If you go to HubSpot's Inbound Marketing Conference 2019 and don't eat at Morton's Steakhouse, you've failed.
There. If you don't read any further, this post has been worth your time.
HubSpot's Inbound Marketing conference is big. Like the size of a large town big.
Without a good plan in place, you'll get lost in a sea of 20,000+ wide-eyed marketers and wander around half the buildings on the south side of Boston trying to find your sessions.
But, if you learn from conference veterans, you'll get the sessions you want, make some valuable contacts, have a great time, and head home energized to change and grow your company.
As a HubSpot Platinum partner, we've been to Inbound for seven years in a row, and we'll share what we've learned below.
10 Insider Tips for HubSpot's Inbound Marketing Conference 2019
We asked everyone on our team who has been to Inbound to share their tips for getting the most from our favorite marketing conference of the year. Here are 10 tips ranging from tactical pointers to advice on leisure time.
1. Dress for Branding
You'll see a wide range of clothing choices at Inbound. I think it's fair to say that most attendees will go with dressy casual, but you'll see plenty of t-shirts and flip-flops as well. The wrong move is to make your team guess what to wear.
Give it some thought ahead of time and make sure everyone understands what's expected. Your team members will feel awkward if they've gone a completely different direction and that makes for a bad experience.
Our advice? If you're going to be meeting with clients, vendors, etc. and want to put your brand forward, dress the part. People treat you different and respect you more if you don't look like you just rolled out of bed.
That said, don't overdo it on shoes because you're going to racking up some big numbers on your Fitbit. Miles recommends exchanging the dress shoes for some nice walking flats. (Miles knows shoes. He's a former Olympic hurdler. Seriously.)
2. Coordinate Notes with Evernote
You're going to be drinking from a firehose at Inbound.
How will your team take notes and share findings with the rest of the group?
We've found that providing Evernote notebooks for each team member is a great way to keep note-taking consistent while you're all moving in different directions and learning different things. It's super-simple to hit record to capture audio while you're taking notes. Then, everything is in one place and format when it's time to compile your insights.
3. Create a Slack Channel for Real-Time Communication (and Chuckles)
If you haven't made the jump to Slack, this may be the time to do it. Slack is, hands down, the best way to communicate at a conference. As a remote team, we use Slack constantly, so it comes naturally to use it to connect between sessions and cut up a little bit. Use Evernote for official note taking, and Slack for the real-time comms.
Here are a couple of glimpses into how we used Slack at Inbound last year.
4. Register for Talks Early and Cross-Reference with Your Team
The Inbound App is a must-have. It's usually available about a month before the conference. You can use it to build your agenda and reserve sessions, connect with other attendees, and navigate the event.
Make sure you reserve your sessions at least a day before. You may still be able to get into a session without a reservation, but you'll have to wait in line until about five minutes before the start and hope for the best.
We usually cross-reference our reservations with other team members on Slack. Most of the time we try to hit different talks so that we can learn different things and report back.
5. Don't Take The Shuttle Bus
Last year, several of us took the shuttle bus from our hotel to the convention center. It ranked in the top five worst commuting experiences for all of us. The driver let too many people on, took a wrong turn, got stuck in traffic, and wouldn't turn on the AC.
We nearly suffocated and arrived 15 minutes late for the morning keynote. Ordinarily calm people were cussing like Howard Stern. I had never had a claustrophobic episode until that day. Kevin offered to pay for Uber BLACK the next day to make up for it.
Don't take the shuttle bus.
6. Plan Your Team Meetups and Face Time with Clients / Vendors
Because Inbound is such a big event, it's difficult to get everyone in the same place during the day while sessions are rolling. People are sometimes 20 minutes walking time away from each other.
So, we eat a nice dinner together each evening (thanks, Kevin!) to share the day's experiences. Plan ahead to coordinate meetups and choose your restaurants before you head to Boston.
Also, check with your clients and vendors to see if they'd like to catch up in person. This can be a great time to solidify relationships with the good people you do business with in a relaxed setting.
Want to know where to eat? We have you covered ...
7. Eat at Morton's Steakhouse
8. Walk the Property on Day 1
According to Wikipedia, the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC) is "among the largest exhibition centers in the Northeastern United States, with approximately 516,000 square feet (about 4.8 hectares) of contiguous exhibition space." A hectare is the scientific name for a heck of a big place.
And the BCEC can't even hold it all. Several sessions will be held at The Westin and across D Street at Aloft.
Take about 30 minutes to walk the property on Day 0 or 1, so that you don't waste an hour over the next few days trying to find your way to sessions. You'll find a multi-page printed map in the program one in the app as well.
9. Get Your Headshots Taken (Possibly)
There's no consensus on this topic here at Lean Labs. A couple of our team members thought the headshots they had taken at Inbound were terrible (Ryan can be picky) and a couple of us are actually using ours.
So, it probably depends on who is behind the camera come September.
If it's been a while since you've had a professional headshot taken, it's worth a try in my opinion. There's no charge. You'll get a jump drive with a handful of shots. There will be a cosmetologist on-hand to make it look like you haven't been running around Boston all day. There is usually a line to get through, but you shouldn't wait more than 10 minutes.
Here's mine from last year.
10. Red Sox vs. Yankees Friday Night
The Red Sox are in town all week, but you'll probably be too busy (or worn out) to head over to Fenway Park while the conference is happening. But don't rush off early on Friday. Stay an extra night to wind down and enjoy a historic matchup at one of the most storied venues in American sports. There's a good chance these two teams will be in a heated late-season pennant race in September, so the atmosphere should be electric. Get tickets here.
Will We See You There?
Speaking of cheers, if you use some of this info to make your Inbound experience great, we'd love to hear about it. Give us a shout so we can shake your hand in Boston. We'll buy you a cold one.
We hope you've benefitted from these Inbound Insider tips. Creating attractive content like this is an example of one of our Seven Secrets to 10x Growth. Check out the other six here and learn how we 10x traffic, leads, and opportunities for ourselves and our clients.