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INBOUND 2016 - My key takeaways from Boston

Over 19,000 Sales and Marketing Professionals were in attendance at INBOUND 2016 for one of the world’s largest exhibitions focused on digital marketing at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Gary Vaynerchuck kicked things off in emphatic style by highlighting that, given all of the technological advances and leading software now available this was the most exciting time to be working in Digital Marketing.

I particularly enjoyed listening to Rand Fishkin discuss searcher intent, how to keep up with Google’s increasingly intelligent algorithm updates and that you need a diverse range of traffic from lots of different sources to stay ahead of the game in search.

“In 2006 the website augmented the sales rep... In 2016 the sales rep augments the website” - Brian Halligan, CEO and Co-Founder of Hubspot

In their keynote, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah took a nostalgic look back over the 10 years of Hubspot’s life and how their focus on the Customer Experience has revolutionized what we now call INBOUND Marketing. Furthermore, they showed how the marketing funnel had changed over that time to incorporate the most powerful marketing asset - The Customer Testimonial.

The most influential part of the marketing funnel is now your existing customers through testimonials and reviews.

For the Scientific Marketers amongst you, here are my key takeaways from an incredibly hectic, vibrant and inspirational week in Boston.


No matter what industry you are in, the barriers to entry are lower than ever, and the digital age is facilitating this. From enhancing Sales & Marketing of your product, to recruiting the right talent or even increasing operational efficiency… There are tools available that streamline and integrate all areas of your business.

I see the same is true for the scientific industries: What once was a relatively uncompetitive landscape is fast becoming a very crowded marketplace.

Due to these low barriers to entry and increased competition, supply of products in most industries is outstripping demand. So how do you protect yourself from becoming the next Kodak or Blockbuster?

This salient point was brilliantly portrayed by Brian Halligan who showed the top Fortune 500 companies in 2016. Only 60% of them were there 10 years ago… So 40% in 2016 were fresh and new! Disruption is all around us, and in this day and age if you’re not the disruptor, I’d quickly check you’re not the disruptee!

Social Media

The user’s location at the time of engagement is now irrelevant. If your customers are nuts about nanotechnology, passionate about protein synthesis or crazy about chromatography, they will respond to the right messages on the right platforms on their time frames.

“My audience doesn’t use Facebook at work, or Twitter, or even Linkedin”

If I had a pound (or dollar) for every time I heard that phrase, I would be a very rich man.

We now have the ability to target (let’s say) PhDs in Biological science institutions or researchers who work for government laboratories. Couple this hyper-targeting capability with visually stimulating infographics or short videos and you have a potent combination which can pinpoint your target persona’s pain points and capture their attention regardless of their location.

The big three social media platforms for Science and Industry are undoubtedly Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook with the latter having the most powerful targeting capability. For years, they have been quietly gathering data of their 1 billion+ active users.

As Gary Vaynerchuck noted, for the tech-savvy marketers who recognize the potential and importance of such precise information, that BIG data is about to pay off. If you are struggling to keep up, hire someone who can.


People would rather watch a video than read text.

Even in Science and Industrial sectors, the preferences are shifting and with search engines and social media sites beginning to favour video to enhance their own UX, quality videographers are certainly in demand for 2017.

Youtube is the 2nd biggest search engine, and with good reason too. Living in a house full of millennial late 20 somethings, we don’t conform to the old fashioned TV schedule (before you ask, yes we do pay the TV licence!) We almost exclusively watch on demand content through Smart TV apps like Netflix and Amazon. Even Youtube is beginning to takeover my evening viewing sessions as I catch up on a sidebar of personalized rugby, cricket and technology content tailored just for me.

But between all of the rugby, cricket and technology videos, a video ad autoplays (how dare they!) But it’s not like any other ad, it knows I am sporty, it knows I’m a bit of a data nerd and that I like all things technological.

It’s an ad for outdoor sports equipment manufacturer North Face. I don’t even mind the ad - because it’s native, it doesn’t look out of place where it is, within my own personalized TV channel. Before I even think about skipping the ad, they hook me in with a great visual story of extreme sports which encompass their brand values of quality, safety and reliability. Now i'm even telling you about the ad - Talk about brand recall!

Native Advertising

In a talk with Sharethrough CEO Dan Greenberg, he detailed how native advertising is now the biggest type of advertising by spend in 2016. In a world where half the room would rather lose their finger than their phone (he took a quick poll of the room, mainly millennials), the prominent message was that the more intimate a device, the more integrated a message would have to be, as demonstrated by the above North Face advert example.

Native advertising is taking over the feed. People get it, they now understand what is native and what is editorial. The clever marketers now need to create stories around their brand to develop trust.

Whilst social media gives you the targeting capabilities, you have the choice of Video, Infographic or text. Make sure you nail the message. You have a 5 second window before someone hits “Skip Ad”, make them count! On Social feeds you probably have even less.

Accelerate Content

Content creation is hard. Putting time and effort into creating something that you hope people will actually read or use takes time and skill.

Your content represents countless man hours of labour, thought and expertise. In TV commercials they use a 1:5 creation to distribution ratio, your online content should be no different; don’t skimp on the distribution. Re-package, re-purpose and re-use content in different formats.

A means to an end

On reflection, it doesn’t matter what your specialty is: Every SEO talk, Social Media Seminar or Lead Generation session, the end goal of anyone attending any of these sessions is ultimately the same - How do I sell more products and services?

As with any new project or campaign, its always helpful to remind yourself: How do these activities help that?

“Back in 2006 you battled for inches on a four foot shelf of the store… In 2016 you battle for millimetres on the infinite shelf of the internet” Supply of any product is outstripping demand – The power is with buyer.” Bryan Halligan, Hubspot CEO.

Posted by Frank Barker

Having spent his younger years playing Rugby in the sunny climes of Spain and Australia, Frank graduated from Loughborough University with a BSc in International Business before settling back in rainy Manchester. Frank has helped numerous Science, Engineering and Healthcare companies to create marketing strategies that engage with niche audiences. Having started his career in Sales, he now runs the Marketing department for AZoNetwork. He specialises in data management for sales teams, equipping them with the most actionable, real-time marketing insights from the first touch point through to revenue generating opportunity. A sportsman at heart, Frank still enjoys lacing up the boots for his beloved Macclesfield 1st XV Rugby or pulling on the whites to represent the more serious Macclesfield 3rd XI Cricket team.    

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