How often have you heard someone talk about the latest tech tool they’re using for their organization? They say something like… “You gotta check this out. It’s so cool. It’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.” Sometimes you’re intrigued. Sometimes you roll your eyes.
Well, at the ASAE Tech show this past week, the shiny new tool was Hubspot. As a Hubspot user I was stoked to hear the tool mentioned so often. But at the same time I was a little surprised, if not a little disappointed. Picture me as Jan Brady saying “Hubspot, Hubspot, Hubspot!” Well, maybe not…but you get the idea.
Why am I disappointed you ask?
Because it’s not about the tool. It’s about the methodology. It’s about driving change through updated marketing practices better aligned with the digital age. Bringing in a new tool won’t guarantee your success. But making the right changes to your organization may.
Let’s get into it a little more.
Hubspot, the company, originally developed its software in 2006. Co-founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah have evangelized the inbound marketing methodology ever since – most notably in their book Inbound Marketing, Revised and Updated: Attract, Engage, and Delight Customers Online.
Hubspot is an excellent tool but it’s the inbound marketing methodology that really makes a difference. And when you combine the tool and the methodology you create magic. To learn more about the inbound methodology check out my post The Biggest Problem with Association Marketing and How You Can Fix It.
For example, when I was the VP of Marketing & Content at the Electronic Retailing Association, we signed up for Hubspot and started using the tool. We initially saw it as a way to automate our marketing efforts. You know, create if/then logic to our outbound spray and pray emails. Boy were we wrong.
Here are the impacts of embracing the inbound methodology:
- Attract – we learned how to use search engine optimization (SEO), keywords, blogging and social media to attract visitors to our website. We developed buyer personas and created content that solved problems for our prospects and members. The blog was our foundation with the editorial strategy and calendar our roadmap (see my post Your Blog as a Pillar of Inbound Marketing).
- Convert – we next focused on converting website visitors to leads through calls-to-action (CTAs), forms and landing pages. We adopted the Always Be Subscribing (ABS) strategy including specific opt-in tactics to increase subscribers and, in turn, conversions and blog readership.
- Close – we implemented lead nurturing activities including workflows, email and presenting the right content at the right time.
What organizational change happened as a result?
- Team Turnaround – we re-organized our team adding a content lead and a technical lead to complement our marketing manager.
- Process Prod – we abandoned (mostly) outbound yell and sell marketing tactics and processes in favor of digital marketing best practices.
- Direct Mail Ditch – we stopped sending direct mail. Done. Nuff said. (Yes, I know in advance this will really annoy some backward-focused association marketers but please re-think your strategy, now!).
- Budget Breakthrough – we saved a lot of Benjamins. We decreased our spend on expensive print creative and re-allocated budget to paid social media. Inbound marketing is more efficient than outbound marketing. Yup. Yes, it is.
It wasn’t until we embraced and absorbed the inbound marketing methodology that our organization changed for the better. The methodology, not the tool, led to dramatic changes in people, processes, and budgets.
So the next time someone starts blathering on about Hubspot (or any other shiny new tool) ask them if it’s the tool or the underlying methodology that will drive change in their organization.