Brian Halligan HubSpot Inbound MarketingLet’s begin by taking a social media quiz?
1. Are you responsible for marketing, communications, admissions, development, or advancement at an independent school?
2. Are you familiar with the concept of inbound marketing?
3. Have you ever heard of Hubspot?


If you answered “Yes” to question #1 and “No” to either question #2 or #3 then you’ve failed – but it’s OK. edSocialmedia is thrilled that Brian Halligan took some time to answer a few questions about inbound marketing marketing and social media for schools. Brian is the CEO and Founder of Hubspot as well as the author of two books dealing with the topic of inbound marketing: Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs (New Rules Social Media Series) and Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History.


1. @SchneiderB: Can you describe the concept of inbound marketing especially as it relates to traditional/outbound marketing?

@BHalligan: Outbound marketing is about interruption. Tactics like cold calling, direct mail, and TV advertising are about hitting potential customers over the head with a hammer until they submit. Inbound marketing is about transforming the way businesses are doing marketing, which is the complete opposite of traditional/outbound marketing.

The basic idea behind inbound marketing, this marketing transformation I’m talking about, is creating remarkable content that becomes a magnet to pull people in. So we create tons and tons of blog articles, and the blog articles I wrote 4 years ago still are like magnets, pulling people in through Google. We write ebooks, we create a weekly video podcast called HubSpot TV, and we build these Grader tools, which are basically little tiny pieces of our product that we break off and offer for free for people to run their site through. They get a diagnostic on it, and they get a score. Based on that score, which is a percentage,1 to 100, people who get a bad score say, “Well who are these HubSpot guys?” and they end up in our funnel and we show them a demo, take them through a trial, and they end up buying the software. So it’s very much part of our philosophy of ‘How do you free up as much knowledge and content as you possibly can and use that knowledge to pull people into your business and try to convert them into customers?’


2. @SchneiderB: If a school has limited resources with regard to staff and budget, what would be the one, or maybe two, inbound marketing techniques or channels they should participate in?

@BHalligan: One of the powerful things about inbound marketing is the way it can scale over time. You may only start out with a couple of tactics, but as they work, you can branch out to others and continue expand. In terms of getting started, it is critical to make sure that your core website is optimized as much as possible to attract visitors from search engines like Google and Bing. This is done by evaluating the on-page search engine optimization (SEO) factors of your website and making improvements to them.


The other key tactic when getting started is to have a clear way to convert website visitors into potential customers. At HubSpot, we refer to these as leads. This would mean having a mechanism on your website to collect information from visitors for further follow-up. At HubSpot, we do this with landing pages. These pages are dedicated to collecting information from visitors who download content from us or sign up for a free trial.


Once you have these two in place, then you can expand into experimenting with things like email and social media marketing.


3. @SchneiderB: Would you recommend a school not spend any of their budget on outbound marketing?

@BHalligan: In an ideal world, a school wouldn’t need to spend any money on outbound marketing, but most businesses don’t live in that would yet. I would look at it as an inverse relationship. As you get started with inbound marketing and begin to grow that aspect of your marketing, you can reduce the part of your budget allocated to outbound marketing. Over time, you should be able to significantly reduce and hopefully eliminate your outbound marketing spend.


4. @SchneiderB: What advice would you give a school that is just starting out with inbound marketing?

@BHalligan: Be remarkable and consistent. Remarkable and interesting content is the foundation of inbound marketing. Look at what thought-leaders in your industry are saying online. How can you be more compelling than they are? Interesting content spreads and generates conversation.


Despite many misconceptions, success online doesn’t happen overnight. Businesses that are successful with inbound marketing make it part of their everyday life. You can’t do it for a month and then stop. You need to be committed to the long term.


5. @SchneiderB: Are you using iPhone, Android, or Blackberry?

@BHalligan: iPhone


6. @SchneiderB: What is the one App you can’t live without?

@BHalligan: Bottle Opener


7. @SchneiderB: I get the sense that you are a fan of the Grateful Dead, as am I, and I was wondering what is your favorite recording or concert?

@BHalligan: I like any version of Scarlet Begonias because I like the lyric “once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right…”


I’ll let you skip the post-quiz but I hope you’re eager to find out more about Hubspot and inbound marketing. I also highly recommend Brian’s book Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs (New Rules Social Media Series) and am eager to read the recently released Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History. I also hope that you’ll follow Brian on Twitter and check out Hubspot and their Inbound Marketing Blog. I would love to hear your reactions to our interview by posting them in the comments section below. Additionally, if you have other questions please post them below. Thanks again to Brian for sharing his knowledge and good luck with the continued success of Hubspot!

Brendan Schneider

Director of Advancement at Sewickley Academy

Brendan Schneider is the CEO and Founder of SchneiderB Media, a blog dedicated to helping schools use the power of the interest to achieve their enrollment and communication goals. He is also the founder of The MarCom Society, and SEO Coach, his DIY SEO software for schools. He is also the Director of Advancement at Sewickley Academy.