Not another "predictions" article
Are you weary yet of '16 predictions articles? I am. After all, most focus on a range of issues over which none of us have any control. Sure, if the FOMC raises interest rates to 10% this year we'll all be in a pickle. But as business people we all recognize that we need to plan for contingencies and build agility and survivability into our business models.
So I tend to focus on the areas where business can be improved rather than a laundry list of wishes and threats.
With that in mind I've identified three generally unnapreciated strengths of content marketing, and HubSpot specifically, which B2B industrial manufacturing companies can build on proactively in 2016.
In the past I've written about the core value of digital marketing to improve resilience and drive growth regardless of economic conditions, as well as the value of stable, predictable and consistent profitable growth.
Those are the reasons why great digital marketing strategy and relentless tactical execution are important for every manufacturer, but these are opportunities for step change results.
3 HubSpot strengths to leverage in '16
Attract, Convert, Nurture & Delight. That's the essence of the inbound marketing methodology - and although the expertise with which they are executed is critical to success, they're well known.
But beyond that, what opportunities lie hidden deep in the complex world of HubSpot's software? There are three:
- Latent power of marketing automation
- Global reach
1. Marketing automation is mistakenly relegated to the marketing function
In a perfect world every lead is fully nurtured and every rep is diligent about diving into all the prospect intelligence which marketing collects, researching the prospect on social media, and expertly tailoring their sales contact accordingly.
Newsflash....it's not a perfect world!
So why then do companies not extend the power of marketing automation to provide contextually appropriate buyer insights and coaching tips to sales reps - both at the time of lead hand-off and during the early stages of the sales cycle?
The answer is probably mindset and silos. But the answer doesn't matter. HubSpot's marketing automation capabilities can be easily extended to do just that. Make that a key '16 goal. (Download an eBook on the topic here for a roadmap to implementation success.)
2. Inbound marketing is a GLOBAL growth driver
Maybe you aren't thinking about exporting. But you're thinking about finding new, long-term, profitable buyers for sure. So let's assume for a moment that the transactional hurdles are manageable (trust me...they are.) Then the question becomes ensuring that the right buyers, those that fit your ideal profile, find you regardless of where in the world they are.
That's the amazing back story of HubSpot's own growth. They do a great job demonstrating how their own inbound marketing has driven their growth. In contrast, their telling of their global success story is inexplicably poor.
Don't wait for them to lay it out for you step by step. It's an incredibly economical and powerful growth tool - it's precisely how HubSpot itself has grown from an idea at MIT to a global movement.
3. The HubSpot ecosystem
When I listen to early stage HubSpot employees talk, a consistent theme is the amazement they express at the growth of an extended ecosystem around their company and the software. They're right. There's a rich tapestry of companies, expertise and business models which have developed in parallel. And these substantially extend the value of the product - although many users don't realize what's available.
- Cool integrations with other tools (some are shiny gadgets, some are primarily B2C, but many provide real B2B growth value)
- Various partners - Of course there are content mills and web designers. There are countless "agencies" that often defy differentiation. But there are some incredibly knowledgeable advisors with deep expertise in different markets, industries and disciplines.
- Knowledge - technical, process and tactical questions can almost all be answered with a Google search. There's so much expertise available through HubSpot's own content and partners that you'll quickly find answers to any question you may have
- Community - You may or may not find value in HUGs (HubSpot user groups) and Inbound.org. But if you're a user group kind of person, they are successful and well reviewed
- Peers - As the customer base grows it's easier to find companies in various industries that are using the software really creatively. Bookmark sites, subscribe to their blogs - poach their ideas!
Those are all obviously beyond the core software itself. There's significant latent capability that many companies fail to use. Aside from extending marketing automation as mentioned above, SMART content is an enormously powerful capability that many users don't even realize they have, much less use.
Proactive vs. reactive
Leave the predictions to the academics and theorists. You've got a business to run, and to grow. There are tools at your disposal that you're probably not using near their capability. And beyond the tools there are approaches, applications, resources and more which are simply latent.
Pick a couple areas of focus - these are my three recommendations - and dive in. You can predict your own '16 (and thereafter) by creating it rather than just reacting.
Like the marketing automation idea? Here's my free eBook to get you started.