Hiring an Inbound Marketer? Here’s What You Should Look For.

One of the challenges of building a company in a new market is figuring out what type of employees to hire.

If
you're Children's Hospital in Boston, you know you
want to hire the best pediatricians you can find; if
you're the HubSpot marketing team, developing a new approach to
marketing, it's not clear who you want on your team.

Earlier
this year David Meerman Scott pointed out that journalists could be
great inbound marketers
. I think that's absolutely true. But journalists and
employers have to be careful about these types of hires. Inbound
marketing
requires qualities that not all journalist have.

Specifically,
after a year of interviewing people at HubSpot, I think there are six
key qualities that inbound marketers should look for new in hires. Journalist can develop these skills, but they do not by definition have them:

(1)
Digital Intuition
— You need to understand how the web works. The web
is an ecosystem, and if you don't intuitively understand the dynamics
of this ecosystem — how Twitter can drive traffic to a blog; the
kinds of headlines that attract attention; the simple things you can do
to build blog subscriptions — you won't be able to help your company
attract online visitors.

(2) Propensity to Create Content — Do
you share links? Do you publish photos? Do you have a website? A blog?
Do you favorite videos? Companies today must do all of this. If you
don't create this kind of content naturally on your own, you won't have the
skills and experience needed to do it well for your company.

(3)
Content Talent
— It's great if you have good intuition and a
propensity to create content; it's even better if you're good at it — if
you write like Hemingway, if you shoot film like Scorsese. Great content
stands out on the web, spreads quickly and attracts people to your
site.

(4) A Salesy, Social Streak — The best inbound marketers
promote their own content. They build and nurture relationships, and
they know how to use these relationships to spread their own content, without abusing them.

(5)
Understanding & Acceptance of Content's Place
— This is the one
where most journalists come up short. For businesses, content is a means to an end, not
an end in and of itself. Every article, tweet and video is
assessed based on its ability to generate visitors, leads and customers, not
on any subjective judgment of content quality.

(6) All That Is Important in Any Other Job
— Passion, raw intelligence, creativity, leadership, toughness and work ethic.

If you're an inbound marketer thinking of hiring a journalist (or any
other type of candidate), you should consider these qualities. If you're
a journalist looking for an inbound marketing job, you should
understand that these are the skills required for success.

News Is a Part of My Life, But Not as a Profession

Earlier this week somebody I respect asked if I ever thought about
getting back into the news business — trying to build Faneuil Media
again.

The answer is unequivocally, no.

HubSpot is an extremely rewarding place to work; we are building something important, and it is filled with people I learn from.

Beyond
HubSpot, there's a more fundamental reason I don't plan to go back to
the news business: Today journalism is less a career path, and more
something people just do. I was a photojournalist last night when I
took pictures of the fireworks.  I was a trade journalist this morning
when I posted video of a talk I gave last month.
I was an editor yesterday when I linked to the Kremlin's video blog.

I got into the news business because I love to create content and
help spread information. I can do that with my iPhone and my blog now,
so there's no need to endure the spiritual and financial pain of work
in a shrinking industry.

As Magdalena Georgieva, one of our many fantastic summer interns at
HubSpot
, put it in her job interview this spring, "news is always
something that will be a part of my life, but not as a profession."

Same for me.

My Talk on Inbound Marketing in Appleton, WI

Last month the fantastic folks at Red Shoes PR in Appleton, WI, invited me out to participate in their seminar, Bottom Line: Social Media for Business. I had a great time, and enjoyed meeting everybody out there. (There's more on the event from a local tv station here.)

Here's a recording of the talk I gave, broken into two videos. (Special thanks to Ross LaRocco for sending me the files.)

Part I

Part II

Clambering on Board The Times?

This is a super video, and I'm optimistic about The Times' future, but one comment gives me the creeps.

Explaining his paper's current situation, Bill Keller says, "It's always
been one of the higher aspirations in the business to work for The New
York Times. Nowadays we're a little bit like the last ship afloat, so,
you know, we have all these life boats floating around underneath us
and people dying to clamber on board."

No, no, no!

People are not trying to clamber on board. They're not
looking for an institution to save them. They're busy building their
own boats, creating great content, solving problems and building small businesses on their own,
independently.

(Here's the link to the video above for international folks who can't view Hulu.)

Bustling

bustling
Illustration by David Simonds

The Economist: In contrast to the doom and gloom coming from Europe’s biggest firms,
many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are cautiously
optimistic. The main umbrella organisation for Germany’s more than 4m
SMEs predicts that its members’ sales will contract by only 2% this
year. The country’s renowned Mittelstand will therefore outperform the
economy as a whole, which the government expects to shrink by 6%.

A Business Model for Content? Talk to Businesses.

Who will pay for content?

If you're a writer, a reporter, a film producer or some other sort of information artist, that's the billion-dollar question on your mind. The monetization schemes we've grown up with are deteriorating, and it's unclear where the next decade of pay checks will come from.

Lots of ideas are on the table (Jeff Jarvis recently summarized many), but most media makers are ignoring one strategy that is actually working: creating content for businesses.

I'm not talking about infomercials. I'm talking about content used as inbound marketing — high-quality blogs, research and video that is useful and interesting to a business' customers. Businesses are finding that this type of media is an effective way of attracting potential customers to their web sites.

Consider the world of inside sales content. Ten years ago, the best way to monetize inside sales content was to publish it in a print magazine with advertising next to it. Today, companies that operate in this world have a huge incentive to create and publish content on their own. That's why some of the best sales content you'll find is on the blog of The Bridge Group, an inside sales services business.

This type of content has real business value. The HubSpot blog is currently generating about 400 or 500 leads a week for HubSpot's paid software package. Assuming we pay $10/lead for blog leads (and that's low, because the blog leads are very, very high quality), the blog is generating $4,000 to $5,000 in value for us a week. That's a model that works.

Of course, traditional media turns its nose up at content produced by business. Business content is biased and low quality, they assume.

But that's no longer true. Businesses now have an incentive to create high-quality content where bias is minimized and transparent. Businesses like HubSpot and The Bridge Group can generate lots of leads and traffic from content — but only if readers embrace their content by linking and sharing.

I see this firsthand editing the HubSpot blog. The posts I'm not happy about (the ones I know will be less useful to our target customers) generate less traffic, links, leads and — ultimately — customers. That gives me a strong incentive to keep quality high.

Content produced by businesses isn't going to fill the gap left when newspapers disappear, but it will be part of the solution. If you're a content consumer, businesses will become an increasingly reliable source of information. If you're a content producer, businesses will become an increasingly reliable source of income.

Not a Growth Business

Terry Heaton (via Scott Rafer): "The problem is that the distribution of content isn’t the real problem
for media companies; it’s the growing ability of advertisers to reach
people without media companies. Advertising is the disruption that
should trouble media companies, not what’s happening to their content.
Ad-supported content is simply not a growth business anymore; it cannot
provide sustainable growth, because the disruption isn’t about content."

And Noah Brier: "Put another way, it's the ability of brands to be their own media companies."

Don’t Ask How to Save the Globe, Ask How to Replace It

This morning the Boston Business Journal reported that the Boston
Foundation is discussing
ways to help finance The Globe if it is shut
down by The New York Times
. It's a little unclear what the nature of
the conversations are, but they seem to reflect the gist of
conversations
happening in public on the web: "Quick — the sky is
falling! How can we save the Globe?!?"

This is the wrong approach.

We shouldn't be asking how to save The Globe, we should be asking how we'll build its replacement.

The Globe has served us for years, but its financial dysfunction is staggering. It doesn't work any more. Period.

Instead of trying to prop up this dying system, our community needs to
come up with new ways to make information public, share it and discuss
it.

We're already seeing online substitutes for some pieces of The Globe.
Red Sox commentary is ubiquitous, sites like Blue Mass Group have rich
political discourse and there is a fair amount of local arts coverage
on the web. Of course, it's not clear what will replace The Globe's
hard news and investigative journalism. I believe there will be less
need for original hard news reporting as primary sources do the
reporting themselves
, but there will still be a big hole, without a
clear way to fill it.

There is one thing we can do: Experiment.

Instead of pouring one huge
chunk of money into The Globe, The Boston Foundation should fund
community news experiments. They should fund people like Adam Gaffin
who are highlighting local blogs, sites like Somerville Voices that are organizing community discussions and local versions of the Sunlight Foundation that are helping make government data public.

The Knight Foundation's News Challenge is a great model for this approach. If the Boston
Foundation started giving away grants to creative
local news experiments, their inboxes would be stuffed with great
ideas.

We're in the midst of a revolution. Blood is being shed. It's nasty out there.

The
good news is that once we get through this rough patch, we're going to
have an information ecosystem that is far richer, more diverse and
more truthful than the one we have now. I'm looking forward to it.

P.S. If this issue is important to you, these recent posts by Clay Shirky and Steven Johnson are required reading.

Desert to Jungle

Steven Johnson at South by Southwest: "The state of Mac news in 1987 was a barren desert. Today, it is a
thriving rain forest. By almost every important standard, the state of
Mac news has vastly improved since 1987: there is more volume,
diversity, timeliness, and depth.

I think that steady
transformation from desert to jungle may be the single most important
trend we should be looking at when we talk about the future of news.
Not the future of the news industry, or the print newspaper business:
the future of news itself."