After a motivational and inspirational day one at Inbound 2017, I had high hopes for day two. Particularly since it began with a keynote Q&A from Michelle Obama.

Michelle Obama was everything I hoped she’d be: funny, inspirational, strong and emotive. However (and I will come back to her), from a business perspective, it was Bozoma Saint John (Uber’s Chief Brand Officer) and Larry Kim (Wordstream founder and Mobile Monkey CEO) who stole the show for me.

There’s been a common theme throughout the conference. Modern marketing must be emotive and original. Today was no different.

Here’s my Inbound 2017 day two highlights:

Brands are people. They have personalities, perspectives, feelings and a future’ – Bozoma Saint John, Uber

“I want to make sure that my existence here changes the course for the future of diversity and inclusion.” A strong start from the Chief Brand Officer of Uber! She’s at the top of the game. Her CV (including Apple and PepsiCo) speaks for itself. And her latest task is turning Uber into a brand that people love as much as Apple.

She says that she has begun that by starting with human emotion. ‘It’s what drives us to be our best selves’, she said. It’s what drives our decision-making. Brands that excel make us feel something, like empowerment or inspiration. She wants Uber to become the most dependable way to take customers home.

Her message is powerful but simple: ‘As a brand marketer, my goal is to feel a commonality with an audience.

‘98% of marketing efforts go nowhere’ – Larry Kim, Mobile Monkey

My second highlight was the session with Larry Kim, founder of Wordstream and current CEO of Mobile Monkey. His session was about getting great results across every marketing channel, or as he called it, ‘unicorn marketing’.

He began with a story about a test he did last year. He wrote 300 blog posts and then measured them. Only eight performed well (he called these ‘unicorns’), the others were ‘donkeys’. These eight stories generated over 60% of his overall traffic.

Larry Kim’s story had a purpose. He wanted to showcase that when you find a ‘unicorn’, you have to jump on board and row as fast as you can! Why? Because top performing content boosts engagement rates. Higher engagement rates mean lower cost per engagement on social channels (and improved visibility as social algorithms reward engaging content), more click-throughs and openings on email (which, in turn, positively effects spam filters), and better conversion rates. The message is clear – promote quality content.

So, what does he suggest? Find the top 3 campaigns and then rework them. If a piece of content did well on one medium, it would likely do well on another. Turn it into another piece of content on another channel (byline article, social post, video, infographic, etc.). Alternatively, do a follow-up story, which explores the topic in greater detail. Or, a webinar on the subject and, if the webinar goes well, rinse and repeat. His theory on ‘unicorn marketing’ is simple: less work, but better results.

As he said, ‘85% of the value of your marketing campaigns comes from 5% of the campaigns’.

‘A repeat of a winning campaign will always outperform a new campaign.’

People are exposed to adverts every 2.7 seconds they are awake’ – Jeff Rosenblum

Interruptive adverts no longer work the way they used to. People are exposed to ads every 2.7 seconds they are awake, and receive 5000 brand messages per day. It’s overload. Jeff Rosenblum spoke about the changing face of customer engagement. Spoiler alert – it’s been a common theme throughout this conference.

He discussed a neuroscience experiment called ‘repetition suppression’, which highlights how today’s audiences simply ‘turn off’ when repeatedly faced with a brand message. As the above stat shows, this is happening way too much.

What, then, is the solution? ‘Fighting friction is a better way’. This is when businesses focus on helping people fulfil their hopes, dreams and aspirations. ‘It’s about improving lives one small step at a time’. What he means is businesses shifting from transactional relationships to emotional ones.

He describes the benefits of this pretty nicely:

Emotional relationships are irrational in the most positive of ways. An emotional audience interacts with the brand like it’s their best friend, and this relationship produces the most irrational results.

This session hammered home, once more, the point about creating immersive stories. It isn’t about injecting products into the story. If you weren’t convinced and still think you should focus on ‘product, product and more product’:

‘Brands who focus on empowering people outperform the competition by 8x.

Here are a couple more quotes I related to:

People are numb to something that doesn’t break the rules’ – Brit Marling, actresses, writer and producer

‘Regular content marketing doesn’t always work. You need to learn how to stand out. Share what’s unique to your business’ – Garrett Moon, CoSchedule

‘Businesses who have lost their way communicate like zombies. What’s the most common zombie trait? Being indistinguishable from competitors and losing identity’ – Julie Lellis, Elon University

I’ll end my day two recap where I started: The incredible Michelle Obama.

I was so engrossed during her Q&A that I barely noticed the time. However, a few things stuck and I think us marketers can all learn some valuable lessons from her:

‘If you’re going to lead, lead with grace and compassion.’

‘Don’t embrace the future, charge into it.’

‘A dark time is probably the most important period of growth you’ll ever have.’

‘Understand that each failure and crushing blow only makes you stronger.’

‘Have exceptional empathy.’

‘Stop, breathe, think, and reflect.’

‘Be authentic and stay true to yourself.’

Stay tuned for day three tomorrow and check out our video recap for more highlights.




Jez Frampton, Interbrand’s CEO was quoted when speaking at Rise, Hong Kong in August (1), saying that “brands are business strategy brought to life”.

According to the Economist, brands are the most valuable assets many companies possess (2). To give you an example, think McDonald’s promoting happiness from the cradle to the grave by capturing children’s attention from a young age with Happy Meals. Or Nike championing the concept of the underdog that becomes the champion, a story everyone can relate to whatever your background.

As consumers of brands, we attach ourselves to the values they promote and how they relate to us. A brand must be purposeful and inspire loyalty. If we don’t relate to them, we don’t consume them and the brand will cease to exist.

However, applying the following points will help you to push your business forward by elevating your relationship with customers to a brand level rather than merely another service provider:

1. Understand what your brand is

What do you do and what values do you embody that characterise this. 

2. What differentiates you from the competition

What makes you special. Find your unique selling point to push your brand forward with confidence and purposefulness.

3. How does the brand interact and influence its environment

Labour made significant gains in the UK 2017 general election, propelled forward by millennials who voted for promoted values such as trust, community, and fairness. If this is what millennials believe, then it is important to take notice and model your brands on their outlook, as they are ultimately your customers too.

4. What does the future hold for the business and will the brand change

Understanding trends and the rising influence of technology to change the playing field is important. Keeping up-to-date with developments politically, economically and technologically will ensure the brand stays relevant against an ever-changing consumer landscape.

5. How it is perceived by its customers

People run brands. From customers experiencing them to the staff that works within. People are more likely to be involved in a brand if the brand has a strong sense of purpose. It encourages confidence in your brand and will mean people will continue to use it.


Thank you for reading – I hope that asking yourself these questions candidly will help you to reflect on how your brand is perceived by your customers, and find greater clarity on what you can do to win a place in your customers’ hearts. It’s this business strategy that can yield a long and prosperous future for your business.



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