What Happened When HubSpot Hit Record with Lindsay Tjepkema at INBOUND

Media Thumbnail
  • 0.5
  • 1
  • 1.25
  • 1.5
  • 1.75
  • 2
This is a podcast episode titled, What Happened When HubSpot Hit Record with Lindsay Tjepkema at INBOUND. The summary for this episode is: We’re all fans of HubSpot here at INBOUND, but you’ve never heard the origin story of some of the brand’s most important content: its network of podcasts and videos. This story starts more than a decade ago and includes characters who went on to become big marketing names you follow today, like Dave Gerhardt, Mike Volpe, Jeanne Hopkins, Ellie Mirman, and Meghan Keaney Anderson. Listen in to this special episode of the Casted Podcast to hear about their common thread - the throughline that differentiated HubSpot, these marketing leaders, and the brands they went on to build. Key Takeaways: 🧩 11:33-12:56: Mike Volpe: Creating a personal connection with marketers 🧡 13:27-14:47: Ellie Mirman: Staying true to the HubSpot brand 🎁 15:02-15:58: Jeanne Hopkins: What HubSpot TV gave the brand 🌱 16:59-18:51: Mike Volpe: Using The Growth Show to reach a new audience ✨ 19:18-21:12: Dave Gerhardt: How podcasting led to a serendipitous role for a marketing fave 🧵 24:52-25:58: Sam Balter: Tailoring shows to different audiences 👩‍🏫 28:02-28:48: Meghan Keaney Anderson: Podcasting with a purpose 🤔 29:09-29:34: Mike Volpe: But... why podcasting? 💼 30:08-30:48: Meghan Keaney Anderson: The business benefits of podcasting 🏛 33:09-33:38: Dave Gerhardt: Podcasting as a pillar of marketing ➕ 34:42-34:49: Meghan Keaney Anderson: Create a show that adds value 🐠 35:41-36:06: Ellie Mirman: An opportunity to be unique ➗ 40:33-40:50: Mike Volpe: No one formula for great podcasts Resources: The Podcast Effect: https://casted.us/the-podcast-effect-at-hubspot/ How We Wrung-Out The Casted Podcast to Create “What Happened When HubSpot Hit Record”: https://casted.us/how-we-wrung-out-the-casted-podcast-to-create-narrative-episode/
🧩 Mike Volpe: Creating a personal connection with marketers
01:23 MIN
🧡 Ellie Mirman: Staying true to the HubSpot brand
01:19 MIN
🎁 Jeanne Hopkins: What HubSpot TV gave the brand
00:56 MIN
🌱 Mike Volpe: Using The Growth Show to reach a new audience
01:51 MIN
✨ Dave Gerhardt: How podcasting led to a serendipitous role for a marketing fave
01:54 MIN
🧵 Sam Balter: Tailoring shows to different audiences
01:06 MIN
👩‍🏫 Meghan Keaney Anderson: Podcasting with a purpose
00:45 MIN
🤔 Mike Volpe: But... why podcasting?
00:25 MIN
💼 Meghan Keaney Anderson: The business benefits of podcasting
00:40 MIN
🏛 Dave Gerhardt: Podcasting as a pillar of marketing
00:28 MIN
➕ Meghan Keaney Anderson: Create a show that adds value
00:16 MIN
🐠 Ellie Mirman: An opportunity to be unique
00:25 MIN
➗ Mike Volpe: No one formula for great podcasts
00:17 MIN

Lindsay Tjepkema: I think it's pretty safe to assume that we're all fans of HubSpot here at INBOUND, but you have never heard the origin story of some of the brand's most important content; its network of podcasts and videos. This story starts more than a decade ago and includes characters who went on to become big marketing names that you follow today, names like Dave Gerhardt, Mike Volpe, Jeanne Hopkins, Ellie Mirman, Sam Balter, and Meghan Keaney Anderson. I'm Lindsay Tjepkema, CEO and co- founder of Casted, the first and only marketing platform built for brand podcasts, and I will be your guide on this special episode of the Casted Podcast. So join me on this journey as we explore the common thread, the through- line that differentiated not only HubSpot, but really all those marketing leaders and the brands they went on to build. The concept of humanizing the brand is not new, nor is the idea of harnessing expert perspectives in content marketing to do so. What continues to evolve though is how, how we're able to do that. Originally, we were limited to print. So many of us have seen the case studies about John Deere, and Kraft, and other leading brands that pioneered the space by appealing to their audiences by harnessing knowledge from experts to provide valuable information and in turn build trust, connection, relationships between that brand and the audience. But then, in the early 2000s the digital age of marketing emerged, and along with the advancement of business websites, also came the surge of brand blogs. Marketers now had never- before- seen access to our audiences, and businesses were able to further humanize their brands by publishing content, not only behalf of the brand, but also on behalf of the people within it, actual people writing actual content and publishing it to provide value to the actual people in their audiences, human to human. But then, as our internet connections got a little more stable and our audiences demanded even more from their beloved brands, some ventured into other formats to accompany that written word. They saw the value early on, years ago, with prioritizing podcasts and video shows as important parts of their content strategies. And the marketers behind those shows, they took that perspective with them as superpowers, unique perspectives that others didn't have over the last decade. One example, you guessed it, bringing it all back to the beginning here, HubSpot. The content powerhouse launched its video show, I don't know if you remember this, HubSpot TV, back in 2008. While that might not sound that long ago to some of you, but for some perspective, it was just one year after the iPad was first released, less than two years after YouTube was purchased by Google. So many of our smartphones at the time weren't really all that smart because they couldn't play video and our home internet wasn't even stable enough to really stream video, but that didn't stop audiences, including me, from downloading each episode and watching it anyway. Seriously, I have very vivid memories of downloading videos and watching them so that I could learn from HubSpot TV. But, here's how the man behind the show, Mike Volpe, remembers it. He led marketing at HubSpot and eventually became their CMO. But before that, he was the co- founder of HubSpot TV and eventually the host of their very first podcast, The Growth Show.

Mike Volpe: HubSpot, which at the time was a small company no one had heard of, it's a little different now for modern marketers, many sales people have heard of it now. But at the time, we were trying to build a name for ourselves and build a market and create a movement. And we had done a lot of blogging, we had a really successful free tool called Website Grader, but we hadn't done much in either audio or video aside from some webinars. And around that time was when live streaming of video was just getting going, it wasn't like today where you have the YouTube app and you hit a button or Instagram, you hit a button and you're live streaming. That was not how stuff worked then, but there were a couple dedicated platforms like Quick, and Blip. tv, and I'm trying to even remember what they were, but people were figuring out. I remember we had to buy this special server. It was hard work to figure this out, but it was at the point, it was like you actually could do it. And for the first time, you could actually have a live video show, so not recording a video and putting it up, but a live show that people watch synchronously. And I think that the rise of Twitter was a key thing that fed into it because we used Twitter as a key discussion point during the show so many people would watch the video stream live and comment on it and talk about it, and we would ask questions, we'd get questions from the audience, and go back and forth. I think that the rise of the real- time discussion social media platforms like Twitter fed into everything was happening. It was just one of those things where we just like wanted to try it. There's a woman at the time who was newer at HubSpot named Karen Rubin, and she thought this is an interesting idea, at the same time that in marketing, my team and I were trying to figure out what to do more with video and how to more interactive. And it's sort of like chocolate meets peanut butter coming together inaudible. And I was like, " Great. We should do a show." And in classic way, it was like, " So you go figure all this out and let me know. And who else do you think should be on the show?" And she was like, " Well, I thought it should be me." And I was like, " Great. Why don't we do the show together?" And we just started. And the first couple episodes were frankly terrible and super embarrassing, but by doing it, we got better and better over time. And by watching ourselves, watching the recording of it, you're like, " Ooh." You cringe a few times and you get better, and the next time you you ask questions in a better way, and you become more engaging and things like that. And we iterated with over time. And I think we did something like 200 episodes.

Lindsay Tjepkema: That's crazy.

Mike Volpe: It was years that we did it for. And something that grew, not a giant following, but I would say a really, really loyal following. And Karen and I would go to marketing conferences and stuff, and people would stop us and say like, " Hey, like you're Mike Volpe. I watched that show." Or, " Hey, you're Karen. I watched that show." And so you knew it was having an effect. It was hard to measure in those days, but you knew you were having an effect. And it definitely had a small, but very passionate audience.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Myself included. I was a first time marketing director and I learned a lot. You knew your audience very well, and there might not have been millions of me, but there was me, and you converted me, I went on to convince the president of my company to buy HubSpot.

Mike Volpe: And it's funny because the show wasn't about the product, right?

Lindsay Tjepkema: No, not at all.

Mike Volpe: It was about marketing and the effect that we were trying to have with, again, the whole inbound marketing movement forced us to become the world's best case study in inbound marketing, and that meant by doing inbound marketing, not just through blogging, but in other ways. And that show was, while you can argue with the quality of it and all sorts of things of it, it was pioneering at it's time for doing something live, for being such a micro topic kind of show, very, very focused to the marketing and like a certain community, even within marketing. It was live. For folks that were local in Boston, we had a live studio audience too. It wasn't big, but people would come into the office and sit down in these seats in front of Karen and I.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Was it like in Friday afternoons and you'd like grab a beer and watch you do the show?

Mike Volpe: It was at four o'clock Friday. We also knew that a lot of people like you would watch it, and we also know that marketing teams would watch it together, marketing agencies would watch it together. We know, because it was four o'clock East Coast, we know some West Coast companies would do like lunch, but then the marketing team would sit there and watch the show and then talk about a couple of the things we talked about, like, " Oh, maybe we should work on this part of our blog," or like whatever. And so it was one of those things where the actual numbers that you could measure were never these giant, giant numbers, but there were so many stories like yours of, " Oh, I learned so much in that show that made me trust you and Karen or maybe trust the company, made me follow the company." And then you keep pulling that thread, and all of a sudden, you're convincing the CEO that you want to buy this product. And there was a lot of that activity that happened qualitatively. Quantitatively, it was always really hard to measure, but quantitatively, there was a ton of that happened.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Ellie Mirman was there for it. She was one of the first marketing hires at HubSpot in 2007. In fact, the first hire after the CMO at the time. And she saw it grow from a pipe dream into a source of growth for the brand and for the people there.

Ellie Mirman: I mean, that was a huge part of our culture for the years that it went on. I forget the actual dates, but I remember I was really close with everyone who was involved, I suppose. And it started, not exactly as a joke, but as this almost like a pipe dream that Mike Volpe and Karen Rubin, we were we would go out and celebrate various events and milestones with the company, and they talked about starting a show together, and then it actually became a reality at a certain point. I think you joke about something enough that it actually has to become real at a certain point. And so, yeah, HubSpot TV was born, and I was an avid viewer. I was always in the front row, went to every single episode, as long as I wasn't out of the office. Maybe it's not obvious, but this was actually filmed live and streamed live from one of our bigger lounges, conference rooms, whatever you want to call it. And it was huge. Every Friday I think it was at 4: 00, everybody would grab a drink, settle in. We'd have a real desk and the lights and the whole story. It was a huge part of our culture. It was a big part of our marketing effort around that time too, but I think it ended up becoming a bigger aspect of our internal brand and culture efforts, more than anything else.

Lindsay Tjepkema: The HubSpot team saw the value of video and audio content they were creating early on from a brand perspective and from a culture perspective. Even with a powerhouse industry- leading blog like HubSpot's, the intimacy of putting voices and faces to the brand offered a personal connection that blogging just never would.

Mike Volpe: It's one of those things where it makes a brand impression on people in a way that blog articles don't, audio and video. You read a blog article and you're vaguely aware of who wrote it, maybe. And so maybe you know the brand that it's from or what site it was on or things like that, but you don't connect with the author in the way that with podcasting or video or webinars that you really connect with the presenter in a new way. And I think that that more personal connection was a key aspect of how we as a company connected with lots of marketers. Some of it was these great blog articles and the free tools, and some of it was the product, and these different... the book that we had, like these different things that we did as a company, but I think HubSpot TV was an important piece of that whole puzzle because that personal connection that a lot of people felt with Karen and I, and frankly that Karen and I felt with a lot of people, it was a two- way thing because we'd have people that watched the show a lot and were tweeting questions every week. We would have people that had watched every episode, but maybe after 20 would then write in a question or something. People would email us and give us topics they want us to talk about, things like that. There was a community around it, which was really cool. And a lot of it had to do with more of a personal connection that is just like a brand to drive written content connections.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Testing new channels, and new formats was something that felt central to HubSpot as an education vehicle because, well, it was central to their culture.

Ellie Mirman: So I think it was at the time when live streaming was just becoming very popular in a way that we don't talk about streaming now, that was live streaming, the very business version of it all.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Just because there was no other word for it, it's literally what it was.

Ellie Mirman: Yes, literally the company called Live Stream was what we used. It was I think very much in line with how we approached marketing in general, where we didn't wait for other people to try it, we saw that there was this new way of reaching people and it was very much in line with how we wanted to share content and education, put ourselves out there and put a human face on the brand all of that. And there weren't a lot of examples of companies doing this, but we wanted to try it. Fairly well with that, I think there was a lot of energy internally around that thing as well. There was just so much momentum around it. It was a huge part of our culture. There were even crazy points where we had a lot of special guests, like the viewership really started to get bigger and bigger and we used it as a, I guess a launching off point, where we could get one of the founders of Twitter on the show. We even had MC Hammer once. It just seems ridiculous that these things even happened and I was there for them, and then of course in the moment, it felt like our brand was blowing up and of course HubSpot brand was growing. But you have this little show, this thing that no other companies were really doing at the time became a really unique aspect of our content marketing

Lindsay Tjepkema: Jeanne Hopkins was there too as a lot of this played out that HubSpot from 2009 to 2012, as HubSpot's vice president of marketing at the time, and she saw the impact the show had on HubSpot's growth.

Jeanne Hopkins: What we got out of it was a level of excitement, a level of excitement, not only for the audience, because what we were teaching and talking about. Marketing is a discipline, but it's also an art, and looking for those queries. And Karen would call together the different topics that were happening in the industry. I remember when the iPad was launched by Apple and Karen had so many things to say about iPad, like, " How did they come up with that name?" And Mike just turned bright red talking about it, but there was such good mojo between the two of them that it was an excellent choice of casting, excellent choice of guests. And they made it, it had a personality, and it helped to define what HubSpot was. And when you think of HubSpot, you usually smile because the whole aspect of it implies joy, and that's what marketers are looking for. We're looking for personality, we're looking for joy in our lives.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Mike and his team spent years creating that magnetic brand that is so loved and respected by its audience. And of course, it included more than just HubSpot TV, but it was that pioneering and inventive spirit in the early video streaming days that also helped them create one of the earliest playing podcasts, The Growth Show. Having already tested the waters with early audio formats of HubSpot TV, they didn't shy away from the opportunity that podcasting offered to reach a new audience for their brand.

Mike Volpe: We have grown at that point as a brand that we were relatively well known within the market. And what we wanted to do was have more of a connection with the CEO. So it's interesting that you say your early exposure of HubSpot was marketer to marketer. It was Karen and Mike talking to Lindsay about marketing stuff, and then inspired you to go to your CEO. And I can play that conversation forward, the CEO is like, " I've never heard of HubSpot before. What are you talking about?" You were well educated on it and made a convincing sales pitch as to why you should buy it. Where we started to get to in 2015 was, well, we now have some products to sell the sales teams, and so we're selling into marketing, really well, known to marketing, starting to get well known in sales. But as you're becoming a platform for the whole company, we wanted executive- level exposure. We wanted CMO, CRO, CEO, COO, C- level to have heard of and know what HubSpot is, or these some high level and have a positive brand affiliation with it. And so what we decided to do was say, " Okay, those folks have less time to read blogs, they're not going to go to webinars. Content specifically about marketing is not that interesting to them. What's interesting to them? Growth. And who do they want to hear from? They want to hear from their peers." So The Growth Show was a show about growth, and it all the interviews were only with C- level executives, SVP level, etc, but it was very senior people. And we had some amazing guests in the first 10 or 20. We had the founder of Tough Mudder, one of those race things which he gave us a story about how they built a brand things like that. We had a CMO from Slack on, we had a bunch of like CEOs, CMOs, CRO type of folks from really interesting companies and brands and just had them tell their story, and that was me interviewing them in most cases. We had a couple other people posting as well. And that was something that, again, it was about what's the right format of content and type of content to reach that C- level person? And it was really the first thing we had done at HubSpot that was meant to reach the C level. And that's something where five years later, that show is still around. I think it's on its producer now. And I think it's done really well because it was different and it was unique.

Lindsay Tjepkema: This is when another one of your marketing favorites found himself at HubSpot doing what so many of us know him for, podcasting. Who was it?

Dave Gerhardt: I'm Dave, I'm the chief marketing officer at Privy.

Lindsay Tjepkema: That's right. Did that Dave Gerhardt's side hustle of hosting a podcast about the Boston tech scene actually led to a serendipitous role at HubSpot as he helped Mike create and launch The Growth Show?

Dave Gerhardt: So I started my first podcast in March of 2014, and it was called Tech in Boston. I was not even working in marketing at the time, but I wanted to... It's like it wasn't actually a marketing endeavor, I wanted to start a little bit of a side project of my own, and I always wanted to start something, a blog, a newsletter. And I was just like, " You know what?" I got really into podcasts and I was listening to them all the time at a time when it was like... It's not even that long ago, but 2014, I'd be on the bus riding home, listening to a podcast and I'd talk to someone like, " Oh yeah, what do you do on the bus?" " I listen to podcasts." He was like, "What? A podcast? How do you even do that? Do you need like a USB cable? And you have to hook it up to your computer?" I was listening to a podcast called This Week In Startups, and I was really into startups at the time. And through that show, it was cool, but it was always about entrepreneurs on the West Coast. And so I was like, I'm in the Boston tech scene, there's a lot happening here, why hasn't anybody... And I tweeted it out, " Why hasn't anybody started a podcast about entrepreneurs in Boston?" Two people responded and they're like, " Oh, you should just start that." And then I was like, " Okay, sure. I'll figure it out." And so I figured out how to start a podcast. And 60 episodes later, it became this thing that I did in addition to my job, and it was this amazing side project that got me connected to like 60 entrepreneurs and CEOs in Boston. I built an email list of four or 5, 000 people, I learned how to sell sponsorships, learn how to do audio. And it was such a cool project for me because it didn't feel like a podcast, it felt like I built a little mini business. And it was from that podcast that I actually got my job at HubSpot. Mike Volpe, who was the CMO at HubSpot at the time, they wanted to start a podcast at HubSpot and so he hired me because he knew me locally to run their podcasts, so I helped them launch the Growth Show.

Lindsay Tjepkema: The success of the Growth Show is undeniable. It's been a huge success for HubSpot in building its brand. And you often see in here, other shows pointing to the Growth Show as a point of inspiration, a muse for their own foray into podcasting. And it's also opened the doors for more marketers to give their unique voice and perspective to the HubSpot brand. Meghan Keaney Anderson, HubSpot's current vice president of marketing and current host of the Growth Show took over the show a few years ago.

Meghan Keaney: I think I raise my hand for it. I had been so closely involved with the show and when there was an opening for host, I had actually come in as a guest host on a couple of episodes, so it was a natural extension. And I do remember my first few episodes, I remember I had one with ezCater, which is a local company in Boston, Stefania Mallett there was amazing. And I remember I had an interview with Patagonia that I cried about afterwards. It was so good. And I had an interview with ClassPass early into their days. And those are the first season that I got into, and it's funny like you remember your first season episodes really well, and now I listen back at those and I'm like, " Oh, I've come a little bit." I've come a ways when it comes to hosting skills because I was clearly nervous in those interviews, but yeah, you get into it and then you evolve over time and you learn things about what works for questions and how to create space in an interview for someone, how to adapt. And that's been a really fun, interesting personal development for me.

Lindsay Tjepkema: The show has of course, continued to grow and evolve over the years since its inception, Sam Balter managed the marketing strategy at HubSpot's network of podcasts from 2018 until just a few months ago in early 2020, and saw a lot of this evolution firsthand.

Sam Balter: When I just started working on the podcast, the Growth Show was going through a period doing a turnaround season. So they did the entire season focused on turnaround stories. So this is a much different format than say a lot of your standard interviews, the format was a lot more narrative, it brought in a wider range of stories and it changed a lot in terms of the basic interview format. And then that continued over where you saw higher production episodes for future seasons, continuing to bring in more diverse talent and more diverse guests, which was great. And then now it seems like even from what I'm seeing, coming out of there, they're pivoting away from even focusing on the biggest needs, business or trying to find the thought leaders that everybody generally looks to find these very interesting side stories, very big- headed companies. We had seen a good focus on HubSpot's focusing on B corporations. So companies that are committed to doing good, but are not necessarily nonprofits. So I think things like that were really interesting where it might not be something even that the listener can notice right off the bat. It's not in the description of the season that, " Oh, this season is going to bring diverse voices for around the industry," it's just embedded nicely within the content. So I think in terms of it, you started to see at least over the period that I was there, that producer Matt Brown did a great job of bringing in a lot more of those narrative elements and doing a lot more to increase the production quality of the show

Lindsay Tjepkema: From their experimental marketing with the Growth Show, it was clear to HubSpot that podcasting would create a lot of really unique opportunities to connect with their different audiences. So, they started experimenting with other shows.

Sam Balter: When I was there, HubSpot had experimented with a few different shows, like the Growth Show had been going on for at least five years. We had just started a new more broad awareness show, Weird Work that I had been hosting where I interviewed people with weird jobs. And then we also had a show that was very educational focus called Skill Up that the first season was about SEO. And I think looking at HubSpot, one of the great things was that each show addressed a distinct need and distinct audience. Whereas Weird Work was a good way for us to get brand recognition, to build brand affinity, to have this interesting voice in the market and gain a lot of exposure there, you could see Growth Show as a thing for thought leadership, a lot of lifting up our core brand values. One of the things that brand will come to HubSpot for is to learn educational things and get better at sales or marketing or SEO or whatever it is, so Skill Up provided an avenue for that. So I think one of the great things was just seeing how HubSpot was tailoring shows to different audiences.

Lindsay Tjepkema: HubSpot has and will continue to create shows with the audience and purpose in mind.

Meghan Keaney: Since the Growth Show, that was our anchor show, and that was basically, I described the problem it was trying to solve. We wanted to be a very brand- oriented show. So putting out our editorial point of view into the world, through the guests that we chose and the stories that we told, kind of your classic brand podcast. Then we expanded into Weird Work, actually, I think it was the second podcast. And Weird Work was an experiment in a mass appeal show. So really further remove from the brand, not talking about necessarily business or HubSpot in particular, talking about just the strange jobs that people find and pursue, and really a love affair of like career development in atypical way And that was designed to be a play for just how big of an audience can we get, if we broadened out away from this niche of B2B companies, can we get a larger audience? That was an experiment in that. Then we did an experiment with our show Skill Up, which was about... We had heard that Google was going to put more emphasis into transcribing podcasts for search and surfacing them better in search engine results. And so we said, " All right, well, what is a search friendly podcast look like?" We knew it didn't look like the Growth Show because people aren't necessarily just searching, unless you're searching for the guests. You're not really searching for the topics that we're covering on the Growth Show. So then we went back to our roots of the blog and said, " Okay, let's do how to content. Let's do content that is designed to answer questions and help people learn to pick up new skills." And that was the idea behind Skill Up. And then we've expanded to, we've got a podcast in Germany specifically for that audience. We've got Culture Happens, which is a podcast out of our culture team, talks about how you build a corporate culture and pursue that. I think the most important thing is that we didn't really set out to have a network, each podcast has a distinct problem that it's trying to solve and/ or a distinct theory that it's chasing down. So every new show that we add, we hope it will teach us something. We hope it will help attract an audience that's distinct, but we also hope it'll teach us something about podcasting. One of the greatest things about working as a marketer for a company that sells marketing software is everything is met up. Like everything you do is both done for your audience and also done to help you learn something new that you can then in turn go teach your audience. And so a lot of our evolution of the podcast network has been through experiments like that.

Lindsay Tjepkema: HubSpot has harnessed via amazing voices of experts to constantly increase its connection with its audiences. You might be wondering though, but why podcasting? Why did a company known for its amazing blog, its website grader, it's top notch eBooks, and more, go on to invest heavily in podcasting, especially so long ago.

Mike Volpe: It's a great way to reach people. And I think, again, podcasting can be used in a lot of different ways, so you can use it to add more personality to the brand, you could use it to get a deeper connection with a smaller audience that was like the HubSpot TV podcast model. You can use it to reach folks that are harder to reach through other means

Lindsay Tjepkema: Indeed. Whether you're a small business or a huge global company like HubSpot, podcasts are an amazing way to reach people and to connect with them.

Meghan Keaney: We've gotten a ton out of our shows. I think there's always the thing that you're initially going after and then there are all these epiphenomenal, like nice consequences that happen. So your North star is typically listenership and the audience you're going after, and you want to see that growing year over year, you want to see the audience come back. When you break for a season, you want to see the engagement rates stay high all the way through. That is the beautiful thing about podcasts is when people sit down to listen to a podcast, they listen all the way through. You're getting their attention, their full attention in many cases for 20, 30, 40 minutes. And that's so rare there. So certainly, those listenership and growth numbers are what we're looking for, we're looking for distribution and access to a broader audience. But there are all sorts of secondary benefits to doing podcasts, and for me, one of the biggest ones has been, for the Growth Show in particular, it's created access points to some of the most incredible business leaders and stories that I've ever come across.

Lindsay Tjepkema: But it's more than that. A brand success story today requires understanding your audience, connecting with your audience, engaging with your audience, letting them in on something special, real, exclusive, authentic. These marketing rockstars knew that at HubSpot and they carried it with them into the brands that they've gone on to serve over the last decade. It's those that follow this gut instinct to connect with and build trust with their audiences that are defining what success looks like today for brands around the world and into the future. HubSpot is just one example of a strong brand that has leveraged shows, audio and video as a major part of its content strategy. But, it's pretty darn good example, not only because of the brand the content story, but also because of the people who have been involved with it all along the way. So, where are these marketing leaders now and how have they gone on to take the world of marketing brand and content marketing a little differently because of that experience with shows at HubSpot? Well, Dave Gerhardt is CMO now at Privy. He of course has built a name for himself as a top marketing leader who advocates for the power of podcasting. In fact, it's pretty likely that him from his days originally at Drift and that you followed him still today because of what he did there. He used podcasting as a foundation to help grow Drift into a really powerful brand.

Dave Gerhardt: When I went to Drift, I had a really cool opportunity to work with David Cancel, and I was the first marketing person at Drift and I just needed to get marketing content out of him. And so I just started interviewing him with my podcast gear that I had, and I was just going to ghost write for him and that transformed into us... He wasn't very good at just being interviewed and then just having to talk for 30 minutes. And so it became more of, I had to do an interview back and forth with him to get more stuff out of him, and that morphed into this really cool conversation about these two people at completely different ends of their spectrum. And from a career, you have this proven CEO and this like no name, up and coming marketing person. And we ended up turning into a podcast called Seeking Wisdom. And so really quickly over the course of a year and a half, I had launched three podcasts and now it's just become like a pillar of anything that I do in marketing, because I think it's like having your own... If 20 years ago somebody said to you, " Hey, you can have your own radio station and you really wouldn't have to pay much to do it. And if you do it right, you could get thousands of your dream customers to listen to you. Would you want to do that?" For whatever reason, people still don't seem to think of that when they think of podcasting.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Megan Keaney Anderson plays a pivotal role, obviously, still today at HubSpot and its magnetic brand, both strategically as VP of marketing, where among many, many other things, she runs HubSpot's network of shows, but also very tactically, she's building brand relationships and trust as the host of the Growth Show, which is now in its fifth year.

Meghan Keaney: I'm so grateful to be part of the Growth Show. I think that it's made a major difference in my own development, in my exposure to different people and different stories. I know for a fact that I've become a better thinker and writer because of those conversations. And so it would be like, if they came to me tomorrow and said, " Hey, we're hanging up shop on the Growth Show," I would be okay, but I would be sad because it really has enriched my own understanding of the business world. I'm a fan of the show. I would listen to the show if I weren't hosting it. And I think that's really what you're trying to achieve is if you make a show that you feel adds value to your own life, that's a pretty good indication that it's going to add value to somebody else's

Lindsay Tjepkema: Sam Balter has taken his experience from managing the marketing strategy of HubSpot's podcast to now being ZoomInfo's director of editorial content, where I would be willing to bet, at least I hope that he's going to do something there in the way of shows very soon. And Ellie Mirman went on to lead marketing at Toast and now is the CMO at Crayon. But one thing that she took with her from HubSpot was approaching content in unique ways to create exceptional experiences for the audience.

Ellie Mirman: It just shows that there are a lot of different types of ways to create content, and I'm a big fan of blogging and that's always been one of the first marketing initiatives I put in place, but the universe of content marketing and content creation is just so broad. And so there are a lot of opportunities and especially now where everybody has a blog, it's that much more important to branch out and do something unique. And I think the other thing that it taught me was that you don't need to have other examples out there. And in some cases, it's even better if your, say, competition is not doing those things because it's an opportunity for you to be that much more unique and to have a platform that others don't have. So it's just a good reminder to just think in unique ways and try new tactics and make sure to give them a real solid chance. I think one of the things that's really important with serial content that taught me is it's not about just doing one show, one episode, it's really about you're going to take on this effort for a significant amount of time to be able to see the real results because honestly, that first episode, and the same way that the first blog article that you've published, it's not going to be the be all end all, it's really about the series long term. And so you need to commit to it, and that's where the real magic happens, where you start to see the results on the brands and any other marketing metrics that you're looking at. So think about it as a real initiative that spans over a period of time because that's where you really start to see the results.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Jeanne Hopkins is now chief revenue officer at SquadLocker, and has harnessed the power of podcasting at several other brands, including collaborating again with Mike Volpe in binge worthy podcasts at Lola. com.

Jeanne Hopkins: When I ended up going to Lola and we were going to do this Agile Operations Summit in November of'19, and I joined the company in October of'18. So we knew a year from now, we're going to do this. So we decided to batch Mike Volpe's podcasts into one agile ops, and then we do a drop like a Netflix drop of six of them. So he had interviews, he interviewed inaudible he interviewed Jessica Meyer. He interviewed a bunch of people. And then I bought Road Warrior Radio domain. com for Ryan Ball, and he knows a bazillion people. And so he was recording every other week, he was doing that recording, talking to all these other people. And so we were on with the inaudible news organization and we were on with that one every Thursday every other week. And then I was doing another one called Table Fries because I like to share.

Lindsay Tjepkema: I do love that. That's so cute.

Jeanne Hopkins: And it was for the women of Lola, connected to Lola and I had a series of questions. And the reason I was doing that was that most women that I know that are in engineering positions, finance positions, different positions within an organization, never have the opportunity to speak. They don't have the opportunity to speak on a podcast, on a webinar in front of a group. And I wanted to break through that to give these people a chance, to be able to say, " You know what, you know a lot about a lot." And you want to be able to break through that. And by using the same format about like, " How did you end up at Lola?" And everybody has a great story, " And what was your least favorite job?" And it's usually involves food service on some capacity, almost always your least favorite-

Lindsay Tjepkema: In fact, that needs to be a life requirement.

Jeanne Hopkins: Yeah. What was the last book you read? What would you recommend? Different things that... And people, once they realized, they were totally freaked out, every single one, " I'm so nervous." And it could be like, " Oh, that didn't hurt, there was no blood involved, it was just a conversation." We recorded, I'd be across from them and they would love that. And it became a personality thing for us at Lola. And so between the Road Warrior, The Table Fries and then Mike Volpe brought Agile Ops...

Lindsay Tjepkema: Mike Volpe, of course has continued to include podcasting in his strategies as CMO, and now even as CEO.

Mike Volpe: At Lola, we tried to do a good job of connecting with finance professionals because that's who we sell to. So we do travel like expense management, like related things, and our key buyer is someone in the finance team. And so we needed to figure out a way, like how do we get in front of those folks? How do we gain legitimacy without audience because we're brand new brand, we're early stage company. And one of the things that I did was I started a podcast called the Agile Operations Podcast. I'd say it's similar in theme to like the Growth Show, which is that we wanted to connect with CFOs and CEOs on the topic of making their companies internally operate in a more agile way, faster and easier so that they can enable more growth and more innovation and getting all the internal obstacles out of the way. And so we found some cool, interesting folks that had from a finance perspective or operations perspective, done things a little differently within their companies. And so that's what we've been doing there too. So I think it's one of those... I don't think there's one format or formula for what a successful podcast should be or needs to be, it's an interesting technology, but you can use it in a lot of different ways if you think about it and get creative with it.

Lindsay Tjepkema: So, is podcasting that magical of a vessel, so versatile that it connected all these individuals and inspire them to continue the practice in the rest of their roles over the last 10 years? Or maybe there's something special and magical in the water at HubSpot's headquarters in Boston? I like to think it's the versatility, okay, maybe a little bit of magic in podcasting. They let you in on an intimate conversation and give you the ability to get to know the voices behind the business, which is ultimately what makes a brand great. You've heard from all these amazing people about the role podcasting and shows have played in their HubSpot history and the HubSpot story, but also how harnessing conversations, interviews with experts has been a foundational piece of the brands and the strategies they've worked on and the careers they've built. Well, dear listener, we've come to the end of this journey, but it's really just the beginning when it comes to the amazing stories of our guests today, because you know what, lucky for you, this show is a conglomeration of clips pulled from several interviews, several episodes that we're running on the Casted Podcast, these episodes in season four of our podcast, they're incredibly interesting and independent of each other, and they all come together to tell this story, but just wait until you hear the independent stories of each individual here. They're part of a series of interviews with marketing and business leaders focused on the role that podcast play and their overall brand and business strategies. So don't stop here, visit us at Casted. us/ inbound for access to the full interviews and a whole lot more extra content that you will not want to miss.


We’re all fans of HubSpot here at INBOUND, but you’ve never heard the origin story of some of the brand’s most important content: its network of podcasts and videos. This story starts more than a decade ago and includes characters who went on to become big marketing names you follow today, like Dave Gerhardt, Mike Volpe, Jeanne Hopkins, Ellie Mirman, and Meghan Keaney Anderson. Listen in to this special episode of the Casted Podcast to hear about their common thread - the throughline that differentiated HubSpot, these marketing leaders, and the brands they went on to build.

Subscribe to The Casted Podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, and for more on B2B marketing and podcasting, sign up for the Casted Newsletter.

Today's Host

Guest Thumbnail

Lindsay Tjepkema

|Co-founder & CEO, Casted

Today's Guests

Guest Thumbnail

Jeanne Hopkins

|CRO, SquadLocker
Guest Thumbnail

Mike Volpe

|CEO, Lola.com
Guest Thumbnail

Dave Gerhardt

|CMO, Privy
Guest Thumbnail

Meghan Keaney Anderson

|VP of Marketing, HubSpot
Guest Thumbnail

Ellie Mirman

|CMO, Crayon
Guest Thumbnail

Sam Balter

|Director of Content, ZoomInfo