• Build Your Company’s Brand and Your Brand Will Reap the Rewards

    January 27, 2011 by

    An interview by Dan Schawbel
    Today, I spoke with Mike Volpe, who is a fine example of someone who has built his personal brand and employers brand simultaneously. His coined term, “inbound marketing,” which reflects how social media can be used to attract opportunities passively, rather than proactively. Instead of cold calling a customer or applying for a job with a resume, people will come for you after they’ve read your content. In this way, people want to work for you, interview you or just be apart of what you’re doing, without asking them for help! Mike spills some of his secrets in this interview :). A special thanks to Rebecca Corliss for setting this up and for being an online viral video star!
    Mike, you and your team have done an excellent job branding your company as a “cool place to work at.” Can you share some of your employer branding success secrets, while having a somewhat tight budget?

    When it comes to branding your company as a “cool place to work” , I think it starts with authenticity. We really do think we’re a cool place to work, and we all like working here. If that is true, the next step is just sharing and publishing. Because we have a lot of fun while we work, we find sharing our passion is easy. We publish lots of things about the company – examples include the photos of the “HubSpot Second Birthday Party” we put on Flickr, or the HubSpot Tech Team posting videos of their foosball games on YouTube.
    “We think about all this stuff as “inbound marketing for recruiting”. Just like we use inbound marketing to promote our software, we think about how we can publish and share and engage with people to attract the best candidates to work here.”
    For marketing hiring for instance, I already get tons of great resumes from some of the top marketing people out there – people with 5,000 Twitter followers and quite popular blogs are applying to work at HubSpot without me asking them to do so. It’s great! But all of this really starts with having a great team that is passionate about what you’re doing, and we’re lucky to have such a great team at HubSpot.
    Most company blogs fail, but your HubSpot blog has succeeded. What have you done differently than other companies to get your subscription count at over 5,000?
    Blogging and creating content are critical parts of inbound marketing. Our blog has been both rewarding and a lot of fun. We’re over 8,000 subscribers now if you count both email and RSS, and we’re in the Technorati top 10,000, which is really good for a company blog.
    I think most blogs fail for two reasons.

    • First, I think most companies write blog articles that they want people to read, but it’s not what people actually want to read. Their articles read like spec sheets and advertisements. People don’t want to read that. People read blogs that give them useful and interesting information on the topics they like. If you look at the numbers, we seem to be doing a good job at HubSpot of creating content that appeals to our audience. We almost never mention our software.
    • Second, most companies will start a blog for about 3 months and then stop because “it’s not working”. It can take you 3 months to get into a rhythm and start writing decent stuff and build a following. I think most companies quit too early. If you’re starting a blog, I think you need to commit for at least 6 months and publishing 3 times a week. We recently started a video podcast – www.HubSpot.tv – and we didn’t even look at the numbers for the first 3 months. It took us that long to work out all the kinks and get the content and format right. Just now we’re starting to see the returns in terms of subscribers and downloads.

    You do a podcast series and have recently released a viral music video. Why are you taking the time to do this, in addition to blogging? Is it worthwhile?
    The more content you create, and the more interesting that content is, the more successful your inbound marketing program will be. We’re always experimenting with new types of content. In fact, most of our spending in marketing is on hiring people to create content – not buying advertising. This week on the blog we’re going to try some cartoons, sort of like the New Yorker ones, but of course about marketing. We’ve done about 7 “viral” videos, many didn’t work, but the “Oughta Know Inbound Marketing” one did work, it got 40,000 views in the first week. Not everything works, so with inbound marketing you just experiment a lot, learn from your failures and keep working hard.
    “Our co-founder Brian Halligan says “Inbound marketing is about the size of your brain, not the size of your wallet.”
    I think companies should rethink every aspect of their marketing and ask why they are paying for advertising and could they build their own channel instead.
    HubSpot TV started as an experiment in new content. Not only did we launch the HubSpot TV video podcast I mentioned earlier, but we also broadcast it live as a TV show online. We have hundreds of people who tune in at 4pm EST on Friday to see me and Karen Rubin chat about marketing. They use Twitter to ask questions, it’s a lot of fun. Under the old rules of marketing to get on TV we would have had to buy expensive TV ads.
    Today you just start broadcasting your own TV show with a free streaming service and a $70 webcam. Is it worth it? It depends on your goals. HubSpot TV gets thousands of downloads per month, we have hundreds of viewers and hundreds of iTunes subscribers. It takes Karen and I about 3 hours per week, and we have a few hundred bucks worth of equipment. And its growing pretty fast. I think it is a far better ROI than buying print ads in a magazine.
    HubSpot released Twitter Grader, Website Grader and Press Release Grader. By unleashing something that individuals could readily use and enjoy, what were the payoffs for HubSpot?
    Building tools that attract people into your business is a great inbound marketing technique. The free tools have been really successful. What’s great about the tools is that they are built for our target market and get them to engage with us instantly. And most of the tools diagnose a problem that some part of HubSpot can help solve. Website Grader is like offering free medical exams, but charging for the medicine to solve the problems you find.
    People can choose to go to another drug store or make their own medicine, but a lot of people will buy from you because they trust you. We’ve recently put all our free tools on one website Grader.com and I think in the next month or so you’ll see another free tool, and then more a couple months after that.
    How have you build your personal brand through your company? How has your company benefited inspite of it?
    For me, I think 99% of my personal brand is because of my work at HubSpot. I publish a lot of information about marketing, and nearly all of what I publish has the HubSpot brand on it.
    “If you’re doing your job right, as an inbound marketer, you’ll end up building a personal brand naturally as part of promoting your company.”
    If you write blog articles, comment on other blogs, get active in social media, record videos and things like that for your company, you can’t help but get known a little bit yourself. Robert Scoble might be the first example of this. His personal brand is because of his blogging about Microsoft.
    I do have personal blog, and I use Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. But all my best blog articles end up on the HubSpot Blog, because that’s my job. The balance is hard sometimes. For example, I have a personal Twitter account (www.Twitter.com/mvolpe), but we also have a HubSpot Twitter account (www.Twitter.com/HubSpot). And I send lots of messages using my personal account to people about HubSpot and telling people to follow HubSpot on Twitter or attend our webinars.
    “Now, if I ever leave HubSpot (maybe a decade from now to teach a marketing class at a business school or something) my personal Twitter account stays with me, but the HubSpot account stays with the company.”
    And I contributed a lot to building that company account, so the company got value for the salary they paid me. So, I don’t think it’s an “either / or” situation.
    “I think if you are working hard to promote your company, you’ll end up building a personal brand.”
    And any personal brand you build benefits the company too. Just make sure you are also building up a presence (company accounts, company blog, etc.) that can stay with the company and everything doesn’t go with you if you leave. That will reflect pretty poorly on you for your next job.
    Dan Schwabel.jpgArticle by, Dan Schawbel, the leading personal branding expert for Gen-Y. He authors the Personal Branding Blog and publishes Personal Branding Magazine and authored the upcoming book, Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success (Kaplan, Spring 2009). Dan has been called a “personal branding force of nature” by Fast Company and his work has been published in BrandWeek Magazine, Advertising Age and countless other publications.

    Originally posted by Candice A

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