Hubspot are in a tough market drenched with tech competitors.
The market has low barriers to entry which brings more competitors every year, and it has extremely large players in the game like IBM, Oracle and Marketo (amongst others).
But Hubspot owns a huge 49.4% of the market by volume!
Check out this for a healthy growth chart;
How have they pulled this off and why are they able to maintain such a lead in such a market?
Sure their software is excellent, Venture Beat had this to say;
“HubSpot’s strength is that it is one-stop shopping… It can power and drive not only a social media engagement strategy, but also serve as an actual blogging and website platform.”
But Pardot, and Marketo are also excellent, mature solutions, so clearly it’s not just the software.
And in any case, quality rarely makes for such a huge lead, especially once the early and late majorities are in the market, which they certainly are, at least in the US.
Here are a few tips that tech startups can learn from Hubspot.
1. Instead of fighting on the same ground as your tech competitors create your own battle ground.
Before Hubspot, marketing was traditional or digital. Instead of creating software for the pre-existing markets they built their own market and called it “Inbound Marketing”.
Although they didn’t actually invent inbound marketing as such, they brought together many ethical, low friction marketing tactics, codified them into the inbound methodology, and then built tools to serve the methodology. Marketing software buyers can now choose one tool to do it all, and buy into a prebuilt, proven methodology.
Their competitors must choose to ignore the term “inbound marketing” (ignoring the elephant in the room), or adopt it and be a runner up in Hubspot’s own arena.
2. Market not just your technology products and services, but your newly coined phrase for your newly created market
Hubspot don’t just market and promote their software, they also market inbound marketing, a phrase that was coined by them.
Coin a phrase that is catchy and can be used by your customer base to discuss your product type, even (especially) if you are first mover. Market your newly coined term as the solution to the customer’s problem. Market your product or service as the best choice of the available solutions.
You don’t always have to invent something wholly new, but you must be able to offer a new kind of value to buyers.
All of their competitors do Hubspot’s marketing for them. If you want to really compete in the space you have to talk about inbound marketing, and by doing so you are obliquely referencing Hubspot. You could just talk about marketing automation, but that’s a dry topic that won’t get anyone going, and additionally, no one sees the need of automation for tasks that they are not yet doing. Inbound marketing draws people in during awareness phase.
If you can get the buying masses to use your phrase your competitors will be forced to do the same.
3. Eat your own dog food, but be flexible and don’t slavishly stick to the party line
Hubspot eat their own dog food and their own content marketing is as good as it gets (inbound marketing yummy treats), but they also do outbound marketing, PR and anything else that works. They have received flak about going outside their own processes, but I think it should flexibility and openness.
Always champion your products and services and believe in them, but don’t allow your thinking to get constricted by your own go to market strategy.
Get your startup strategy right early on and it can pay your for many years.
If you take a careful look at Hubspot you will find that they changed the market and that strategic moves they made early on are still paying dividends today.
If you’d like to know more about inbound marketing, check out this ebook; how to run an inbound marketing campaign.