HubSpot Makes Mistakes Too

Let me start by saying I have tremendous respect for HubSpot. They have long-lived the principles of content marketing that they espouse and I often find myself using them as an example of how to market correctly. They understand their audience, they produce actionable content, and nurture prospect relationships effectively. Perhaps because they are usually so good at what they do, I’m particularly disappointed in their recent joint web seminar venture with Facebook.

In case you haven’t heard HubSpot is jointly hosting a 4-part web seminar series with Facebook for marketers.

As of this writing only one of the sessions has been completed, but the event has already tarnished an otherwise stellar reputation. Here’s why:

  • Uh-oh, they got lost in the hype. HubSpot was clearly excited that they would be co-hosting Facebook’s first web seminar series. I don’t blame them for feeling that way, in fact, it is something to celebrate. But they got lost in the hype of the event.  Usually sophisticated email communications lost their careful planning. I received two invites to the event. Not a big deal, except the second came two days AFTER I had already registered. Ok, so database cleansing isn’t always perfect, but already my radar was raised.
  • HubSpot ignored a format formula that worked. HubSpot has hosted many large web seminar events with tremendous success. One of my favorites was the It started with high energy music, you felt a connection to the presenters, Twitter feeds were crazy busy, and the 60 minute session flew by with practical advice I could use. So why did they go away from this format? I don’t know the insides of planning for this event but I can tell you 30 minutes left me wanting the “meat” of the session. Twitter was surprisingly quiet (perhaps all the activity was on Facebook?) and the speakers while professional gave me little in the way of personal connection. Except perhaps I know the Facebook spokesperson likes to go out to local restaurants in California.
  • Ouch! How did they forget the #1 cub/girl scouts  lesson: be prepared?  The entire session was fraught with technical issues. From logging in challenges, to losing sound. While I sympathize having run into my fair share of technical glitches across a long career, HubSpot knew exactly how many people were coming to the event and better precautions for stability should have been considered. For example, why not stream via Facebook? They have certainly hosted some ambitious town hall sessions in the past. Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one important  thing HubSpot did right. They acknowledged the technical problems right away, they didn’t make excuses, they simply apologized and provided a link to the recorded content. That’s a classy move and exactly the correct way to handle broadcast errors.
  • Worst of ALL, lousy content. Technical issues, format and clumsy registration processes aside, the really egregious error by HubSpot was hosting poor content. Content that could easily have been relayed in a short blog post and which most of us who are in marketing have heard at least once before. There was nothing unique, no hook for immediate action. It was dry.

Does this signal the beginning of the end for HubSpot. Hardly! They are smart, savvy and I’m certainly willing to give them another chance  before I stop listening. But recent events remind us that all marketers are vulnerable to poor planning and believing our own hype.  Even the mighty HubSpot.

Better luck next time!