High-Performance Marketing Teams: Insights on Strategy & Leadership from HubSpot, Grado Labs, and Bitly

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  • HIGH-PERFORMANCE MARKETING TEAMS

    Insights on Strategy & Leadershipfrom HubSpot, Grado Labs, and Bitly

  • Question 1:

    Youre driving the marketing efforts at successful, respected companies. Each company is different, of course, but do you see threads of commonality that run throughout marketing efforts? What would you say separates a high-performing marketing team from one that cant find its stride?

  • Answer 1:

    The best marketing teams Ive seen are those that manage to balance long-term, disciplined strategies with experimentation. Its pretty easy to get mired down in the same marketing playbook as everyone else or the same strategies youve used for years because theyve worked in the past, but thats a recipe for mediocrity. On the flip side theres risk in too distractedly hopping from one short-term experiment to the next without a real investment in a long-term asset or strategy like a blog or search engine optimization. The best teams balance both and use data as a prioritization mechanism for everything.

    Meghan Keaney Anderson, VP of Marketing at HubSpot:

  • Answer 1:

    The common thread has been a constant need for growth. In startups there's no inherent momentum, you have to create it every day. That's the key difference between established and new companies, and it falls on marketing to create it. Not an easy thing to do, which is why I think startup experience is so undervalued.

    The high-performing marketing teams I've been a part of have all been highly-specialized and fairly autonomous. We hired the best people in their respective areas of expertise and gave them the freedom to fail. Marketing is so dependent on testing and iterating. Another key trend was dedicated design and engineering resources, such a critical part of the modern marketing organization.

    Andrew Dumont, VP of Marketing at Bitly:

  • Answer 1:

    Thank you for those kind words! I cant really speak for any other company than our own; Grado hasnt advertised since 1964, so all we have is our familys product and our story. There should be passion and substance in all marketing efforts. People can tell when theres no passion behind what you do, while having little substance just leaves a pretty picture to stare at.

    Jonathan Grado, VP of Marketing at Grado Labs:

  • Question 2:

    What misconceptions do companies often have about their own internal marketing efforts? How do these form? What can marketing leaders do to avoid them / make sure they arent embraced in the first place?

  • Answer 2:

    In the tech-space, I often see companies think of marketing as something that happens after the launch of a product. Its looked upon as polish or window dressing to a finished product. I think thats a mistake. The product and its marketing strategy should grow up together. You should build marketing into the product from the very beginning. This doesnt mean throw a bunch of ads inside your product. Bad idea. Instead, what it means is you should think about how this product will spread from person to person as you build it and create pathways within the product that make it easier to do so.

    You should also make sure that the product is giving you enough data about its usage to make relevant targeting possible. By growing up side-by-side your product and your marketing strategy can complement each other and create better communications for your customers.

    Meghan Keaney Anderson, VP of Marketing at HubSpot:

  • Answer 2:

    It really depends on the organization, but marketing has historically been seen as a soft organization, in terms of business impact. Less so as the world has moved digital and every activity and action taken by a marketing organization can be measured. Still, this is the general feeling when you enter an organization across departments. It's important for marketing leaders to measure business impact from the get-go. It sets the stage. When you align marketing to impact, and not just brand awareness, you're putting the right foot forward and letting the organization know that you're on board with the greater goal. From my experience, this prevents the silos from forming that can cripple the effectiveness of marketing.

    Andrew Dumont, VP of Marketing at Bitly:

  • Answer 2:

    Throwing money at a problem doesnt (always) work. Grado has had a $0 ad budget and weve been able to accomplish some pretty amazing things, amazing to us at least. The company or product needs to provide something that will resonate with their audience first and foremost. Marketing efforts just build upon an already great product.

    Jonathan Grado, VP of Marketing at Grado Labs:

  • Question 3:

    Results are what matter, but what are some foundational elements marketing teams need to have in place before they race to achieve that agreed-upon goal?

  • Answer 3:

    Years ago we created a sales and marketing service level agreement (SLA) to help our sales team and marketing team get aligned around goals and what they could commit to each other. Working back from the revenue goals of the sales team, the marketing team committed to a certain value of leads we could deliver each month. The sales team committed to working the leads we generated. It was a quantitative agreement which included a bunch of inherent shared values. Putting an SLA together brought our teams closer together and gave us a shared starting point from which to assess priorities.

    Meghan Keaney Anderson, VP of Marketing at HubSpot:

  • Answer 3:

    In the world of SaaS, and B2B in general, which is where I've generally playedrevenue from inbound (marketing activity) is what matters. It's tough to generalize here though, so let me walk you through my progression at Bitly.

    When I came on, the marketing machine was pretty immature, so I couldn't start at inbound revenue as the result that we tracked. First, we started with a lead goalthe number of leads that marketing drove. Next, we moved to a lead quality goalthe number of leads that hit a certain quality threshold. After that, we moved to a SQO (Sales Qualified Opportunity) goalleads that became an opportunity from marketing activity. And finally, we're now at an inbound revenue goalwhat I believe to be the most impactful metric a SaaS marketing organization can strive toward.

    Andrew Dumont, VP of Marketing at Bitly:

  • Answer 3:

    I would say organization is key. Not the perception of some corporate organization with harsh deadlines and such either. Give yourself some flexibility and know what you have to get done. I tend to get better work done when I think, Ok, I can get all this done by tomorrow rather than, Im not sure of everything I have to do, but I have to get it done in the next hour. Sometimes that happens and you cant help it, but giving yourself some time can help.

    Jonathan Grado, VP of Marketing at Grado Labs:

  • Question 4:

    The term innovation is thrown around so much these days. What does it mean to you in the context of marketing?

    Can you share an example of what innovation (or innovative thinking) looked like for one of your marketing teams initiatives?

  • Answer 4:

    Innovation is about discovering points of leverage that previously went unexplored in your marketing. In any marketing strategy there are activities that will lead to incremental gains (in traffic, in leads, in any stated goal), and there are innovative tactics that will help you amplify those gains. Most innovation becomes the standard playbook after awhile and new experiments designed to find new points of leverage will replace them.

    Meghan Keaney Anderson, VP of Marketing at HubSpot:

  • Answer 4:

    Not a big fan of the term, to be honest. It just feels meaningless today. But I look at innovation in marketing as skating to where things are going, not playing where things were. Marketing is very cyclicalnew tech comes out, it becomes adopted and broadly used, then marketing ruins it. My goal is always to get there before marketing ruins it. :)

    I'd look at my time at Moz and that organization as the best example of innovative marketing. Moz was ahead of its time on inbound marketing and content marketing as a whole. Something like The Beginners Guide to SEO was one of those brilliant pieces that everyone is trying to emulate today. Was fortunate to be a part of that team.

    Andrew Dumont, VP of Marketing at Bitly:

  • Answer 4:

    Creating a story and following my familys long history of tradition is my main goal most days. Last summer we built the first headphone out of a Brooklyn tree. Not only that, but it was from a tree (that had fallen) a few blocks away from Grados building. Weve been in that same apartment building since 1953, and have owned it since 1918. We wouldnt have gone through with it if it didnt sound up to our standards, but luckily it did and we loved the story behind it. We sold out of them in a day without advertising. It combined our story with a great product, exactly what we aim for.

    Jonathan Grado, VP of Marketing at Grado Labs:

  • Question 5:

    What makes a marketing team different than, say, one from even a decade ago?

  • Answer 5:

    Modern marketers have significantly more data than our predecessors by which to make decisions. Its incredible how much can be measured today and how much more agile and effective those metrics make your strategies. A decade ago there was more waste and more irrelevant marketing than there is today. Thats not to say that irrelevant marketing has gone away, but data has made it easier for companies to do the right thing.

    Meghan Keaney Anderson, VP of Marketing at HubSpot:

  • Answer 5:

    End-to-end measurementthe guesswork has been completely removed. There's no excuse for a marketing team to invest in channels that aren't performing or not knowing which channels are performing. Too much great tech out there.

    Andrew Dumont, VP of Marketing at Bitly:

  • Answer 5:

    A decade ago you mightve focused on TV, radio, and print. Now its that plus every social network out there. Do you personalize the content for each social channel? Do your Twitter followers care for what you might put on Facebook? You might have a photo-shoot to capture that one perfect image. Great. You posted it to Instagram, so now what do you post tomorrow? You need to constantly be creating something to push out there. With so much needed, one hurdle is keeping it all genuine. Theres a lot more ways to reach people today, but with that comes a lot more work.

    Jonathan Grado, VP of Marketing at Grado Labs:

  • Question 6:

    When you moved into your current leadership role, what were the first steps you took? Do you have any advice on what newly-minted marketing leaders should focus on during their first few weeks with a new company?

  • Answer 6:

    Not long after I had been promoted into a new role, Brad Coffey, HubSpot's Chief Strategy Officer caught me at the right moment and advised: There's a natural tendency when you're in a new role and don't quite know what you're doing yet to try to stay the course, keep things steady and status quo. Fight that urge. In your first 90 days you have a window to set the tone for the type of team you want to build and the type of leader you want to be. Use every moment of it. Talk with your team and set a unique vision. Discontinue things that aren't working. Start things that could. It's not a rocky sea that upsets teams, it's a lack of direction. I'm paraphrasing, but it was an important jumpstart at a critical time for me. And it meant a lot.

    Meghan Keaney Anderson, VP of Marketing at HubSpot:

  • Answer 6:

    I did a presentation a few months back at The Small Business Web in NYC that covered my first 6-months at Bitly and the steps I took. Video here.

    Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sS3JNs1Phew

    [That was] probably the best distillation of the what and why of first steps for me.

    Andrew Dumont, VP of Marketing at Bitly:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sS3JNs1Phew%22%20%5Ct%20%22_blank

  • Answer 6:

    Lay everything out and give roles and tasks accordingly. You might find someone is better suited for another job too which is a blessing to realize early on.

    Jonathan Grado, VP of Marketing at Grado Labs:

  • Question 7:

    Details: How many employees at your company? Any goals youd like to share? What compelled you to take the position?

  • Answer 7:

    HubSpot is the worlds leading inbound marketing and sales platform. Since 2006, HubSpot has been on a mission to make the world more inbound. Today, over 19,000 customers in more than 90 countries use HubSpots software, services, and support to transform the way they attract, engage, and delight customers. HubSpots inbound marketing software includes social media publishing and monitoring, blogging, SEO, website content management, email marketing, marketing automation, and reporting and analytics, all in one integrated platform. Award-winning HubSpot Sales enables sales and service teams to have more effective conversations with leads, prospects, and customers. HubSpot is headquartered in Cambridge, MA with offices in Singapore; Dublin, Ireland; Sydney, Australia; Tokyo, Japan and Portsmouth, NH.HubSpot has more than 1,300 employees globally.

    Meghan Keaney Anderson, VP of Marketing at HubSpot:

  • Answer 7:

    We're just under 100 employees at Bitly across New York, Denver and San Francisco offices. I took the opportunity because I love the brandI grew up on the internet with Bitly. It's a staple of web 2.0. I ended up having the discussion with Bitly after a stint as an Entrepreneur in Residence at betaworks, the studio that built Bitly back in 2008.

    Along with that, I think there's a ton of potential in the business if we can figure out some key items, and I love a good challenge. Our progress from free link shortener to a real business has been trending in the right direction. Still a lot of work ahead, but I love building.

    Andrew Dumont, VP of Marketing at Bitly:

  • Answer 7:

    There are around 20 people at Grado, weve purposely kept it at that size since the mid-90s. Not much else to add, Im just continuing the six-decade family tradition of sound coming first.

    Jonathan Grado, VP of Marketing at Grado Labs:

  • THIS SLIDESHARE ORIGINALLY APPEARED AT:

    How High-Performance Marketing Teams Work Together

    Full URL: getflow.com/blog/how-high-performance-marketing-teams-work-together

    http://getflow.com/blog/how-high-performance-marketing-teams-work-togetherhttp://getflow.com/blog/how-high-performance-marketing-teams-work-together

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