Fans of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” often remember its famous and strange final scene. After nearly sending astronaut Dave Bowman to his deep-space death, the supercomputer HAL begs to be spared. As Bowman disconnects HAL’s malfunctioning wires, the computer pleads, “Will you stop, Dave? My mind is going. I can feel it.” This scene is famous for a reason. It seems impossible that a piece of technology could have the capacity for such human emotions. While the idea of marrying tech and emotional impact is still controversial in AI, it helped Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah create something entirely innovative in the sales and marketing field: HubSpot.
If you have a toe in the business world, you have likely heard of HubSpot. However, you might not know about the circumstances that led Halligan and Shah to create their marketing software. The two met as graduate students at MIT in 2004. While Halligan was helping companies through traditional marketing strategies, he noticed the marketing tactics of the past didn’t work anymore.
After watching their clients’ attempts to reach customers through direct mail and email blasts, one thing became clear to the pair: People have mastered the art of evasion. Armed with this information, Halligan and Shah decided to build HubSpot. In order to humanize the marketing process, they claimed, businesses needed to start treating buyers like people instead of numbers.
A Fresh Approach
This was the start of inbound marketing — a completely new and personal way to help people. To help businesses survive in a world where over 200 million people have put their numbers on no-call lists, 44% of people throw mail away unopened, and 86% of people mute all TV commercials, Halligan and Shah created their company with the intention of appealing to humans rather than annoying them. Now, HubSpot helps startups create content, optimize it for search engines, and share it on social media to engage customers. Companies that use HubSpot’s inbound technology improve their relationships with customers. HubSpot also offers plenty of free resources people can use to fulfill their business dreams without emptying their pockets.
When Metrics Meet Mission
HubSpot’s mission to help businesses humanize their sales and marketing tactics mirrors the values that make up their company’s culture code. For example, here are three of their 10 culture code points.
- We are as maniacal about our metrics as our mission.
- We are radically and uncomfortably transparent.
- We are a perpetual work in progress.
These points show that their goal of helping people bleeds into their expectations and overall treatment of their team members. They are constantly reinforcing the purpose of the inbound process by simultaneously emphasizing their mission and their metrics. They know the significance of honest communication with customers, clients, and employees, even when the conversations are difficult to have. Halligan and Shah also understand that their process has to adapt in order to stay on the cutting edge of marketing and sales.
The Secret To Staying Relevant
While their creation of indispensable software helped Halligan and Shah’s company gain traction initially, their mission and culture make HubSpot the success that it is today. When it comes to maintaining momentum, it doesn’t matter how innovative, unique, or necessary your product is. The longevity of a company depends on the employees who work there. According to a Towers Perrin survey of 90,000 workers worldwide, companies with a low level of employee engagement had a 33% annual decline in operating income and an 11% annual decline in growth. However, those with high engagement reported a 19% increase in operating income and a 28% growth in earnings per share.
HubSpot’s culture code demonstrates its knowledge that happy employees make a happy company. By taking care of its team members, HubSpot’s not only furthering its mission of helping startups increase their web traffic and connect with potential leads, but they’re also proving that it really is a human business, even more than a marketing business. Even though Kubrick’s film touches on the disconnect between technology and humanity, HubSpot’s success proves that the two can work together toward triumph, not tragedy.