What's next for HubSpot? Let's do The Hustle!

Barb Mosher Zinck Profile picture for user barb.mosher January 19, 2022 Audio mode
Summary:
HubSpot’s vision of a small business media network is something every brand should be thinking about.

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HubSpot acquired The Hustle, a digital media startup with a daily email to over 1.5 million subscribers, in February of 2021. However, if you look at Hustle's website, it's not evident that it has been under the ownership of the marketing, sales, and customer support platform provider for almost a year now. But there is a plan in the works, and HubSpot SVP of Marketing Kieran Flanagan filled me in on what's to come.

Building a media company alongside a product company

The competition for attention is growing more and more every day. The number of digital-first startups is enormous, and the VC funding well almost seems to be overflowing. There are lots of opportunities for companies of every size today. 

Companies that rely only on paid advertising will be at a disadvantage. Flanagan argues that paid advertising won’t go away, but it will become increasingly expensive due to the competition. It's also about the explosion of content and how people use it for all aspects of their lives, not just work. 

HubSpot sees a better way to get the attention of potential customers - get really good at influential media, distributing their message across their own mediums. The company wants to be a trusted source of information and part of a person's daily life.

HubSpot has always had great content in the form of blogs, ebooks, and video content. Add in the extensive online training on all aspects of marketing, sales, and customer service, and no-one could ever say HubSpot didn't already have a great content engine. But the company wants to go further. Flanagan explains:

It's just an evolution of the way that we approach content. We do educational content, we do inspirational media, and we want to be the premier source of education and inspiration for business builders.

The experience and in-house capabilities it has already does beg the question of why didn’t HubSpot build this new media company itself? According to Flanagan, the pros and cons of building versus partnering with an established company were weighed up, looking at many companies in the media landscape that could fill their weak areas and if the company and founder were a good culture fit with HubSpot. 

The Hustle checked the right boxes, including the vision and culture of the company and its founder, its intellectual media (including the podcast My First Million). It could also fill an area where HubSpot wanted to get better - newsletters, says Flanagan:

They had this really amazing community. We believe community is going to be at the heart of how most of how companies go live in the future.

Flanagan said it was logical to move forward with The Hustle to expedite growth. But that growth takes some time.

Eight months later…

This past year was all about onboarding the Hustle team, reorganizing the team, and some technical work on the backend. The HubSpot brand may not be plastered all over The Hustle site, but things have been happening in the background as the entire experience is being rebuilt to go live in the first quarter of this year. In fact, Flanagan says the firm is working against a two-year plan that will transform the entire HubSpot experience. 

The plan is to create a rich, immersive experience across all HubSpot properties, including the Hustle, Trends (a paid community for entrepreneurs and startups), and its new podcast network.

The ones result should be a more cohesive experience - “The Hustle by HubSpot," "Trends by HubSpot," "[email protected]," and so on. Jordan DiPietro, former Chief Growth Officer at the Motley Fool, has been brought in to lead the new media team.

Building the next-generation media experience

In the announcement for the Hustle acquisition, HubSpot founder and CTO Dharmesh Shah said that:

Modern media companies have a software company embedded inside. Next-gen software companies will have a media company embedded inside.

It's a discussion that has been regularly talked about in content marketing circles for years, how brands need to think like media companies and embrace creating loyal audiences. 

HubSpot is building the next generation media experience that looks at media not as a content marketing project (which many have done to varying success), but rather as a critical component of the brand, says Flanagan:

We want to create a collection of media that helps our customers grow better.

It's about blogs, a new podcast network, the Hustle newsletter, and a plan to create a network of newsletters. It's also a series of YouTube channels. One thing HubSpot isn't doing? Streaming content like Salesforce is with Salesforce+. HubSpot sees big opportunities with YouTube, and the company is doubling down on content for that service. Flanagan thinks companies have not made streaming  a big enough part of their content strategy. That doesn't mean HubSpot won't do streaming services at some point, just not in the next year.

HubSpot obsesses over how customers will learn and buy in the future. Much of its existing content focuses on training and helping people grow in their careers. It believes that some of those people will then go out and buy HubSpot software to help them be successful in those careers. This is the evolution of how companies think about media and content - and the Hustle is only one part of that strategy for HubSpot (a big one, but not the driving force), concludes Flanagan:

We're trying to build a Small Business Media Network for business builders to try to help them grow better, to try to help them unlock the challenges that they have to overcome, the obstacles that they have.

My take

When I think of HubSpot, I always think about their content, whether the blogs, the ebooks, or the vast amount of free training and certifications they offer. And when you search, it never fails to see something in the SERPs from HubSpot. Yes, I think of their software too, and the training that makes learning and using that software much easier. Many companies don't use the software, yet employees take advantage of the content and the training. 

I'm interested in seeing the newsletter network HubSpot builds, starting with The Hustle, but going further and seeing how the podcast network grows. Newsletters are the new black in marketing and with content creators, and it's an area HubSpot does not do much of today. 

HubSpot has a lot of different content mediums, all separate, both in experience and content coverage, and the work required to bring them all together in a new immersive experience is going to be huge. We’re entering new ground for companies, and it will either become the example to aspire to or be a lesson in how much work is required to build a great brand and business today.

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