The other day, a prospect asked me what the average annual revenue of a HubSpot client is. I said "I have no idea". I also asked why she asked. Since this was over email, she hasn't answered yet.
I should have answered. "It's rising."
I was talking to Frank Damelio this morning and this is a paraphrased quote of what he said to me: "I'm really excited for you Pete. Over the years, it's been great to have someone like you to share stories with as we've both built our businesses and learned hard lessons. And you are working on the cusp of something huge and I can tell based on how things are going for you and your excitement, that you're really in a good spot. And that all of the things you've learned, you're putting to good use and really helping a lot of people.
Previously, large businesses had access to the capabilities that HubSpot provides. But, now it's possible for every small business to afford these tools. And business is going to increasingly be initiated online at Google, blogs, LinkedIn, etc. And you are positioned to really help small businesses make the transition. No matter whether it's a hair salon, a tire repair place, or whatever, they're going to need someone that can give them the tools and guidance to switch from old ways of marketing to using the web to attract prospects to them. The web is where their customers are looking for someone like them. They need to be there."
Frank's right, though. This stuff is now affordable for small businesses. It's less about the dollar investment. It's more about whether they can spend the time and whether they have the aptitude to pull it off. It's not rocket science. But, it takes committment.
HubSpot's clients include large businesses like Kelley Staffing, Geico Insurance and SolidWorks, the leader in 3d design software. But, we also have lots of clients who are 5-10 person teams just setting out to change the world like Darcy's Safety and CPR training business, Boston Micro Machine's Adaptive Optics, Objective Management Group's sales recruiting business, Midnight Trader's After Hours Trading Information business, B&B Aesthetics revolutionary laser lipo procedures or Frusterio's Home Renovation Design business. HubSpot even has plenty of successful one person shops like Doug Sauerhaft's 'Buy Mail List' business, Paul Orselli's Museum Exhibit Design company, Bob Mattingly's River Rafting Adventure business, Dr. Edward Kwak's Asian Plastic Surgery business and Mari McCarthy's Journal Writing Therapy Business.
There's lots more. I'm proud to have brought many of these businesses on board. And what gets me really excited is when they start building readership on their blog, doing their own keyword research and tracking for SEO, improving ppc performance and leveraging social media so that it has an impact on the topline of their business.
And it's even more exciting when customers talk about it themselves. Here's the latest HubSpot internet marketing case study from telecom expense management software provider, Vocio. (Video editing by Catie Foertsch.)
It's amazing to think that we've had a part in helping this business grow their business. It's amazing to think about the fact that 46 new clients signed up last month to embark on the same process. The impact that we'll have on their business and their lives is awesome. We're putting people in control of their marketing, something that has been pretty much a guessing game for more than a century. I think it's a high point for the direct marketing business. Now, it's possible to not only measure things, but engineer, predict, and improve with instantaneous feedback. I'm pretty sure that Gutenberg didn't think that would ever be possible when he invented the printing press.
HubSpot just launched an 11 page free internet marketing eBook. If you're a small business owner, marketing or sales professional and are frustrated with not generating enough leads from your website, you should go read it online or download it.
Here's the sections:
1. How the Internet Has Transformed Business
2. Outbound vs Inbound Marketing
3. B2B Marketing Research
4. Organic vs Paid Search
5. On Page Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
6. Off Page SEO or Link Building
7. Starting a Blog
8. Convert Website Visitors into Leads
9. Web Marketing Analytics
10. Other Internet Marketing Resources.
Marketing Automation is the topic du jour in the marketing world. Aweber has been the pioneer allowing marketers to segment "types of buyers" and then setup "drip email marketing campaigns" that educate buyers about how to solve xyz problem [usually] using the marketer's abc solution.
There's many more new solutions out there that are much more sophisticated now. More expensive too.
Marketing Automation is smart. Usually, I think it makes the job of salespeople easier if the prospect can communicate their problems, and are confident that your solution solves their problems - going into the sales process. Marketing automation gets your prospects up to speed.
At HubSpot, we have prospective clients with multiple employees that are subcribed to our newsletter, attended several webinars, downloaded our white papers, visited our product and pricing page, left 4 comments on our blog, visited our site a total of 10 times and filled out 6 forms over 3 months. When we call [or rather: they call us], as you could imagine, they're pretty much ready to buy.
Regardless.. The topic of Marketing Automation is top of mind for many marketers.
I even had a local realty franchise owner tell me he wanted to do marketing automation. To which I asked:
His answers were low hundreds and a few every month. He's not a candidate for marketing automation. Marketing automation should be done by people who have many more leads than they can handle and can't find any other way to figure out who the sales people should call first.
I also asked the realtor:
He answered "No". Again, he's not a candidate for marketing automation. Marketing automation is good if you need to educate your buyers with bite sized chunks of information over time. If your sales cycle is short and only 1 or 2 people are involved in the buying decision, you don't need marketing automation. Marketing automation isn't going to close more deals for you. (Better salespeople might.)
Just to drive the point home, I asked a few more questions:
He said, "My website really needs some work. I even have trouble editing what I have now, let alone adding things to it. I know that I'm not getting all the leads I could be getting because I don't have anything to offer them to get them to come back to my site." Again, he's not a candidate for marketing automation.
I stopped there. I recommended he use Constant Contact as that would be a better solution for him for email marketing. Besides that, I recommended that he should just focus on getting more traffic to his website and converting more of his visitors to leads, so that his agents would have more people to call and he'd have more people to send his email newsletter to.
Their lead to deal conversion rate isn't the problem. It's that they don't have enough leads. So, marketing automation is not going to solve their most pressing issue. Improved PPC performance, SEO, blogging and more lead conversion events such as webinars, promotions and downloadable articles (eg "how to lease commercial real estate") are what's needed.
They don't need to do online marketing automation. They just need to start doing more online marketing. And start measuring what works. And what doesn't.
Are YOU ready for Marketing Automation?
Mike Langford, at our seminar the other day, was talking about networking for small business owners. He said, and I'm paraphrasing, "network with people who have already achieved what you want to achieve".
I couldn't agree more. I also like to network with people who are equally ambitious and dedicated as I am too. It keeps me sharp and positive.
At HubSpot, I've never been around as functional, dedicated and extremely intelligent group that is this large. I've worked with some of the smartest and dedicated people I know at other places. But, EVERYONE at HubSpot has a passion for making themselves, their team, the company and their clients successful. It's inspirational and motivational.
However, of all the people I hang around with, the smartest ones that I know are my friends from WPI. My buddy, Darryl Pollica, is leading the development of fuel cell systems at a one of the leading fuel cell companies in the world. My buddy Josh Brotherton leads implementation of biopharmaceutical process control systems for majorly important biopharmaceutical companies. (And beer companies too.) My buddy, Jeremy Olszewski, is VP in charge of about 60 people at Fidelity's Acturial Services group. He's an actuary with a personality, although we're still working on his dance moves.
And Seth. There's Seth Popinchalk. Seth is the man. He's one of the most intelligent people I know. Not just at his job. But, he's a role model. He inspired me through some times in my early twenties when I was pretty lost. And he's always been a step ahead of me in terms of making big life decisions. He's the guy that goes first and reports back. He's an amazing husband, dad and he's super smart at all things physics and math. He's one of the most curious smart people I know, constantly tinkering with things. Well, he's been telling me he's been tinkering with his blog for the last six months. And he finally launched it. It's quite technical. So, I'm sure you might not get what he's writing. My physics and differential equations, etc are a bit rusty too. So, I don't think that I'll read it regularly.
I have about 600 subscribers that I've accumulated over the years. Many I know personally. Many I don't. But, most are either people in the tech biz or small to mid sized business owners. I started small and I've stuck with it. Like anything, it's not easy and it takes committment.
Small & Mid Sized Business Owners and Marketing Professionals who are considering starting a blog are usually hesitant for a lot of reasons. Most of them very valid.
However, I think the biggest reason not to start a blog, is because they don't know how to get started. I usually tell them to find interesting blogs, start subscribing and reading them via a feedreader. Then, start leaving comments on those blogs. Eventually, you'll write a really long comment and you'll realize that you should post your thoughts to your own blog instead of in someone else's comments.
But, some people still hesitate. So, I have an offer for any business owner, sales manager, web manager or marketing manager that wants to take me up on it.
If you have some insight and can write a genuinely educational article (on any topic) about your product, service, business or whatever, you're invited to write a guest post on my blog. You can even link to your website.
There's no charge. There's no catch. Your post will have to pass a little bit of editorial review and you must lean more towards educational than promotional. But, all you have to do is apply by filling out this form.
At HubSpot, we help people set up blogs for their business. But more importantly, we guide them in using blogs as a strategic marketing tool to attract prospective clients to their websites and engage prospective clients in a conversation on their websites.
Done right, I honestly don't think there is a better marketing tool - that is applicable to almost any small or mid sized business - than a blog.
Before starting a blog, the first step should be to do search engine optimization keyword research. Blogging allows a business to create as many pages on their website as they want in an organized and navigable way - since every post becomes a page. And since every page on a business's website is an opportunity to rank in the search engine result pages for a given set of 1-3 keywords, blogging creates the potential to rank for a whole lotta keywords relevant to the business.
However, blogging is not just about publishing content to the web. (Great writing is critical though.)
Blogging is about participating in a transparent and public conversation where anyone and everyone in the world is invited to participate. I like to call them blogversations. But, think about going into a networking event filled with prospects and suppose you could talk to them all at once, say as the featured speaker. That's what a blog is. It's actually better. Imagine if you could pause time and have 1 on 1 conversations with people w/out the rest of the audience knowing. Then, resume your speech until the next person wants to talk to you. Then, imagine that this went on forever 24/7. How could you not get business out of that.
So, businesses should treat it like a conversation.
The hardest part that most businesses have when starting a blog is not coming up with the content. It's finding the first few people to have a conversation with.
Which is why you should immediately find a business blog buddy. Your business blog buddy should be: