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Monthly Archives: March 2016

Interview with HubSpot Expert

Episode 26: Smarketing with Varun Bhandakar

Welcome to Episode 26 of HubShots!

Interview: Smarketing with Varun Bhandakar (@vahroon) – Channel Consultant at HubSpot

Recorded: Friday 12 February and Tuesday 15 March 2016

In this episode we interview Varun Bhandakar, Channel Consultant at HubSpot for HubSpot Asia Pacific and discuss:

– the value of re-assessing buyer personas
– useful tips for how to approach buyer personas
– the need to include non-fit personas
– the 30-second tent ?
– typical campaign durations
– smarketing, and the push for alignment with sales and marketing
– why we love Canva (follow them @canva)

Follow Varun on Twitter at @vahroon

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Interview Transcript

Ian Jacob: Now, Varun, tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do at HubSpot.

Varun Bhandarkar: Cool. My name is Varun Bhandarkar. I’m a channel consultant here at HubSpot. To break down the role, I work with our partners in agencies to help them do inbound marketing better for themselves and for their customers.

Craig Bailey: Great. Our audience is marketing managers. You’re dealing a lot with agencies and seeing success. The agencies are working with marketing managers. What are some of the characteristics of successful companies that you’re seeing through your work with agencies?

Varun Bhandarkar: Sure. I’d say something that makes a lot of companies really successful while working with agencies is realistic goal setting and expectations. I personally have asked a lot of agencies when they’re sitting down with their customers, and a customer says, “Hey, look, I want 100% increase in my website traffic,” I’ve kind of asked them to push back and say, “Where are you getting that number from?” Are they pulling it out of air? Is the goal realistic? I feel like a lot of agencies who do that really well are setting themselves up for success in the long term.

Craig Bailey: Great. Are you saying, like, building on that, a marketing manager if they have a focus on one goal, realistic expectations, but also what ROI means, it comes down to actually what is return? Would that be true?

Varun Bhandarkar: Absolutely. I think that kind of creates a good segue to something that we were talking earlier about – smarketing. I’ve been pushing that regardless of if it’s an agency or if it’s an organization. I’m always telling them to have a smarketing-based approach. Now, smarketing, as you guys probably know, is the alignment between sales and marketing. A lot of times traditional organizations they complain that they don’t get enough lead from sales, and then marketing’s like, “We’re doing enough. We’re sending you out with this, and you’re not really closing it.” That’s because there’s lack of alignment.

It’s the start of the year 2016. Sit along with your sales team. This is my advice to a lot of marketing managers. Sit with your sales team. Sit with your sales director. Find out what they’re looking from you. See if it’s realistic. Come up with a good plan as to how you can actually execute it. That way there’s harmony, and you guys can at the end of the week not worry about missing targets, but rather than that sit down and have a beer together.

Craig Bailey: Excellent insight.

Ian Jacob: Now, understanding that, what are some of the strategies you see agencies helping marketing managers implement or do that’s working really well?

Varun Bhandarkar: Sure. Something that I’ve found happening more often lately is a lot of agencies are going back to their marketing managers and asking them to reassess their buyer persona. I know this sounds like a very rudimentary answer, but that’s the basis for success. If you don’t have a proper idea of who you’re trying to market to or who will be buying your services or product at the end of the day, you’re kind of yelling out in the woods, and the audience is sitting behind you.

Craig Bailey: That’s an excellent point, because we’ve seen stats that show that buyer personas, everyone knows the concept, but less than the majority, a minority, actually build them. Do you have any tips on how they can build buyer personas or review those?

Varun Bhandarkar: Yeah, absolutely. Look, if you have services or a product to market, don’t think of yourself as an organization with something to sell. Think of yourself as someone in the audience or someone in the market who has a need, and think of how what you’re trying to sell or the service that you’re selling is going to solve for them. I think when you kind of put yourself in someone else’s shoes, the answers to your buyer personas come instantly. I think a lot of people over complicate the buyer persona question by saying, “Okay, we’ve got something. Who would it solve for?” No, think of who someone is and what problem they have that you can eliminate using your service or product.

Ian Jacob: I think that’s great, because that will lead people to really go, if they need to solve this problem, “What service or product can I provide to solve that problem?” I think it’s approaching from a totally different angle. Now, another thing I had to ask you was, and I didn’t realize this when I started, but you also have the non-buyer persona in your system.

Craig Bailey: Or the non-fit buyer persona.

Ian Jacob: That’s right.

Varun Bhandarkar: The negative persona

Ian Jacob: The negative persona, right? Now, when we obviously start inbounding, you talk a lot about the persona that you’re marketing to. But as you get down the track, you go, “Hang on, okay, well, what about the non-persona that might end up jumping into the funnel? What do I do with them?” Again, like if I think back, I think having the non-persona is also very important. Now, have you discovered that with people that you’re working with, like having the non-buyer persona in the system?

Varun Bhandarkar: Absolutely. I think in some instances a lot of organizations think of it from the start saying this is who it’s a good fit for and this is who it’s not, but in most instances, you find out who the negative fit is or the bad fit is as you go along. Sometimes you can jump into business with them. Six months down the line, they’re like, “Oh my God, what have I gotten myself into?”

I think it’s quite crucial for a lot of businesses to realize that, and if needed, turn business away. If you can’t service someone to the best of your ability, you’re actually causing detriment in the long term. I know there’s an old saying saying, “If you don’t know how to do something, say yes and learn how to do it later.” But if you think about it as a smaller agency or as a smaller organization, do you actually have time to do that? You’re going to have someone who is going to be on your case saying, “Hey, what’s happening? My number’s under. You promised me this. You promised me that,” and then it’s just going to be a very negative relationship, and it’s just going to leave a sour taste in everyone’s mouth.

Ian Jacob: That’s really interesting, because I could take that and say, “Well, look, we’re all starting somewhere, right?” If I was a marketing manager, and I’m just learning inbound, or I’m just doing inbound certification, and I’m about to implement this campaign, I could be in that same position, right? We all have to learn. I guess you’re probably in a good position, because you’re also new to the organization. But I think it’s about how you view it.

Now, what do you think when it comes to that and moving people on their journey, especially like in business? Because you work with people like agencies to help other businesses that are just getting this. How do you effectively grow that person, keep them on track, keep them motivated, and keep that happening?

Varun Bhandarkar: Sure. It kind of breaks it out into two different scenarios, right? Sometimes when you open up your service, and you get in a lot of leads, it’s very exciting to see the number of leads coming in. As they move down the marketing funnel, they’ll obviously trickle down, the numbers will dwindle, but a lot of non-fits or bad fits will still fall through, because they’re still interested in your content. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are the best fit for them.

I was actually having a conversation with one of our partners who focuses on financial services this morning. They’re getting a lot of inquiries from customers in manufacturing. They have moved from a lead to a marketing qualified lead, because they meet the criteria. He’s like, “How do we funnel them out?” I’m like, “This is completely left up to you guys. If you feel like there is something that you can provide them, do it. I think the best way to do this is by jumping on a call and seeing if they’re a good fit or not. They might not necessarily be in the industry or might not be in your ideal persona set, but they might have like maybe a mindset or maybe a need, like an immediate need, that you guys can solve for. Also, a lot of this will kind of be cross-collaboration between your online and offline efforts.”

Ian Jacob: That’s a really good answer.

Craig Bailey: Nice. Now, I’m just actually going to go back a bit to personas. Getting down to the nitty-gritty of preparing personas, are there any tools that you’d recommend?

Varun Bhandarkar: Without sounding like I’m making a sales pitch for HubSpot, we actually have a brilliant persona tool. Now, the reason why I say it’s brilliant is it provokes people to ask questions that you might not necessarily ask. You guys are probably aware we always encourage people when they think of buyer personas to go beyond demographic and into the psychographic information.

A lot of partners who sometimes are fairly new to this ask me, “Man, I don’t want to know what they’re doing on the weekends.” Well, actually you do. If someone is running a business for themselves, they’re thinking about their business nonstop. They’re thinking about, “How am I going to close this lead?” while they’re playing cricket with their children, or they’re out swimming.

If you can think of how you can answer that question for that person while he’s at the beach, then you’re going to hit the nail on the head, and you’re going to convert them into a customer. You have to think not only about them as a business but about them as a person. That’s how you can get your ideal buyer persona to become a customer, and they move from being a fictitious concept to something that is very real.

Craig Bailey: I love it. Is that the makemypersona.com? Is that the tool you’re referring to?

Varun Bhandarkar: Yes, absolutely, yup.

Ian Jacob: That’s a great place to start. People who are considering using HubSpot but aren’t use that tool. If you’ve got HubSpot, use the persona tool that’s inside of the system.

Varun Bhandarkar: Absolutely. I think HubSpot, you kind of hit the nail on the head. We give so many resources for free, because we just want to elevate the level of marketing all around us. I think working collaboratively, everyone wins, right?

Craig Bailey: Absolutely.

Ian Jacob: You know what, I’ll mention the last bit of collaboration you guys did. I think it was with Canva providing some templates for different things, and I signed up to it a few days ago. But I thought it was a fantastic way to collaborate and get people interested in what you were doing but in a more practical manner.

Varun Bhandarkar: Absolutely. I think HubSpot takes a lot of inspiration from Canva. I myself take a lot of inspiration from Guy Kawasaki. I think he’s a brilliant man. He’s got some brilliant insights into life as we know it rather than just marketing. The fact that Canva you have access to so many free templates and brilliant images that you can use, why not, right?

Ian Jacob: If I was a marketing manager starting out running my first campaign, what do you see on average is a good time period to run a campaign and measure those goals? I know you can run it indefinitely, but what’s a good initial time gap, so to speak, that you would run a campaign and review the results?

Varun Bhandarkar: Sure. I’m just going to flip this on you guys just a little bit, because you guys have been around for a while. You’ve done this. I wouldn’t say you guys are starting off in any capacity. How long are the campaigns that you run for initially? I mean like now. I wouldn’t say when you started off. How long are the campaigns you run for on an average?

Ian Jacob: Oh, look, I think, for us, probably three to six months, depending on what we’re doing.

Craig Bailey: I would say it depends on the channels that you start with. Let’s say you had a co-partnering thing with an established brand. That could work really quickly. You can also partner with industry sites. They might have an email list. That could work quickly. But I think the overall question that you’re getting at is around general inbound content-based growth…

Ian Jacob: That’s right, exactly.

Craig Bailey: I would say it can be longer in terms of building organic strength. Is that kind of what you’re saying?

Varun Bhandarkar: Yeah, I think that kind of answer. I think there’s no cookie-cutter approach. It’s very context-based. It’s very subjective to what you’re trying to accomplish. If you’re a new company, you have no presence in the market at all, would you want to run a campaign for a month? Is that realistic? I don’t think so. You guys have been established, and you still say a successful campaign requires three to six months.

Varun Bhandarkar: Inbound is something that will get you wins over the long period. I’d say if you’re just getting started, if you’re looking at a top of the funnel offer, let it run for an average of three to six months and see how it goes. We can always reassess it. That’s the flexibility of running a campaign. If things change in two months, you get the results, well and good. We can close it in three months, and then we could focus on converting those leads that you’ve generated.

HubShots Episode 26

Interview with HubSpot Expert

Episode 25: Inbound Marketing Success with Mads Nielsen

Welcome to Episode 25 of HubShots!

Interview: Inbound Marketing with Mads Nielsen (LinkedIn) – HubSpot Principal Channel Account Manager

Recorded: Friday 12 February and Tuesday 15 March 2016

In this episode we interview Mads Nielsen, Channel Account Manager for HubSpot Asia Pacific and discuss:

– making sure your customers are a good fit for your product/service
– what is inbound marketing
– the importance of having a good story to tell
– how starting the inbound conversations with sales (rather than marketing) can often be a big benefit to companies
– should Sales do Inbound certification
– the importance of everyone in the company being onboard with inbound
– why HubSpot isn’t a quick fix, it’s a long term strategy
– setting expectations for timeframes
– comparing platform costs with the effort required
– building a campaign is one of the first steps you should do when implementing HubSpot
– there’s still a window of opportunity for marketing managers to embrace inbound marketing
– wait for the pearl of wisdom at the end

Connect with Mads on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/madsn/en

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Interview Transcript

Ian Jacob: Now, Mads, tell us what you do at HubSpot in Asia Pacific?

Mads Nielsen: Oh, boy. What don’t I do?

Ian Jacob: We hear you’re a bit of a star.

Mads Nielsen: I am a star, I have to say. No, I’m what’s called a CAM, which is a Channel Account Manager. And I work with sales, with marketing agencies, that are our HubSpot partners.

Craig Bailey: Okay. So you’re dealing with agencies that are dealing with customers, say, marketing managers. So the listeners to the podcast, they might work with an agency. You’re the person that works with the agency. So what we’re interested at, in your experience working with agencies, what do you find that the marketing managers are doing well, or the agencies that are working well with marketing managers that are successful of doing? Are there any kind of general things that jump out at you?

Mads Nielsen: Well, it all comes down at the end to inbound marketing, right? So they need to be able to understand that concept. And I think the more old school they’re used to working, the more harder it is to get them to kind of move over to that path. And so the ones who are doing it well are the ones who are open to change. I think that’s the first thing that’s really important. We talk a lot about fit at HubSpot, whether they’re a good fit for our product, for our inbound marketing line. And that’s one of the first things we feel out for.

Craig Bailey: Excellent. So we’ve actually heard that as a consistent theme, which is always good, what we’re actually asking you, can you define inbound marketing as you understand it? Because quite often in Australia, and still in Asia Pac, people don’t have a clear idea of what inbound marketing is.

Ian Jacob: And not many people search for it.

Mads Nielsen: Yeah, that’s true. But what is inbound marketing? That’s a really good question. So in my world, I think inbound marketing is around putting good content out there that people want to read. And that will then drive visitors to your website, basically see your product, see what you have to say. I think it’s very much around not just telling them about all your fantastic products, but having a good story to tell.

Ian Jacob: That’s really good. Now, you deal with a lot of sales. I talk about this quite often is that we’re seeing this shift. Like you can bring great leads into a business, but if sales aren’t treating those leads with the respect that’s due, or they don’t understand what the outcome needs to be, there’s this massive misalignment.

And then some of the times sales will never even see who is in marketing, or even talk to anybody in marketing. And I think that’s something that HubSpot’s done pretty well, and that obviously the alignment there is very close. Having been in HubSpot for a while and being like a sales star in HubSpot, what are the steps you’ve taken to make that a success? And what have you seen that have been the key drivers for that success?

Mads Nielsen: I think part of that, it’s kind of like a two-fold thing. I think the one thing is around…you touched upon sales and marketing. There’s this marketing alignment, as we call it, which needs to be very much in part, but it very seldomly is.

So I think one of the biggest things that agencies can do to position themselves for better success is to go in there and not just talk to the marketing team and be that outsourced marketing team for them, but actually work with the sales department about what kind of leads are they looking for, and what qualifies as a good lead for them as well. And even though that kind of gets ticked off, sometimes you’ll still have some misalignment, but it’s all about tweaking and fine-tuning, at the end of the day.

Ian Jacob: Now, see, that’s a really interesting point you make. Across the board, how many people or, say, partners you deal with, actually have conversations with sales teams?

Mads Nielsen: About 20%.

Ian Jacob: Yes. So that’s what I thought. Because it’s really interesting. Because in our agency, we seem to have a lot of conversations with head of sales now first before we even get to marketing. And I’m seeing this shift because people that have huge sales teams, people don’t want to talk to them because they know they can get the information. Or they want to talk to the engineers that have the information. And so we’re seeing this massive shift in the market. And I guess sales directors are finding that they need to find other ways to get to their markets. So inbound is a great way to do that.

But I just find, I think, on our side, education’s becoming really big. They need to understand what they’re getting and how they can get it. But I think a lot of it is going to fall on maybe marketing managers, but also even agencies to educate some of these people.

Mads Nielsen: I have to agree. I think agencies who start with sales get more insight and in-depth knowledge into what is actually causing revenue at the end of the day to be generated. And so if you use the sales team to a more effective…marketers seem to think that they know a lot of things and they can push out a lot of good leads for the sales team. The sales teams sit back and go, “No, they don’t.” So it’s a bit of a give and take when it comes to that.

But I think that if you can nail the sales process in terms of what they’re looking for, you can actually really help them on your inbound path, on what kind of content to write about, and to specify more personas because that really helps the sales team at the end of the day. And what everyone’s looking for is revenue.

Craig Bailey: Okay. So let’s talk about that a little bit more. So our listeners are predominantly marketing managers, so they might not have been exposed to this whole idea of sales and marketing alignment. They might be thinking, “Marketing just gets the lead. We hand it over the fence to sales.” What are you seeing as successful companies doing? What would you say to marketing managers that have that opinion? Do you think that’s changing?

Mads Nielsen: I think it is changing. I think it’s taking a long time to change as well. I think there’s a lot of education that goes into this piece. Both marketing managers and sales needs to be able to understand what each other’s roles do to be able to kind of fine-tune that a little bit better.

But there is a big educational piece and a bit missing there in the block, especially in Australia as well. I see that there’s still very much a little traditional…I see a lot of sales blames marketing and marketing blames sales. There’s a lot of that going on. But I think that if you can meet in the midway around inbound, because you have content, you know what people have been doing, you can provide that better in-depth intel for the sales reps, it just becomes a better experience overall.

But also sales knows a lot, and know s a lot more than marketers might actually give them credit for. And it could be a good way to open the door and say, “Well, what kind of content shall we be focusing on?” and bring that into that alignment. That’s where we have this smarketing alignment in.

Ian Jacob: Now, Mads, we’ve been doing all our certifications again this year.

Mads Nielsen: Sounds good.

Ian Jacob: How important is it, do you think, to put sales through inbound training?

Mads Nielsen: I think they need to understand the concept of inbound training. So I think that they need to take at least a certification on inbound. I think every sales rep should do that. And when it comes into using HubSpot and things like that, no, that doesn’t really matter. But that initial inbound education, they need to understand to better provide feedback for marketing as well and as they go forward.

Ian Jacob: Yeah. And I think with that, obviously, they’re going to be using tools like the CRM, at the end of the day. So I think that is very key. And as that grows in the whole marketing mix, I think that’s going to be a really key thing to get people to be successful.

Mads Nielsen: I completely agree. On this fact, I think pretty much every agency working with their end users should go out and actually recommend a very, very fixed path on educating their sales team on inbound marketing. Because if they don’t understand what they’re being given, they’re not utilizing the whole platform. So it’s all about a give-and-take situation. But it is something that they need to do if a business is going to go in and actually actively position in by marketing as their strategy, going forward.

Ian Jacob: So this raises a really important question for me. We’ve got sales. We’ve got marketing, right?

Mads Nielsen: Yeah.

Ian Jacob: Now, what if the head of business is not on board with this or has no idea about inbound?

Mads Nielsen: Well, then there’s another educational piece that needs to be taken care of there. The agency needs to go in and actually teach every aspect of the business, all the way from the top to the bottom, I think, when it comes to within marketing and sales. And that includes the CMO, and it includes sometimes a brush-up to the CEO because he needs to understand what’s going on as a strategy from within the business. He needs to be, as a minimum, on board with the concept.

Craig Bailey: Right. So as a marketing manager listening to this, I guess the takeaway for them would be that if they’re having trouble kind of getting buy-in for HubSpot, they actually need to go back a step and talk about the approach first in doing marketing, understanding that.

Mads Nielsen: Oh, yeah. Definitely.

Craig Bailey: So can I ask you then, because you’re on the sales side, you’re actually typically dealing with marketing managers at companies that are considering HubSpot as a tool. What are some of the common questions and problems that they’re coming to you with hoping that HubSpot will solve?

Mads Nielsen: Well, one is that their website is more of a holding page, or a brochure, or something like that. But the biggest thing is like, “How do I have to change that?” And sometimes they’re overwhelmed by some of the work that needs to be done.

HubSpot and inbound marketing is not a quick fix. It’s something that matures over time. And they need to be on board for the longer term. A lot of them that are looking for a quick fix steer away from HubSpot a little bit because they’re going, “That’s a long-term fix.” And it might be best for their company, but at the end of the day, they might not go ahead because they can’t see that immediate return of investment.

Craig Bailey: What’s long-term mean?

Mads Nielsen: Well, we generally tell people that it’s anywhere between six to nine months before you start seeing the ball really rolling and kicking back on its heel and things like that, once you’ve actually done a full inbound marketing implementation. But it might be as quick as a couple of months, depending on what target you’re going into, and how aggressive you are in terms of content that you’re publishing and things like that.

But it can also be several years, depending on exactly how much you invest into it. So when I say several years, it’s like if you just go out there and say, “A couple of blogs a month is enough, and I’m just going to tweak a little bit here and there,” you might not see any return on investment for a long period of time. It does take some significant investment of time. And that’s the biggest thing. It’s not the money and the platform costs, it’s around time.

Ian Jacob: It’s the effort, right?

Mads Nielsen: Yeah, that’s right.

Craig Bailey: Yeah, that’s really good. Good point.

Ian Jacob: So from a perspective of people that you are seeing across the board, how quickly and reasonably possible is it to build out a campaign? Or people, what should they be doing to build campaigns? Because I was talking to someone the other day, and it’s been almost a whole year and they have not build out a campaign.

Mads Nielsen: Well, that’s the first thing you do when you get into HubSpot is you build a campaign. You deep dive right into the deep end around building campaigns, building content, and really structuring that and publicizing it as soon as possible. Because you need to build up that momentum, which takes time. So that is the first thing.

And how easy it is, it’s pretty easy. We have a tool for it. We go into where we actually completely build out all the aspects that you need to remember when building out a campaign. It’s a very thorough tool when it comes to that kind of stuff. And plus the reporting is amazing. So you can actually see whether the efforts that you’re doing are paying off in terms of visitors and lead conversions and so on.

Ian Jacob: If you look at sales globally, let’s say, for example, what do you see is the big difference between your counterparts in America and you here in Asia Pacific? Because we have customers that might be based here, but are going into the U.S. market. So what sort of insight can you can give us or our audience as to what the differences are, if there is anything at all?

Mads Nielsen: Well, the US. is a lot further ahead than we are here in Australia. Because they’ve had it for a while, the concept is becoming more of a day-to-day conversation than what it is here in Australia. If you think of it from that point of view, if they’re going to go into a market like that, it’s going to be much more receptive to it because it’s already ready for it, where here, it’s an educational piece much more. It’s at that intermediate stage at this moment.

It’s getting a lot better than what it was, but we’ve been here a couple of years now. We’ve had clients that have been on us for four or five years. So it’s not something new to a lot of people. But the concept of implementing it, what it actually takes, is new, when you’re marketing here. However, for the U.S., you would see a much more receptive market because it’s been there longer.

Craig Bailey: That’s actually an opportunity for marketing managers in Australia then. We’re still behind in a sense, and so there’s actually opportunity before everyone’s on board to actually jump in now and get started.

Mads Nielsen: Oh, definitely. It’s something to remember as well that eventually, this will be the way people market. And it is something that we’re merging into. Traditional marketing is more or less dying off because people are blocking out all of the traditional ways of marketing and advertising. So it is something that is emerging. And the quicker you get on board, the more stronger you will be in the long run.

Ian Jacob: Now, what’s one pearl of wisdom you can give us?

Mads Nielsen: So that’s always tough because you learn so much every year. But I think…

Ian Jacob: Well, let’s say in the last 12 months.

Mads Nielsen: The last 12 months, okay. Well, I think one of the things that I found is you have to continue to set the bar a little bit higher every time you move yourself through. You progress. So for me, personally, it’s always been to get more requirements out of my agencies. And I think you guys will see the fun with that later on. But I think you should continue to move your bar for yourself. You need to continue to push yourself to improve. You can’t just sit and rely on what you knew because things change constantly.

HubShots Episode 25

Interview with HubSpot Expert

Episode 24: Improving Lead Quality with Brent Claremont

Welcome to Episode 24 of HubShots!

Interview: Lead Quality with Brent Claremont (@brentc27) – HubSpot Channel Consultant

Recorded: Friday 12 February and Wednesday 24 February

In this episode we interview Brent Claremont, Channel Consultant for HubSpot Asia Pacific and discuss:

– the importance of having realistic expectations
– the benefits of setting SLAs with different departments, especially between marketing and sales
– having a shared understanding of what a good lead is
– the benefit of saying no to some prospects
– make sure you listen for the bell

Follow Brent on Twitter at @brentc27

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Interview Transcript

Brent Claremont: So my name is Brent Claremont. I’m the first channel consultant in APAC [SP] for HubSpot, a title I’m pretty proud of. Fundamentally, my role is to work with agencies who resell HubSpot and that also use HubSpot for themselves. What I love about HubSpot I suppose is nearly an unknown quantity at this stage in Australia. You either know it or you’ve never heard of it compared to the States, so it’s cutting edge of SaaS and loving every day of it.

Craig Bailey: Great, so you deal with agencies and you also deal with onboarding customers that are new to HubSpot. What kinds of challenges are you seeing those new to HubSpot facing, and what are the kinds of difficult solutions that successful companies are using?

Brent Claremont: That’s a good question Craig, there’s so many different ways to answer it. I think that on the agencies side the most successful marketing managers truly understand inbound, and that is a big point that I see a lot of success from. If you understand sections of it, you can do well but understanding the entire inbound marketing methodology is just…I’m almost learning from some of these marketing managers because they’ve had so much experience. Very similarly to when I help an agency onboard a client for the first time, expectation setting is the number one thing I push. If everybody’s on the same page, you manage expectations, results, and progress. It’s the easiest process.

Craig Bailey: Excellent. So you mentioned expectations. Give us an example of sometimes unrealistic expectations versus actually something that’s probably realistic in these days of marketing.

Brent Claremont: Another great question. I think that when it comes to expectations, a lot of people have a look at HubSpot and the agency they’re dealing with, and you see the big picture. You go, “I’ve seen all this amazing growth around ANZ, APAC, the States, even though that our market is somewhat three, four years behind the States. And you think big picture, and it’s really easy to get inspired and carried away. But I’m sort of the devil’s advocate, I suppose, with agencies and their clients and really getting an understanding of where they are right now in regards to traffic, visitors, conversions and how do you scale that? And one specific example comes to mind that I was doing with a client earlier this week. They say, “We want 100% increase in traffic.” And the agency said, “What’s your current traffic?” And like, “Oh, we think it’s…” As soon as I hear that phrase, “We think,” it’s yeah, got to take a big step back and really understand the analytics.

Ian Jacob: So it’s not a smart goal by any stretch of the imagination, is it?

Brent Claremont: Yeah, exactly.

Ian Jacob: Now Brent, what is one thing you’ve seen people doing really well with using HubSpot and inbound.

Brent Claremont: So things I’m seeing agencies and direct clients doing are I’d say two-fold. One is very much, again, the inbound marketing methodology. You understand that everything else falls into place. Getting a bit more granular, something I’ve seen over the past 10 months, the best performing marketing managers in agencies have excellent SLAs, so referring to Service Level Agreements with their clients. So we’re getting a little bit of expectation setting, but for example, getting more granular, would be about content requirements. So if we are gonna be posting blogs on your behalf, our SLA will be in 72 hours. If we don’t hear anything back from the client we’ll take that as you saying, “We can now process this,” saving time, giving real confidence to the agency to do so.

Ian Jacob: Yeah, that’s great. And so what’s one thing you would say that people can really improve on across the board? Something that’s standing out to you.

What I’ve seen people do well would definitely be, again, back on the SLA points, but defining what a good fit customer is, and as strange as it sounds, turning away customers who don’t fit that perfect mold which is very hard. It’s easier said than done.

Craig Bailey: Right, can I pick up on that point? So let’s say our listeners, say that a marketing manager is listening to this and they’re not yet on HubSpot, but they’re thinking, “Well, it’s something we’re considering.” What is actually a good fit? Do you have kind of a definition or a general concept of a great fit for HubSpot?

Brent Claremont: Yes, Craig, with that I’d say it really depends on what your industry is. Over my lifetime of working with…and again, I’m in my late 20 so I’ve only had around six-year experience mark. But in my previous role I worked with big pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer, Eli Lilly. I’ve worked with education facilities like universities. So I’ve got a nice spread and it’s never a clear fit. It’s having a look at your current customer base and saying, “You know, this client has just been perfect from beginning to end. Why is that?”

So it’s actually about marketing managers and companies saying, “Okay, this is our perfect fit model for our client.” Again, it doesn’t have to be spot on because you don’t wanna be turning away too much business, but again, you’re setting yourself and the customer up for success. You only bring on a customer that you know that you can drive success for.

Craig Bailey: Do you have an example of a customer that may be wanted to onboard with HubSpot, but you actually thought, “Actually you’re not ready for it,” or, “You’re not a good fit?” Is there any specific characteristics that come to mind?

Brent Claremont: I suppose, yeah, there’s definitely a few. And again, one of the parts I love about sales with HubSpot is our salespeople will actually tell a partner that we don’t think this is a good deal. I’ve never seen that on the sales floor. Again, that’s just a personal experience. There’s some excellent companies out there, but how much confidence does that build when a salesperson is telling you, “Don’t sell at this stage.” It’s really refreshing. It really builds confidence, but at the end, we want to solve for the customer. And again, to your point, it’s very much expectations of, “Hey, we wanna try HubSpot for three months.” That’s a bit of a red flag for me when a try is a short term. This is a business decision. It’s a long-term decision. It’s a marathon not a sprint with inbound.

Ian Jacob: That’s really good Brent. Now, coming back to the experience you’ve had, and understanding people out there really want quick results, what’s one of the best things you’ve seen that people are doing that’s actually delivering results quickly and getting people going quickly?

Brent Claremont: I get asked this, I think, on a daily basis. And again, it’s coming out of the client but the quick win scheme, I think, the market, what Ian said, the first thing we go to is paid ads are gonna get us a quick win in regards to visits. I agree that a lot of people make no mistake are thinking that paid advertising or paid campaigns don’t have a place in the inbound methodology. It definitely does. We have a tool that promotes you to book paid advertising with LinkedIn and Google AdWords later down the track this year, fingers crossed.

The biggest thing people lean into is, “That’s gonna be my quick win,” but the quality of leads that are coming through ultimately impacts that. So it’s a really tough question I think. I’d have to get more context on exactly the client, exactly [inaudible 00:07:45].

Ian Jacob: But I think that goes back to what you were saying before. It’s about setting the right expectation with people.

Brent Claremont: Spot on. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Craig Bailey: Okay, have you had any experience with US campaigns where you’ve seen the client take…they’re a multi-national. They’ve had a US campaign and then they’ve tried it in Australia and it’s been…just hasn’t worked as effectively. Do you see any of those kinds of things in your job?

Brent Claremont: No, I definitely do. And again, I predominantly work with APAC and ANZ. More so ANZ these days as we just opened up our Singapore office. I love seeing what’s happening in the States. I constantly connect with colleagues over in the States to get a feel of it as an example of just people knowing about HubSpot and inbound. For example, I have a partner I work with who ranks one for inbound marketing Australia. He ranks one. That is not yielding a lot of traffic right now purely for the insight that you know, I didn’t know about HubSpot when I got approached.

So much to that point of, I was in Boston about 10 months ago for training. And I was wearing a HubSpot shirt as you know, I was loving HubSpot and training there. And somebody stopped me in an elevator and said, “Oh, do you work for HubSpot? Oh, I’d love to learn about it.” A random person I’d never even seen was just in my hotel, whereas I struggle to explain inbound or HubSpot to friends and family here. So there’s so many use cases of the States simply utilizing inbound, whereas here it’s not a good fit. I wouldn’t say not a good fit, but there’s a lot more education we need to do. We need to be better here I think. Healthcare is a big example. There’s so much potential here, but different legal requirements from the US to here and the way it’s done. This is a bit of a hard point.

Ian Jacob: Now, that’s really interesting because we’re seeing a lot of…we’re delivering leads, we’re delivering quality to businesses, but then we have sales on the outside. And there’s a lot around sales enablement and how sales fits in with this. And they’ve coined a term: smarketing, right? I think this is becoming a really key area where we will battle in, in 2016, 2017 and into the future. And I see Brian is really focusing on it at HubSpot. What are you seeing at a specific with sales, sales enablement and where that’s going in 2016?

Brent Claremont: That’s a really great question. We actually have a meeting today, a marketing meeting for our lunch in the HubSpot office. By no means are we there yet at HubSpot, but sales and services and marketing, we all need to be on the same page. And when we do that, the ability to best serve the customer, it just changes. I think it’s gonna be a big part. By no means, it’s not going to be like flicking a light switch. It’s gonna be a long progress and like you have got everybody on the same page for it. The sales team, the marketing team, the service team all need to be on the same page. Easier said than done, though.

Ian Jacob: So I mean, hanging out with you guys at Inbound really made me realize that you guys probably already do that, and I could see the relationship between the teams. Now, I’m assuming that’s because there’s a lot of effort going into having lunches, having meetings, communicating with each other, sitting next to each other. Is that really the key to making streamline that process do you believe?

Brent Claremont: It definitely is. I’ve had a few different sales jobs, and they’ve been excellent at B2B publishers, digital mediums, but I’ve never been on a sales floor that has been so positive in my entire life. And the more that we’re connected and on the same page when a sales rep signs a partner for example, for myself, if we’re on an understanding what a good fit is for the partner, they’re gonna have such greater success because of our alignment…and to the point, if it helps the customer or the partner, that’s why we do it.

Craig Bailey: That’s great. Can I just pick up on that whole sales-marketing alignment. I was reading Mike Lieberman. He runs an agency in the States. One of my heroes actually. But he was talking about this idea that marketing has historically been providing the leads and then sales closes them. And so marketing’s function has all their KPIs have been around providing leads. But he’s now saying actually marketing is much more, there is that alignment, they’re working together with sales, and marketing is becoming more tasked with actually providing the sale as well, working with sales teams. I guess that’s a kind of a sales and marketing alignment. Do you think that’s correct first of all, or is it just kind of overreaching? And two, do you see that flowing into Australia this year, or are we still just behind where that kind of thinking is?

Brent Claremont: That’s a really, really good question. It’s something we speak about often here. It’s as soon as I talk about smarketing, sales marketing alignment, this Venn diagram appears in my head. So there are three fundamental departments we have at HubSpot, here Syd Spot as we like to call it. There’s services, which is myself, very post-sales. Then we have sales. Obviously, that’s self-explanatory. Then we have the marketing team. We’re all connected in this ever growing circle. So this is a great question for Ryan Bonnici who’ll be able to give you such clarity because he’s had a stellar year with the marketing team. We can hear the bell ringing right now on the sales floor.

Craig Bailey: Okay, what’s that bell mean?

Brent Claremont: That means that another client has been signed.

Craig Bailey: Fantastic.

Brent Claremont: So it’s very poignant actually hearing that noise because the quality of leads that we provide to sales have to be up to a certain standard. We don’t have somebody reaching out too thinking, “Oh, they could be a good fit.” The salesperson has all the tools available. Marketing gives them those tools.

Interview with HubSpot Expert

Episode 23: Sales Enablement with Rosalia Cefalu

Welcome to Episode 23 of HubShots!

Interview: Sales Enablement with Rosalia Cefalu (@RosaliaCef) – HubSpot Sales Enablement Marketing Manager

Recorded: Friday 12 February and Wednesday 24 February

In this episode we interview Rosalia Cefalu, Sales Enablement Marketing Manager for HubSpot Asia Pacific and discuss:

– how marketers can get a better understanding of the sales process and what the sales team do
– the benefits of marketing working more closely with sales
– why everyone using the same platform is so important
– why the reporting add-on is designed for using with both sales and marketing together
– why marketing managers should be reporting on sales results so they can understand lead quality
– the differences between marketing and sales in Australia versus North America
– the ways Australia is ahead of the US in terms of selling, and where we can learn
– what the best marketing managers are good at
– being willing to challenge the status quo
– how advocacy programs are helping to significantly scale businesses

Follow Rosalia on Twitter at @RosaliaCef

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Interview Transcript

Rosalia Cefalu: My name’s Rosalia Cefalu and I work as a Sales Enablement Marketing Manager here at HubSpot. I’ve been here for the past three years and I’ve actually been stationed out of our Boston office, located in Cambridge specifically. I’m from Boston originally. And I took on a new challenge just about a week ago actually, when I touched down in Sydney and so I’m here at our Syd Spot office for the next five months where I’ll be working to enable our sales team through content, product training, and a little bit more about what we’ll probably end up talking about today.

Craig Bailey: Fantastic. All right. So you often help with challenges that sales and marketing people have in their roles. Can you tell us a little bit about some of the challenges that you’ve seen and how people are typically solving them?

Rosalia Cefalu: Yeah, absolutely. So some of the challenges that we see sales and marketing teams face come down to this very, very basic human challenge of not understanding each other. Sales and marketing people speak totally different languages a lot of the time and so much of it is just a preconceived notion that one group hasn’t made an effort to get over with the other one. So some of the challenges that we faced internally at HubSpot, and that we see our customers face, is that marketers don’t understand a lot about the sales process and don’t actually get involved in kind of that hand to hand combat, one on one, being on the phone through a sales process. So what we’ve done internally and what we suggest to a lot of our customers to do, and have seen success with, is actually shaking things up and having your marketing team sit with your sales team, sit interspersed with your sales team, have them sit on calls with the sales team.

One of the things that marketers can help a lot with is, obviously, we’re very good at content creation, we’re really good at positioning our product, so actually bringing those marketers onto sales calls to act as allies. What it does is two really, really big benefits. So the first is it improves the sales and marketing relationship by having the marketer give something to the sales person that’s not just a new lead. It’s actually progressing that person through the funnel, getting them closer to becoming a customer, but I think what we end up finding is that marketers come off those calls with kind of a, “Whoa, that’s what a sales call is really like?” These sales guys are really getting hammered with hard questions. They have a really tough job that they’re doing day in and day out. So it really helps improve that relationship and gives each team kind of a better idea of what the skill sets that they can leverage from the other are.

Craig Bailey: That’s fascinating. So I’m interested to know…okay, you work with sales and marketing teams within HubSpot and you’ve also worked with HubSpot customers and other people, like marketing managers who would be listening to our podcast. How have they responded or have you seen a success where you actually have said okay to marketing managers, you’ve actually got to go and sit with the sales team. Like, how many will actually, I guess, accept that and actually do it or how many push back?

Rosalia Cefalu: People don’t typically push back because they know they need to do it. I’ve definitely heard of a lot of teams who, like I said, come back with that shock value afterwards, but one of my favorite stories that I heard from a team who did implement this and they went and sat with the sales team was that they had so much better of an idea of what a sales person does and the sales people kind of had this pride about their job afterward, that then the marketers wanted to have that feeling kind of back for sales, so they put up this large television right there on the sales floor where they broadcast their HubSpot dashboard to kind of show sales, “You know, we’re sitting with you guys. We’re hearing what you’re doing every day. We’re hearing your challenges. Now you can see kind of what our goals are, what our waterfall looks like. This is what our day to day is.” And so, I thought that was a great example of kind of just jumping in headfirst, being a little afraid of it, but being able to really share each other’s story between the two teams.

Ian Jacob: Now that’s really interesting. Now if I think about…in the last year we had CRM come on. We’ve had products like Five Kick join us. And that’s really changed the way, I guess, sales teams can run with information that they’ve got. How much of that is going to be more and more important in 2016 and onwards?

Rosalia Cefalu: Yeah. I think it’s super important, especially when you’re adopting platforms like HubSpot that appeal to two different teams, sales, marketing. It’s really important to get as many people as possible within the company adopting that software. So I think that what we’ll see with some of the HubSpot products like CRM and the reporting…especially if you want to get your whole team on this product, each of your stakeholders have to understand the value of it, have to be in the product, have to be using it.

So one good example of what we’ve seen a lot of customers see a lot of success with today is that when you have your sales team on the CRM, and you have your marketing team using the marketing product, and you have this reporting add-on kind of sitting in between them, and you have dashboards that appeal to all those different stakeholders, so marketers can check in on sales productivity. Salespeople can check-in on the leads that are being generated by marketing. Your CMO, your CEO, all these kind of C-level stakeholders can have their own dashboards and they’re able to see top line metrics. Individual teams, whether it’s your social team, your content team, they’re all in there at the same time viewing all of their metrics. So we’re seeing just better alignment in general among a whole company when they’re all using the same software. When everybody is able to see value from that software and able to work in it together, they end up working better together as people and it ends up making for stickier customers, of course, also when everybody is on the same platform.

Ian Jacob: So this is really interesting because if we look at it from a perspective of…we often report back to businesses that we help, right? And you just mentioned like they always have these dashboards, but everybody across the organization has information available to them which they use on a daily basis. I think that changes everything. How many people like, or how many organizations have you seen actually doing that? Because I know reporting add-on’s being talked about. Like, are people using it or are we getting to that stage where people really understand the power of it? And what can we do to help make that better?

Rosalia Cefalu: Yeah, absolutely. So when we’ve encouraged this type of behavior before with other platforms that are kind of built for one individual team, it’s much harder to see that adoption. It’s much harder to see all those teams get in, look at each other’s metrics and really be using it. With the reporting add-on, we’re seeing amazing traction because it was built for multiple teams, because it was built with both sales and marketing together. And one of the ways that we can kind of encourage and see more traction with it, I think, is really putting it in the hands of the marketer to get inside of the head of the salesperson, to get inside of the head of each of their individual teams.

And this stuff really falls on the marketing managers to understand what are those metrics that they want to see, what are those challenges that they want to overcome, were there opportunities for more transparency within the company, and then having those managers actually create those dashboards, create those reports. I wouldn’t necessarily put it in the hands of my sales team, like, “Hey guys, here’s all the reporting add-on, here’s all this data, go build what you want to see.” They don’t necessarily know what the finished product that they want to see is. But if you can understand from them that they want more visibility into what are the high quality leads you’re generating this month, or what are the offers that you’re focusing on this month, that it’s really on the marketers then to go create those dashboards and make it really usable for the whole company.

Craig Bailey: You know what though? I just need to take a step back because after this listening to you for a few minutes talk about this, I kind of feel like, “Oh yeah, that’s the norm. Yeah. That’s what everyone…” And then I just have to take, check myself again. Hang on. None of my clients do that.

Ian Jacob: No. That’s exactly why I mentioned that.

Craig Bailey: It’s so obvious and I was just like, “Actually, no one’s doing that.”

Ian Jacob: You know what I think will happen is it’ll drive more engagement on the platform of people actually willing to see stuff change. That’s what really stood out to me from this whole conversation is that it’s not something that I will get someone to do this and we’ll check back in a month, but here every day, people will see some sort of activity and you can drive a lot of action based out of it, I think. That’s really the key of that.

Rosalia Cefalu: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, when we think about how do we get that sales team involved, like having even just the daily, weekly, monthly emails that go out to them that show them those metrics, sales people are living inside the CRM or they’re living inside their inbox all day. So actually putting it directly in front of them, it really increases the visibility of the work marketing’s doing which also works to improve that relationship.

And to your point that none of my clients are doing this today, when we think about inbound marketing, when you first kind of learn about the methodology and you understand like, “Okay, not having messages pushed out to me but me, actually, in the time when I’m making a buying decision or I’m doing research that your company comes up and is providing value and providing information,” yeah, of course, that makes so much sense. Of course, that’s what we should be doing. It’s almost so obvious that you can’t understand how people aren’t doing it, and so that’s why I think it’s really interesting in this region specifically to be seeing that traction kind of catch on and following in the footsteps of what we’ve seen a lot in the States. And I think that with things like the reporting add-on, it may take a little more time here, but I think we’re going to see a lot of that kind of cross-team adoption happen.

Ian Jacob: Fantastic. So we touched a bit on this, about different regions… you’ve obviously come from North America and you’ve come to Asia Pacific. Things are a bit different here. I think like for both of us we’ve got customers that primarily service the Australian or the Asian market, and now we’re going into the U.S. What sort of advice can you share with us that would help that transition into that new market space for them, being obviously an Australian business and then going to the U.S., for example?

Rosalia Cefalu: Really, really interesting question. So some of the differences I’ve seen and kind of what I would suggest to businesses here as they move overseas to a U.S. customer base or U.S. prospects…here in this region, things are very, very relationship-based. A lot of relationship-based selling, a lot of in-person selling, a lot of event selling, more so than we see in the U.S. I think the core of sales and the core of inbound sales really has to do with building trust and building those relationships and so, ironically, I would almost say that you guys are kind of ahead in that aspect. It’s in the U.S. that we’re kind of just starting to build out that playbook of what an inbound sales model looks like, and what being helpful beyond just creating content online looks like, so I would encourage that you guys actually don’t transition or change all that much when you start selling into the States. I think that that kind of relationship building is going to be really valuable and that our audience will be super perceptive to it out there.

At the same time, if there is one thing that seems it might be different from here, from hopping on a lot of sales calls back in the States, prospects can be very hard-hitting because they know they have the power today, and because of inbound marketing, because salespeople don’t hold all the power that they used to, us as buyers in the U.S., we’ll ignore all your emails. We don’t have to open them. We might not be so kind off the bat on the phone, whereas a lot of the calls I’ve listened to here, there are genuine, awesome conversations happening out of the gate. There’s not kind of that big sense of distrust as there is in the States, so I would make sure that while we are encouraging relationship selling, that you guys are going into sales and marketing with the facts, the content, even if the top of the funnel is not super fluffy. I think that in the States, definitely people want all the information. They want all the facts. Our sales engineering team out there in the States is obviously huge for that reason. We really have that source of truth, that back up, that technical resource on a lot of those calls. So yeah, I would definitely say keep up all of the relationship building and the trust that you’re building, but definitely go into all of those conversations with all of the facts.

Craig Bailey: That was really good. Okay. So just moving on, I just want to ask you, this is just kind of more of a general thing. You’ve actually highlighted a few of these things, but just a question. What is one thing that successful marketing managers are particularly good at do you think?

Rosalia Cefalu: Yeah.

Craig Bailey: And you can look at geographic changes as well, if it’s relevant, but yeah, is there something?

Rosalia Cefalu: Yeah. So I think one thing the best marketing managers are really good at is always questioning the status quo and questioning their playbook even if they’re seeing success. Not just going through steps one, two, and three, because steps one, two, and three have always worked. The reason being that your buyers, as they’ve changed, we see the reason why inbound marketing works at all is because buyer behavior has changed. Buyers’ behaviors will continue to change as their needs change, as the world around us changes. We see this happen with more and more people on smartphones and consuming more content through apps like Facebook and Twitter versus going to Google and searching for something, right. So as the technology that we use changes, as the world around us changes, buyers change too, and that doesn’t mean that because Playbook A has been successful for the past year, that it’s going to be successful in the next year. So really, that kind of healthy level of skepticism and the need to always be re-evaluating what you’re doing, reinventing your strategy regardless of how much success you’ve seen thus far.

Ian Jacob: What do you see as something that’s probably going to change in 2016?

Rosalia Cefalu: In 2016, something that we’re seeing more of with our customers and that we’re doing a little bit more specifically in this region is taking marketing outside of just the marketing team, and taking that kind of education out of just a sales person talking to a prospect and really using our existing customers as kind of a pseudo marketing team. So we’re seeing more and more people build out advocacy programs with their customers as a way to use the people who are using your product or your service every day as a way to promote, to do marketing for you, to advocate for you. When we look at something like even just Yelp for restaurants, right? So much of the time, when I decide where I’m going to go eat, it’s not because of the cool website that the restaurant had or because of an article that the restaurant wrote. A lot of that has to do with somebody who ate there saying, “Yeah, you know what, this place has a great dinner menu and I highly recommend it to everyone.” So I think we’ll see more and more of that in 2016, especially with how important relationship-based selling is here. I think that more buyers want to hear from other people that have actually used the software or used the service, somebody that they can actually trust and really looks like them.

HubShots Episode 23

1 Interview with HubSpot Expert

Episode 22: Thinking Outside the Box with James Gilbert

Welcome to Episode 22 of HubShots!

Interview: Thinking Outside the Box with James Gilbert (@jatgilbert) – HubSpot Demand Gen Marketing Manager Asia Pacific

Recorded: Friday 12 February and Wednesday 24 February

In this episode we interview James Gilbert, Demand Generation Marketing Manager for HubSpot Asia Pacific and discuss:

– Marketing on community sites (Medium, Product Hunt, LinkedIn Pulse, Reddit)
– owned, earned, paid media
– short term versus long term traffic channels
– the value of being an authority figure in your industry
– how building owned media can help you increase your pricing
– the benefits of owned media protection
– building a moat with owned media: http://www.inc.com/laura-montini/how-the-value-of-marketing-appreciates.html
– distributing your content on other platforms such as Medium and LinkedIn Pulse
– feedback loop between marketing and sales – SLAs
– goal: leads that close
– constantly kicking off new campaigns
– tip for LinkedIn sponsored content

Follow James on Twitter at @jatgilbert

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Interview Transcript

James Gilbert: Okay. So I work at HubSpot. I’m based in the Sydney office, and I look after demand gen for the APAC region. So that essentially means I need to make sure we’ve got enough leads and marketing-qualified leads for our sales team.

Ian Jacob: Wow. Is it just yourself or do you work a part of a larger team?

James Gilbert: So I’m part of a larger team. So we have a marketing team in APAC and we’re slowly building it out in regions too, so we’ve just hired someone in Japan, someone in Southeast Asia, and then there’s a few people based essentially here in Sydney.

Craig Bailey: So what we’re interested in talking with you today about is tips and kind of like strategies for marketing managers. And I guess this is kind of almost what you do in a way.

James Gilbert: Yeah.

Craig Bailey: And so it’s really good to touch about some of the things that you’re doing to drive leads for the business. So what have you seen working especially in the last year or so in terms of marketing and driving leads?

James Gilbert: Yeah, so really interesting trend we’ve noticed and have started experimenting with is actually marketing on community sites. So if you think like medium as a publishing platform, we started doing a lot of efforts around that. We recently did a campaign where we launched one of our tools that has existed for a while, Website Grader, we put it on Product Hunt, and that was very, very successful in driving, I think, more visits than it’s ever had, and it’s been around for quite a while. So we’re noticing those third-party platform popping up as a great distribution mechanisms.

Ian Jacob:I was just going to ask you, was this purely an APAC thing in terms of the Product Hunt thing or is that something that was driven out of Boston?

James Gilbert: So that was driven out of APAC. It affects the company globally because it naturally like has a global audience but that was an initiative we undertook and we promoted the tool on Product Hunt. I think it’s the 28th highest up-voted product of all time on Product Hunt, and generated lots and lots of visitors and leads for the business, so it was very successful.

Interviewer: That’s fantastic. So when you talk about leads, now we know we can obviously segment people down, or segment these leads down. Were they mainly to do for the web platform or was it actually to do for inbound or the HubSpot platform? What was the goal essentially?

James Gilbert: Okay. So with this particular tool, so with Website Grader, you enter your details and you kind of grade your website and then you send the results there. So that’s what people’s intention was when they came to Website Grader, but the great thing for us as a company is then we’ve got their data and we can continue to send them information around different things they might be interested in, and hopefully bring them to down the funnel.

Craig Bailey: So that’s really interesting. You’ve actually then talked about using other web properties as kind of a referral traffic. It kind of raises the question in terms of, I guess, the different channels you use. And I know one of the things that you’re very mindful of is this breakdown of earned media, versus paid media, versus owned media. How would you kind of frame that for a marketing manager in terms of how they consider each of those channels? And maybe what’s the definition of those channels as the best point?

James Gilbert: Yeah, so when we think about owned, it’s kind of all the assets that we create. So it’ll be like our ebooks and our blog posts and then even tools like Website Grader, and how that helps us attract visitors. And then, obviously, paid is just all your advertisements that you do, and sometimes, depending on your business, you actually might need some owned assets to really promote by those paid channels. And sometimes if you’re a company that more just sells products, you can probably advertise just around those actual products, and that’s essentially how you bring people in. And then earned is really the distribution that you get from your owned assets that’s from other websites. So other people finding out about your content and linking to you, and if they’ve got a particular blog that maybe generates a lot of traffic, you’d call that earned media because of the strength of your owned asset.

Craig Bailey: Right. So reaching out to them for them to recommend you or endorse you, and let them drive traffic.

James Gilbert: Yeah, or like I’ve heard quite a few stories where people, on communities, like Reddit and things like that, have picked up a story, and then that has kind of gone on to other websites maybe like Hacker News or something, and that’s resulted in a lot of referral traffic, and that’s a great example of earned media.

Craig Bailey: Right. And so what would you say to marketing managers that, I guess, are putting more priority on paid then as a channel over others? Do you see issues with that?

James Gilbert: Yeah, I see a few issues. I mean, it can work for certain if your economics makes sense. I mean, we do paid as well. But part of the thinking is that it’s a bit of a short-term solution, and it also doesn’t give you a lot of things that you might get if you pursued more kind of an owned inbound strategy. But if you pursue the owned inbound strategy, I imagine it does take longer to start showing benefits. But then when it does, not only are you getting that benefit over a longer time horizon, and so the net costs of any traffic you’ll be getting will be continually decreasing. But it’s also raising you as an authority figure. The fact that you’re getting that traffic is clearly indicating that people are interested in what you have to say, and the fact that the traffic is growing means that there’s valuable content. And I think that puts you in a really strong position as a business because it’s putting you as a thought leader, and then that has all sorts of benefits.

It means you get a lot more earned media just by the fact that people look to you as a reference point. It also means, from a business level, you can probably do things like price your product higher because you are seen as that kind of the elite standard within your industry. And I think that’s a really powerful thing that not a lot of businesses talk about . If you look at someone that developed a really strong inbound strategy over a medium time horizon versus someone that just went down the paid route, maybe the person at the paid route would get stronger results initially. But once you got 12, 24 months down the track, if that person was still pursuing a purely paid kind of media mix, they’ve got no protection from someone starting up and just pursuing the same path with the same budget, they’ll get the same results.

Whereas the person that went down, the kind of, the slower but probably more impactful content-driven approach, and in year two, someone has to pay a lot just to get to the same level, let alone anything beyond that company. So I think there’s a lot of benefits.

Craig Bailey: That’s an excellent point. And earlier when we were chatting, you mentioned this idea of building a moat between your own business with your earned media versus a competitor.

James Gilbert: Yeah, so I mean, in that example, if someone, if you had pursued the paid strategy for the last cycle of your business for someone to compete, all they need is the same budget and they’re able to do it, and they’re probably able to do it with equal authority to their audience. Whereas if someone pursued that kind of inbound strategy, they’re a thought leader, they’ve got huge economic advantages because you’re going to need a budget just to get to the same level as they are, and then any budget beyond that, they might be able to match. So I think from a pricing standpoint, it’s brilliant from making sure you compare to this, can’t compete with you that easily, it’s brilliant. It’s not only good for marketing. It’s really good for the business.

Craig Bailey: Fantastic insight.

Ian Jacob: Now, James, would you say that this is a saleable business asset? Have people invested in this? And is there a system in place?

James Gilbert: Yeah.

Ian Jacob: It’s a saleable business asset.

James Gilbert: I think it would have a huge impact on your valuation if you were selling the business. I mean, you just need to look at, like the fact that some media businesses get bought. And essentially, if you’ve developed a really strong inbound strategy, you are tapping a media business onto your core business. When you think about someone that has a purely paid strategy, I don’t see why they would get much of a valuation at all because all it takes to compete with them is budget and the same products, which is probably very easily sourced these days.

Craig Bailey: All right. So we want talk to you a little bit also just in terms of trends that are happening. You touched on this at the start. But are you seeing any trends change in terms of marketing that marketing managers should be aware of?

James Gilbert: Yeah, so there’s definitely been a trend for the last kind of 12 to 18 months where people were spending a lot more of their traditional AdWords budgets on, like paid social channels. Like I know Facebook is allowing people to do really interesting things, and a lot of people are seeing a lot of success there. And I think it also works better with…you do have that more kind of content strategy if you are going down a channel like Facebook. You can kind of use the power of quality content to make those ads cheaper in terms of their ranking algorithm. If your content is what is deemed to have a good quality score, the ads costs you less. So it’s a combination of those platforms getting to a real critical mass where you can pretty much advertise to anyone, and the content have been very appealing and driving down the costs of those ads that I think is seeing most platforms rise.

That’s probably the most noticeable one I’ve seen on the paid front. And then on the content front, like I said before, the emergence of these platforms like medium and a few other areas like that where they’re really becoming a huge distribution channel for the content, and now it’s not just enough to have the content on your own site. You really need to be getting it on platforms like that, or like LinkedIn, also something like that, to bring in a wider audience.

Ian Jacob: So, James, if someone had never tried any of these other platforms, how do you get started?

James Gilbert: Yes, so the great thing is they’re super easy and they’re also free. So with LinkedIn Pulse and Medium, you just simply setup an account and then you can start writing your content. I would definitely assess the landscape first, try to see what type of content has done well in those platforms in the past. You can use tools like BuzzSumo to look at like social interactions around particular themes and see what has really resonated with people, and try to know that the piece of content you’re creating will have distribution when you do it, and do that by looking at what’s been successful in the past.

Ian Jacob: Excellent. So now, moving on from that. You’re obviously providing marketing-qualified leads to sales. How much interaction do you have with sales and how does that shape a lot of what you do on a day-to-day basis?

James Gilbert: Yeah, so we interact all the time. I just was in a meeting with them about five minutes ago. So it’s a constant, and it’s a great… you want to have a constant feedback work between the two systems because it’s not enough for me to be generating leads. Our goal is to generate business and which requires that I’m generating the right leads. So I don’t want to be feeding the sales team leads that won’t close. I want to be generating them the absolute best quality leads that raise more volume so that we can hit our revenue targets which is ultimately what’s going to keep us in business. So I think it’s absolutely vital that you have clear lines of communication between the two groups, and a great way to do that is through having an agreement like a marketing service level agreement.

And I’m actually working on this at the moment which is us looking at the revenue targets the sales team has to hit, and then backtracking to determine how many marketing-qualified leads that would be, and then we’re going to make a commitment to them to hit that target every month.

Ian Jacob: Fantastic. That is really good. So, OK, so that’s great. Now, how do you track it all, and how often do you meet with them? Like, what are the specifics of this?

James Gilbert: Yeah, so we track it all in HubSpot, naturally. We use the tool ourselves and we just setup some reports there that can identify this for us. So we setup the goal and then we just track towards that goal during the month. And we meet…there’s formal meetings once a month, and then ad hoc meetings, I would say, like multiple ad hoc meetings weekly. And the dashboard, as to how we’re tracking, gets emailed to everyone every night so everyone knows if we’re tracking to the goal we need to. And we do that through a waterfall graph so you can see if we’re tracking at the right volume at the right time of the month.

Craig Bailey: So just in terms of how you time your campaigns, because you’re seeing that growth daily, how often do you actually creating campaigns? Because I could imagine that that Product Hunt campaign that you mentioned, that would have taken a fair bit of planning, and then you’re setting up how that’s going to be promoted and all that kind of things. So it’s not like you just dreamed that up today and you did it the next day.

James Gilbert: Yeah.

Craig Bailey: There’s a bit of planning involved.

James Gilbert: Yeah.

Craig Bailey: How often are you actually kicking off new campaigns that are actually contributing to leads?

James Gilbert: Yeah, so we’re constantly kicking off new campaigns. We have quite a big marketing team now as a company. I think we’re at around 110 people, and we’re lucky in APAC that we can leverage things that are happening in North America, and just by the work we’ve done as a company over the last 10 years, we are getting north of three million visitors a month to our marketing URLs. So that generates a fantastic baseline of leads, and marketing-qualified leads. And what we can do is once we know our service level agreement and what number of MQLs our sales team require to hit our revenue goals, we can look at what kind of lead volume we can expect from those organic channels that we’ve been developing for so long, and then identify where a gap might be, and what type of campaign is best appropriate to kind of plug that gap.

Ian Jacob: Excellent. And our final question, can you share with us a pearl of wisdom that you have gained the last 6 to 12 months? Something that really stands out that can make a difference to somebody who’s listening.

James Gilbert: Okay. I’m going to betray my HubSpot roots a little bit and give a paid pearl of wisdom, although you need content too to make it work.

James Gilbert: But with LinkedIn sponsored updates, the way that algorithm works is you don’t want to just put up one piece of content. You want to put up four at the same time, and no more than four because it won’t have any impact on there. They will only show those four. And you can put up the same piece of content with different images, and over the weeks see which pieces performing best and then cancel the other three and only support that one piece of content, because what it’ll do is they’ll rank it in terms of how prevalent they want it to be in the newsfeed and how little what should cost you. And just by making sure you’re doing that, it can save you a lot of money on advertising with LinkedIn sponsored updates.
HubShots Episode 22