Posts Tagged ‘hubspot’

So, just about a month after Dreamforce, is coming to New York for one of its regional Cloudforce conferences.  The event will be at the Javitz Center in Manhattan on October 19.  Salesforce is expecting six thousand attendees.

The focus of the event is supposed to be on the newly re-announced Marketing Cloud — the amalgamation, so far, of Buddy Media and Radian6.  I will be briefed under NDA about the news to be announced at the event but that hasn’t happened yet so, hey, let’s speculate.

As many of my colleagues have suggested, the Marketing Cloud is a good and important down payment on a full-featured marketing component but it is heavily weighted toward social marketing.  They expect more acquisitions primarily to beef up the Marketing Cloud’s lack of a conventional marketing campaigns element — the kind that runs traditional marketing programs.  I am not so sure.

Salesforce already has a bevy of more or less conventional marketing partners in the AppExchange like Eloqua, Marketo and others.  It’s true that these vendors are not monogamous but so what?  They have good connectors and integration and are doing everything they can to carpet bomb, er, I mean cover, the Salesforce installed base so why buy what’s free?

My instincts (which are right about half the time — and less when I’m driving according to my wife) tell me that Salesforce is going in another direction.  The company has always exhibited a Blue Ocean Strategy approach to its business seeking out niches that haven’t been named and I expect it to do the same in marketing.

That means they’ll concentrate on the myriad ways to market in the social world.  If they make an acquisition — and I bet there’s nothing on the radar right now — it will be to beef up social marketing not conventional stuff.  That would mean companies like HubSpot or Awareness or Nearstream or others (some in the CRM Idol contest) that use a healthy dose of new age thinking and social media to access and communicate with customers.

So, what to look for in New York?  In addition to October baseball, I think you’ll see elaboration of the basic message doled out at Dreamforce.  The San Francisco session was packed with information and image-making and there really wasn’t time to unpack all of what the Marketing Cloud means for customers.  I think Cloudforce is the place where the unpacking will happen.

Salesforce has been great at three-pronged marketing for a long time.  That’s where they tell you what they’re going to tell you, then they tell you and finally the circle back to tell you what they told you.  I think they’re at part two and Cloudforce New York will be more of a deep dive.

I could be very wrong but that’s what it means to speculate.  Right?

Now is the golden age of marketing.  I was tempted to write the second golden age since history sometimes seems to repeat but I am more of the Mark Twain school of history and he believed that history did not repeat itself but that it rhymed.  I that vein, what could be seen as the first golden age of marketing was really more the golden age of broadcasting and it’s instructive to consider the similarities and differences.

During the broadcast era, which lasted roughly from the introduction of TV after World War II until the Internet age, almost anything you could imagine was sold over the airwaves to a public eager to consume.  The public was so eager in fact that by this year an interdisciplinary team of social scientists from UCLA was able to document that consumption was just about kaput as an indoor sport simply because we’ve filled all the nooks and crannies in our homes.  There’s no more room to put things and with credit a hard thing to get, buying things has slowed significantly.

Just look at the table below.  It shows U.S. GDP over the last four and a half years and it has barely budged.  No growth means no (or very few) new jobs and certainly not enough demand growth to drive the economy forward.  So you get what we have.  In this economy, broadcasting a marketing message is like pushing on a string and selling means really knowing and understanding (they are different) what customers want and are willing to spend money on.  Enter inbound marketing.

 Date US Real GDP(in Trillions USD)
March 31, 2012 $13.50
December 31, 2011 $13.43
December 31, 2010 $13.22
December 31, 2009 $12.81
December 31, 2008 $12.88
December 31, 2007 $13.33

I spent part of last week at Inbound, the HubSpot user conference held in Boston, my hometown.  What a joy it was to not visit any airports in the travel process and the old town even managed to shrug off its sub-tropical humidity so typical throughout the summer.

HubSpot is an up and coming content marketing company with all the right ideas about social media, marketing and the road ahead.  I learned a few things, got reinforced on some others and the proceedings made me curious about a few more.

Content marketing isn’t exactly new but for a long time it has lacked an organizing principal.  People like David Meerman Scott, who gave a keynote, have written books about it or its cousin, the “new” marketing but there is nothing like a vendor endorsement to show an idea has taken root.  After all, guys like me can write all we want for very little investment beyond our time but vendors have to really believe and see the potential for making money from their investments in a new idea.

If you are new to inbound or content marketing the big switch involves providing content people want instead of brochures and other sales materials they don’t.  This requires a level of personalization that uses social media to divine needs too.

What got all this started is simple.  After several decades of marketing into emerging markets caused by technology implementations, markets are full.  It’s hard to introduce something into a green field, heck it’s hard to find a green field.  So rather than broadcasting product offers, everyone needs to get better at pinpoint offers.  That’s where inbound marketing comes in.  Inbound marketing invites people in when they are ready and when they are they don’t need a lot of convincing.  It’s more precise and less costly to do too.

Inbound also takes some time to get going because you are casting a message and waiting for an echo.  It takes a certain amount of confidence and support from the boss to get started.  But if you plan a strategy that moves incrementally into this new world you can be very effective.  But given the alternative that is working poorly, the change looks enticing.

My big critique of inbound marketing generally is that it has not yet begun to focus on future need.  There is a lot of information not being collected about unmet need that could take the whole concept to a new level.  I believe it will come and I need to be patient with a very new idea.

HubSpot ran a good show and did a better job than many similar companies have at ensuring that all the messaging was in synch.  They also introduced so many improvements that you could say they reinvented their product.  To make the point the latest line has a new name, HubSpot3 and it’s made to be a single marketing cockpit where people can develop and monitor marketing campaigns across most social media types and email.

HubSpot3 will do great things for inbound marketing especially when the economy thaws out.

The Social Stack

Posted: August 27, 2012 in CRM, social media
Tags: , ,

Is it time to start talking about a social stack?  If so, let me be among the first.  This week in Boston HubSpot, a social marketing company, is holding a user meeting called “Inbound,” which I will attend, and this has prompted me to write out some ideas that I’ve been stewing on for a while.

The stack is something we’ve all become accustomed to thinking about, especially as it relates to IT where we routinely discuss operating system, middleware, database and programming languages as a tuned stack.  This mother of all stacks has already been commoditized and memorialized with its own acronym as the LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP and other languages).

But that’s rapidly becoming old school.  When I think of the computing stack I think about the global computing platform, which I see as mobile devices (iOS, Android, Windows Mobile), social (almost everything but especially Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, and all those special social things that only you and your buddies (Hi, Mr. Mayor!) use like some dating/meet-up and photo sharing sites).  There is also an array of analytics and GPS driven cloud based apps too so add Cloud to the stack — social, mobile, cloud.

Maybe that’s not revolutionary to you, maybe you’ve heard this before or thought of it the same way more or less.  So the social stack is perhaps a stack within a stack of stacks but it’s also not very well defined yet.  Maybe that makes it the Russian Doll Stack.  Or speaking of Russians it could be called the Churchill Stack (a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma).  Someone bring me back!

For me the social stack consists of all the things we already know about — Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. — plus a lot that we don’t.  But they are really just the beginning, the last mile of communication between a vendor and a customer.  True (and confusingly) enough those social tools fill a bigger portion of a personal social stack.  But that’s because your brain provides much of the social processing that business needs to buy software to adequately supplement.

Say what?

Your brain.  A message comes in from the social channel and your brain says I understand this because it comes from someone I know, a person I have context with and I process it without much conscious thought.  Business is not so fortunate.  A business sees the stream or feed as pure data from the marketplace and needs an array of analytics to digest it and do something useful with it.

That’s the social stack, or rather, the beginning of it.  The social stack needs some kind of hub (no pun, or maybe a little one) to centralize the data and some other tools to decide what to do with it.  The tools have to be fluent in multiple hubs and business situations.

The actual social stack might differ from one organization to another simply because they have different social objectives.  A business to consumer company will look, to the trained eye, different from the business to business vendor down the street who also uses a social stack.

The result of all this is to give the company, the marketer, the ability to do with socially derived data what our brains do while we’re drinking a latte.  I see some of this in HubSpot and some of it in other tools on the market or in the CRM Idol competition like Awareness and Nearstream.  More on all of them this fall.

What’s fascinating to me though is that where adoption is concerned we’re still trying to figure out the last mile communication through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, at least according to the research I just did with Esteban Kolsky.  But they’ll soon prove to be limited in what they can help us accomplish so we’ll begin looking for another piece of the puzzle.  That’s how stacks develop, not all at once but incrementally.