What is Remarkable Content and why is this key to Inbound Marketing?

Posted by Arjun Moorthy

Jun 30, 2015 5:50:00 AM

When I tell people I work for HubSpot many of them, particularly in the marketing and tech world, nod their head indicating they know all about HubSpot and Inbound marketing.  Many have even read Inbound Marketing, the best-seller by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah.

grateful-dead-free-wallpapers-music-wallpaper-wallpaper-grateful-dead-free-wallpapers-music.jpgSo ask a few questions on the topic and you'll likely hear "Oh sure, it's basically SEO" or "Yes, I know all about content marketing and driving conversions with landing pages, marketing automation etc."  

I too thought this way but in the last few months I've come to realize that all this is just the mechanics of Inbound Marketing and misses the most important concept on why this methodology works.  And understanding the why is essential to doing marketing and, perhaps even, business right.


What is Remarkable Content?

Throughout Brian & Dharmesh's book you'll see that the key to Inbound marketing is "remarkable content".  But what is remarkable content?  Is it well written, insightful material?  Yes.  Is it content that's shared virally because people like it?  Yes.  But these definitions are too vague.

Back in 2008 HubSpot drove an outsized number of new leads each month by creating amazingly helpful educational content and making them available for free.  We ran cutting-edge marketing experiments, interviewed known and unknown luminaries on niche subjects, and analyzed every new trend from the customer's point of view - and we made all the findings via free ebooks.  I remember when I joined HubSpot in 2011 a colleague, Rick Burnes, told me that people buy HubSpot as much for the software as for the education.  For a software company where most of the investment is in engineering this was mind-blowing.

So, what was so remarkable about our content?  Beyond the insights themselves, the content was remarkable because many research companies used to sell exactly such ebooks.  Indeed, it was probably seen as heresy by some that we offered for free what companies had built huge businesses around.
Perhaps a better definition of "remarkable content" is - something you offer for free which others normally charge money for.   I'm too focused on price as the value measure but it works well enough and is easy to remember.
This definition helps us realize why the ebook strategy, while still useful from an SEO standpoint, is played out.  Everyone publishes ebooks with content and while some of it is still packed with insights it's less likely that anyone charges for such material so, relatively speaking, such offers no longer seem valuable.  It's time for a new type of offer.
Of course, this happens in marketing all the time and so you get new formats for offers - podcasts, video, infographics etc.  However, this misses the point on the above definition.  The changing format isn't the important thing but rather that the content being offered is something which others charge money for.  And by that measure most of these format changes fall short of that bar.

So what does work?

One thing that we're experimenting with in the Agency partner program is offering prospects a portion of our professionally developed sales training program, which our partners love.  On the surface this seems economically risky.  Producing and delivering training, and then responding to feedback from participants, is expensive and why most companies charge hefty fees for this.  But it fits with the above definition of offering something for free which others charge for.  And we can do this because the economics of how it drives conversion in our funnel likely will work for us.  Training programs are the new ebook.
Another thing we're planning on doing in the Agency program is providing prospects a version of our highly valued Partner Benchmark Evaluation, which objectively benchmarks agencies against each other so they can learn from one another.  This is a page from Marketing Grader but is somewhat more sophisticated because it's essentially a business assessment/evaluation that consultants charge thousands for (and they aren't nearly as objective as our tool is).  Some HubSpot partners like New Breed Marketing are doing the same with their SaaS Grader.  Benchmarking assessments are the new ebook.
These strategies will also get played out, probably over the next 3-5 years, but as long as we keep this new simple definition of remarkable content in mind it'll ensure that our marketing offers real value to prospects and customers.  And that's the basis for every thriving business.


The idea for this blog post arose when I spoke to an agency owner about his struggle to raise prices and margins - a common issue among marketing agencies.  As we chatted it became clear that his clients thought most agencies were roughly equivalent, not from a positioning standpoint, but rather from a "can they deliver" standpoint.  This is far from realistic as only the very best agencies can deliver content for free which others would charge for.  
If all an agency does is the mechanics of Inbound marketing, as I described above, then they will get average results at best.  It may work for the client but it may just as well not.  But this uncertainty is not factored by the client because if it was they'd quickly realize that the primary consideration they should be making is not "who is affordable" but "who can deliver".  For most growing businesses, going over 20% in marketing expense and hitting your growth goal is far better than saving 20% but missing the growth goal.

Topics: Inbound Marketing

Career Advice I Wish I Knew Earlier 

Hello.  I started this blog to distribute some of the best career advice I have been given over the many jobs I've had.  I've been fortunate to work for and with some great bosses like Brian Halligan, Francis DeSouzaNancy Kamei, and Rick Roberge, and some unique companies, like The Boston Consulting Group, that invest heavily in making each employee a success even after leaving the firm.

The advice and training I received here stands in contrast to my experiences with some not-so-great bosses and companies I've also worked for.  I'm continualy amazed at how valuable good advice has been in my career so I hope to pass on the good advice, and insights from mistakes I've made, via this blog. 

Thanks in advance for your comments, particularly when you can improve upon the ideas posted.

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