It's rare that I walk out of an industry confab with a feeling of intellectual exhaustion -- the pleasant kind of tired one gets from having one's brain stretched and mind challenged by a slate of excellent speakers, engaging topics, and new connections.  Inbound Marketing Summit 2010 did that for me this year and, as such, joins a very short list of top-quality events collected over the last 20+ years. The best way to get a sense of the proceedings at IMS10 is to take a look at the archived video on The Pulse Network and pick through the Twitter stream generated from this year's get-together on October 6 and 7 at Gillette Stadium. I felt that three themes were particularly central at this year's event:

  1. The primacy of relationship development, individualization and maintainance
  2. The undisputed fact that content rocks, and great content rocks hardest
  3. The so-old-school notion that lists are kind of a big deal.  The quality of your contacts is critical to creating a measurable ROI

Though I am bereft of the need to pathologically overshare -- as one presenter did by displaying pictures of herself, her sister and her mother...topless -- I did want to call out a few of my personal faves from the 21 or so hours spent camped out at Randy Moss' erstwhile office:

Though the highlights are listed in no particular order, Scott Stratten's (@unmarketing) day one closing butt-rocker of a keynote sits at the top of my list. My all-time list, as a matter of fact. Again, I drink the Kool Aid for no man, but as of this week I'll travel to see this brilliant loony anytime.

It was also astonishing how well the US military came off as exemplars of current enlightened marketing practice.  Dramatically counter to the service branches' reputations for crushing bureaucracy, we heard about  effective, human-scale and bullshit-free communications work from the Army, Marines and Air Force.  The standout was USAF Capt. Nathan Broshear's talk which kicked off with an All-airman-produced video of the USAF working in Haiti that was moving to the point of tears, without being maudlin -- would have made Old Joe Stalin envious of America, and a little verklempt. The core of Nathan's pitch on the need for genuine relationship development and his analysis of the media relations philosophy of General Petreus ("does the reporter tell the truth, do they provide context") was a nice "grounding" moment that said more about approach and attitude than tools and networks.

John Jantsch, the brains behind Duct Tape Marketing, kicked things off with a simple and resonant definition of marketing: Marketing is the process of getting someone to know, like and trust you.  Relationship development, first and foremost.

The idea that inbound marketing starts with the heart and head before reaching the mouth and fingertips, was a frequent theme.  David Meerman Scott, always a favorite even in his Grateful Dead garb, said it well when talking about real-time marketing: “Social media are the tools, real time is the mind set.”   

Day Two also saw a great and much-needed global perspective on social media and international markets from Patrick Attalah of the 90:10 Group.

Despite protestations of limited public speaking skills as a "code jockey," Dharmesh Shah delivered a smart and snappy talk about the evolution of the Inbound Marketing concept since he and Brian Halligan published their book, Inbound Marketing, in 2009.  Dharmesh could have comfortably filled an hour with his perspective and observations and the crowd would have asked for more.

In all, two days that passed a little too quickly but with plenty of time to network and talk over the material and the state-of-play in marketing this year. Again, as a marketing pro who has sat through plenty of these things in the past and who walks in with a pretty thin set of expectations about the value thereof, I was fully impressed and thankful for IMS10.  And the few times things lagged we had the #bannedsessions hashtag to keep us giggling like a bunch of sixth-graders. I'll be interested to see what New Marketing Labs has in store down the road -- they've set a high bar for themselves and that's fantastic.

For a full recap of the Inbound Marketing Summit 2010 proceedings, I refer you to the posts on the BostonInnovation blog that are worth bookmarking as well as the video on The Pulse Network.

AuthorJen Simonson