HubSpot’s INBOUND 2012 Conference

Wow time sure does fly when you are having fun! After publishing 1-2 times a month on this blog, it has been awhile since I have published a post. Definitely shame on me. But I’m back, and I’m here to tell you what I have been doing for the past year over the next couple of posts.

INBOUND 2012

This time last year I was gearing up for INBOUND 2012. I managed the logistics for the conference including sponsors, vendors, internal communication, registration, customer service, speaker coordination, budget, and reporting. We exceeding our goal of having 2,000 attendees and had 2,800 attendees with 60+ speakers from about 20 countries around the world. Our keynote speakers included David Meerman Scott, Rand Fishkin, Susan Cain, and Gary Vaynerchuk.

The conference kicked off with certification classes for HubSpot customers. They were able to get certified in top of the funnel and middle of the funnel practices. We certified about 150 people within the first day.

HubSpot certification class

HubSpot certification class

The following day, the conference officially kicked off with an exciting entrance by our co-founders, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah.

Then they walked into the conference and welcomed the attendees.

HubSpot co-founders Brian Halligan & Dharmesh Shah's entrance

HubSpot co-founders Brian Halligan & Dharmesh Shah’s entrance

Over the next 2 1/2 days, attendees had their choice of 60 breakout sessions within 6 tracks. They also had the chance to go to 5 keynote sessions.

David Meerman Scott

David Meerman Scott

Rand Fishkin

Rand Fishkin

Susan Cain

Susan Cain

Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk

There was also a special announcement of our latest product, HubSpot 3.

On Tuesday night, we also had a very special guest at INBOUND Rocks, Cyndi Lauper!

Cyndi Lauper at INBOUND Rocks

Cyndi Lauper at INBOUND Rocks

On Wednesday night, the last night of the conference, we had a few parties along Boylston Street with some of our sponsors. They were SXSW style so you could travel from party to party throughout the night.

Unlike other conferences, we had a pretty unique sponsorship exhibition area. Instead of having your typical booth setups, we gave our sponsors lounge areas with lounge furniture so they could have engaging conversations that did not come across as too promotional. We also had what we called the Prodigy Bar to allow customers to ask HubSpot consultants questions about the software.

HootSuite's Sponsorship Area

HootSuite’s Sponsorship Area

Another video of HootSuite's space

Another video of HootSuite’s space

Lounge areas in Sponsorship Hall

Lounge areas in Sponsorship Hall

HubSpot Prodigy Bar

HubSpot Prodigy Bar

And finally, a recap of INBOUND 2012, so you can really get an idea of what the conference was like.

Was anyone there? What did you think?

I’m Still Here!

Time flies when you are having fun! 

It may seem like everything has slowed down since I haven’t written a post in so long, but that is far from the truth. 

Last month, I published my first ebook for HubSpot called “Reinvent Your Event Marketing for Higher ROI.” It takes you through the planning process of setting goals for your trade show and creating a detailed strategy to make sure you achieve those goals and ultimately get higher ROI for being at the trade show. Sometimes it may be difficult to measure your trade show results, but it gives you details on how to do that!

Image

Cover for Reinvent Your Event Marketing for Higher ROI

I have also written a ton of content for the HubSpot Marketing Blog. One of the awesome things about this blog is that as soon as there are new marketing developments (Google+, Pinterest, etc.), we have an article posted about it. Though it may be hard at times to keep up with all these advancements, this blog is definitely an awesome start!

My last 5 blog posts include:

But probably the most exciting news is the conference I’m planning at HubSpot, Inbound 2012. This conference is from August 27-30, 2012 at the Hynes Convention Center for 2,000 marketers. You may have read about HUGS 2011 last year that was for 1,000 HubSpot customers. Inbound 2012 expands that conference to twice the size, three times as long and for any marketer, not just HubSpot customers. There will be keynote speakers including Gary Vaynerchuk and Rand Fishkin, certification and training, more than 50 sessions, a live band karaoke party and a sponsor pavilion different than anything you may have seen before. Stay tuned for some exciting updates on that!

What have you been doing lately?

OpenTable + Foursquare

I am a big fan of OpenTable.  And I am a big fan of Foursquare.

Whenever I go out to dinner, I make a reservation on OpenTable (if the restaurant is on it).  Whenever I go anywhere, I check in on Foursquare.

When I use OpenTable, I get either 100 or 1,000 points (depending on the restaurant).  When I use Foursquare, I get between 1-5 points (or maybe even more depending on Foursquare).

Before you go to dinner, you make a reservation on OpenTable.  When you get to the restaurant, you check-in on Foursquare completing the cycle.  OpenTable is the proactive action, and Foursquare is the reactive action.  They are two halves to a whole.

So it only makes sense to bring the two together.

Imagine this: you make a reservation on OpenTable for your favorite restaurant worth 100 points.  When you get to the restaurant, you tell the host or hostess that you are there to redeem your 100 points.  But it doesn’t stop there.  You then check-in on Foursquare, sharing with your network of friends.  You get some bonus points.  Then you share on Facebook, Twitter or both and you get even more points.  But why does this matter?

OpenTable builds the app.

OpenTable would need to be the one to create the app to connect with Foursquare.  But why would they bother when they already rule the online reservation space?  And they already have millions of people using their services.  For every hundred points on OpenTable, you earn $1 in dining credit.  After you get 2,000 points, they will send a $20 gift certificate.  The only way to get points is to make a reservation, and it is a very private, intimate experience.  The only people who know about the reservation are the customer, merchant and OpenTable.

But if you could get more points by checking in on Foursquare, tweeting out the check-in and posting on Facebook, your friends would see the benefits of OpenTable.  OpenTable makes it easier to make a reservation without calling many restaurants.  And by checking in, tweeting or posting, you are endorsing OpenTable’s service.  The lazy tweets or posts would give credit to OpenTable while also spreading the world about the service.  The tweets and posts could even lead to a landing page that encourages visitors to immediately sign up for an OpenTable account, make your first reservation and download the mobile app.

Currently, when someone makes a reservation, OpenTable gets a lot of data about what a person’s dining habits are: what type of food someone likes, what restaurants they like more than others, what areas of a city a person frequents the most etc.  But there may be more than one OpenTable user present when the reservation is made, but the data is only recorded for the person who made the reservation.  Connecting Foursquare and being able to show how many OpenTable members are at a dinner can help them gather data and even make it more accurate.

OpenTable will also figure out the habits of its members by seeing where they are checking in on Foursquare when they don’t have OpenTable reservations.  OpenTable can use this data to sign on new restaurants that are popular to its members.

Customers can get extra points.

Why would customers be interested in this app?  Well they benefit by getting more points.  Instead of simply getting 100 points for a reservation, they can now get points much faster.  And they become advocates for the restaurant which will not go unnoticed.

Merchants will gain brand advocates.

Why would the restaurants be interested in this app?  Instead of having the private interaction with their customers by using OpenTable, they will now have customers who are broadcasting to their social networks that they have gone to a particular restaurant.  The amount of referrals will drastically increase.

So OpenTable, what do you think?

P.S. Foursquare could benefit from this too.  People complain about their points not meaning anything, right?  And they will not have more access to OpenTable’s millions of customers!  Seems like it could work for both parties…

5 Must-Have Mobile Apps for Black Friday

There are two things that people do on Black Friday: get all your Christmas shopping done or hide in your home to avoid the crowds.  But for those who take advantage of the deals that kick off the holiday season, here are a few mobile apps that will help you identify where the deals are and even avoid the long lines at check-out.

Old Navy’s Snap Appy

Old Navy took their app to the next level and placed Old Navy logos around the store that are scannable. Once you scan them, you can unlock discounts and other surprises.  But even before you set food in the store, you can peruse through some of their most popular styles and upload some of your own once you get in the store.  And if a store runs out of a particular style or size, which can often happen on Black Friday, you can order it online right from your phone.

Fatwallet.com’s Black Friday

On Black Friday, shoppers are overloaded with thousands of choices from hundreds of stores. But the problem is, how do you decide who has the best deal?  Where do you get your new TV or toys for your kids?  This app sorts your choices by store or categories and even allows you to add filters to make your search easier such as brand, price, free shipping eligibity, and whether or not it is a door buster.  Before braving the hectic malls, this app prepares you to use your time wisely.

Amazon Deals

Whenever you are about to make a purchase, you cannot help but think, “Can I get this cheaper?  And with free shipping on Amazon?”  Even though there is an Amazon app, the Amazon Deals apps works especially well for Black Friday to track deals that are running out. Many stores will only have certain details in the early hours of the morning.  Instead of running to your nearest Best Buy to get the latest electronic and an even lower rate, Amazon Deals helps you pinpoint the discounts and purchase online.

ToysRUs

ToysRUs is notorious for its’ success, crowded lines, and sales on Black Friday.  This store will even open on Thanksgiving before the start of Black Friday just to handle the influx of people looking to purchase toys.  The app is vital for anyone who has to buy for a child.  The app lets you search by keyword or item, check out daily and weekly ads, and highlights the top sellers and new arrivals.  And the best part?  You can buy right from the app and avoid the store completely.

tgiBlackFriday

Though similar to Fatwallet.com’s app, this app will help you keep track of the deals you want to capitalize on.  Once again, you can search by store or categories, but the app shows you how many deals are available at each place and allows you to add items to a list.  Come Black Friday, you can knock out all your purchases much quicker and be aware of all the available details.

What are your plans for Black Friday?

Life as a Full Time Employee

When I first started at HubSpot, I had no idea what I was getting into.  I knew my summer was going to consist of working on 2 events: Dreamforce and the HubSpot User Group Summit (HUGS).  But I never imagined that every day I would be blown away by the intelligence, motivation and positive attitudes that emanate from the walls of HubSpot.  The people who work at HubSpot are truly changing the world of marketing It has been confirmed in the last few months that my decision to work at HubSpot was the greatest decision I could have made.

So let’s go back a bit.  I had experience planning events in college with PRSSA, but I never worked on events that were larger than 200 people.  At Dreamforce, 42,000 people attend.  At HUGS, 1,000 people attend.  It was definitely going to be a different experience.  But instead of focusing on how scary that was, I decided to focus on how much responsibility I was given.  At HubSpot, your superiors empower you by giving you confidence.  They show that they trust you and know you will be able to accomplish your tasks.  And they guide you when you have questions and help you achieve your goals.  So I took the challenge of working on these events as exciting.

For those who don’t know, Dreamforce is the largest cloud computing conference in the world put on by Salesforce.com.  They have speaking sessions, a trade show and parties at night.  HubSpot had 11 speaking sessions and four booths in the trade show area. We created an iPad app for Website Grader and gave consultations to anyone who visited our booth areas.  We were very visible since we all wore orange track suits (see the pictures below or on HubSpot’s Flickr).  We also gave away free unicorns to anyone who stopped by our booth. Many people came up to the booth asking, “Why unicorns?” (which I am sure you are asking right now too).  At HubSpot, we are fact based.  You can see that through the webinars, blog posts, videos and other content we produce.  The unicorns were a reminder that you should not listen to marketing fantasies but listen to the facts.  Marketing has changed a lot in the last decade, and it is important to change your strategies as the world changes.  The messaging, iPad app and speaking sessions were very successful, and HubSpot had a great time there!  HubSpot also sponsored the RVIP Lounge, a karaoke lounge on wheels, to take people around the city at night.  It was branded with everything HubSpot (and also included a few unicorns!)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Two weeks later, we had the HubSpot User Group Summit (HUGS) as part of FutureM right after the Inbound Marketing Summit (IMS).  During IMS, we had an Inbound Lounge where our consultants gave Website Grader assessments.  Attendees also had the chance to play ping pong or just sit and relax at our tables.  After IMS, we had our opening ceremony which included a 15-foot sprocket structure made out of balloons (see picture below) and a video thanking our customers.  HUGS was all day on Friday and involved different tracks to learn about different parts of the software.  But the most rewarding part was listening to the customers talk about the way HubSpot has changed their business.  They were so excited to go to the different sessions and hear more about what was to come in the future months.  It really shows you how much your job means to other people.  Pictures from HUGS show some of that enthusiasm.

So now that these events are behind me, I’m only looking forward to more events and PR at HubSpot.  It is so rewarding doing something you love with people who are as passionate and driven as the people at HubSpot.

What were your experiences with your first job?

Enchantment

I finally had the chance to read Guy Kawasaki‘s Enchantment, a book I have been trying to read for awhile now.  I wrote a post on the HubSpot blog about enchanting your audience using marketing techniques that he discusses in this book.  But one thing I did not include was how I have been enchanted in the past.  At the end of every chapter, Guy ends with someone else’s personal anecdote about how they have been enchanted.  It may have been something special that happened in their lives or witnessing someone else doing something extraordinary.  I originally thought I was going to write about how I have been enchanted by PRSSA, but let’s face it, if you read my blog, you already know about that.  So instead I thought it would be appropriate to talk about how I was enchanted my sophomore year of college which led me to write this blog.

When I first started college, a lot of people talked about blogging, but I didn’t really see the point or understand it.  Then I had another student come to my class and speak about his experiences blogging on his blog, The Personal Blog of AJ Vaynerchuk. He spoke about all of the opportunities he had as a result of his blog including networking opportunities, learning experiences and even making a small profit.  I was completely enthralled and wanted to learn more.  I decided I couldn’t use the excuse that “I was too busy to learn how to blog or consistently blog” since he was constantly traveling and networking in addition to school and still made time to blog.

So I figured, what do I have to lose, and I messaged AJ asking to help me set up my blog.  He met with me a few weeks later, set me up on Rachel Sprung on PR, and the rest is history.  I try to blog 2-3 times per month now (even though it is sometimes less) and have engaged with many interesting people as a result of it.  My blog has been a great conversation starter and really shown others that I care a lot about this industry and love learning more about it.

My enchantment in this case is two-fold.  First, I became enchanted with blogging.  Before my encounter with AJ, I had never really seen its purpose, and I didn’t read other blogs.  But after, I began regularly reading other blogs and commenting on them.  It was so interesting for me to engage with content in this manner.  The other part is I never said no when a student asked me for help.  It was really inspiring to me that despite his busy schedule, he made time to help me buy my domain name and set up a blog, something I don’t think I would have done otherwise.

All in all, I highly recommend reading Enchantment.  It will leave you with hundreds of marketing takeaways but also inspirational stories about enchanting others and becoming enchanted yourself.  Feel free to share stories about how you have been enchanted (or enchanted others) below!

From College Years to the Real World

The last 12 days have been a whirlwind.  I graduated and a little over a week later started my first full-time job.  So before my posts change from being “Rachel Sprung on PR: The College Years” to “Rachel Sprung on PR: The Real World,” I wanted to write a post about my time at Boston University.  My last two posts highlighted my love for Boston and my love for PRSSA.  But without understanding my background story, these posts may not make any sense at all.  Because my love for the two really came from my incredible experience as a Boston University student.

I decided to come to Boston University for it’s public relations program.  Unlike most high school students, I knew I wanted to be in communications, and I knew I wanted to be in public relations.  The program at Boston University is known around the country for producing some of the finest public relations professionals, and I wanted to have a similar opportunity.  I also wanted to be in the city, and BU really fit all of my criteria.

But when I got my acceptance letter (early decision, of course), I had no idea what was in store for the next four years.  I did not know that I would be traveling around the country meeting other incredible public relations students.  I did not know that I would become an active part of a public relations circle in Boston.  I did not know that I would not only plan various events on campus but around the city of Boston.  I did not know that I would be so immersed and excited over technology.  I did not know that I would love Boston as much as I did and ultimately make it my home.  And I truly owe that to Boston University.

The thing about Boston University that makes it unique from other schools is not only its location and curriculum but the way faculty and administration put themselves out for their students.  What other Dean of Students do you know would come to an off-campus event you put on to support you?  Dean Elmore does.  How many faculty would answer your frantic emails about life’s problems at odd hours of the night?  Professor Quigley does.  I cannot even name the number of times I have asked for help from various professors, and they have dropped everything to give me advice or given me a contact in the area who could help me out.  Boston University faculty try to get to know their students at a personal level in order to help them make the best decisions during and after college.  And they truly succeed and graduate some of the best students in the country.

Graduation weekend was full of exciting events to celebrate the last four years.  So I obviously have to share some pictures!

Scarlet Key Ceremony

First, you sign the book.

Then you get knighted!

Then you get a pin!

Blue Chip Award

Blue Chip Recipients

School of Management Commencement

My Cap!

Getting My Diploma!

Commencement

Katie Couric!

With the Family!

College of Communication Commencement

Getting My Diploma!

Tyler Hicks, NYT Journalist

So to everyone who has touched my life at Boston University, thank you for an incredible four years.  I really believe this is the best institution, and I could not have gotten a better education anywhere else.  So thank you, Boston University!  I plan to be a very active alum ;)

Social Media and Small Businessess

It is no secret that I am a fan of social media.  But one part that really grabs my interest is the effect of social media on small businesses.  I wrote a blog post called “Twitter and Small Businesses” that referenced a New York Times article that highlighted small businesses using Twitter to gain more business.  It showed that the larger companies who use Twitter to interact with their customers are not the only ones benefiting from social media strategies.  Throughout the last few months, Mashable has published articles about their thoughts on social media and small businesses beyond Twitter.

A Mashable article published 6 months ago called “How Small Business Is Using Social Media” surprisingly showed that only 16% of respondents are using Twitter for customer service purposes.  I feel like a lot of people think this is the only use of social media for companies, but the statistic really showed that there are so many ways to utilize social media.  LinkedIn and Facebook seemed to be the most used tools to create company pages.  It is true that almost every company you can think of has a company page and not every company uses Twitter yet.  Despite articles that show the importance of Twitter for small businesses, many of these companies do not see the value or purpose of Twitter.  Even more so they will not use this social media tool in a strategic manner.

Another article by Mashable “Why Small Businesses Shouldn’t Take Social Media for Granted” says that the size of the smaller businesses and their simplicity are actually assets when using social media.  It is so important to have that intimacy when communicating through these social media tools, and small businesses can achieve this easier.  The article highlights Starbucks as a company that is great at using social media, but they cannot communicate with all of their customers.  By being smaller, these businesses can interact with a larger percentage of their customers.  Who doesn’t like to get a response on Twitter from a company after tweeting at them?

Now with the recent trend toward smart phones, located-based deals are becoming prominent.  Just look at Mashable’s“5 New Ways Small Business Can Offer Location-Based Deals”.  Small businesses can use verified check-in rewards, social barcodes, group deals, challenge-based rewards and opt-in deals to gain not only more customers but more satisfied customers.  Mobile is one of the biggest upcoming trends, and small businesses have the perfect opportunity to become early adopters and use this tactic.

What do you think about the ways that small businesses can use social media?  Is it effective?  Or do the larger businesses have more control?

Promoted Tweets

So a big story this last week was the news that Twitter is going to finally have ads.  But the ads are a lot different than anyone expected.  Instead of ads on the side like Facebook or even GoogleTwitter is going to have promoted ads.  These advertisements will come in the form of tweets, so users can retweet them, comment on them, etc.  But what does this mean to the world of Twitter?

PC Magazine had a very insightful article explaining how the whole process will work.  Basically, when someone searches for a particular item, a promotional tweet will come up first on the search list.  Chief Operating Officer Dick Costolo used a perfect example of when this could be useful to both companies and users.  Apparently, people were complaining on Twitter that their iPad battery was not charging.  “iPad battery” soon became a trending topic but clearly not for a good reason.  Best Buy recognized this problem and tweeted a solution to this problem, but the people who had already tweeted about it did not see Best Buy’s reponse.  However, if Best Buy had posted a promotional tweet, users who searched for this problem to see what other people were saying could have seen the solution at the top of their search list.  Customers and Best Buy (and even Steve Jobs if you think about it) would benefit from the use of the promotional tweet.

So what are the first companies we will see on Promoted Tweets?  Best BuyBravoRed BullSony PicturesStarbucks, and Virgin America.  Interesting variety and choice in my opinion.  I would think some of the other brands that have a bigger presence on Twitter would be included in the mix, but then again this is a trial run for Twitter.

The interested part of promoted tweets is that Twitter is not really seeing it as the advertisement I just described.  Basically if users do not retweet it, comment on it, favorite it, etc., the Promoted Tweet will disappear.  Twitter wants to continue to be a user-friendly service and keep its organic platform.

MediaPost Publications brings up a good point about Twitter.  What types of ads will people really want to retweet and favorite?  They are not going to retweet regular messages about the company.  People will not care to retweet about something that does not benefit the general public.  They will only want to retweet about sales and promotions.  I could seeJetBlue gaining a lot of attention through these promotional tweets through their weekly JetBlue Cheeps, but I don’t know if some of these other companies would be able to benefit.  But I do have to admit, Starbucks is already getting A LOT of attention by being the first company to take part of the promoted tweets.  The majority of articles being written about the promoted tweets have included the picture above of the “example promoted tweet.”

But what does this mean for Twitter?  Could it have survived without the use of the promotional tweets?  Was there another way it could have made money?  Will people become frustrated by another place that will consume our lives with ads?  Wherever you turn there are advertisements.  Even Gmail customizes its ads depending on your e-mails and what you search for in Google.  And the same goes for Facebook.  Have you ever been frustrated with an ad that appears on the side of your Facebook page?  Is Twitter going down that same route?

The Leadership Challenge

This semester, I am taking a class called “The Leadership Challenge.”  On the first day of class, we started by asking the questions: “What is a leader?”  “What characteristics does a leader have?”  “Who do you consider a leader in your life?” etc.  There are always people you know that you admire and look up to as a role model, but what TRULY makes a person a leader?

The first person that came to mind was my PR professor and faculty advisor for PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America).  Not only do people look up to him and admire him, but he is motivational, inspirational, and trustworthy.  When he has an idea, people take him seriously.  When he said he will do something to help you out, he will ACTUALLY do it (for example, I needed a recommendation letter last minute once, and he had it to me in less than a week).  When you work on a project with him and seek his advice, not only does he provide great ideas, but he is always confident that it will get done.  As they say, he “walks the talk.”

At my last internship at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, my supervisor was looked upon as a leader.  Whenever I said that I was his intern, I was immediately taken more seriously because of his positive reputation.  He had proven himself throughout the years to others and shown that he was dedicated to his work and helping others, reliable, and truly an inspiration.  When someone needed help on an assignment, they knew they could count on him for insight and a job well done.

When I look at the reputation of these two leaders, I strive to act in the same way.  I try to motivate and inspire others and show that I will complete tasks that I say I will complete.  I try to ask everyone’s opinion about certain topics before moving onto a different discussion.  I try to show others that I am trustworthy.  I try to “walk the talk.”  A true leader is able to show these qualities and more to not only complete tasks by himself/herself but to inspire confidence in others.

I started reading the textbook for the semester called The Leadership Challenge by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner (http://www.leadershipchallenge.com/WileyCDA/).  They cite examples from corporate executives where these leaders did not show that they were working hard to earn a promotion but because they truly cared about their work and their cause.  They speak about the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership: Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart.  By employing these 5 examples (and of course expanding on their meanings), companies are able to perform better and leaders are able to set a better example.

What does the word “leader” mean to you?