EVERYTHING once in awhile, or our creative bulbs get dimmer while our work grows stale in a sea of competing noise.
Not every famous speaker I heard was relevant to what I do. Not every class taught me something new. But it all got me thinking just a little bit differently.
Content always has more context than you know about. When a writer or a designer creates anything, it comes from what they’ve seen, what they know and who they are. We limit our creativity by not making time to expose ourselves to more of the world.
Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself, or your employees, by dropping some cash on an event like INBOUND. It’s not cheap, but it’s an immediate way to improve the quality of what you’re producing, how your team works together and most importantly, how you think.
Marketing is the effort to influence the way the world thinks. That’s our jam.
However, we can’t do that all year long if we don’t make time to refresh our internal context, where all of that creative client work is formed. It’s not a luxury, it’s a responsibility we have to our clients, our teams and ourselves: to stay sharp and awake in this whirlwind industry.
In that way, every speaker and every PowerPoint presentation got me thinking. I absorbed what I thought was awesome. I thought hard about what I didn’t like and why. I reevaluated my approach and my strategies. For the first time in a long time, I serviced the creative engine that our clients pay for.
Back to the Grind
My bosses didn’t make a million dollars in the few days since our team has been back to their desks. They never expected to and you shouldn’t either.
As someone who had never been to INBOUND, I didn’t know what to expect.
But here’s what happened: I thought a lot about how I can do my job better, better than I was doing it, better than my competition, and even better than the speakers I heard.
My head is full of strategies and inspired ideas for everything from better jokes to sexier presentations. I heard some new ideas and more importantly, I continuously heard respected industry leaders reaffirm the principles I use to guide my work everyday. It felt good, but at the same time it reminded me that no idea stays unique in this industry for more than 30 seconds. (Seriously, we’re like friggin sharks.)
Maintaining a competitive edge requires consistent work outside of your 9 – 5. If you’re selling that edge to clients, you better be willing to invest in keeping it sharp.
See ya at INBOUND 18 kids.