We have an internal wiki that we use for almost all communication and collaboration at HubSpot. I talked about it in my Atlassian Starter Day Presentation (we use their wiki product, called Confluence). Recently, I got a question from someone who had seen my presentation that I thought was worth sharing here on the blog.
Next week I am the day 2 keynote speaker at the Internet Technology Summit in Orlando where they have asked me to talk about how we have built HubSpot to 160 employees and 2,800 customers using the latest technology tools. I am going to talk especially about how the vast majority of our company activity is conducted in the cloud, and the cultural implications of that. I have blogged way back in January 2007 about the disruptive effects of Google Docs, and do feel that the availability of tools like these affects how you should start and build a company.
I was in an airport recently and noticed that they had taken down the pay phones. I guess that makes sense, pretty much everyone has a cell phone now. What surprised me was that the old structure that used to hold a bunch of pay phones had become a de facto trash receptacle, since it was not being used for anything else.
Rather than just taking their ball and going home, the phone company (or airport or whoever controls the space) could have done something cool. There must be power running there, they could have made a cell phone charging station, and sold advertising to cell phone companies (hardware makers or service providers).
Is there any way you can take advantage of changes in your market? Rather than canceling or stopping something, can you change it to be new and different?
The Wall Street Journal predicts an uncertain future for the display ad market (basically banner ads). Why?
- More inventory/content - People (both big media companies and people like you) are creating more and more content online, so there are lots more places to put ads
- Low performance - most banner ads get a click throgh rate of 0.2%, meaning that most people don't look at the ads much, they are there for the content
- Inbound marketing transformation - It is now cheaper to publish your own content (blog) and promote it (social media) than it is to buy ads (that people ignore) next to someone else's content
Because of these trends, ad prices fell 54% last quarter (according to the WSJ article).
Recently we were trying to make more space in our apartment and cleaned out some old things. We had a papason chair and an artificial Christmas tree that were just taking up too much space. Both were in good condition and useful, and I thought maybe we could make some other people happy, keep landfills a bit more empty, etc.
The tree went on the "free" section. I got 2 emails within 30 minutes and a teacher ended up coming to pick it up to use in a school production of Annie (there is a Christmas scene at the end). The chair went into the furniture section and I got 3 emails in 40 minutes and someone paid our full asking price of $40 with a smile. Within 5 hours both items were gone and we had a lot more space in our apartment.
Before the Internet this would have been impossible. We could have put an ad in the newspaper or posted some signs, but that would have been time consuming and expensive. We probably would have just thrown them out. Why? There were still lots of people looking for good cheap stuff. We just had no way of accessing that audience.
The power of access to an audience today is that it is much easier to access audiences and build your own. Things not possible or profitable before are now relatively easy and massively profitable. Craig's List, Ebay, Match.com and thousands more.
Have you created an audience? How do you let others access it? Are you making the most of your audience access?
- HubSpot online marketing - Dharmesh Shah (OnStartups, a blog about tech startups) and Brian Halligan (HubSpot Marketing Blog) both discussed today some of these challenges, and their company HubSpot is building online marketing tools for small companies.
- SEM Director - Donna Bogatin discusses on her blog a presentation from the CEO of SEM Director, Russ Mann. These seem like pretty lofty goals, and I am surprised by their strategy of targeting Fortune 500 companies since the sales cycle is long, and these companies have complicated requirements and a lot of legacy systems that are difficult to deal with. But, the problem they are targeting is real.
- Much lower cost - free v.s $100's of dollars
- Less functionality in the traditional sense... BUT more functionality in ways that are important for a small but growing and important market segment - the collaboration and web-centric features will be the future of how we use documents and communicate