Hubspot and Inbound – The Future of Marketing?

Remember the classic oversimplification of product, price, and promotion – the so-called three Ps?
They are all still very much in play, only much differently. The internet has put that last P (promotion) through the wringer.
Way back when the formula was pretty well established. Agencies, long before Adobe CS6 brought advanced capabilities to the masses, held many of the marketing cards. Ad copy and layouts, brochures, and the campaigns that used them were primarily the domain of the all-powerful Agency. Marketing had advice, but for many companies choosing the right agency and creativity was the key to success. Well-executed campaigns trumped superior products.
Back at the office, marketers were explicitly concerned with “direct marketing”  and generating leads for their sales departments. Here too, the formula was pretty well-worn. Participate in trade shows soliciting business cards while there in attendance. Purchase 3rd party lists and create a database. Mail to them. Call them. With a bit of targeting, the right message, and some frequency with mail and calls, this was a sure way to produce qualified leads that would lead to sales.
Today this is not the way it works. Agencies don’t swing the same big club they used to as high-quality creative has gone in-house or can be crowdsourced for much less. Plus, there is shrinking evidence that high-concept (read expensive) agency engagements offer measurable ROI. Volatility in the agency space has ensued, and there have been some very odd mergers and acquisitions signaling a potential paradigm shift. It’s still shaking out.
More than ever, the actual product has come front and center. Competitive differentiation and product limitations can not be glossed over as product details are now discoverable on the internet. Products must perform as advertised, or they won’t survive. Bad news travels fast on the web.
Direct marketing, too, has seen its share of seismic shifts. Snail mail may still have its place, but far more limited than ever. And calling? Well, how many decision-makers answer their phones these days? Going out on a limb here…NONE! With caller ID, a salesperson’s only chance to get through to a decision-maker is by using questionable harassment tactics with auto-dialers and calls placed off hours.
For many businesses, the marketing game is shifting from purchased lists to more “organic” lists built with prospect click-throughs sourced from organic and paid searches. Creating these lists requires some pretty heavy lifting for a company’s infrastructure.
Organic lead gen and capture usually require at least a content management system (CMS), an email service provider (ESP), and some search engine optimization (SEO) for paid and organic search. Each one of these areas is a specialty unto itself, with many vendors, platforms, and approaches. Coordinating these disparate technologies to produce tangible results can be a cultural and IT high-wire act. It’s tough. This whole activity now comes under the umbrella called  “Inbound Marketing.”
Enter Hubspot. Founded in 2006, Hubspot is the golden child of the tech pre-IPO world. This is because Hubspot has carved a unique niche by providing all this marketing/lead gen infrastructure to their over 8,000 clients in a way that works. With intuitive dashboards providing robust analytics, Hubspot’s value proposition is always front and center and rock solid for now.
Hubspot also has an unrivaled content marketing machine that produces fantastic Infographics, PowerPoints, and Whitepapers (primarily about themselves). Search the web for marketing, leads, email, and similar topics. Hubspot comes on the first page with excellent original content that takes you back to its landing page that captures your email address. This is their model. They practice what they preach. They do it brilliantly. Hence the over $100 million in investment capital.
But as rabid as their customers are, frustrations are brewing in the nascent inbound marketing space. It is the age-old marketing problem of not producing enough high-quality leads. As good a job as Hubspot does, many of their clients need more leaders than the Hubspot tool/method provides. By itself, Inbound marketing doesn’t get the job done. More mature marketers will deploy inbound and outbound strategies to meet their growth goals.
The big question is whether inbound marketing, a relatively new tool for generating leads, offers something sustainable for marketers. One has to concede that much of the success with inbound has been with early adopters. Many have gotten the upper hand against stodgy market leaders with lame multipurpose websites that add no value to their customer bases. In addition to not being optimized for search, many sites don’t answer the most basic customer questions. Many of these sites have no landing pages that capture leads.
Content evangelist and author Jay Baer (of the website Convince and Convert) speaks of a paradigm shift to “helping” from selling. Baer suggests that businesses that give real value through their content will sell more. He references Marcus Sheridan, who created a unique website about fiberglass pools. By anticipating and answering almost every question someone buying a collection would ask, Sheridan’s company differentiated itself and grew to sell pools during the recession! It’s a great story, and Bauer and Sheridan encourage others to learn from their model of serving the customer with relevant content. Sheridan is now a consultant and a huge Hubspot advocate.
The dark cloud on the horizon for inbound has precedent with “showrooming” in retail. Showrooming is where a customer gathers information about a product from a brick-and-mortar retail store he has no intention of buying from. He goes into the store, asks various product questions, and then purchases elsewhere. This practice partly killed the “Good to Great” company Circuit City. Circuit City educated tens of thousands of customers who made more informed purchases at Wal-Mart, Target, and Costco, where the price was lower. For Americans, where the price is king, the helping strategy was ineffective.
It remains to be seen if “killer content” on the web will do better than great information from retailers like Circuit City. Once everyone creates their content, the first-mover advantage will be gone.
When that happens, a more ominous fact will emerge. The sheer volume of tweets, posts, discussions, events, whitepapers, articles, presentations and websites generated for the search engines to index and navigate will be staggering. They already are. Pingdom reported that 51 million websites were added in 2012, putting the site at 634 million. The total number of pages on the internet? It’s likely in the trillions.
Finally, there is the efficient issue of time. Searching, reading, signing up for white papers, and attending webinars takes time. A lot of time. Do B2B buyers and decision-makers have unlimited time to engage with all who will be leveraging Hubspot inbound tactics? This is a rhetorical “no.”
Do B2B sellers need to be found on the internet? Absolutely. Do they need materials that clearly explain what they offer? Yes. Do they need prospect and customer lists to market to? Yes. And finally, do they need salespeople to manage the sales process? Yes. It sounds like the same things marketers have always needed. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss!”
So are Hubspot and inbound marketing the future of commercialization? Partly, yes.
Image: ©
Convince and Convert article retrieved from
Pingdom statistics retrieved from
TechCrunch article retrieved from

Similar Posts