Tag Archives: Malcolm Gladwell

My Top Ten Takeaways from INBOUND14


At this time last week, I was leaving INBOUND14, HubSpot’s annual conference, which brought together some of the biggest and brightest in marketing, technology, e-commerce and business.

Over the course of four days, I sat through numerous keynotes, talks, breakouts and hands-on learning sessions, led by industry titans like Malcolm Gladwell, Simon Sinek, Guy Kawasaki and Martha Stewart.

Yes. I said Martha Stewart.

I finally had a chance to go over all my notes in Evernote (I’m kinda digging Evernote, y’all) and I’ve put together a list of my top ten takeaways from Inbound 2014.

1. It’s all about context.

While everyone is talking about mobile, mobile, mobile, we should be talking about mobile in context to the overall user experience. Our focus should be on how optimizing users’ interaction with our brands regardless of entry point (desktop, tablet, mobile or kiosk).

2. Experience over technology.

If you line up two similar products, side-by-side, the one that performs better is the one that’s going to win. When you’re competing for users’ time, attention and money, you’ve got to create an exceptional, seamless, quality user experience, for all touch points.  Brands should focus on ensuring that their website, mobile site, application, or products enhances the user experience.

3. Blend the physical with the digital.

Users are expecting brands to provide them with greater information to enable them to make informed decisions in real time. The best brands are allowing users to seamlessly move from physical (a product with a QR code) to digital (which is scanned and provides product information and “Buy Now”, “Add to Wishlist” or “Email to a Friend” options) are the brands that are going to win.

4.  Think customer first.

Old school marketing put the brand voice first. New school marketing puts the consumer voice first. Today’s engagement focuses on the consumer and is tailored to address their needs. More listening and less talking. When designing online, mobile or interactive experiences, the focus should be on building (or deepening) brand equity rather than selling.

5.  Rethink mobile.

Stop thinking of the mobile device as THE entry point, and start thinking of it as AN entry point. Rethinking mobile means placing the consumer at the center of your strategy (and not the device). It means realizing that sometimes a user is not going to want to interact with you via mobile, and being okay with that. It means to stop comparing mobile to desktop (and expecting engagement, conversions, page views, time on site, etc.) to be the same. It means that if the user is spending any time with your brand over any medium, you’re doing something right.

6.  Stay fluid.

It’s very easy to be set in your ways. But it’s better to be agile and responsive. You should always be listening, be prepared to react and be willing to change. Users respond favorably when they know you’re listening, paying attention to their concerns, and implementing solutions that make interacting with your brand easier or more fulfilling.

7.  Think holistically.

Sometimes, the best way to engage users may, in fact, be offline. Since we always have our mobile devices with us, brands have the ability to seamlessly marry our off and online worlds. By paying attention to more traditional modes of communication (billboards, text) brands can create numerous opportunities for engagement, where the medium is subservient to the message.

8.  Subtract, don’t act.

One theme that was repeated throughout the sessions, was the importance of simplifying your apps to accommodate the user’s primary objectives when interacting with your brand. Brands like Hilton and Torchy Tacos simplified their apps to “bare bones”, which pushed engagement and increased their bottom line.

9.  Think about why we are mobile.

While most of us equate “mobile” with “phone” it really means “the act of moving about freely.” Your mobile strategy should be about enhancing that sense of freedom, and not restricting it. Brands should focus on understanding the behavior of their users, and devising strategies that meet us where we are, rather than forcing us to interact in rigidly defined ways.

10.  Facilitate experiences.

When it comes to mobile, your primary objective is to help people do what their doing better. Moreover, your mantra should be: “Don’t interrupt. Enhance.” Rather than simply push a new app, update or feature, focus on what your customers are doing and seek ways to enhance the user experience.

If you’re interested in checking out some really great recaps of the sessions, visit inbound.org.

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Kevin Powell knows how to throw a party.

I just arrived at Kevin Powell’s 9th Annual Holiday Party and Clothing Drive at Tribeca Cinemas and I’m happy to be out of the cold.

Kevin Powell's 9th Annual Holiday Clothing Drive.

My man Richard Burroughs hipped me to tonight’s function. Rich is one of those ‘in-the-know’ folks, that I believe Malcolm Gladwell refers to as a ‘maven‘ (or is it a ‘connector?’) According to Rich, this was an event not-to-be-missed.

I’m fashionably early and my VIP credentials won’t be issued for another hour (thanks Tanya). So I follow two cats who seemed to know their way around to what I thought was the screening of the Bill Withers documentary, but what ended up being the inner-most sanctum of Tribeca Cinemas, where the beautiful people have started to assemble.

The very well appointed bar at Tribeca Cinemas. Gingerale, bartender. Clean.

Apparently it’s sound check, and a chick with pipes is checking her levels on stage. Note to self: find out who she is later. I walk around, taking it all in. There is a well appointed bar, four blank canvases on easels set up for an Art Battle, and lots of musicians milling about.

Art Battles

Art Battles paint.

Blank Art Battles canvases.

Three hours later I’m jamming to Maya Azucena and a host of talented artists and musicians, grooving to a wicked set from the world famous DJ Beverly Bond and having a frigging blast.

Maya Azucena rocking the stage at Kevin Powell's event.

The Art Battle being waged in the rear section of the lounge, produces four distinct and divergent pieces.

Art Battles completed pieces.

Alternating between the acoustic lounge, XBOX gaming room, the main dance floor and the VIP room, I almost forget that I’m at a clothing drive.

Upstairs in the VIP Lounge with DJ Beverly Bond.

The grandeur of tonight’s event is attributable to Kevin Powell, who brought together corporate sponsors, like XBOX 360, Fader magazine, Smart Water, Anheuser Busch and the New York Post, and some of the most influential personalities in New York for the Street Horizon Streetwork Project, one of the numerous charities to which he lends his support.

In addition to being a philanthropist, an acclaimed writer, activist, pop culture aficionado, and one of the nation’s leading voices of his generation, the night’s host is also my frat brother.

I track KP down and give him a pound for what is unquestionably the best charity event I’ve ever attended, before heading home, thankful that I did my part – and partied.

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