The ABCs of Startup Marketing


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Startup marketing tips from Mike Volpe of HubSpot, covering lessons learned from growing to over 3,000 business customers in 3 years.

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  • Here are some startup marketing tips from our experience growing HubSpot to over 3,000 businesses as paying customers in just 3 years.
  • Google AdWords and other paid advertising is a drug for marketers. It is expensive, makes you feel good, but then the feeling goes away and you need to pay again to feel good (get more leads).
  • This leads to LMS – Lazy Marketing Syndrome, where you don’t focus on building long term assets for your company and instead just keep raising the limit on your credit card.
  • Renting leads from other people (buying advertising) is not a long term strategy for lead generation. Renting is OK for experiments, and for transitions, and for testing. But it should not be the centerpiece of your long term strategy.
  • Instead, think about building a long term asset, just like the machinery in a factory. Build tools that will attract leads at a low cost while you sleep, and without additional cost per lead.
  • Examples of outbound marketing, or rented marketing are all different forms of advertising that do not help you build an asset that your company owns and controls. Inbound marketing helps you build assets that attract leads to your company at a low cost over time.
  • Blogging and publishing content is a great way to build an inbound marketing asset. You should start blogging before you even have a product – you do not need to be selling something to start.
  • But, blogging about your product is not the right strategy. You should blog about the things that most interest your target customer persona. Think like a media company – like Rupert Murdock – and think about what people want to read, not what you want them to read.
  • Focus on your target customer persona, you should bring them to life, giving them names, personalities and even making cardboard cutouts like Kadient did (software company).
  • Publish not only a blog, but every form of content that your target customer will enjoy. We publish blog, a podcast (, videos, photos, presentations, and even a book!
  • Creating convenience and making things easy for your prospects and customers is important – the easier it is to find you, learn about your product and buy your product, the more people that will do it.
  • More and more, we are living in a self service society. People are used to helping themselves at airport kiosks, ATMs, and on websites. Make things as simple and easy as you can.
  • One example of making something easy – we built a tool called Website Grader ( You type in your URL and click go, then it gives you a report with custom feedback and a score about your company website. It takes seconds to use, and because of the value created and the extreme simplicity, over 2.4 million people have used it to grade their company website. We have not done any paid marketing to support Website Grader, it is all based on viral and word of mouth. If the tool had been more complicated, it would not have grown as fast.
  • Based on the success of Website Grader, we built more and more single purpose tools aimed at our target audience. These tools have evaluated millions and millions of Twitter profiles, Facebook pages, Blogs, Press Releases, and more.
  • When building these tools, we are always trying to make them even simpler than we need to based on our target audience. We have found that if you aim for your target audience, you tend to make it too complicated, and in a self service world, most people want things to be even simpler than they need to be.
  • Data is the key to marketing and success in a startup. When you start out, you will have no idea what is right or wrong. The key is to do lots of experiments that you measure maniacally, this helps you figure out what works and what doesn’t.
  • This is a screenshot of my MONTHLY marketing report. It has over 110 slides in it, all graphs and tables of data. Each year, just marketing produces over 1500 pages of data/reports that we use to optimize and improve our business.
  • To diagnose problems or areas for improvement in the overall funnel, look at each source or campaign alone, and look at each of the stages for just that source. Comparing them can give you insights into trends and what you might do to improve.
  • For each of the metrics that you track, you need to set a goal or target for the future time periods. Even if inaccurate, it helps you target growth rates and figure out how fast you can grow.
  • Once you have set targets, break them down into daily goals, and measure your progress each day. This allows you to catch problems very early – making it much harder to miss goals by a huge margin.
  • If at all possible, measure you business monthly, not quarterly. If you measure monthly, you can evolve 12 times a year, 3 times faster than if you measure quarterly. Evolving your business faster means you can test more, learn more and improve more. Startups need to test and learn quickly, while the cost to do so is low.
  • Employ the exceptional – both in terms of outstanding people and also the unusual people without a traditional background.
  • Experience is not as important as you think. Things change and evolve fast, especially in marketing, that too much experience can actually be a liability because you might like older and less effective techniques. More than 2 years of experience might not add any additional value in terms of marketing techniques. (It does add value in terms of leadership and management and communication experience.)
  • We also look for DARC – Digital citizens who live their lives online
  • Analytical – people that make data driven decisions and think with an analytical mindset
  • Reach –people who have built a following and prove that their online presence has gravitational pull
  • Content – people who are natural content producers and are always creating more content naturally, without being pushed
  • Everyone in your company is part of the marketing team. The best thing you can do to empower people to help you market your company is communicate as much information as often as possible. We use a wiki to do this – it is the central internal communication hub for the company.May 2010:17,000 wiki page views2,000 editsAverage: 1,000 page views/day and 100 edits/dayAll time:3,500 total pages5,400 total comments
  • Having better information available to your entire team helps them have the right presence when they are having natural conversations online and offline as part of their daily lives.
  • There are lots of enterprise marketing tools for multinational corporations. But these tools are overly complex, expensive and difficult to use. And you need a number of different tools to do marketing the way you should do it. HubSpot makes this all a lot easier, since we have built a powerful, but integrated suite of marketing tools that allows you to do all the different parts of marketing with one system. Easy and integrated.
  • We have grown to over 3,000 businesses of many sizes (small, medium and large) who use our software, making us the fastest growing marketing software company.
  • The ABCs of Startup Marketing

    1. 1. The ABC’s of<br />Startup Marketing<br />Lessons from 3 years and 3,000 customers<br />Mike Volpe<br />VP Marketing, HubSpot<br />@mvolpe<br />
    2. 2. Avoid Addiction<br />(to Google)<br />
    3. 3.
    4. 4. Don’t make me do marketing!<br />Just up our AdWords limit...<br />
    5. 5.
    6. 6.
    7. 7.
    8. 8. Blog Beforehand<br />(prior to product launch)<br />
    9. 9. Not doing it like him?<br />You’re doing it wrong.<br />
    10. 10.<br />
    11. 11. Target Content to Your Personas<br />
    12. 12. Publish Everything<br />
    13. 13. Our blog is the #1 resource mentioned by our prospects<br />to our salespeople.<br />
    14. 14. Our blog is one of our top 3 sources of leads and sales.<br />
    15. 15. Create<br />Convenience<br />(for potential customers)<br />
    16. 16.
    17. 17. 2.4 million websites graded<br />(Plus emails, web traffic, PR, social buzz…)<br />Flickr: wfyurasko<br />
    18. 18.
    19. 19.
    20. 20. Drive with Data<br />(feelings lead to failure)<br />
    21. 21. Data is your friend. You can trust data.<br />
    22. 22. Measure each stage of your<br />sales and marketing process.<br />Visits<br />Prospects<br />Leads<br />Wo. Leads<br />Opps<br />Cust<br />
    23. 23. Drill into each source to diagnose.<br />…By Channel or Source<br />Visitors<br />Leads<br />Sales<br />SEO<br />Social<br />Media<br />
    24. 24. Set targets for all key metrics.<br />
    25. 25. Measure progress to targets daily.<br />
    26. 26. Measure often. Evolve faster.<br />
    27. 27. Employ the Exceptional<br />(outstanding & unusual)<br />
    28. 28. 80% of my team had under 12 months experience in “marketing” when hired.<br />
    29. 29. GSD<br />Sharp<br />
    30. 30. D A R C : Digital<br />
    31. 31. D A R C : Analytical<br />
    32. 32. D A R C : Reach<br />
    33. 33. D A R C : Content<br />
    34. 34. Empower Employees by Sharing Info<br />
    35. 35. All Your Employees Are Marketers<br />
    36. 36. Questions to ask yourself...<br />
    37. 37. Am I regularly creating new share-worthy content?<br />
    38. 38. Am I promoting my content<br />in social media conversations?<br />
    39. 39. Am I optimizing my content for search and social media?<br />
    40. 40. Am I converting as<br />many visitors into<br />leads and sales as I can?<br />
    41. 41. Stop thinking like a<br />marketer or advertiser.<br />
    42. 42. Start thinking like a<br />publisher and socializer.<br />
    43. 43. Who is HubSpot?<br />160+ Employees in Cambridge, MA (MIT)<br />$33m in VC (3 rounds)<br />SaaSfor Marketing at $3K-15K/year<br />
    44. 44. Complicated & Confusing<br />Easy & Integrated<br />
    45. 45. Growth<br />3,000 Customers<br />Q1 2007<br />Q2 2010<br />
    46. 46. Suggested Next Steps:<br />1) Download these slides:<br /><br />2) Read “Inbound Marketing “Book<br />3) Grade your website:<br />4) Additional Free Resources:<br />Q & A<br />Mike Volpe<br />VP Marketing @HubSpot<br />Twitter: @mvolpe<br /><br />