A Peek at The Inbound Marketing Summit

The inaugural Inbound Marketing Summit 2008 provided two outstanding keynote presentations and three tracks of seminars throughout the day in Cambridge.

I was thrilled to be invited as a guest, finding myself tagged as a member of the media. I felt a little bit anxious with feelings of obligation, but an honest reflection of the day is all that anyone can really expect.

This post brings a very unlikely combination of perspectives. Not only am I familiar with the subjects being presented and a few of the presenters, but I worked in hotels for years and am taking the role of speaker at my first hour long presentation to a large audience in early October.


Parking in Cambridge is never easy. Parking at this event was very easy because it was in the same building.  The cost was $22 for the day. I never left the building for about 11 hours.

The event space was on the second floor.  The sign in desk was obvious and had ample room to register attendees.  The schwag bag contained a program for the day and two books, Seth Godin’s Meatball Sundae, and David Meerman Scott’s New New Rules of Marketing & PR.  I had to chuckle because they are both books that I already own.

Attendees were required to walk through an area serving another convention which was confusing at first, but I think everybody figured it out quickly enough.  The hotel provided staff to assist in way-finding.

The first speaker was scheduled for 8:15 am.  However, the doors remained closed until 8:15 or maybe a minute or two later.  I still wonder why folks were not invited in before this time.

The reception area after the event was long and narrow with sun exposed glass walls.  The afternoon sun likely keeps this space warm even in the dead of winter.  A couple of the rooms were warm, but it could have just been me.


It is an entirely different perspective when you are friends with hosts and presenters and even their agents.  A big benefit of attending events is meeting new people and learning new concepts. I often struggle with the tension between seeing friends and wanting to visit with them and the hesitation most of us feel in meeting new people.  I ended up doing both, hanging with the crew and meeting some folks that were new.

Brian Halligan opened the morning with a thorough explanation of inbound marketing, including a helpful history of marketing that culminated with where things are going in the future. This led very naturally to the opening keynote speaker.

David Meerman Scott really set the table for the entire day.  His presentation, which at one point seemed to show slide number 98 was clear and informative.  I really should read his book now.

Seth Godin was of course entirely entertaining, colorful, energetic and relatively predictable.  This is not a presentation of ground breaking discoveries.

Both presenters did a fine job of engaging the audience, clearly making their points while subtly not letting us forget the title of their current or upcoming book titles.

The five other presenters that I joined covered a range of topics, including;

  1. Website re-design
  2. Optimizing landing pages
  3. Social media and PR
  4. Social media strategy
  5. Viral video

My favorite, was the subject that I deal with on a daily basis, site building and SEO.  I liked it because of the challenging ideas; namely that changing design is usually retrogressive breaking more things that it fixes.

Selling custom design for years, it was hard to embrace initially, but the case made was solid.  Site owners think of design first.  They really should think of content first.

Search engines can see the text, but not the design.  Awesome content brings visitors by way of the search engines. And, yes, I have seen design challenged sites perform well for their owners.

There was one presentation that I wanted to leave three or four times, but felt glued to my seat.  The information density was too high, the voice was monotone and the room was warm and dim, and I was hungry.

I was surprised to meet speakers on Social Media folks that were “not sold” on Twitter. I offered them some food for thought after the presentation, which they seemed to welcome.

Next Year

The Inbound Marketing Summit is a well balanced mix of content and networking. The speakers were all accessible and willing to speak with attendees.  I found the attendees eager to learn and meet new people.

This is a strong component of the summit that will be very satisfying to future attendees.

I encourage practitioners and managers in PR, marketing, e-commerce, web design and social media and those that need these kinds of services to attend the Inbound Marketing Summit. For a one day event in packs a punch that can’t be beat.

If you want to learn more about this year’s presentations, slides are available here; From there you can visit the blog and video streams.  These will give you a very good idea of the quality content that was available.

I’d be remiss in not mentioning the primary sponsor HubSpot who not only offers an internet marketing blog, but also website grader and press release grader.

There is a lot of value that the HubSpot team is pushing out to small and medium sized businesses.  Start taking advantage of this by visiting their website and attending next years Inbound Marketing Summit.