Think Big, Act Small Interview: Making the Complicated Simple for (Startup) Marketers

Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity. – Charles Mingus 

HubSpot is the quintessential example of simplistic, creative tools for (startup) marketers. HubSpot also practices what it preaches, having grown revenues to $50M+ since 2006 by following the same principles below.  Mike Volpe, an original collaborator for ebook  and HubSpot’s CMO, shares with us his tips for startups to achieve the same success that HubSpot has had.

Interviewer: Michelle Fitzgerald
Interviewee: Mike Volpe

Question 1.

Get Scrappy:

HubSpot hardly misses a beat when it comes to brand awareness in the world of marketing, but for those who might not know who you are… can you please provide a 140-character value prop statement?


HubSpot all-in-one marketing software helps more than 7,000 companies in 43 countries attract leads and convert them into customers.


Question 2.

Get Scrappy:

Much has happened at HubSpot since 2006, when first launched.  It now services thousands of organizations across the US. Which core (product) principles have sustained themselves throughout the years to maintain and accelerate your growth?


We now have over 7,000 customers and tens of thousands of individual paying users, along with a community of over 1 million marketers who regularly visit our website to learn about marketing.

There are two principles that have guided us since 2006, and these have not changed.

1 – The buying process is constantly shifting. Therefore, the marketing you/we do must regularly adapt to the way buyers behave.  To accomplish this, marketing efforts, and our product set, become more focused on activating and managing inbound.

2 – Marketing is complicated, requiring six or more different tools to do it right.  By building an all-in-one marketing software platform, marketing became easier and more powerful. You can also leverage data (insights) across multiple channels through a one tool versus many, continuously informing your next step.

Question 3.

Get Scrappy:

HubSpot has developed a real niche for itself within the small business (marketing) space, yet has found a way to scale to meet larger enterprise needs. What contributes to your success for such? Product simplicity, or something else?


There are lots of examples of companies moving upmarket from small business to larger enterprises, but few examples of companies doing the opposite.  Being successful in the SMB market requires you to have a great product that’s both simple and powerful, plus a very efficient sales and marketing machine.  You can be successful in enterprise with a crappy product and an inefficient sales and marketing process.

But part of our long-term competitive advantage is our heritage in small business.  It is much easier to take an easy-to-use product and make it more powerful for Enterprise than it is to take a complicated Enterprise product and make it easy for small businesses.  It is also much easier to take a really efficient sales and marketing process and make it higher touch by adding field sales, than it is to take an enterprise sales process and build a new process for smaller businesses.

Question 4.

Get Scrappy:

HubSpot does a fantastic job of leveraging content marketing (ebooks, video tutorials, etc) to market itself and most are free downloads. Can you explain the highlights of this strategy and what you’d recommend other startups be doing to achieve similar success?


We knew that we had to be the world’s best case study of inbound marketing in order to be credible selling our software and be trusted as a thought leader.  Today we have over a million visitors to our website each month, one of the most widely read blogs in the marketing industry. We also hold the Guinness world record for the largest webinar with over 30,000 registrations.

Every company should make their marketing more inbound, and using free tools and free content is a key component of inbound marketing.  One piece of advice in my presentation is to “blog beforehand”, which means attracting inbound visitors and links with a blog before you even have a product.  Startups should start doing inbound marketing as soon as they know who they are selling  to – even before they have a product ready.  For more details on this topic, you can read the or attend the .

Question 5.

Get Scrappy:

HubSpot more recently launched an App Marketplace. Can you explain the implications of HubSpot providing this channel and for startups, specifically, to participate?


We have the largest collection of high value customers in the marketing industry – over 7,000 companies pay from $2,500 to $50,000+ per year to use HubSpot, and they are all in our App Marketplace.  So if you want to target those companies with your product or service, you should build an app for the HubSpot App marketplace.  There are already 50 apps and thousands of customers installing them.  To get started building an app, go .

To learn more, start with a free evaluation of your marketing in under 30 seconds at .  To start using HubSpot, please visit .

About Mike Volpe

Mike Volpe is Chief Marketing Officer at HubSpot, a  software company, where he leads the company’s lead generation and brand strategy through inbound marketing.  Under Mike’s leadership since 2007, HubSpot’s marketing has won more than 30 awards, been featured in over 20 marketing and business books, generated over 1 million inbound leads, and grown the company from 10 customers to over 7,000 customers and $50 million in revenue.

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About Michelle Fitzgerald

A product evangelist with over twelve years of traditional and emerging marketing experience. Provides FT and PT consultative services to the startup community to help brands develop a better understanding of what drives results (analytics), what drives connections (branding/PR/social media) and what drives revenue (performance marketing/media). Past and current work experience includes Tout, StyleStalk, iCharts, MyBuys, Zinio, Yahoo!, the LA Times and CareerBuilder. Michelle also publishes ebooks, regularly contributes to Upmarket Magazine, speaks at industry events and guest blogs.

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