As I finish the trek north to Boston in our family minivan this morning, my thoughts are drawn to what this week’s Inbound Conference means to HubSpot and just how much things have evolved over these past 4 years for the company. And as I consider where the company and brand is headed, I will be frank in making this statement:
This is the most important public event in the history of HubSpot.
I’m not saying it’s necessarily their most significant act itself, but it’s a big week for the future of the company. Why? Let me explain:
1. Finally Reaching Out to the Influencers
When it comes to HubSpot, I’ve always tried to be completely honest in my assessment of their product, their organization and their future. Over the years, they’ve done some things very well. At the same time, they’ve fallen short in other areas.
The one area they’ve fallen most short, in my opinion, at least from a brand and PR standpoint, is their relationship with influencers within the industry. Social influence is real. So are “influencers.” It doesn’t matter the industry, influencers can be found in every corner.
But up to this point, I don’t think HubSpot has tapped into today’s marketing and social media influencers as well as they could have. Although I’m sure not intentional, no doubt it has been lacking, as their focus has more been on producing prolific amounts of content (much of it very, very good) to spread the word.
To change this, one very interesting and impressive component to Inbound 2013 is the Bold Talks, headed up by Laura Fitton, which essentially is HubSpot’s version of TED Talks. Much to my thrill and surprise, some of the greatest speakers and digital marketing influencers in the world will be presenting at the event, with the likes of Mitch Joel, Peter Shankman, Ramon Deleon, Julien Smith, and many others gracing the stage. Along with this, many of these same folks will have their first intimate “feel” of HubSpot, their product, and their culture.
Needless to say, a potentially very strong PR move by HubSpot here.
2. New Product Launches
(can’t say more now, will write more on this as soon as I’m allowed tomorrow afternoon 😉 )
3. A Look into the Future—Will HubSpot go after the “big boys” (Salesforce) or not?
As always, HubSpot co-founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah will surely give an inspiring, Steve Jobs “esque” keynote Tuesday afternoon, but I’m really curious if they’re going to come out hard on their vision of where the company is going—specifically, whether or not they ‘re going to get into the CRM space and go at Salesforce head-on.
For some time now, many folks in the industry (myself included) have wondered if HubSpot will become the true “all-in-one” marketing tool by forming its own CRM—really the only thing it’s lacking to make such a claim. (They all make that claim btw…)
Up until this point, HubSpot has not said they were in any way a Salesforce competitor, but as Saleforce seems to be dipping their toes in (lots of) other waters (where folks like HubSpot swim), I think it’s pretty clear the writing is on the wall. My honest assessment is that Salesforce wants to be an all-in-one marketing solution at some point and if anyone feels otherwise, they’re simply denying what’s right there in front of them.
When it comes down to it, someone in this space is going to do as Walmart or Walgrens did many years ago and become the true, one-stop shop for their customer base. As to whether or not HubSpot will make mention of this during Inbound 2013, only time will tell, but you can be assured many are watching closely.
A Few Other Personal Thoughts
For the first time ever this week I’m bringing my family to a marketing conference (my wife and 4 kids have never seen me speak in-person before). Frankly, it makes sense I bring them to what, in many ways, is the place (company) where everything started to change for me, my business, and my life 4 years ago.
To say I’m excited about this would be an understatement.
On Tuesday morning I’ll be delivering a presentation to all HubSpot partners where we’ll be taking a hard look at how to sell HubSpot, and the paradigm shift that is needed to help “non-believers” see the power of HubSpot and Inbound Marketing. I think the conversation we’ll likely have in this session will be truly powerful for everyone.
Then, on Thursday, I’ll be giving my own Bold talk, which will be focused on the power of transparency to build one’s brand, business, and bottom line. As you might imagine, it is my sincere hope to blow the roof off the building with that 35 minute presentation.
Also, f you’re attending Inbound this week, I sincerely hope to meet you. Too often readers of blogs feel intimidated and don’t approach bloggers, speakers, etc. at these events, which is a shame. So do us both a favor and don’t hesitate to stop me in the halls or on the street, as I’d love to share a chat and laugh.
As always, I’d love to know your thoughts here. Where is HubSpot headed in your mind? Will they, at some point in the near future, be a direct Salesforce competitor? What else do you see for the company? And finally, what has got you most excited about Inbound 2013 (other than Seth Godin of course!)?