Delivering a keynote speech in front of 10,000 conference attendees is intimidating enough. But what if you knew that this same audience was also hearing from the likes of Martha Stewart, Simon Sinek, Malcolm Gladwell, and Guy Kawasaki?
That’s exactly the challenge faced by HubSpot co-founder and CTO Dharmesh Shah when planning his INBOUND 2014 keynote. How did he do?
In HubSpot’s way of saying it: I’d rate his keynote remarkable – definitely worthy of being remarked about. Here’s why.
On HubSpot as a Company, Exponential Growth, and Building a Remarkable Business
- Shah and his HubSpot co-founder Brian Halligan made an instant splash on arrival, rising up onto the stage in HubSpot orange-color old-style British telephone booths – culminating a pre-recorded video with numerous pop culture homages to HubSpot’s journey.
- Shah and Halligan talked about how they’d both been dreaming of this moment since childhood when they could begin a talk by putting up a “Safe Harbor” slide – alluding to HubSpot’s looming IPO that’s gotten much buzz around the Boston tech and entrepreneurial community in recent weeks.
- HubSpot’s growth path from 3 customers in 2006 to 10,111 customers in 2013 wasn’t an accident – “Growth doesn’t magically appear. You need a plan.” Shah calls this “X-Growth” where x = exceptional because it’s so off the charts different than mere 2x, 5x, or 10x growth.
"A plan needs a goal. It shouldn't be incremental." HubSpot customers and Inbound enthusiasts who’ve attended the HubSpot Academy training over the years will be very familiar with the need for goal-setting and in particular SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.
Ye Olde Book of HubSpot --- a tongue and cheek look back at HubSpot’s journey – began with the iconic story of “Dharmesh Meets Brian…Sort Of” – and how Dharmesh Shah’s wife Kirsten scouted Halligan at an MIT grad school new student orientation mixer.Halligan graduated MIT a year earlier than Shah and worked in venture capital – advising companies on how to grow. What Halligan found startling though was that many traditional marketing channels were rapidly losing effectiveness.
- Shah, as a side project while in grad school, started a blog about small business startup issues – that was attracting droves of traffic with zero marketing budget. On learning this, Halligan wondered, “How are you getting so much traffic? Where are you spending your budget?” Shah confided, “Umm…budget. There isn’t one. I just write about things I think people might find useful.”
- “Marketing should be about attracting (with a magnet), not interrupting.” – Shah and many other leaders at HubSpot talk about how in 2006, they thought they were starting a software company. But what they didn’t realize at the time, they were starting a movement. A movement that would redefine marketing to match how modern humans research, buy, and share online.
- “To drive x-growth (exceptional), you need leverage -- Old-school marketing is an arms race for attention. (But) Buying your way in with brute force doesn’t scale.”
- Out-think. Out-teach. And out-help those in your industry – rather than trying to outspend the giants. (This theme came back again a few hours later at INBOUND 2014 during the keynote by Malcolm Gladwell on the theme of his latest bestseller “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants.”
- Shift marketing from “delusion-driven to data-driven” – This point really resonated with me as many of the managed service providers (MSPs) that we speak with have a schizophrenic thing going on. They resell managed services or network appliances that block spam, yet they’ll think nothing of “buying” a mailing list and adding those contacts to their email database. (These MSP delusionalists don’t see themselves as spammers.”
- Strategy alone won’t cut it – “Even a perfect playbook won’t work without the right people.” Shah talked about the race to recruit the best talent, how this factors into the legendary SlideShare he created on the HubSpot Culture Code, and how it evens filter into one of his latest projects: Inbound.org – which features a job board to help recruit Inbound-savvy talent.
- Software developers’ salaries will keep rapidly increasing – Even though on one level, you could argue that they spend their workdays typing at keyboards. But all of that typing is quite different because developers create software that gets leverage.
- What’s less known: Inbound marketers also create assets that can get leverage –blogs, videos, podcasts, presentations, and eBooks.
- You can’t grow a remarkable business without creating a great culture – because “product is to marketing as culture is to recruiting.”
On Needle-Moving New Updates to the HubSpot Software
This was my second time attending the HubSpot INBOUND conference in Boston.
At INBOUND 2013, the big product announcements that I recall centered around the massive overhaul of HubSpot’s CMS, to be re-born as the COS (content optimization system), and Signals (which has been re-branded as Sidekick).
INBOUND 2014 also featured a slew of new product feature and tools announcements for the HubSpot platform that should prove to be a big hit with both HubSpot customers and HubSpot partners alike:
- HubSpot COS is now 50% faster – which helps with both usability, conversion rates, and search rankings
- Personalization for first time anonymous website visitors – With the HubSpot COS announced in 2013, personalization tokens and Smart Calls to Action allowed you to personalize the visitor experience once you knew about who the visitor was, based on one or more website conversions. But imagine being able to personalize the user experience even before there’s a website conversion – by personalizing based on country (IP address), device type, or referral source.
- Upgraded feature set in the Campaigns tool – making it easier to GSD (the HubSpot acronym for “get sh*t done”) in less time, with greater efficiency, across the HubSpot platform.
- Calendar in HubSpot – pulling together what’s up to now been separate scheduling functions in tools like Email, Blogging, and Social publishing, which could at some level eliminate some of the need to use a 3rd party SaaS project management tool like Basecamp.
- Inbound.org – to help marketers connect, learn, and grow (This community is actually about two years old. Originally started as a joint hobby project between Dharmesh Shah and Moz founder Rand Fishkin, Inbound.org was recently acquired by HubSpot and is being run as a part of HubSpot Labs under the direction of long-time HubSpotter Sam Mallikarjunan.
- Attribution reporting – Replacing the conversion assists report, HubSpot Professional and HubSpot Enterprise customers can now, with varying access-levels, more easily and accurately pinpoint all the different activities and touchpoints that contribute to the ultimate conversions: revenue.
While Dharmesh Shah highlighted a handful or two of the big highlights, he also pointed a whopping 143 of “your ideas” (from ideas.hubspot.com) that have been completed during the past year.
However when Shah turned over the reins for the second half of the INBOUND 2014 keynote to his co-founder Brian Halligan, that’s where even bigger ooh’s and aah’s were heard surrounding product announcements for:
- HubSpot CRM – which promises to save about 30 hours of prospecting time each month for a typical sale rep – and will join the HubSpot family as a freemium model tool
- Sidekick – basically the Signals freemium tool, first announced at INBOUND 2013, plus a whole bunch of new features that can pull data from your CRM application without ever logging into your CRM application
Which parts of Dharmesh Shah’s INBOUND 2014 keynote did you find most impactful? What have you learned from HubSpot’s growth that you have applied to your business? Please share your thoughts in the Comments box below.
And if you’re part of a B2B technology company with plans of its own for HubSpot-style exponential growth, with Inbound marketing and Inbound sales as the foundation, be sure to download your complimentary copy of our IT Channel Inbound Marketing Planning Guide.