Examples of disruptive technology changing the landscape of entire verticals abound. In the last decade, we’ve seen young upstarts rewrite the rulebook for making money in transportation, hospitality, and media, to name a few.
Companies like AirBnB, Google, Uber and Facebook have had such a far-reaching impact that the majority of you can probably match each company to the vertical they changed.
Can you? Let us know in the comments section (hint: the orders don’t match).
Those companies are highly visible because they serve consumers in high-demand industries. There are; however, many examples of equally disruptive products in the business-to-business (B2B) space that are lesser known because their target market isn’t as broad as those of the aforementioned firms.
Zendesk has improved customer service for millions, Slack is being hailed by some as an email-killer and Zenefits, who Forbes chose over both Uber and AirBnB as 2014’s hottest startup, has stalwart health companies sweating bullets.
While I know a little about all of those products, as the founder of a boutique marketing agency in Frisco who previously spent fifteen years helping big brands with digital marketing, I’ve watched the marketing technology space very closely.
One of the most fascinating aspects of following the digital transformation of advertising and marketing has been how technology has leveled the playing field between large enterprises and small to medium businesses (SMBs). In fact, that reality had a lot to do with why I shed the golden handcuffs to venture into the great unknown of entrepreneurship.
A little over a decade ago, Google fired the first big shot in this great disruption when it brought pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to the masses by opening up its AdWords platform to small business owners.
Later, social media players like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter followed suit, exposing their large, highly-segmented audience to anyone with a few dollars and a message to spread.
In addition to the big paid advertising players, platforms like WordPress for blogging and websites, email marketing providers like MailChimp and social media tools such as Hootsuite and TweetDeck have all enabled smaller organizations to market like the large brands for little-to-no out-of-pocket cost.
Closing the Loop
But all those tools – and there are literally thousands – created another challenge to big and small marketers alike: none of them worked together; what I mean by that is that your blog software didn’t talk to your social media software, which didn’t talk to your email marketing platform, and none of them interfaced with your reporting tool, all of which made figuring out what channels were yielding return on investment (ROI) a difficult, expensive and generally not worth it for smaller companies.
But around six years ago, the beginnings of a solution began to emerge when a startup called HubSpot opened its doors in Boston.
And one of the coolest things about what this now publicly-traded company would eventually provide is that it solves the problem for SMBs, while most enterprises are still trying figure it out (I’ve seen it firsthand).
In a nutshell, what HubSpot does is combine all of those disparate tools (blogging, search engine optimization, email marketing, social media, marketing automation, customer relationship management, ad tracking and analytics) into one very powerful, but surprisingly easy-to-use, tool. By doing this, the software is able to provide marketers with a holistic view of their customer’s journey from initial exposure through conversion and beyond.
While building their revolutionary platform, HubSpot managed to create a whole new form of digital marketing around the software. Inbound Marketing has been so successful that it’s become the ‘Kleenex’ of marketing. Although HubSpot coined the term, when someone talks about Inbound these days, they’re not necessarily talking about HubSpot.
Becoming a HubSpot Partner Agency
When I started Mindtap Marketing about a year and a half ago, I had enough experience and success from working at other companies under my belt to make a relatively informed decision about where to go with it; and one of many options was to become a HubSpot Partner Agency, which – among other things – required that I purchase an annual license of the HubSpot software.
I was very fortunate to have experience on my side, but I didn’t have a ton of money; and while HubSpot is, in the scheme of things, not terribly expensive it certainly is not free.
The reality was that if I went with HubSpot and didn’t get a return on my investment within about six months, I would be in danger of running out of runway, so-to-speak.
So Far, So Good
As I’m sure you can guess, I took a calculated risk and signed the contract with HubSpot. And as you’ve probably figured out, we’re still in business. In fact, we’re in our second year with them, we’re a Silver Certified Partner and in September we bested over 3,000 other partner agencies to win a HubSpot design award for our work with the awesome tech firm Dialexa.
So, please take my business relationship with HubSpot for what it’s worth, but if you’re looking to grow your company, take a look at HubSpot.