Martha Stewart – The Only Bad Apple at INBOUND 2014

by Debra Andrews | September 21, 2014

HubSpot’s annual conference, INBOUND, was over-the-top fabulous….except for one bad apple. There were insightful break-out sessions and a line-up of many high-profile keynote speakers such as Simon Sinek, Malcolm Gladwell and the one and only, Martha Stewart.  I was particularly interested in what the lifestyle guru had to say since she had grown a company from nothing into an multi-million dollar (yes, I’ll be cheesy for a second) orchard. I got in line early and scored a great seat. Eagerly, I took out my notepad and pink pen to capture all the juicy business tidbits.  Thirty minutes into her speech, I quietly slipped them back into my bag.  Making vegetable juice was the only key takeaway.  And quite frankly, I’d rather eat my kale than drink it!  I pondered, “How could a highly successful business woman be the one bad apple at INBOUND?” After a fleeting moment of disappointment, I assumed that just like cooking a new recipe and having it flop, there surely must be lessons to be learned.

The Wrong Food:

I am representative of the INBOUND audience: a marketer interested in better understanding and applying Inbound Marketing principles and tools.  As inbound practitioners, we know that marketing begins with understanding the needs, wants and challenges of your target audience.  Through delivering authentically helpful information, we are then able to attract, engage and convert prospects and then further delight them into loyal customers.

Martha Stewart didn’t know who was coming to dinner and served the wrong food.  She pushed out her story, including how publishers of her magazine didn’t believe she could think of enough creative 4th of July covers and how people didn’t take her panty hose over the pumpkin decorating idea seriously (insert loud snore). What we wanted to hear is how she meticulously created and maintains her “Living” brand.  Would Martha serve a vegetarian pot roast?  No way – she’s way too smart!  This leads me to conclude that she simply didn’t take the time and care enough to tailor her story for HubSpotters.

An Ungracious Hostess:

I’d be curious to know if other INBOUND participants felt as though we were interrupting Martha’s day and she had better things to do than to care about sharing a relevant story.  Every single other presenter, from keynote to breakout session, said how excited they were to be at INBOUND.  They had a way of making us feel appreciated.  I felt the sincere gratitude of Brian Halligan and Darmesh Shah.  The Co-Founders of HubSpot put creativity into their delivery with funny videos and other amusing visuals.  Each presented with passion delivered straight from the heart and not from paper note cards (yes….Martha usedindex cards). With an $100 million IPO on the horizon, I’m quite sure Mr. Halligan and Mr. Shah have packed “to do” lists. But, they left me feeling as if there was nothing they would rather be doing than engaging with the INBOUND audience.  Of all people, Martha Stewart should know how important it is to make your guest feel welcome.  She failed.

So there are inbound marketing lessons to be learned from Martha’s poorly thought-out and delivered presentation.  I went to INBOUND to learn but also to be inspired.  I’m grateful to have gained knowledge and inspiration from the other presenters who served the right food and were gracious hosts and hostesses.