Marketing Lessons from the HubSpot Keynote at INBOUND15

September 11, 2015 by Nilanjana Dey

By now you know that the keynote by Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan was awesome! Whether you were at INBOUND15 or watched the keynote online, you could see how excited they were on stage. And that was because they knew what they had to say would create so much value for the listeners.

So here we are, trying to extract the value and bring you some of the key marketing lessons that we learnt.

Embrace the Inbound Philosophy

At the heart of the inbound marketing approach is empathy and a recognition that those at the other end of your marketing program are actual people and not just a faceless mass. Inbound marketing is based on the idea of creating value before you try and extract it out of the system.

Follow the Golden Rule of Marketing

We are sure it is pretty self explanatory, but just to make things crystal clear we do not want to be interrupted and annoyed by marketing tactics. We would much rather be given all sorts of useful information in delightful ways, so that we can make the right decisions. And that is exactly how we should market our product to others!

Market Your Magic Rather than Your Metrics

It is easy to try and market through numbers. How much you have grown, how many happy customers you have, how many different products you have etc etc. But are your potential customers going to look at those numbers you have written down? Is is possible that you “show” them how many happy customers you have rather than just giving them numbers on a screen?

The Applause Meter: Listen to Your Customers

This is something Dharmesh Shah does very often. The audience clap if they like any of the following: popping bubble wrap, panda videos and pull through parking. This is to set a ceiling for audience approval. And then, the acceptance of all new products is judged by their applause and how it compares to the applause levels set at the beginning. Now this is a simple and real time feedback method, but what it illustrates is that feedback is important. You cannot create value if you do not take the time to listen to what your audience likes or dislikes. And without value, you cannot market effectively.

Build Trust

WYSIWII is the new HubSpot tool that lets you make real time changes to your content and ensures that What You See Is What It Is. This is something that all marketers should take care of. Ensure that what the customers see is what the product actually is. Nothing more and certainly nothing less. False promises do not work. This is probably one of the key steps to build trust among your customers.

Try Inbound-y Ads

Now what are inbound-y ads? These are ads that create value. They come in two varieties:

  • Satisfy an expressed need: The ads that offer to sell exactly the thing that you are looking to buy .
  • Amplify engaging content: These ads promote stuff that you know is really good information and lots of people will actually benefit from it.

These inbound-y ads differ from normal outbound ads because they are helpful rather than disruptive.

Offer Your Customers Some Expert Advice

Dharmesh Shah brought on stage Todd Rowe from Google and Mike Gampson from LinkedIn, to bring in some specialized information for the audience. And this is crucial for all marketers as it’s another way you create value. When you are able to provide your customers expert advice from credible sources, they are more likely to trust you and your brand.

Delight Your Customers!

The best lesson that we extracted from the keynote is that we need to delight our customers. The days of customer satisfaction are long gone. Everybody can “satisfy” the customer by doing the bare minimum. The customer is drawn to you only when you can delight them. And that is what the HubSpot founders did as they fought off monsters in an arcade game to come and address their audience. Its was novel and refreshing and completely delightful to watch. And that is what you should aim to provide your customers.

And finally, this sage advice.

I am sure after all these lessons, you would want to watch the entire HubSpot Founders’ Keynote at INBOUND15. For more such nuggets of marketing wisdom from the sessions at INBOUND15  you can check out our other blogs at

All images are screen grabs from the INBOUND 2015: HubSpot Keynote at the HubSpot YouTube channel.