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5 Things #Inbound16 Taught Me About Growing Your Business
Lucas HamonNov 14, 2016 11:52:57 AM7 min read

5 Things #Inbound16 Taught Me About Growing Your Business


I’m sitting on plane as I ride home from Inbound 2016 typing away at this blog, and all I can think about is growing your business, when I should be sleeping.

I spent the last four days cramming as much data as I possibly could into my head, sharing war stories with other entrepreneurs, and reaffirming everything I have learned to love and hold dear in the world of digital marketing.

I also learned why I'm doing it all wrong, and why small businesses need to be paying attention. 2017 is going to be a GREAT year for those who are.

... I’m tired.

There’s a certain “grittiness” going on with my teeth. I have a blister on my left heel from my new shoes, I have to go to the bathroom (but I’m on the window seat), the White Alagash I drank to wash down my insanely good lobster roll from Legal Seafood is wearing off while exhaustion sinks in (I hadn't realized that I was eating the shady stuff all these years), and there’s a laptop and somebody sleeping in the way (and three and a half hours left on the flight), and I’m fairly certain that any remaining gray matter left in my head is now tapioca pudding... and probably more like a shade of fuschia.

But what a great trip. It was filled with incredible keynotes with folks like Anna Kendrick, Gary Vaynerchuk, Serena Williams, Dharmesh Shah, and Brian Halligan. There were sessions run by pioneers who are changing the industry, and those who are predicting the future.

And with such a crazy election week looming over what could have been a very depressed crowd, we were brought levity with the likes of Ali Wong, and we were even able to deal with the negativity head-on when Trevor Noah from the Daily Show stepped in for some hilarious, pointed, and thought-provoking stand-up.

And thank God Alec Baldwin was there to round it out with an incredibly thought-provoking interview covering the evolution of video media, and more importantly, a couple of awesome Trump impressions.

What a great time to be a marketer... Nay, what a great time to be a small business DISCOVERING inbound marketing. I’m actually so amped about it, that even though I’m running on about 12 hours of cumulative sleep over the last 4 days, I am fairly certain that I’ll be spending my weekend putting my greatest take-aways into action.

My wife will no doubt "respectfully" disagree. I guess we'll see on Monday.

So, what were my top takeaways? What has me so excited that not even the comforts of my own bed or the thought of doing nothing for two days has me taking pause? I got 5 new ones for you 

  1. Unicorns are fantastic
  2. Plaid shirts are out, checkered or cross lined is in - I have no idea what it's called, but it's not plaid
  3. Light down-filled black vests are also in
  4. Conventions are the WORST time to break in new shoes, no matter how comfortable they are
  5. Even if you forget to get your lobster roll or clam chowda on because you stuck with the awesome food trucks, the airport has an amazing restaurant that WILL NOT disappoint... and the seafood there is legal... whatever that means

Also, here are the things you're probably more interested in:

1. Agility

One of the sessions I was most looking forward to was the class on applying the agile scrum process to inbound marketing. It’s an idea that I had been toying with for some time, ever since adopting the Growth Driven Design methodology. Mike Lieberman of Square 2 Marketing made a super convincing argument about scrum that’s hard to ignore.

Do more with less. That's the key.

On the reading list: "Scrum - The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time"

2. Flexibility

Something else I’ve been toying around with is how to add more flexibility to my client engagements. Currently, we plot out our plan on a 12-month timeline. These are the number of blogs we’re going to post, this is how much time we’ll spend on that every week, and blippidy bloppidy bloop.

But the problem that inevitably arises is that at some point, the goals are going to change because the problems are going to change…. Because doing our job changes EVERYTHING. Right now we get by. We approach our clients and let them know we want to shift resources into other areas, we get them to sign off, and then we move in a different direction.

Now, it works, and none of our clients have a problem with it, however, it requires more time on my end to make sure the exchange in resources is close to even.

3. Genuinity

Anna Kendrick’s appearance was a bit off at first for me. She has an incredibly engaged and LARGE following on social media, which has had a great impact on her career and the films she stars in. But what made it real was how much she emphasized being yourself.

As a business owner, I feel like I am always walking the divide between who I feel like I should be and who I am. This is inhibiting. I know this. You know this. Anna made some compelling arguments.

Nobody cares about the censored you, and what fun is being somebody else all of the time anyway? So, I think it's time to start taking some calculated risks, and being a little more honest in social media.

4. Beating the sales & marketing divide

As much as I love marketing, I love sales even more. After all, there is no better way to define success in marketing than the sale, and there’s nothing more exhilarating than closing a big deal.

But there’s a problem, and it’s something that’s been lurking for a long time… Sales and marketing alignment is not happening the way it should for most businesses.

You get these great inbound leads (if you’re lucky enough to have an inbound marketing strategy in play), but you only work over a small percentage of, and I can all but guarantee you that they’re not being worked over properly if there isn’t active sales alignment going on there. This is why we’ve been offering sales enablement services, actually, but it was great to hear from so many people how BIG of a problem it actually is… because I LOVE problems that I know I can solve, even when they seem impossible.

5. Finding unicorns & ditching donkeys

Larry Kim, the CEO of WordStream, gave a great presentation about donkeys and unicorns. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, Larry is one strange cat. That said, most of my favorite people are…. His presentation was about social media ad hacking, which was fantastic, and something I’ll talk about later, but what really hit home to me was the core message of focusing on your magical unicorns while putting your donkeys to bed.

This applies to social media, blogging, content offers, emails… well, everything, really. Yet, so often we find ourselves trying to make things work that will never work while our greatest assets hit once, then fade into the night. Magic unicorns (yes, they’re magic, duh) don’t come along very often, so when they do, we should leverage the shit out of them.


Inbound16 was an incredible event for me. With over 19,000 attendees (up from 300 when they first started 5 years ago), it was by far and away the most exciting convention I’ve ever attended.

But that’s the thing. It didn’t feel like a convention at all. It felt like we were ALL VIPs at our own personal show… The very first thing they do when you walk in is hand you a badge with your name on it. You put it around your neck and feel like a freaking rock star.

Honorable mention:

Get badges for events of any kind. There's nothing like looking like a rockstar to make somebody FEEL like one...

Sure, everybody has one at the convention, but it was like a badge of honor outside, and how we identified one another on the bus or in public settings. I wore mine all the way until I had to strip for TSA.

Above all, I walked away incredibly excited about what I’m going to implement for my agency and our clients. If you’re interested in learning more about how inbound marketing or Growth Driven Design can help your business grow, schedule a free consultation today! - PS. my wife won

Schedule a growth assessment


Lucas Hamon

Over 10 years of B2B sales experience in staffing, software, consulting, & tax advisory. Today, as CEO, Lucas obsesses over inbound, helping businesses grow! Husband. Father. Beachgoer. Wearer of plunging v-necks.