HubSpot Has Changed My Life. It Saved My Business. And This is My Story.August 29, 2011
by Marcus Sheridan
Marcus Sheridan owns River Pools and Spas, one of largest swimming pool builders in the country. Today, because inbound marketing has had such an impact on his life, he writes and teaches others about these amazing principles he has learned at his personal website—The Sales Lion.
Editor’s Note: This is a guest response to a post that we published last week titled Epiphany: What is HubSpot? If you have a similar or wildly different story we would love to hear it. Email info at bostinnovation dot com.
You ask ‘What is Hubspot?’, and truth be told, you’d likely receive 100 different answers if you asked 100 different people. Why? Simple: Because HubSpot, like anything else of potential great worth in this life, is what you make of it.
Some people might say HubSpot doesn’t work.
Others might say that HubSpot is OK but not worth the money.
But as for me, I will simply start by telling you this: HubSpot has changed my life. It saved my business. And this is my story….
An Awful Economy and a Suffering Business
As most folks know, November of 2008 was a bad month. If you recall, the presidential elections were in full swing and all of the sudden, banks were failing left and right. The housing marketing had crashed. From one day to the next, the American economy went into a complete and total tailspin.
These events did not bode well for my business. You see, I’m a pool guy. And for almost 8 years, I’d been struggling to make ends-meet as I installed inground swimming pools throughout Virginia and Maryland.
As my business partners and I watched the months that followed the aforementioned disaster, one thing became quite apparent to all of us: We were in trouble. BIG trouble. Swimming pool sales had dropped roughly 80% throughout the entire country. The industry was in panic with many companies going under and we were no different. But we were especially worried because we no longer had the money to continue advertising the way we’d always done it (radio, phone book, PPC, etc), and we were incredibly frustrated on top of this because our website stunk. (Because we saw the trend of consumers to do their shopping online, we realized if this didn’t change in a hurry, we would literally go out of business in a matter of months.)
Also, my two business partners and I had very little knowledge of web design (we were ‘web dufuses’ as I like to call it), and because we didn’t have the first clue as to how to market online, we truly felt handcuffed and helpless. Plus we were sick and tired of having to go through a webmaster to make any changes or additions to our website. The whole process was very, very frustrating.
A Fortunate Discovery
But our fortunes changed in March of 2009 when I came across HubSpot’s web grader tool and upon entering my company’s URL, I got a 17 out of 100 for our grade—which immediately struck my competitive nerve and drove me to want to know more as to how our site could improve and be more effective.
As I read more about Hubpsot and learned about this new phrase called ‘inbound marketing’, all of the sudden the chips started falling into place. Never before did any concept I’d ever read about in business make more sense. Basically, by making my website a resource of education and learning for consumers, I could attract customers to me, versus the ‘shotgun’ style marketing we’d always done up to that point. Everything felt right, and so I dove in, head first.
Immersion and Success
Immediately, I embraced everything that came with the HubSpot package. Because the CMS was so easy, even a guy like me who had no HTML know-how could make major content and design changes to the website. I also embraced blogging, which meant 2-3 times each week I would sit down at my kitchen table late at night and type away, addressing any and every question I’d ever received as a ‘pool guy’ from consumers.
To make what is a long story short, within 6 months of using HubSpot, I noticed major changes. Customers started making comments about how much they appreciated the information found on the website. By delving into all of HubSpot’s analytic tools, I was easily able to see that not only was I starting to get massive amounts of organic visits to my website, but I was getting more leads than ever before—and passing our competitors in the process. It was working, and I was ecstatic.
Today, 2.5 years after we started with HubSpot, the momentum has only continued to blow my mind. A website that started at 20 pages is now around 600. We’ve practically eliminated the need for any Pay Per Click advertising and have also pulled out of the Yellow Pages and every other advertising medium we used to do. Organic traffic is through the roof and based on Alexa and other tools, we now see that we’re the most popular swimming pool website in the world.
But it’s not just about traffic, it’s about financial peace. As of today, August 29th 2011, I have filled our company calendar with pool sales for the rest of the year. This is something we’ve never come close to doing, and it’s all because we’ve got a content rich website that generates tons of leads that ultimately end up as sales. And when I tell other companies in my industry just how well we’ve done, they can only smack their foreheads in disbelief. During difficult economic times like this pool companies aren’t supposed to be thriving….but we are.
Essentially, HubSpot has been the rocket that has taken our company to incredible heights, and we’ve provided it with the fuel. Had we not done our part, we might be singing a different tune about HubSpot. But we followed the steps. We embraced the principles of proper content and inbound marketing. And we worked dang hard.
Does HubSpot have flaws? Yes, of course they do. For example, their blog platform is not as robust as WordPress when it comes to hundreds of available plugins. Also, as I’ve already mentioned, their CMS (for those that use it, many clients don’t) does have certain limitations. (Note** As a non-code guy, I can’t say what those limitations are, you’d have to talk to one of the HubSpot people to get the technical jargon on that one.)
Despite their ‘imperfections’ though, maybe the greatest attribute I’ve seen in HubSpot over my 2.5 years with the product is the fact that they’re making constant improvements. Every, and I really mean EVERY, aspect of the company and system is better today than it was when I started. Each week it seems like they’re rolling out this or that enhancement, new feature, etc. Simply put, they’re the antithesis of static, and I can’t wait to see what the future development hold for clients like me.
Worth It? That’s Laughable
You may be asking yourself if HubSpot is worth it. Well allow me to be a little personal with you for a minute. 3 years ago our company spent roughly $200,000 in advertising to achieve about $4,000,000 in total sales. This year, at current pace, we will spend about $18,000 in order to achieve roughly $5,000,000. Think about that for a second. Heck, when I look at it myself I’m still amazed. This is also why when people ask me if HubSpot is worth it I can’t help but laugh. The fact is, I’ve never heard anyone, who actually did inbound marketing and used HubSpot properly, say it was too expensive. Never.
Inbound marketing works. HubSpot is the greatest small business marketing tool on the market today in my opinion. Is it necessarily the right fit for some monster corporation or a company full of ‘techy’ types that are looking for zero website design limitations? No, maybe not. But for average Joe business owner who wants to get the keys back to his/her web marketing vehicle (website) without major complications, and also wants to embrace everything there is about social media/blogging, lead tracking, analytics, etc—then there’s nothing better in my opinion.