Hupspot IPO Thoughts

This past Monday Hupspot released their official S-1 which is the information released for a company when they are about to IPO.  

I’ve read a lot about this information and wanted to jot down some of the more interesting pieces: 

  • Founded in June 2006 in Cambridge MA, they coined the term “inbound marketing.” They did more than coin it, they lived. They wrote the books, built an influential blog and practiced what they preach.  Nowadays you hear “inbound marketing” all the time.  Here’s to them for coining a term that an entire industry adopts.  (ChiefMartec talks about this more here
  • In their S-1, they list as one major risk factor as is the inability of customers to create content to make blogging, social media, and inbound marketing in general worthwhile.  This is true for our customers as well.  If nobody is creating content, then many of your marketing efforts fail (email marketing, social, inbound, etc.)  
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Content Marketing: Telling a Story

I recently listened to a great commencement speech by Robert Krulwich about the power of storytelling and it made me think about the power of narrative and stories in my business.

See, I work in content marketing. To most people, that’s a dull phrase that doesn’t mean anything. But to me, content marketing is the power of businesses using stories and entertainment and ideas to connect with their customers. It’s using these stories instead of banner ads, popup ads, billboards and other branding tactics that try to distract and interrupt you. It’s a powerful change in the marketing and sales landscape.

The speech talked about two gentleman who told stories. The first is sir Isaac Newton. Back in the day Newton was asked why he made his famous book about gravity and laws of motion so hard to read, he replied that that he considered writing a popular version that average people might understand but he wanted “To avoid being baited by little smaterrers in mathematics.” Newton intentionally wrote a book in dense scholarly Latin that contained lots of math so that only serious scholars could follow. In other words, Isaac newton didn’t care if he was understood by average folks.  He did not believe in the power of storytelling.

The second was the story of Galileo. He, unlike Newton, had a flair for narrative. He wanted to tell people what was on his mind. In his famous book, ‘The Dialogues‘ about the sun being the center of the solar system, he didn’t write it in Latin. He wrote it Italian for a mass audience. The writing was gorgeous and poetic and funny. It was a running conversation between good friends who spend four days together in Venice. Their argument is between whether the earth is the center of the solar system or is it the sun. He has little pictures throughout the book and short chapters so it’s easy to read. There are numbers in the book and apparently if you skip them, you don’t miss that much. Because it was so easy to read and became such a hit he was actually sentenced to house arrest for the rest of his life. His stories had that much power.

I see businesses every day who want to connect to buyers and impact their lives. Not all businesses realize it yet, but their stories are competing every second with everything else on the web. If you’re selling cars, you’re competing with John Oliver, Facebook and hamsters eating burritos for attention and time, and the only way you can attain it is to make your content compelling and give your potential buyers a reason to read, follow and market to you.

Their are some companies that have harnessed their inner Galileo and told some great stories that are useful, and they have buyers eating out of they palms.  That’s the way it works.  

The Secret Behind Snapchat’s Popularity

I was chatting the other day about why Snapchat is so popular.  Most people think it’s because of sexting and the fact that the photos disappear, but i think it’s more than that.  I recently came across a speech by the Snapchat founder (Evan Spiegel) and thought it was pretty enlightening as to how he sees usage occur.

He talks about how people today don’t want to fully recreate their offline experience online. They want to be online but understand that their online profile isn’t the sum of them.  It’s a pretty different view.  A highlight of the speech:

Traditional social media required that we live experiences in the offline world, record those experiences, and then post them online to recreate the experience and talk about it. For example, I go on vacation, take a bunch of pictures, come back home, pick the good ones, post them online, and talk about them with my friends.

This traditional social media view of identity is actually quite radical: you are the sum of your published experience. Otherwise known as: pics or it didn’t happen.

Or in the case of Instagram: beautiful pics or it didn’t happen AND you’re not cool.

This notion of a profile made a lot of sense in the binary experience of online and offline. It was designed to recreate who I am online so that people could interact with me even if I wasn’t logged on at that particular moment.

Snapchat relies on Internet Everywhere to provide a totally different experience. Snapchat says that we are not the sum of everything we have said or done or experienced or published – we are the result. We are who we are today, right now.

He then also talks about how when you take the photo away, it’s more about the feeling and not the photo.  It’s subtle but powerful difference.  He says: 

Snapchat discards content to focus on the feeling that content brings to you, not the way that content looks. This is a conservative idea, the natural response to radical transparency that restores integrity and context to conversation.

Snapchat sets expectations around conversation that mirror the expectations we have when we’re talking in-person.

That’s what Snapchat is all about. Talking through content not around it. With friends, not strangers. Identity tied to now, today. Room for growth, emotional risk, expression, mistakes, room for YOU.

I like that concept.  And with that it’s clear why people, especially teenagers, would want a more forgiving medium. 

Note: blogged about Snapchat almost a year ago and the massive growth they are having:

From the front lines of the publishing industry

I got this email from a friend of mine who works in the newspaper business.  It’s tough times for those folk and it’s only going to get worse. I thought his email was a good look at what’s actually happening.  Here it is:

I can now check off “fired” from my bucket list. That’s right, after four years as a features reporter at the New York Daily News, I have been canned. No surprise. It was a long time in the making. Five months, to be exact. But the swiftness and finality of the act still threw me for a loop.The day after my arch-nemesis – a fashion editor whose idea of a good article is “50 purses under $50” – became my fifth managing editor, she called me into a side office and told me, “This isn’t working out. We’re terminating your employment here effective immediately.”

I wanted to tell her she was an awful manager, a poor editor and a vile individual. But all I said was, “OK,” before my buddy, the janitor, apologetically led me out of the building and left me standing on Sixth Ave. No exit interview. No parting gift. Not even a shot of whiskey.

I couldn’t help but try to do the math. 723 articles, 63 celebrity interviews, 106 Best of New York columns, three editor-in-chiefs, five managing editors and countless sleepless nights added up to nothing more than standing on Avenue of the Americas with a handful of crumpled papers, two half-filled legal pads and a cup of cold coffee.

So I started walking. I guess I was looking for a bar, but before I could find one (it’s tougher than you think to find a good bar in midtown) I walked pastValducci’s Pizza Truck on 51st and 5th Ave. And right there on the side of the truck was a huge, laminated copy of an article I wrote that named Valducci’s as one of the best Sicilian slices in New York.

The math suddenly became much clearer. My articles weren’t about lifting my spirits, but those of the people I wrote about. Sure, my articles were no longer valued by my editor at the newspaper, who didn’t care about a pizza pies unless Lindsay Lohan threw them up, but it certainly meant a lot to small business owners like the Vallerio family of Staten Island, who have been slinging pies since 1999. I didn’t let down the newspaper. The newspaper let down the readers. Honestly, would you rather discover the best place in NYC to find a Sicilian slice or read about how Britney Spears forgot to wear underwear and showed the world her Sicilian slice?

Anyway, I think the lesson here is that sometimes you go looking for a drink but instead find some perspective. I’ll be okay. The newspaper, well, that’s a different story. In the meantime, if you hear of a gig for a decent writer, shoot me a line.

The good news is that companies are hiring up ex-journalists like hot cakes to help run their content marketing departments so folks like this won’t be on the street for long. 

Two Funnels, Two Types of Content Marketing

Note: I wrote this post on Kapost but thought I’d republish here as lots of people, especially those who read this blog, don’t really know what I do or what Kapost does.  Here’s an attempt to explain.

The term “content marketing” has been hot in 2012 and is often heralded as the best new marketing tactic.

“Sure, there are still other ways to get in front of your target audience, but content marketing is proving to be an indispensable tool to complement traditional communications strategies,” writes Brian Aitken, director of new media for the Foundation for Economic Education, on CNN’s iReport.

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Kapost Interview on KillerStartups

The other day, I gave an interview about Kapost to KillerStartups and i realized that i have a lot more to say than i thought i would.  I’m going to republish some of it here.

First, I haven’t talked much about Kapost on this blog, so i’m going to republish those questions first.  Here they are:

What’s kapost all about and what makes it stand out from the competition?

Kapost is a content marketing platform. Many businesses are spending less money on ads and more money on creating their own content. The idea behind that is that you can spend $5k a month in search ads and have a spot at the top of a search results page, or you can spend $5k a month creating content and have links in the search results page. These links are more authentic and over time much more effective. But, as a result, you have many businesses becoming publishers and creating a lot of content. What Kapost does is manage that content for them and provide insight into which content is working. Similar to how a CRM like Salesforce helps a sales team organize and evaluate performance from a formalized business process, Kapost helps a marketing or publishing team organize themselves and eventuate how they are doing from a content perspective.

Continue reading “Kapost Interview on KillerStartups”