Wondering how one of world’s biggest marketing brands was able to set a new industry standard for intentional advocacy? Christina Garnett, Senior Marketing Manager at HubSpot, shares how her team shaped an innovative customer experience program for HubSpot users. She notably created HubFans, an advocacy program that connects, recognizes, and rewards HubSpot’s biggest fans.
Through this program, Christina’s team, HubSpot users, and the HubSpot organization as a whole form a seamless feedback loop of communication through beta testing, features, education, involvement, and more. Christina attributes the program’s success to her transparent and encouraging management style, company culture, and feedback sharing across teams.
In this article, you’ll learn:
Good culture starts with hiring.
Most organizations look to hire talent with at least some knowledge of the product and values. HubSpot takes this one step further. Often, new hires are long-time superfans of the organization, making hiring for culture fit easy.
This mentality can be summarized in the phrase: “The mothership called me home.” Devyn Bellamy, a long time fan of HubSpot, was hired on after getting every single HubSpot Academy certification, hanging out at HubSpot events around the country, and getting on a first-name basis with every employee he meet. He since founded Black@INBOUND, a global community to amplify Black professionals.
“They already know the product, they are already involved in the community, and they love it already” said Christina.
Christina emphasizes that there isn’t just one way to bolster advocacy. She compares it to a choose-your-own-adventure-novel.
“Advocacy should feel like a pick-your-own-adventure novel. Everyone advocates differently, so it’s best to lean into each individuals’ personal strengths. We don't want to exclude anyone based on how they best advocate.”
For example, a user may advocate by tweeting about their experiences, an Engineer may advocate by taking user feedback and implementing it into the product, and the marketing team may advocate by plugging into conversations in different departments to really understand audiences.
What sets apart HubSpot’s advocacy program is the crossover of departments and community - both internally and externally. Product marketing and values are one big loop that glues it all together. When you are open about discussing gaps or missing opportunities, it’s much easier to get customers and users involved and excited.
Intentional Culture Always Wins
One big initiative of HubSpot is to get users and advocates involved from the start. HubFans allows users to connect with the team members and community through open, honest dialogue. This isn’t limited only to users, however, it’s a widespread practice that permeates throughout the culture.
Call-outs on social media, natural user interviews, and talking one on one are all ways that HubSpot connects more deeply to its users. Christina notes that having an open ear to ALL feedback -- the good, bad, and the ugly -- is what accelerates change. With this mindset, the team is trained to ask themselves “how can I make this better?”
In addition to obtaining feedback, HubSpot’s culture is centered around the HEART acronym to describe qualities they look for and value in their team. HEART stands for humble, effective, adaptable, remarkable, and transparent.
Positive Meeting Culture
Christina is a big believer in the “this meeting could have been an email” mentality. “We are very intentional with our meetings and structure.”
When group meetings are held, they are necessary and productive.
The group meetings start collaboratively with each person identifying where each team member needs help, what their day looks like, and how they are tracking to output. From here, the team can see where they need to fill in the gaps or help others. Then, everyone celebrates wins.
When it comes to one-on-one meetings, a punch list is reviewed as well as any risks or blockers that could potentially hold back the attendee.
HubSpot also has meetings with advocates to connect with each other.
Advocate “Think Tank” meetings pull information from customer forms that identify topics of interests, and Network Meetings help customers meet and build bridges between other fans and team members, starting with a single topic outline and branching off with specific questions
Customization and Connection
For Hubspot, customization is an essential aspect of advocacy. Christina says, “We don’t use the typical copy-and-paste responses. Bot energy just doesn’t foster loyalty and trust.”
This culture of customization finds connecting team members with each other is just as important as connecting customers with each other.
HubSpot accomplishes this by creating common ground. They foster bonds by using a love for HubSpot as a common interest.
How HubSpot shares feedback internally is just as important as the feedback itself. When Christina and her team obtain user feedback, they look for different perspectives on how to share it across multiple teams.
Since Christina is involved in multiple teams, strong cross-collaboration practices are vital. One way this is accomplished is through social listening. Brand conversations are monitored across social media, then shared with relevant team members or groups in distinct slack channels.
Teams often discuss different ways that customers use the product and identify areas of improvement together. Timeliness is important here too, quick responses and resolutions are standard at Hubspot.
Open, honest communication is valued above all. “We look at questions from a diagnostic perspective and figure out why or how something doesn’t work.” Says Christina. “Usually this is a genuine recommendation on what is a fit or isn't product-wise. We never tell our advocates what to say, as long as they are coming from a helpful place.”
Watering the Flowers
If you’re looking to improve your own team’s advocacy, Christina’s best advice is to reward and acknowledge positive reactions in order to proactively foster relationships.
To do this, Christina takes five minutes a day to focus on the people who are already talking about the brand, just wanting to be seen. She plants seeds in the relationships when they are positive instead of waiting for something to go wrong.
“Don’t be so focused on putting out fires that you forget to water the flowers.”
Wrapping Up: Tips from the Top
It’s no secret that HubSpot is at the top of its game. Here are 5 tips and takeaways to level up your advocacy.
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