Archive for the ‘Marketing Best Practice’ Category

HubSpot in Higher Ed: Lessons from the Classroom Part II

May 10, 2017

Title Again


In my last post, Lessons from the Classroom, Pt. 1, I shared the journey for the Inbound in the Integrated Marketing Framework as it was unfolding, leading up to and through the first half of the semester, with all the twists and turns on the way of what truly is a different type of applied learning experience in the college classroom.

As I write this, the semester has just come to a close and I just submitted the final grades. I apologize for this posting’s length (it’s long!), but I thought it would be best to offer up the full story here for all those who have an interest in the second part of this adventure in marketing education.

The Good News!!!

First off, I am happy to report that the class as whole rose to the challenge and built out the content offers and conversion paths to meet the requirements of the Practicum component of the HubSpot Software Certification process!!!, including:

  • 400 identified Keywords targeting six (6) Student Personas
  • Four (4) Content Offers
  • Optimized Landing Pages, Calls-to-Action, Forms, and Thank You Pages and More
  • Over 30 Blog Posts
  • A constant stream of Social Posts
  • E-mail campaigns
  • 30% Conversion Rates
  • And more!

I am honored to be one of the first professors to have had this opportunity to partner with HubSpot and create for students a timely and relevant learning experience like this— one that offers some of the top marketing and communications students in the country the opportunity to not only work hands-on with current tools on the leading edge of marketing today, but also to develop a full blown Inbound campaign and earn a HubSpot’s professional software certification.

In this case, the client SafeRide can be considered a start-up seeking to differentiate itself in its own unique way, in a crowded space. They had no social presence, or established user base to work from. It’s all new. A blank canvas as it were.

It is now clear that this partnership or what I would call “hybrid” model can inject a higher level of responsiveness to the college level marketing curriculum in a manner that supports and enhances it, while also giving students practical high-value skills they can use to advance their careers immediately — one of our core goals.

The students that took this course by definition are “Pioneers,” or Early Adopters, of this hybrid style of education. Each and every one of them deserves to be called out for taking the risk and helping chart a new direction for education moving forward.

Here they are:

  • Hantzley Audate
  • Lindsey Di Costa
  • Max Fallows
  • Milo Goodman
  • Sam Ho
  • Amber Hughes
  • Kennedy Kelley
  • Nick Kitsos
  • Catalina Nguyen
  • Paige Niler
  • Emily Schnider
  • Jamie Wong

To all of them, my undying thanks for going on this ride.

And I also have to call out HubSpot’s Isaac Moche, Education Partner Program Manager, and Jon Gettle, Consultant Extraordinaire, one more time. Isaac has delivered unwavering support to the project since the beginning, and Jon’s two (2) class visits were transformative, as noted in Part I.

This experience will serve as the backbone for a curriculum guide that we will be producing, so others can adopt this program into their classes and offer up this high value opportunity to their students too!

Feel free to reach out to me through LinkedIn if you have any questions or are interested in getting the guide when completed.

And lastly, I want to recognize Dr. Brenda Wrigley, Department Chair, Marketing Communications at Emerson College, named by USA Today as one of the “Top 5 Marketing Programs in the US.” Without her vision, leadership and support, none of this would have come to pass.

The other piece of good news, is that this class is being offered to students again, in the Fall of 2017.

Bumps on the Road…

Since HubSpot Software Certification is a two (2) step process, it is essential that students, as in this case, 1. complete the Practicum requirements as a team, and 2. take the HubSpot Software course and pass their administered test, individually. Each student has to pass the test on their own first, and then submit the class’s collective Practicum achievements to HubSpot on their own in order to earn HubSpot Software Certification. This time around, the due date for taking and passing the test was the official last day of class. At that point 6 out of 12 had passed.

Students have to do their work through the client’s HubSpot portal as Authorized Users on the account, so students are also required to submit the required Practicum “achievements” through the client company’s portal. I didn’t realize at the outset and see now that the client should not and cannot be expected to carry student users once the semester ends.

In the end, it looks like nine (9) out of twelve (12) students have taken and passed the certification course and are therefore entitled and allowed to submit Practicum for full certification. Two (2) certifications have already been processed and awarded, with more to come.

I found that I had to work with SafeRide to extend the deadline for one (1) week to make sure every student has the opportunity to do this. It is clear now that the Practicum is an all consuming event and that having the deadline of taking and passing the Certification Test along with Practicum at the end of semester assignment is unrealistic.

I am addressing this disparity in the Course Design Recommendations section below.

Lessons Learned…

Now that we have gotten this out of the way, I thought it is would be useful for those of you who are Marketing Professors (Grad or Undergrad), Marketing Students or just plain interested to share lessons learned.

1. The Work

First off. This is an applied, hands-on course. It’s intense! There are individual and team components. In the final analysis, however, it comes down to doing the work. This is inescapable and can’t be understated.

There really is nowhere for students to hide when it comes to going through the Practicum process AND doing the work. It’s a team effort and everyone needs to contribute.

2. Culture Matters

As I also talked about in Part I, becoming conscious of Culture is one reason I embrace the “flipped” learning method, and giving students the full responsibility to “own” the project. It is so clear that for full learning value, students have to figure this stuff out on their own to really get it, and to understand for themselves how to function at their full potential in a world as the young, confident and competent professionals they are.

This is especially important if they are to function at a high level in a world where very often they are simply given a business problem to solve, or a goal to achieve, and expected to do it, and do it well. Some call this getting thrown in “the deep end of the pool,” and the best ones come up for air and figure it out… fast.

This was especially manifest clear during the final push to get the Content Offers and Conversion Paths operational. In typical form, some of the Content Offers were, for no real fault of anyone’s, late. Some of the deliverables that were built by students earlier in the semester, and which the Conversion Path Team assumed were ready to go, were not, and so on.

This meant that everyone in the class needed take an “all hands on deck,” and “get it done NOW” posture. The students that rose to the occasion, and a number of them did, wound up finding and internalizing this “whatever it takes” spirit, and in doing so transformed themselves from talented students into A-Players and even Rock Stars. These folks are now able to bring this spirit into the Culture of the organizations they go on to work for or with.

They also now know that in fact A-Players like to work with other A-Players, and Why!

By the way I am firm believer, and my teaching life has confirmed that A-Players are not born, but learn to be, and that one of our roles as educators is to be on the lookout for and use transformational learning opportunities to guide this development. And as I saw time and again, there can be no doubt that a class like this will reveal them.

3. Course Design Adjustments

In relation to the course design—as I shared in Part I of this post—I adopted what I would call “free-form” approach to the design that was organized around the Practicum as the central pillar. Taking lessons learned, below are some of the adjustments to the course design I will be making for course next Fall.

First, I learned that it is very important to get everyone up to speed with Inbound and HubSpot right from the start, and set aggressive deadlines in the first weeks.

A. Inbound Certification Course

This provides the conceptual Inbound Methodology and Framework and all students need to have this under their belts right from the start.

  • Watch Course Videos
  • Take Test
  • Pass Test
  • Submit Proof

For: Everyone

Assigned: Week #1

Due: Week #3

B. HubSpot Software Certification Course

This provides tactical and tool-based knowledge that we learned students need earlier in the semester, both to better address tackling the Practicum requirements, and prevent students from having to cram for the test at the end of an intense Inbound campaign execution process.

  • Watch Course Videos
  • Take Test
  • Pass Test
  • Submit Proof

For: Everyone

Assigned: Week #1

Due: Week #7


  • Week seven (7) represents the midway point of Emerson’s 14-week semester.
  • Taking AND passing the test at this time can serve as a required midterm “test.”

C. Persona, Content Offer, Landing Page, Call-to-Action Activities, and Assignments

To extract maximum value, each and every student needs to not only go through the course, but also “get their hands dirty” with the HubSpot tools themselves. I will also be embedding these individual assignments and activities in the first half of the semester.

Pt. 1. Personas and Content Offer

Students will be given the assignment to define personas and suggestions for possible content offers (with titles): ToFu (Top of Funnel), MoFu (Middle of Funnel), and BoFu (Bottom of Funnel). Sorry for the jargon!

Due: Week #3


  • These will be shared in class, and the best suggestions voted upon.
  • Content Offer mini-teams will be established to create them, with deadlines set by them.
  • Other functional teams aligned with Practicum begin here.
  • Program Management/Weekly Reports begin on Week #4.

Pt. II. Landing Page, Call-to-Action with Form and Thank You Pages

Each student will be tasked to with building a Landing Page, Call -To-Action with Form, and Thank You Page all on within HubSpot.

Due: Week #5

NOTE: This assignment is core to the “Flip” and will also set up the HubSpot expert’s in-class visit. Students will share their work and the Guest will be available to review the work, and address any questions or issues that students have been struggling with.

D. Program Management

All marketing professionals know the value and apply program management to the work we do, as a matter of course. In this context, it was amazing to watch students to respond to this need and figure out how to organically bring a sense of stability and order, organically. It took a while, but in retrospect, would be useful to call out and speed up.

In the end, one highly gifted student rose to the challenge and took the lead to develop a Project Tracker using Google Sheets (spreadsheet), which was open and available to everyone in the class. She also assumed the Project Management function organically and was shared with another Rock Star, whose job then was to align and optimize the key words and then post the content.

Program Management to Begin Week #4 or thereabouts.

Features Include:

  • Use to foster Cross Team Collaboration.
  • Breaking down the class into Functional Teams Organized by Practicum
  • Use to Highlight Weekly Work Updates and Reviews with Full Class
  • Apply Discovery Meeting Style with “Show and Tell” by all
  • Define Assign & Track Weekly Progress and Accountability
  • Use Tracker to Organize Project

Please feel free to reach out for more information on course design.

Final Thoughts

The first time with a new course like this always poses some challenges and risks for the professor, and there clearly have been many all along the way, which I have done my best to share with you.

There also is no doubt that marketing and communications are undergoing a digital transformation, and an (r)evolution that is moving very fast.

This presents colleges and universities today with the not insignificant challenge of offering current and relevant learning experiences in a time of transformation and change.

So can this type of partnership or hybrid model work collaboratively with the status quo of the curriculum? And does the combination of the two yield a meaningful result for students?

It’s clear to me that hybrid courses like this represent the future of marketing education, and offer one (1) path to solve this synthesis that is both timely and relevant. This class has proven to me without doubt that hybrid courses can be designed to magnify the best of both… a tried-and-true curriculum that provides the foundation, context and frameworks, together with hands-on learning and application of latest and greatest tools all applied to solve a real world business problem.

Here is what some of the students say…

I really love that we were able to dive into the software and that no features were off-limits… this is the only class where I genuinely feel I’ve gained job-ready knowledge and skills in one semester. I’m proud to have this program on my resume and in cover letters. – Paige Niler

My favorite part of the project was learning how to use the HubSpot software and then immediately going to the tools and figuring out how to create content and pages with my own writing and edited work. – Emily Schnider

It really gave me confidence in my ability to use what I’ve previously learned and frame it in ways that have enabled me to succeed. – Catalina Nguyen

I’m really pleased that I was able to learn to use every aspect of the software in this project, as I’m sure this will apply to my future marketing career. – Milo Goodman

The hands-on nature of using HubSpot, particularly with this class, was extremely liberating in terms of working with a client and a classroom environment. – Amber Hughes

My perspective on marketing has changed after taking this course. I used to see inbound as a way to support outbound but now I see them both as equally important when doing an integrated marketing campaign. – Lindsey Di Costa

Before, I was so focused on outbound because that’s what was taught to us. With inbound, we can do more with less and it’s a game changer. – Hantzley Audate

Teacher’s Thoughts…

The process was by no means perfect. And there is no doubt that some students gave more to the project than others, and got more out of it as a result. Every student got a new sense of the possibilities ahead of them, and experienced (or not) for themselves what it takes to make it so.

Many who were initially reluctant or intimidated, jumped in with the help of Jon Gettle’s strategic visits in particular, and in doing so transformed themselves from students who were used to external guidance and spoon fed projects, into real A-Players, adopting a “get it done no matter what” mind-set to overcome each and every obstacle thrown their way.

And some of Rock Stars emerged as well, students who were able to pull it all together and “drive the bus” and lead, without prompting from me. Totally awesome!

This happened right in front of my eyes, which is one of the fundamental reasons we as teachers do it.

The bottom line is that each member of the class overall has been offered the opportunity to enter the workplace HubSpot Software Certified. Most will make it, and in doing so will benefit by a low supply of trained talent and large demand by companies and agencies that need their newly minted HubSpot talents, fine-tuned marketing skills, and professional work ethic.

So to address the question again is, is this “hybrid” type of course worth doing? Yes!

Would (and will) I do it again? Yes!

And do I encourage other professors to bring partner with HubSpot to bring HubSpot Software Certification into their curriculum? Yes! Without reservation.

Final Comments to the Students of MK371… 

You are pioneers. Who else would be willing to sign up for a brand new 4-hour class from noon to 4:00 pm on a Friday afternoon? You are all also trendsetters and I am truly grateful to you for taking this course on.

You have not only turbo charged your skills and opened a whole new set of opportunities for yourselves, you have also helped light up the path for a different approach to marketing education that will in no small measure benefit other students that most surely will follow in your big footsteps.

Supporting Materials

If you are a professor considering an Inbound course for either the undergraduate or graduate level, and have any questions, by all means reach out. I am happy to share what I have learned to help spread the word.

I invite you to check out the Course Wrap Up deck, and the Know Your Rights Guide, one of the awesome evergreen content offers developed by this team to give you an idea of what students at this level are capable of.

I will also be happy to share my revised syllabus for next semester with all the adjustments noted in this article. Again feel free to reach out to me through LinkedIn or at, and I will send you a copy later this spring/summer.

HubSpot in Higher Ed: Lessons from the Classroom Part I

May 9, 2017

Inbound Blog

Emerson College HubSpot and SafeRide come together to pioneer a unique, hands on learning experience… Including the opportunity to earn full HubSpot Software Certification.


We are halfway through the semester of our first full blown Inbound Course at Emerson College in Boston entitled Inbound in the Integrated Marketing Framework in partnership with HubSpot and client SafeRide/WalkSafe.

At this point I can say with certainty that this has been one of the most exhilarating, scary and exciting classes I have ever taught over these past 15 years, with the positives making the ride worthwhile even before the semester is over.

That said, and with this halfway milestone reached, this seems to be a good time to share what we have learned so far with anyone interested in HubSpot and Inbound, including Academia – Students, Faculty and Administration or anyone who may want or be looking to bring Inbound and HubSpot into their academic environments.

THE Mission…

The core missions of this partnership are to:

1. Provide students a hands-on experience with HubSpot tools on behalf of a live client, in this case a ride sharing security app called SafeRide/WalkSafe (now a HubSpot customer as a direct result of this project), and

2. Offer students access to the HubSpot Software Certification course and the opportunity to earn HubSpot Software Certification, which is traditionally only available to HubSpot customers.

It is clear HubSpot views its relationship with the academic community as a partnership, all predicated on the open source creed of “information wants to be free.” Info Libre!

As one of the top ranked marketing programs in the country, Emerson is outstanding in offering students the core foundational and customer-centric skills in marketing and communications. HubSpot is the leader in Inbound.

The outcome of this partnership can be considered a “hybrid” to a traditional marketing course. In this case, students are offered an applied learning experience using the “latest and greatest” digital marketing tools to produce tangible business results for a real client, coupled with the college’s core competency of providing students context and strategy in the framework of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC), and exerting influence in any and all customer touch points from product development all the way through the product lifecycle.

What led my personal teaching journey to this place is the quest to expand learning opportunities around B2B and Direct Marketing, and how it all connects to the digital transformation we are experiencing at an accelerated pace today.

With this hybrid educational model in play, students are offered the opportunity to learn and earn HubSpot Software Certification in a manner that works in parallel with and complements Emerson’s robust Marketing Communications curriculum, while opening up new internship and career tracks leading to well-paying jobs right away, for those that are so inclined.

A Hybrid Model for Education: What We Have Learned To Date

Overall there are three (3) high-level learnings I have been able to take away from the teaching the course so far:

1. The students are, in this context, classic early adopters and naturally digital savvy. Their participation indicates a real hunger for the opportunity to work with latest and greatest technology in a real world setting. Word-of-mouth around campus for this course, which currently takes place on a Friday afternoon for four (4) hours, is strong and demand is growing.

2. From the college’s point of view, this experiment clearly opens the door to develop leadership in terms of the transformation of the ever faster changing marketing and communications landscape in a manner that supports and works off of the traditional curriculum at the same time.

3. This “hybrid” model works and can indeed open the door for other institutions and other marketing professors of all stripes to offer similar opportunities to their students.

Course Mechanics: Seven (7) Steps So Far…

Step #1: Certification Courses

There are two (2) certifications that we sought to integrate into this Inbound course:

A. Inbound Certification Course

Inbound Certification reviews the basics of Inbound including the Methodology and “Buyers’ Journey.”

This course is free to anyone. I found that it is essential that every student take and pass the high level Inbound Certification course immediately. I would now allocate a maximum of two to three (2 – 3) weeks for students to complete, and pass the test!

B. HubSpot Software Certification Course & Practicum

The HubSpot Software Certification Course is broken down into two (2) components:

1. The Video Course and associated test, administered by HubSpot; and

2. The thirteen-part practicum, which is all done on HubSpot though a Customer Portal.

Originally when I set up the course calendar, I allocated the full semester for students to complete the HubSpot Course itself, as well as take and pass the test.

All of us realized early on that the videos are themselves the primer on the tools, and since they are aligned with the practicum, watching the whole course provides essential information students need right from the start, and as such, be experienced at a high level by students, much, much sooner.

In response, I broke things up and assigned watching the whole course a 1st half of the semester activity, with the deep dive and passing of the test a full semester assignment. I will zip this up even faster next time. Lesson learned!

Step #2: The Kickoff

I am very lucky in this regard in that Emerson is located in Boston, right in HubSpot’s backyard of Cambridge, Massachusetts. This afforded us the opportunity of kicking the course and semester off with an offsite visit at HubSpot’s offices. The kickoff included a tour and overall presentation, as well as a meet-and-greet with HubSpot recruiters and Emerson Alum HubSpotters.

A couple of things for non-Boston area professors to consider.

Isaac Moche and the HubSpot Academy team put together two (2) great tools you need to be aware of which can be used to create your own course kick-off even if you are not in the Boston area:

1. A great Project Kickoff Deck with links to the HubSpot Academy and relevant resources drawn from the Academy’s robust suite of materials. The scope and scale of this content can be overwhelming!, so these links coupled with the Practicum are a great and necessary starting place for students.

This element is important in that it does a great job of defining the opportunity, the “what’s in it for me” as well. As we all know, there is literally zero (0) unemployment in this sector of marketing right now, and students who earn certification and possess soft professional skills can be assured of well paying job opportunities ahead.

Simply put HubSpot, and the HubSpot ecosystem of Agencies and Customers need high quality talent that can hit the ground running.

2. Direct Track to HubSpot HR and both the Job and Internship Recruiter Teams, with an associated checklist of what HubSpot and its partners are looking for, along with a live mini-resume review. The students loved this.

3. Don’t forget Culture! I used to pooh-pooh culture until I got in the tech space way back when. Culture and understanding both how it works and learning what is expected are essential, along with, of course, how to surpass expectations too. HubSpot’s Culture deck is a great tool in this regard and one can argue that its core characteristics apply in any company today.

Step #3: Project Brief

I put together a Project Brief that is mapped against the practicum, which itself is mapped against the HubSpot Software Certification Course chapters. Feel free to reach out to me through LinkedIn if you would like a copy.

A couple of things to note:

1. HubSpot Software Certification with the associated practicum is, by definition, a real-world and applied learning experience, not an imitation! This is part of what makes this type of class so exciting.

Remember too that HubSpot Certification requires working with a client that is a HubSpot customer with an active portal. Students get access to HubSpot and the Academy as “assigned users” through the Portal.

2. In the academic setting, one ideal client would the school itself. This way HubSpot can serve as the platform for using authentic student generated content to attract and convert a variety of constituencies and focused on a variety of objectives from enrollment and alumni fundraising and mentorships and much, much more.

3. The practicum requires some real results from live campaigns. In order to have the time to meet these criteria, I broke the semester in to three (3) pieces: 1. “playing” and hands-on learning; 2. building on HubSpot all the necessary content offers and campaign elements; and 3. going live and adjusting based on results.[10]

It will be fun to see what happens when we go live somewhere around week 9 or 10 in the semester.

Step #4. Flipped and the Learning Power of Being in the Deep End of the Pool

I have found that in an applied learning environment, the “Flipped” learning approach works very, very well, and is the core of the first phase of a course like this.

The idea is simple.

Once the Kickoff (Step #2) has taken place and the Project Brief (Step #3) distributed, students are granted user access by SafeRide to the HubSpot Portal and the Tools, and then given the instruction to “figure it out” to make sense of it all… you can say they are literally thrown in the “deep end” of the pool, just like real life.

In this phase, I see my role as the Facilitator. This period went on for the first five (5) weeks of the class.

During this time, students asked all sorts of questions and tried to lean on me to provide structure, to set up deadlines and milestones besides what I already provided, for example. I declined.

Some asked me how do they manage the project? Again, I declined, and asked in return “what do you think you need to do?”

And others asked about specific problems like how do I set up say a Landing Page? My answer… Google It (HubSpot Landing Page).

This part of the process is crucial!

Students need to grapple with and attempt on their own to figure it out. Some were clearly intimidated. Some afraid. Now the controls are in their hands, and no doubt about it, learning a new set of tools on the fly like this, is by definition, scary.

Will these talented juniors and seniors rise to the challenge?

Step #5: Inbound Expert In-Class Visit #1

Fortunately I have been through this before and believe in the power of today’s students to rise to any challenge. The first time we brought HubSpot into one of my classes in the Spring of 2014, the students were frustrated, angry and upset at this point of the project. I was getting all sorts of e-mails(!), and was, quite frankly concerned what would happen.

I was very lucky in that I had scheduled one of HubSpot Academy’s amazing instructors, Lindsay Thibeault, to come in and address their concerns after struggling with building, in this case, Landing Pages and Calls To Action.

All I can say is it was magic! Over a period of an hour and a half, students’ frustration and fear transformed into confidence and certainty… “We can do this!” You could see it and feel it happen. Extraordinary!

That was then, and the question now was could it happen again?

This time around we were lucky to have HubSpot Consultant extraordinaire Jon Gettle come in to an equally emotionally charged class, and the results?

Here are some student comments:

Jon is an absolute HubSpot ninja. He knew exactly what we were getting at even when we felt lost with the software and the direction Inbound needed. Jon expertly broke down the complexities into something we could immediately implement and feel comfortable working with. — Emily Schnider

He explained the concepts and software in terms that were easy to understand, and that made a big difference. — Milo Goodman

We would make things harder and more complicated on ourselves, but Jon put us in check by letting us know that we need to take a step back, take a breather, and focus. We feel good about the direction everything is going now. 🙂 — Catalina Nguyen

Jon is a great resource that bridges the gap between HubSpot and the class. It’s beyond helpful to have a living, breahting HubSpot resource in the classroom to address any roadblocks and troubleshooting we have. — Amber Hughes

Jon was really knowledgeable about the inbound stuff, and knew where we weren’t doing well and where we were doing well. He helped us with landing pages and keywords, and overall added to the HubSpot process. — Jamie Wong

HubSpot is not just marketing, it is life, it deals with the same principles and understanding of the world! — Nick Kitsos

He was also able to connect with us and was VERY effective with his analogies. HE CAN TALK WITH THE YOUTH! “The juice is not worth the squeeze.” — GENIUS! — Hantzley Audate

As the Q&A with Jon progressed, it became clear that the path ahead was do’able and not out of reach. You could actually see and hear the energy of the students change as the visit progressed as frustration and struggle turned into the “we can (and will!) do this” energy and spirit.

And here is what Jon himself said about his class visit:

I love seeing the “a-ha” moments the students have during our conversations when you can tell they are really grasping a concept. Seeing the next wave of talented inbound marketers apply the concepts we think about every day at HubSpot is rewarding in a special way. — Jon Gettle

Magic Again! Mission Accomplished!

Again there are three (3) aspects to consider in this phase:

1. Struggle is necessary. The greater the struggle, the richer the learning experience.

2. Students at this level, once challenged, WILL rise to it.

3. The need for Inbound/HubSpot expertise is a key. Most of us who teach marketing in higher ed may be very familiar with Inbound and HubSpot, but we are not Inbound/HubSpot experts. HubSpot knows this, and we are working with the Academy Team right now to build out a process to help fill in this gap for classes everywhere.

Step #6: HubSpot Customer/Power User Visit

After all that has taken place this first half of the semester, it was time to lighten things up, take a larger view and see how it all fits, in application. In other words a Case Study. And what better way to do that than have a real Inbound user come visit to provide this real-world context?

In this case, we had a local Inbound/HubSpot power user, Steve Sheinkopf, CEO of Yale Appliance and Lighting in Boston to come to class. Students loved hearing from a master how it all works, and what can happen results-wise when it is done really, really well.

It’s one thing to learn from the Certification Course videos, another to get the under the hood view from a real customer. When it comes to Inbound and who sells the “Best Appliances” with the “Best Service” in the Boston area, no one does it better than Yale.

Dishwasher User Guide anyone?

Step #7: Do the Work

With just seven (7) weeks (out of 14) under our belts, we have gone through a couple of cycles, in terms of who does what? This was a surprise.

This class is made up of twelve (12) students.

SafeRide/WalkSafe is an app that you can use to alert your friends that you are in transit… Cab, Uber or Lyft… or even walking alone, and that you have arrived to your destination safely. If there is a problem, the app provides a way to alert the network you set up as well.

From a product positioning point of view, users in essence create a micro-community of like minded folks who watch out for each other, who have each others’ back. And all for just $.99 at the app store!

SafeRide is new. The space is cluttered. And in their wisdom, they adopted Inbound and HubSpot as their marketing tool of choice, and sought to focus on college students as their beach head, to use Crossing the Chasm lingo.

One more thing. SafeRide seeks to scale its user base, and after some initial discussion has basically agreed to offer students the app for free.

Multiple Class “Re-Orgs”

That said, here is the progress of how the teams re-organized themselves and the work progressed:

1. In the beginning… it was a free for all. Where to begin? What to do? Students broke into two (2) competitive teams of six (6) students.

The Student “Market” although a niche perhaps if you take into consideration the market as a whole for SafeRide, was still way too broad and hard to “personify” as is. So the question then became where was the most value for SafeRide in this population? And value as the students started to perceive it equates with safety and vulnerability, and what student communities are potentially most vulnerable, and would get the most value and benefit from using the SafeRide app?

As the students and teams digested the project, the first action item was to define the Personas with each team focusing on three (3) content offers, one for each of three (3) personas.

Some of the Personas students identified in this manner include:

●      Sororities

●      Fraternities

●      Women of Color

●      International Students

●      LBGTQ Communities

●      Freshmen

●      Tinder/Daters

●      Late Night Working Students

2. During the next phase, students organized themselves in teams of two (2), each focused on building out an individual persona, and seeing how for they could take it. It was in this mini-team format, that students were in during the struggle phase, when HubSpot consultant Jon Gettle visited.

As the process unfolded, it became clear that the class as a whole needed to focus on SafeRide and its objectives, all aligned with HubSpot Certification, and not be distracted on competing with each other. The oars needed to be moving in the same direction if this was going to work.

3. Coming Up. The Final Phase… The class is made up of students with a diverse range of talents. Some are content and creative types, some are analytical and SEO savvy. We also have a few Quants, sprinkled in with some Strategy and Account Managers with an Entrepreneur or two, and Student Leaders. Some are working professionally already. All are digital by nature.

One thing I was struggling with is how to organize these student resources to ensure efficiency and non-duplication of efforts, consistency in terms of messaging, look and feel and the developing SafeRide Brand, let alone meeting the Practicum requirements so that students who pass the HubSpot Software Certification Course Test can earn full HubSpot Certification?

Then it became obvious. Use the practicum to re-organize and break down functionally.

So once the class reconvenes after Spring Break, each student will be tasked to take responsibility for one (1) Practicum requirement, and then draw from the collective resource pool of class talent to assist in meeting their requirement.

Classes will then be in essence “floating meetings” to meet, collaborate and track and do work, to both ensure consistency and that all the requirements are met by semester’s end.

Three Next (3)Steps…

Here is what is coming up for the second half of the semester:

Step #8: HubSpot Expert Visit #2

Step #9: Going Live on HubSpot

Step 10: Improvement and Delivering Results!

It should be fun to see how this works… More to come

Mitt Romney’s Uninspiring Campaign for the Presidential Nomination: A Marketing “Train Wreck” that Doesn’t Have to Be.

March 19, 2012

Sorry for the long hiatus from the blog. We needed a break… but now we are back, smack dab in the middle of the political campaign season. At this point we are mid way through the primary season, which often serve up best and worst practices in marketing positioning by candidates in either party. There is so much to learn from and consider, but today let’s look at Mitt Romney and his campaign through the marketing lens as a classic worst practice.

“Front runner” Romney is one of the most disciplined candidates ever. He looks the part, is extremely successful, well-financed, a proven business entity, and with the economy having suffered the worst financial meltdown since the Great Depression, a clear shoe-in for the Republican nomination. Right?

A Train Wreck in the Making from a Marketing Point of View

But as yet, especially with his recent loses to Rick Santorum in Mississippi and Alabama just a few days ago, Mitt is unable to “close the deal” with party activists of all stripes and get on the with the business of running a presidential campaign.

This was captured from prime real restate on the Home Page and speaks for itself. This is about as uninspiring a message as I have ever seen from a top-tier candidate in any party... ever.

It is easy to see why he is having trouble, when looked at from a marketing/positioning lens. This is not inspiring to anyone. In fact its depressing. Who is responsible for this train wreck?

Winning Minds is Half the Battle…

Effective positioning requires two clear vectors of differentiation if we are to create the much-needed “compelling reason to buy.” Let’s see what we can do to untangle this mess and get Mitt his mojo back.

We know and he has defined the first vector as being a successful, problem solving business person who would be a capable steward of the economy and getting America to work again. The message… Obama and the Democrats blew it, the American Economy is in a shambles, and he is the most qualified to turn it around. Strong indeed.

Here is what it looks like.

Ready to cast your vote for Romney yet?

Winning Hearts is the Other

As the graph indicates, this does not give us as the electorate enough information to get a real “bead” on him. This gives us the mind or mental piece, but where is the heart, the emotional center that is lacking in this “message”?

This is why Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Santorum have been able to gain so much traction and capture the support of the conservative base of the party, where the passions of morality and social conservatism lay. In fact, just a couple of days ago in an article in Slate entitled Stop, Right Now! You’re Making a Scene!, by John Dickerson, the first sentence reads “The Mitt Romney campaign would like Republican voters to stop and think like Mitt Romney for a moment: rationally and without getting overly emotional about things.” Ouch! And this response is by no means unusual.

Romney gets none of it and has created a dangerous (for him) vacuum filled by the other republican candidates, hence his dilemma today.

So we get it. Pundits proclaim Romney has no message. In fact he has half a message, which in this case may be worse than no message at all.

The Marketing Solution…

Mitt is not like most of us. He is not just successful, he is incredibly so. He knows how to make money for himself and his investors. He is cool and calculating. He also holds to religious beliefs that many appear foreign to many voters. Where then can an emotional connection be made?

Our positioning model again shows us a clear path… a path if taken will lead to a certain and swift victory for the nomination, and the ability to compete and perhaps defeat a sitting president who gets stronger every day.

Create the Emotional Connection

I will argue it’s the American Dream itself. For the first time in many years, people feel afraid that opportunities to create wealth and success are closed to them. Mitt himself is a living embodiment of the Dream. He has done it!

To win, the marketing view says he needs to embrace his success in this context and therefore position himself as the embodiment of and protector of the Dream in a way that no other candidate can. The man who can fan, as some have categorized, the “dying embers” of the American Dream and bring it roaring back to life, so the rest of us mere mortals can have a crack at it too.

The last step is to roll the two, the head message of the proven steward of the economy and heart message of the defender of American Dream together.

Romney = The Caretaker of the American Dream

This is what the Head and Heart position would look like.

Add it up this way and Mitt Romney in this case is the “Proven Businessman and Candidate Who, As President Will Preserve and Protect the American Dream for All.” This is a far cry from the screed on the home page that urges voters to support his current, “not to spend more than take in” rallying cry and would give him a direct, powerful argument that is capable of connecting to the aspirations of conservatives and moderates, and the independents he will need to reach the goal.