1 min read

What Is the Inbound Methodology Really and How Has It Evolved? Feat. Mark Kilens (HubHeroes, Ep. 47)

what is the inbound methodology


One of our favorite topics on the HubHeroes podcast is the idea of mindsets.

Sure, the strategies, tactics, frameworks, and best practices we talk about — from sales enablement strategy and email marketing, to social media best practices and HubSpot reporting 101 — are all very important. But the mindsets we adopt can make our break our ability to effectively execute the inbound strategies of our dreams.

🔎 Related: The true power of HubSpot Academy (HubHeroes podcast)

Today, we're climbing up to the top of HubSpot mountain for the most meta of mindset episodes. We're unpacking the inbound methodology with one of the founding fathers of inbound and HubSpot Academy, Mark Kilens.

Now the CEO and cofounder of TACK, Mark spent close to a decade at the Big Orange Sprocket, not only as the driving force behind HubSpot Academy, but also as a steward of inbound itself, ushering its evolution over the years.

So, in this episode, we're honored to have Mark join us to unpack some of the most important HubHeroes mindset-driving questions out there — what is inbound today, how has it changed, and what do we need to understand to get it right in 2023 and beyond?

What we cover in this episode

  • What do we know about how the original inbound methodology was developed? (Pop quiz, do you know what the first inbound methodology was? We didn't!)
  • How should inbound practitioners be thinking about the inbound methodology today?
  • How has the inbound methodology evolved over the years and why?
  • How earth-quaking was the introduction of the HubSpot Flywheel over the traditional inbound funnel?
  • In what ways has the inbound methodology stood the test of time?
  • What are the 2 or 3 things someone should be thinking about as they approach their inbound programs and strategies going forward?

Extra resources

HubSpot Training with George B Thomas

(We've made it easy!)

🔥 A lot has changed with the #inboundmethodology ... which is why we're honored to be joined by the one and only MARK KILENS this week to talk about inbound mindsets.

Specifically, what's changed with inbound, what has remained timeless, and our real feelings about the introduction of the Flywheel model.


#inboundmarketing #contentmarketing #hubspot #hubspotmarketing #hubspotforsales #inbound #inbound23 #hubspotacademy

🤔 What's changed with the inbound methodology? What's remained timeless? And what are the critical mindsets modern inbound practitioners must possess to succeed today?

The one and only Mark Kilens joins the HubHeroes this week to answer those questions and more:


#inboundmarketing #contentmarketing #hubspot #hubspotmarketing #hubspotforsales #inbound #inbound23 #hubspotacademy

🔎 Pop quiz! Do you know what the very first inbound methodology was? Get found, convert, analyze. 

That's WILDLY different from today's attract, engage, delight. But why? What's changed over the years? What hasn't? And how can this knowledge radically shift how you approach your inbound strategies?

The one and only Mark Kilens joins the HubHeroes this week to answer those questions and more:


#inboundmarketing #contentmarketing #hubspot #hubspotmarketing #hubspotforsales #inbound #inbound23 #hubspotacademy

Meet your HubHeroes

Liz Murphy


Agency vet, content therapist, messaging strategist, HubHero wrangler.

Devyn Bellamy


HubSpotter, partner enabler, strategy wizard, BLACK@INBOUND.

Max Cohen


HubSpotter, senior solutions engineer, CRM evangelist, a millennial on TikTok.

George B. Thomas


HubHeroes leader, growth catalyst, guardian of humans, HubSpot expert.

[00:00:00] Liz Murphy: I had like to think that the reason why we have that disclaimer is. Because Devin has so many shameful, fast and furious. Hot takes, but moving right along because we don't wanna derail us so early into the proceedings today. Hi everybody. Who's excited?

Who's excited? 

[00:00:14] George B. Thomas: I am excited, especially since you just jabbed Devin 

[00:00:17] Liz Murphy: Boom. 

[00:00:18] George B. Thomas: immediately at the beginning of the podcast.

[00:00:20] Devyn Bellamy: It's fine. I'll own it. I'll own it.

[00:00:22] Liz Murphy: you know. You know who else owned it? Two chains In the song, we own it for the Fast and Furious soundtrack. That's right. That's right.

[00:00:28] George B. Thomas: dang. Good. Tieback. My

[00:00:31] Liz Murphy: I know, That's why I'm

[00:00:32] Devyn Bellamy: Hey, even a broke clock is right twice a day, so.

[00:00:35] Liz Murphy: I'm wounded. I'm wounded. We're gonna have to find some healing and restoration in this episode, which I think is going to be very easy because Hub heroes, I need to quote my guy, George here. I need y'all to grab your snack. Your backpack because we are going off on an adventure today into the depths of the inbound wilderness.

And George and Devin, we're not alone today.

No, we have someone else sitting in Max's seat today. We have a very, very special guest, mark Killins. Hi.

[00:01:09] George B. Thomas: Oh yes, 

[00:01:10] Liz Murphy: the only Mark Killins, currently the c e o and Co-founder of tac, used to be the C M O at Air Meet, was also the VP of Content and Community at Drift and the VP of HubSpot Academy for what, almost nine years?

Is that right?

[00:01:25] Mark Kilens: Uh, I mean, no. I mean, it was, that was like a year and a half with

[00:01:29] Liz Murphy: What?

[00:01:31] Mark Kilens: It's, 

[00:01:32] Liz Murphy: us about.

[00:01:32] George B. Thomas: That title. That title. Notice he said that title by, by the way. I don't even care. I don't care if it was a month and a half. The pedigree, the pedigree is 

[00:01:41] Liz Murphy: That's what I wanna dig into here because like, you're right, it's just a title. You are, you are like a founding father of Inbound. I was surprised when I was looking over getting prepared for this episode. I'm like, you really should just lead with that. Who am I? I'm Mark, uh, one of the founding fathers of Inbound.

You may have seen me, you may have heard about me. We are just so excited to have you on the show today. Mark, how are you?

[00:02:01] Mark Kilens: no, no, no.

That's, that's, that's. 

[00:02:03] George B. Thomas: Now Mark. Now Mark. He tries to be humble, ladies and gentlemen. So that's, you're gonna get the no, but. But he, he knows, I know, he knows, I know how many lives he was a part changing with the whole HubSpot Academy and, and So you can be humble, brother, but we 

[00:02:19] Mark Kilens: Yeah, I mean, I was, I was a HubSpot customer, um, way back in 2008, 2009. So that's where the idea for me to, to hopefully have the o opportunity to join HubSpot came from, I mean, I, I found HubSpot how most people. Probably found HubSpot in the early days. I went to Google, typed in how to generate more leads and guess what came up?

The HubSpot blog and the rest is history. So, uh, yeah, I just, I just, uh, I wanna help people, you know, that's, you know, that's all it is. And, and HubSpot Academy was an opportunity to help HubSpot help people. Uh, Never thought it would become as big influential as it, it probably has become. But for us it's just about, like you were saying, George Impact.

And, there's a lot of, there's a lot of deliberate things we, we, we did. They're still doing to, to make that, um, brand, that experience, uh, so important and successful. So we can unpack those things. But yeah, at the end of the day, it's just, uh, you know, how do you, how do you give, give more than you get maybe.

[00:03:20] Liz Murphy: You know, um, I'm gonna encourage our listeners, if you haven't already, go back and listen to our episode about the true power of HubSpot Academy, because all of us really dug deep and talked about the d. Different ways, especially the three of us who were sitting right here, were really profoundly impacted by HubSpot Academy.

Like that's where my whole career took off. Like that. Like without HubSpot Academy, I don't know where I end up, you know what I mean? Um, but


[00:03:49] George B. Thomas: I know I don't end up here. I, I can say that I don't end up here without HubSpot 

[00:03:54] Liz Murphy: No. And George, I know I would actually like to turn it over to you a little bit. You alluded to this already somewhat, but you do have, I know at least one or two good stories about the, the impact and through your connection with Mark.

[00:04:06] George B. Thomas: Yeah, definitely. So I'll let, I'll just take people down memory lane before we let Max, uh, max. Now he's gonna be Max for the rest of the episode. Mark actually, uh, you know, we're just used to Max being on the podcast anyway. Uh, I do have a few memories, uh, with and it does start with, you know, the world's largest webinar and hearing, uh, the voice time.

Um, it does kind of continue on a couple uh, I actually made it a point to go to the HubSpot Academy Inbound and thank, uh, mark and the team for just. All of the hard work that they had done, uh, the education that they en enabled uh, you know, to be able to dive in and learn about inbound marketing and HubSpot and, and so And. And it was a, it was a moment, by the way. It got a, it got a little emotional right, because, uh, and I'm not usually an emotional guy, but I just wanted uh, the fuel that they were putting into the universe, the, the people that were actually able to change their lives because of it. And then one of the very fond, uh, memories I have, and there's.

There's a video that I still have. We may have to publish it in some sort of certain just as like a, an inbound is. Um, I remember sitting in Boston, uh, flew into Boston and Mark and I interview, uh, about, uh, my inbound journey. And, uh, got to sit there, you know, face to face and a couple cameras and, and wax poetic on at that point when I worked at the Sales Lion, like the journey, the, uh, that I on.

And so there are some, not to mention, I could mention dinner, right? Dinner at Del Frisco's, like we've just had some great moments where we've been able hang out, break bread together, and understand that when, when you do things like Mark said, when you give more Um, you actually end up getting a lot.

That's the thing. Even though you're still giving. So he's just, he's just a great human. This is why he is on the show, and I can't wait, Liz, to dive deeper into these around uh, where it's changed, where we're at now, all these sorts of things. So yeah, just good, good times, good 

[00:06:13] Liz Murphy: I can only imagine Mark, right now, just I could see your face and you are obviously a very humble guy. You are literally ready to talk about anything else except yourself right now. You are literally ready to dive into the topic and let's get going. So one of the things we actually love to talk about here on the Hub Heroes is mindsets, right?

Like if you listen to a lot of our episodes, Almost always one of the first questions I'm gonna ask, whether we're talking about a tool, a tactic, a specific hub, um, a strategy. I always, usually start by asking what are the, what is the mindset or different mindsets somebody needs to have in order to do X, Y, or Z effectively?

Because you can have all these tools and frameworks and tactics, right? You can have all of these different best practices at your fingertips, but if you don't go into your work with the right mindset, You are setting yourself up for failure, if not just at the very least stunted success. So we're actually gonna go super meta today.

We're not gonna be picking apart a single piece of the HubSpot or inbound ecosystem. We are going to be talking about the story of the inbound methodology overall, what it is really, what we should be thinking about it today. Again, that mindset piece of it, right? What's changed and what has stood. The test of time. So like I said, let's get excited. Grab your snack in a backpack. George, 

[00:07:35] George B. Thomas: Whoop, whoop. 

[00:07:36] Liz Murphy: I love when you say it, it makes me so excited.

[00:07:38] George B. Thomas: Oh yeah. I'm ready to impact the humans

[00:07:42] Liz Murphy: Yes. 

[00:07:44] George B. Thomas: of 

[00:07:44] Liz Murphy: Oh, there it is. There it is. All right. So Mark, I wanna ask you to take us back when the inbound methodology was first being developed. What were some of the challenges that you were facing at the time when you were trying to bring it together and refine it and bring it to the world for the first time?

[00:08:03] Mark Kilens: So, so I did not create the original inbound methodology. I, I, that was Mike Volpe. Brian Dharmesh, I'm sure a lot of people. The original MES methodology. George, do you know what it is?

[00:08:15] George B. Thomas: I think 

[00:08:16] Liz Murphy: Let's hear


[00:08:17] George B. Thomas: but but let's, but but go ahead and tell me just in case I don't want to be wrong on today. 

[00:08:21] Mark Kilens: No, I want you to test. It's what it is. Three parts. The original one was three parts.

[00:08:25] George B. Thomas: Oh, so it's, uh, attract, engage, and delight or something? No. Oh, capture, convert 

[00:08:31] Liz Murphy: A attract, convert


[00:08:34] George B. Thomas: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. 

[00:08:35] Mark Kilens: no. It 

[00:08:36] Liz Murphy: Oh my God.

[00:08:37] George B. Thomas: sucking at this. 

[00:08:38] Mark Kilens: Get


[00:08:40] George B. Thomas: I didn't know 

[00:08:40] Mark Kilens: Is get found, convert, analyze.

[00:08:44] George B. Thomas: Yep. Nope, 

[00:08:44] Liz Murphy: Wow. 

[00:08:45] George B. Thomas: know that

that was pre That was pre 2012. That was 

[00:08:48] Liz Murphy: Whoa.

[00:08:49] Mark Kilens: Yep.

[00:08:50] George B. Thomas: Mark. You set me up for failure, brother. What 

[00:08:52] Mark Kilens: you know, I, I knew it pretty well 'cause that's the one I followed and studied when I was a customer. And that's what HubSpot did early days, right? HubSpot, between 2006 seven, when it was founded to, in 2012, when we updated, updated it to version two, it was, it was about getting found on the internet.

Converting your website traffic using landing pages, forms, thank you pages into leads and analyzing those results. And it was very top of funnel to a little bit middle of the funnel type of buying experience. And those are the tools. Um, and then what happened is we started to realize that HubSpot was.

Gonna be more than that. We're gonna build products that are more than that. We wanted to paint a bigger story, a bigger picture, be more aspirational, um, really unpack the entire journey that someone, takes, uh, and the, and the, the bigger jobs to be done. The key with IMA methodology and any of these kind of.

Uh, methodologies if you will. It's all about like what job are you trying to help your customers do and those are those verbs. So then we updated it, uh, across, you know, the entire company. Remember there was like so many different like wiki pages about this conversations, one-to-ones group conversations, and it became four parts.

Attract, convert, close, delight. And some of this was extremely like out there because, you know, HubSpot was just starting to build their stronger middle of the funnel, email marketing, lead nurturing tools. Um, really didn't have too much sales stuff yet. didn't really have too much on the delight side at all.

Um, you know, there's still just the marketing hub at that time, but we knew in, in, you know, three years, five years, eventually like 10 years, it was gonna be a complete platform that had all of this. so we wanted to. Warm up the audience, warm up the, the story, if you will, and start to teach people these things before, they could maybe even use HubSpot to do it.

'cause the key with another, the key to a good methodology as well, and I'll pause after this, is it should be ultimately agnostic of your product or platform. You could use anything to do the email methodology, email marketing methodology. You could use, you know, 20 different point solutions if you want.

But you know, we of course, PO positioned in a way that made HubSpot be kinda like the best solution to pick.

[00:10:56] George B. Thomas: Yeah, I love this so much. And Liz, before um, another question here. A, I just want everybody to understand that I'm actually really right now because I learned something new. I. About HubSpot and inbound that I didn't know previous to this interview. So I, it's worth the money spent already just to realize there was a methodology before the methodology.

Also, I do wanna let the listeners know, 'cause Mark, uh, he, he, he dropped a, a knowledge bomb that everybody needs to kind of pay attention to. We'll make sure that it's in the show notes, but he mentioned jobs to be done. And I just want everybody to know that that ties back to Clayton m Christensen. And, and there's a book Competing Against Luck that if you haven't downloaded it, if you haven't read it, how, however you uh, if you're a marketer, salesperson, business owner, anybody, and you just want to kind of open your brain a little bit, getting that into the, uh, the cranium will help you immensely.


[00:11:58] Liz Murphy: No. I love that. George, you and I have been plotting and so excited about this conversation. Jump in at any time.


[00:12:06] George B. Thomas: Okay. I will, I will. I promise.

[00:12:08] Liz Murphy: So, Then let's take us to where you came in with that inbound methodology Mark, when you were there through that refinement process. 'cause you did watch it evolve significantly. Well, it's interesting, we were talking about this as we were preparing for this episode, how much the inbound methodology has both evolved, but also in many ways, Stood the test of time in many ways.

Like there are core fundamental principles that have remained the same, but I wanna first talk about what are some of the most significant changes that you were a part of or observed that you feel people need to keep in mind in terms of how the inbound methodology has evolved?

[00:12:44] Mark Kilens: Well let, yeah, let's first talk about like, why do we create it? I mean, or why do we update it? I, I know why I was a big advocate of updating it because it is that, that thing which is now attract, engage Aite, it's on its third version by the way. And that was one of the last big things I did at HubSpot before I left.

it is a belief. Tool, a tool to help you believe in something. It is a change management tool. and it is an education tool. So, you know, if you, if you think about like what your business might need in order to change people's minds and hearts and belief system, you might wanna create something like that.

And then to actually get them to believe in it and then remember it, but then understand it and then master it. You need to help them change. And then depending on how much they need to change will dictate then how much education they might need in order to change. And you can think of that as a almost a two by two.

You, you have education on one axes and then change on the other one. And then you start to think through this a little more deeper and it's like, wait a minute. This was intentionally done to align. How HubSpot talked about these things from a marketing standpoint, a sales standpoint, a customer success standpoint, implementation standpoint, a product standpoint.

That was the real intention of this update and of using the methodology. And then of course there was the underpinning, the Bedrock Foundation of HubSpot Academy. ' cause you would teach people, the way it's designed is you would teach people the why, how, and what. Of the jobs that we're recommending, you do the job of inversion, two of it, the job of attracting, converting, closing, and delighting.

Why would you do that? Well, here are the outcomes you're trying to get to. How do you do that? Here are the different tools and other things you use to do that, and here's what it looks like or here are. What are the exact specific tools and features in HubSpot you need to use to actually accomplish the how to get to the why?

So this was very crafted with a lot of intention. And, foresight, if you will in mind.

[00:14:36] Liz Murphy: Yeah. When you take a look back, what were some of the big catalyst moments, either internally or externally that led to some of the more significant changes over time?

[00:14:45] Mark Kilens: the acquisition of Performable the acquisition of Performable in 2011, June, 2011, because that was when HubSpot rebuilt its entire product team. An engineering team. Thank you. David Canell and Alia tos probably the biggest moment in HubSpot's history. definitely, I mean, without that, I don't know.

I don't know what would've happened, Brian, that Brian says that that's a direct quote from Brian GaN, you know, he, he said that, he said that many times. So, that then led us to actually build a product. That wasn't just a marketing product, but you know, we we're building a product that put the customer at the center of that product.

We built it with customers and led us to discover that the next product, the next s-curve of HubSpot is gonna be on the sales side. Then it's gonna be a c R M, and then it's gonna be a, a, you know, service hub, you know, the delight product, if you will. Then it's gonna be eventually operations, right? Like, it, it, it, it laid the groundwork and f and framework.

So like, I remember like going to David cancels desks many times and. You know, he was actually the one that's like, yeah, we should use delight. 'cause that comes from Seth Godin. That's how Delight was introduced. 'cause Seth Godin talked about it a lot and I, and we were trying to figure a word for that last phase of it.

And uh, yeah, there you go.

[00:15:46] George B. Thomas: I'm nerding out so. Much right now. Right now. I just gotta let everybody know. A I I just learned a second thing that I didn't know about the journey of, like the Academy and, and, uh, that, that the acquisition was that much of like a power piece, but then also like to hear you talk about delight and Seth Godin, and then back to like him being a speaker at Inbound, but also the, the fact that Mark, you customer being the center of it and the fact that in The messaging was don't call customer. Call human. And that's what freaking attracted me and like drew me into belief that you talked about earlier, which then led me to the education. Oh my, I need a 

[00:16:28] Liz Murphy: was about to ask you a question, George,


[00:16:31] George B. Thomas: Okay. Okay. De uh, Devin. Devin, what about Devin? Is Dev de I've got Devon. I can't believe your mind's not exploding right now. Well, you work at HubSpot. Nevermind. You probably have like the whole Bible 

[00:16:41] Devyn Bellamy: my, take on it as a current hubspotter is just listening to how things worked before, uh, versus how they work now. Now that we're such a much larger organization and, the equivalent of Mark's position now, has grown, uh, his, his prior position has grown so much more in scope. and where, mark, I don't know if you know this, but HubSpot Academy is now a part of a larger team called, uh, community led growth.

And so all of our community initiatives fall under one umbrella, including, HubSpot Academy as well as the partner program. Uh, I work in the partner program and, a lot of the things that I do, I get to work a lot, uh, alongside of, academy professors and stuff and just hearing, how much easier. Things are, would've been to change then because of the lower head count and the fewer people and the lower number, the of degrees of separation, uh, between like myself and the vp, like, the, the person, the current vp, Lori, when she interviewed me, uh, I believe she had just gotten promoted to director and now she's a vp and I've only been there for two years.

And that just goes to show. How explosive, uh, the growth has been, both with HubSpot internally as well as the product. So I am, I am, enjoying hearing how the sausage was made, uh, like back when I was still a customer. It was pretty cool.

[00:18:10] Mark Kilens: Yeah, Lori, Lori and I worked together. She was, um, she was just a manager when I was there and I think she became a director and whatnot. So she's been there for like, coming up on seven, eight years. Gotta be.


[00:18:23] George B. Thomas: Oh 

[00:18:23] Liz Murphy: Amazing.

[00:18:24] Mark Kilens: she's great.

[00:18:25] Liz Murphy: One thing I wanna point to.

[00:18:26] Mark Kilens: No, no, definitely one, one fun thing you could do.

I'm sure the wiki still exists. You could go back and look in the Wiki and you'll see all of this documented on the Wiki unless they archived it. I mean, this is 12, 14 years ago, but I bet you could do that right now and, and see screenshots of exactly what I'm talking about.

[00:18:40] George B. Thomas: By the way, let me this in there. The day that I get access to the Wiki is probably the day that I feel like I'm in heaven because I, I as a non. Hubspotter cannot have access to that, but I keep hearing about this internal and I'm like, oh, just, just just give me a camera in like four hours.

Just like I just wanna take so much, so much 

[00:19:03] Devyn Bellamy: Well, I can't talk too much about what's in the Wiki, but I can tell you that it's gonna take a heck of a lot longer than four hours, buddy.

[00:19:09] Mark Kilens: Yeah. I mean, Dharmesh is, you know, genius. That's, that's a huge part of the culture of HubSpot, right? And, and that's where a lot of these kind of conversations, I'm sure they still happen today and they're like, it's, it's so important, right? 'cause it's, especially now that HubSpot is a very distributed, hybrid, remote type company, you know, you have to have that, That, that commu the culture of like, communication, established.

Right. And, and I think that's where a lot of companies not to deviate just are missing the mark so bad when they come to like how they build their culture and company. 'cause they don't think enough about and deliberate and intentional communication. 

[00:19:41] Liz Murphy: There's one thing I wanna point out before we move on here that you said, Devin, that I found really profound. And I, and I, and I think it's worth noting. HubSpot Academy is considered a community initiative. When it could be considered more of a broadcasted content initiative. And I think that's something just, it's an observation that I think is worth noting for all of us.

but with that in mind, Devin and George, I would actually love to hear from both of you since, you know, we've been kicking around the HubSpot block for a little while. You have also watched the inbound methodology evolve. What has. Surprised you about it. What were some of the biggest aha moments? What were some of the biggest moments of, I'm not sure about this.

Wait a minute. Okay. I'm down. Like take me through your own journey with inbound.

[00:20:32] Devyn Bellamy: Well, I can tell you, I literally, like two days ago, just taught a workshop on, uh, inbound marketing for, uh, the local Minority Business Assistance Center. and as I had gotten to the flywheel portion of it, I was thinking it's like how much it's changed since the, the original funnel with the four steps and now we're looking at three steps.

And as I'm walking through, this visual of the flywheel of, strangers to prospects, to customers, to evangelists, and the addition of delight as an equally important step, At first when, when Brian first unveiled the flywheel at Inbound, I was, I was skeptical 'cause I couldn't get my head around it.

And then he is talking about this contest where whoever has, whoever shows the best flywheel for their business, will win v i p tickets to Inbound. And I, I, and at first I just couldn't wrap my head around it. I couldn't get it. but, uh, eventually I did, but I didn't really think about, how much I loved it and how much it made sense.

Until two days ago when I was, when I was teaching it again, because these were like, these were ex very, this was a very, very novice group. like small business owners who are like in the creating flyers for their company phase of marketing. And so like super green and just that visual made. My life is so much easier and it was so much easier for them to digest when I'm under, uh, explaining the concepts of force and friction in your flywheel.

and explaining why delight is as is, uh, just as important as, uh, attract and engage and how your, the idea is that you want to feed, uh, people into your, sales, uh, pipeline by using. by using, uh, your evangelists and, just, just the flywheel, uh, visual, the, the latest incarnation, of the inbound methodology.

I've always been a fan, but explaining it to people and them being able to wrap their heads around it the first time and understand the importance of, creating, uh, evangelists for your brand. And how before when it was a funnel, people just fall out the bottom. It was just, it made life so much easier.

and I, and I see them ramping up even faster than I did, using the

flywheel method. 

[00:22:54] George B. Thomas: Devin, I'm so glad that you. Brought up the flywheel 'cause then I don't have to be the guy to bring up the flywheel. cause when the flywheel showed up on the scene, I got a little pissed. 

[00:23:06] Liz Murphy: I

had some feelings. We all have

some feelings.

[00:23:08] George B. Thomas: I, I got a little angry with the

idea of, of the flywheel? Yeah. I'll throw a bunch of words.

Whatever people can know that I was aggressively aggravated with the fact that a flywheel showed up on the scene because I had come to know. Like and trust my best friend. The inbound methodology, and what I mean by that is when you think about the original graphic that was really out there, yes, it was about a track convert, close and delight, but there were other elements that had presented itself.

Like you had a whole center section that talked about strangers, visitors, leads, customers, promoters, and then you even had a bottom section that talked about, hey, in attract. It's about blog, it's about social, it's about keywords, it's about pages in convert. It's about call to actions and landing pages and forms and contacts.

When you're talking about close, it's about email and workflows and lead scoring and C R M C R M integrations back in the day at that time and delight. It even had a list of things for delight. And it was very easy to understand. It was very easy to teach. It was very easy to tie it back to the tool that you were trying, trying to train people on.

And then the flywheel came out and I was like, where's clothes? Where did clothes go? Clothes got hidden. Clothes just got abandoned. He got left out on the side of the road. Clothes is no longer part of the gang. Now it's just attract and cage and delight. Wait, what happened? The words are changing.

Somebody's messing with my day, somebody's messing with my life. And like, so all of a sudden I had to take like years of teaching and deep dives of this thing and be like, now you must unlearn. Pretty much what you have learned and teach something different in a way than you had taught it. Anyway. So now, now let's, let's fast forward. I love the flywheel. Now,

[00:25:01] Liz Murphy: Yes.

[00:25:02] George B. Thomas: moral of the story. I love the flywheel. And by the way, I love the flywheel more. Now, as of Devon said two days ago, I'll say as of two weeks ago, because by the way, listeners, if you haven't gone and listened to where, um, max. Dove into the, uh, physics of inbound or inbound physics and, and we, and we literally started to like pull the flywheel apart.

And I had this moment in my brain where I even correlated like five to six books for different stages of the flywheel. You have to go back and listen to it because if you're on the fence, funnel lover, flywheel hater, go listen to inbound physics, give it a shot. Anyway, I'm, I'm, 

[00:25:45] Liz Murphy: No. Oh my god. I couldn't help but like, what are they called? In light in law and order. It's an excited utterance while you were talking because like it, I have felt like when I saw the flywheel for the first time, 'cause I was at Inbound that year and I was so excited. Brian Hagan's up on stage and then he like, Whips off the thing and then it starts sparkling around the edges.

And I'm like, what is happening? What is happening right now? 'cause I'm like, I love HubSpot because they innovate. And then they came along and they're like, here we inno innovated. And initially I was like, thanks. I hate it. And like this, when I said innovation, this is not what I meant. Now I have to actually be innovative too and think about things differently.

And I think, I think this is something and why we wanted to have this conversation today, I. I wanna start pivoting to what has stayed the same, because there are certain elements of this conversation where it's like many of us have been close followers of HubSpot in inbound for many, many years. My journey started in 2014.

not as OG as George and Devin here. But, um, when I think about how much has changed, I also think about how much has in many ways stayed the same. So I'd like to take us down that path a little bit to understand, mark, what are some of the things that you have observed that even as, even if maybe we gave it new language, even if we gave it new structure, even if things got modified, adapted, shifted, moved around.

What are some of the core underpinnings that all inbound practitioners need to realize that haven't changed? The things that should remain evergreen, timeless.

[00:27:19] Mark Kilens: Well, I think it's the ethos of Inbound and the HubSpot brand. Just like, I mean, so you, you know, you have, um, you have the constitution. Of the United States of America. Those things in the Constitution don't change often. Right? I mean, when was the last time something changed in the Constitution? It gotta be a few decades ago.

I could probably figure that out quickly. Some Googles it.

[00:27:37] Liz Murphy: We literally were talking before you came on Mark about how, um, this is like National Treasure and how we were gonna ask if you could help us steal the unbound version of the Declaration of Independence. Uh, we'll take that part of the conversation offline, but please continue. 

[00:27:52] Mark Kilens: I mean, it's, it's the ethos, right? Like the, the two H's that stand out to me. Are, uh, human and helpful. And then holistic is a third of them. We talked a lot about at HubSpot, human Helpful, holistic, but then you have heart, I mean heart. I mean, there was a big, there was a decent change that happened, right when I was leaving.

We, you changed, we changed the e, the, the actual what e what the word was for E, but um, You know, humble, empathetic, adaptable, remarkable, transparent. I mean, I still remember that, right? I mean, that's like ingrained into my brain. So again, you talk about culture, you talk about, um, being very intentional, purposeful with how you design something.

That's why the culture code that Dharmesh created with how politic whole company is such an important, um, artifact for HubSpot. You can almost call that maybe that is the, uh, declaration of Independence. Then you have like the customer code. That came out, I dunno, six, seven years ago. Right. Um, and how those were built and what they say and like how every detailed word matters.

Um, it, it's, it's, it's that thoughtfulness that a lot of companies, quite frankly, just don't put into their brand, into who they are, which is the ethos and then the archetype of the brand. Um, I remember when Grow Better was coming out and there was a lot of debate around like, the grow better term, and I wasn't a huge fan of Grow Better initially.

Um, that tagline and like, what, what HubSpot now, kind of stood for. And, uh, that that's another, that's a tremendous Wiki page to look up by the way, Devin. And, uh, you know, it's grown on me for sure. I I like it, you know, I, I I like it. So anyway. Yeah. So to answer the question, it's ethos, right? It's that it's

[00:29:28] Liz Murphy: you dig into that for a moment?

[00:29:29] Mark Kilens: What's that?

[00:29:30] Liz Murphy: dig into that for a moment. So you, you had a bit of a kind of a eh moment about grow better. Can you tell me what shifted your mindset around that? Because I remember when that came out and it didn't have like, It wasn't flywheel in terms of its impact, uh, of cascading ripples and conversation.

But I remember there were a lot of people who were like, I love it, grow better. I get it. And others were like, huh, I don't, I don't get it. So can you take us through that journey there briefly of like, what brought you around to grow better?

[00:29:57] Mark Kilens: Well, I think with, with anything like kinda like that, you need, um, you need a steak, not just the sizzle. So you, you need tangible examples. Of how to bring it to life. And that's what, that's what you do. That's what a good brand does, right? You bring, you bring, you bring it to life from stories. It's easy to say stuff, right?

Saying something is super easy, but to actually mean it and show it and do that for like years, just like, like just do it with Nike, right? Like if they were ever to change, just do it and have a new tagline. Imagine like how much time it would take. To get people to then understand it. 'cause you can say it, it's easy, but to get people to actually believe in it, not so much.

[00:30:37] Liz Murphy: George, before I go into my next question, I know you had a few on the back burner that you definitely wanted to pitch over to Mark. What questions have you got? I see you pacing and I'm trying to do a better job of putting you in, coach, putting you in.

[00:30:50] George B. Thomas: No, no. Yeah, it's, it's just interesting to me because, um, as the guy who really tries to pay attention to patterns, I have heard Mark say the word belief. Multiple times during this podcast. And, and what I hope the listeners or the viewers are doing is they're paying attention to the patterns. they're also.

Just quickly writing down like things like archetype and culture code and methodology, and, and they're thinking about how many times. Also, Marcus said like, it's very in depth and thought out and like it's a plan because once you put that plan into place, It's, it's what drives the belief of the people that will be attracted to the brand, to the product, to the service, to the, to whatever the thing is.

And sometimes I think there are a lot of organizations out there that sell the sizzle and they don't even have nothing but a hot dog. And it's like they don't have the steak, right? They don't have, but, but, but because it can be words and because we can say it. Then let's throw it out there. And if we sell a piece of beep, then we sell a piece of beep.

And, and, and there's just something that even though we're going through the national treasure escapade of inbound and the methodology, there are some fundamentally important business rooted being a great business, things that are popping up in this podcast episode. So I just hope the listeners and the viewers are, are catching that the importance of what, what's happening here.

[00:32:26] Liz Murphy: Devin, for you, what are some of the parts of the inbound methodology that have really stood the test of time for you?

[00:32:31] Devyn Bellamy: attract that I spent more time talking about attract than any other part, uh, a couple days ago. because the thing that's always resonated with me with the inbound methodology is, um, not just giving people, a place to search for solutions to problems they have, but an opportunity to find out about problems that they didn't even realize they had.

And that I think is what separates good from great when it comes to the attract phase, is helping people and, and, and the, and, and the thing is, is that what you're tracking with them with may not even align 100% with your final product. and, and that's huge. Like this ebook that I wrote probably like six, seven years ago now.

It was about, uh, marketing to millennials, uh, for auto repair shops. And it was mostly about, how to use social media and how to engage, uh, this, these digital natives using, um, a medium that, uh, most of these people only rely on their kids or grandkids to tell them about. And, even though, It, it wasn't aligned with our core product offering.

It was, you know, our core product offering adjacent, which is one of the value props of our product was that it's a digital native product that your customers will appreciate. it was getting them in that, you know, digital mindset and here's who's using it and here's how to reach them. and it was wildly successful, uh, because it resonated with the, uh, our, our, our target audience.

and I never would've thought to do that had I not gone through, uh, the academy training.

[00:34:12] Liz Murphy: One of the things that's always struck me about inbound and quite frankly, HubSpot overall, I think George, in a way, this is my version of the thing that you always talk about that captured your attention for you, it was like, don't call me a customer. I'm a human. I. It wasn't necessarily something that HubSpot explicitly communicated to me, but something that I've noticed in every single iteration, every single change, every single initiative, whether we're talking about the methodology, the culture code, uh, the customer code, uh, funnel to flywheel, all of those different things, whether I agreed with the changes or not the thing, there are two things that have always struck me, and it's always the thing that's gotten me in what I call my inner cupcake.

That's what I call my gut. In order to connect with my gut, I've had to name it after a baked good. This is where we are. 

[00:34:55] George B. Thomas: Oh, there you 

[00:34:55] Liz Murphy: you gotta do it, you gotta do it. But the thing that always got me right in the inner cupcake was everything is done because there is such care in terms of getting it right with an understanding that things have to change and things evolve.

I don't know how to describe it any other way. It's like who am, whomever the stewards are. And Mark, you were for a time, one of those stewards. The stewards of inbound clearly have a reverence. They give a damn. They know that this is really important work that's being done, and so I think sometimes people can goof on Hub and they're like, oh, you're just drinking the core, like the Kool-Aid and whatever.

I'm like, no. This is fundamentally talking about how we. Solve problems for each other as human beings. That's literally all that we're talking about here. And so I think, you know, this is something we emphasize a lot on our show. And when I think about some of the mindsets, I really want, um, people to keep in mind with the inbound methodology going out of this episode.

And that is a hint to you all. You need to start thinking about what mindsets you are gonna give me as your answer. Hint, warning, warning. One of the ones that comes to my mind initially is this idea of. Solve real problems, not imagined ones. Like that's always been the big thing for me. Like that's the thing, even when I was like the flywheel, are you bleeping kidding me right now?

Are you bleeping kidding me? What is happening here? I had a funnel, I had a system. I have blogs. I now have to go update. I have to go write a what is Flywheel blog. And I don't even understand it. But even then, even when I was sitting there like, Brian, do you know how much work you've just created for me?

'cause I, at the time, I was the editor-in-chief at Impact, which was a, which is a HubSpot. Elite agency and I was just sitting there like, are you effing kidding me? But even then I sat there and I was like, the man isn't wrong. The man is not wrong. Like there were problems where if we were just gonna sit there with a stagnated, inbound methodology, we were not going to see the bigger picture of what it is that we were talking about and what needed to change and what needed to shift.


[00:36:59] George B. Thomas: Not only even the bigger picture, I agree with the bigger picture, but what it did a really great job of doing, and it's something that I love, is it did sort of simplify the complex, right? Because you already had a large mass of people that were adopting the inbound methodology. But we may have reached a level where if we stayed at that point, we couldn't bring other folks into the ecosystem.

and here's the thing that I want to tie all of these changes. Uh, don't call me a customer. Call me a human. You know, one plus one equals three, grow better. Like all of the, the words that came around and along the journey. because again, this, this episode is about the methodology, right? The beginning of, uh, a track convert close to light.

What does it look like then? What does it look like now? What should we be paying attention to, you know, mindsets, whatever. one thing that hit me in this episode it was about a movement and the methodology was actually the vehicle to enable the movement, and it was a movement of doing business in a better way.

It was a movement of being able to even do business in a digital space. It was a movement of the little guy can win too. Right. And if you think about how important those things are, this movement mentality, getting a room full of people excited about a cause, a belief, as Mark said in something, man, we all marched real good.

We're still marching real good around this methodology that, yes, it's changed over time, but it's still about, ladies and gentlemen, the humans. It's still about creating a great customer experience. It's still about creating content that adds value and attracts people into your ecosystem because you've bought into being a happy, helpful, holistic, all the Hs.

With heart, human, and I, I just love the fact that this is the movement that we've been part of.

[00:39:03] Liz Murphy: I love that. Devin, why don't you kick us off here. What are some of the things that you believe modern or anybody listening right now? Anybody who is an inbound practitioner, and once again listeners, when I say inbound practitioner, I'm using that language language specifically because you could be a marketer, you could be a content manager, you could be in a sales seat, you could be in a service seat, you could be on the ops team.

You could be a business owner. You could be a business leader. That's kind of what the whole flywheel is about, right? Like we're all part of, we're all in this together like a family, right? So we are all inbound practitioners in our own specific way. So Devin, I'd love to hear from you what are some of the, what are the two to three things you think people should keep in mind going forward when we, they think about the inbound methodology when they're trying to infuse that into their practices.

U use it as the cornerstone of their strategy.

[00:39:53] Devyn Bellamy: Well, I think, uh, mark hit it right on the head towards the top of, the recording here. is it, it, it boils down to value and, uh, you need to add value in every interaction in every step of the way, even if, um, it doesn't end or directly contribute to your bottom line. That's, that's not what this is about.

Um, and to echo George's point, uh, at the end of the day, we're just people helping people. And if that isn't your mindset going into this, if, if you have that, uh, predatory, uh, you have money, there's a dollar sign on your head, I'm gonna go get it, you know, merch, walk through the streets and all that stuff.

Um, then, then this isn't for you. cause that's not what this is about. Eventually people are going to see through it. they're gonna see that everything that you're doing has ulterior motives. And just having that transparency, it's like, yeah, I, of course, I'm here to sell you something and work for a company, but at the end of the day, let's just talk.

Uh, let's find out what you got going on. And, it's a good fit, great. Like I was telling, I was telling the class about HubSpot Academy towards the end of the class. And I'm saying, yeah, you learn this, you learn that, and there's all these different courses and they're fantastic. And oh, by the way, they're free.

And they say, okay, so what's the catch? And it's like, well, what do you mean? What's the catch? It's like, well, it can't just be for free. There's gotta be some sort of catch. I'm like, alright, well the catch is this. The catch is that I'm gonna help you so much. The catch is that I'm going to work with you and help you become such a better human that when it comes time for you to implement everything that I've taught you.

You're gonna consider me to be the person for your solution. And it's like that, that's the catch. And at the end of the class, I told him, it's like, yeah, I charge $132 an hour for even a conversation. but if you're a member of this class, hit me up on LinkedIn, we can talk for an hour for free. And, and then they were like, oh, great.

And they was like, okay. But nobody asked me what the catch was. Because the thing is, is that while I am gonna help you, I am gonna talk you through this. The, what I'm also gonna be doing is asking probing questions, seeing if there's an opportunity for a good fit for what my consulting company offers you, seeing like whether or not there's gonna be something that I can help you with, that you can pay me for, or even if you can afford to pay me.

but at the end of the day, For the interaction, you are going to be better off, you're going to be in a better position or that much closer to solving your problems. And even if I'm not the one to solve your problems, you'll at least be better positioned to have an educated conversation with someone who is in a position to solve your problems.

So I'm going into it with the primary goal of helping you. but with the secondary goal of hopefully we can work together and we can help each other. but that to me is one of the cornerstones of the inbound methodology is at the end of the day, we're just people helping people. And I, I, I want you, whether you give me money or not, to be better off now than you were before you met me, 

[00:42:52] Liz Murphy: Oh my

[00:42:52] Mark Kilens: I am, uh, I'm curious to to know version four. It's almost like, you know, six years, like 2006, 2012, 2012, 2018. It's like this year or next year. Dharmesh was kind of dropping hits at some hints at some stuff last year on stage. I'm not sure if any of you picked that up. Um, I mean, I just, I've worked with Dharmesh for a long time, so I kind of know his process to thinking out loud, if you will.

Um, it could be this year, it could be next year, but I would, I'd be shocked if it's not within the next two years that there's a new version of that that comes up.

[00:43:20] George B. Thomas: Okay. 

[00:43:21] Devyn Bellamy: I am ready to update some slide decks. Just let me know where I need to be.

[00:43:24] George B. Thomas: a little bit scared and a little bit excited at the same time. Um, to be honest with you, but, but Liz, I wanna, I wanna piggyback on the question that you asked Devin. think what's interesting that has happened and, um, the fact that I'm gonna say this about a SaaS software, it's kind of blows my mind.

but I love HubSpot. Like I fundamentally love HubSpot. I love my wife, I love my kids. I love, you know, people in the academy that are grinding it out. I love the developers that are in the back room making the code work. But, but if I just look at like, you know, the software itself, like. I love HubSpot and I have to break down like a little bit of why that is.

You know, they did what Devon said and they created content for free that allowed people to make themselves better humans, you know, education for free that allowed them to elevate their own lives. to the point where you start to trust that education, you start to trust that software, um, they build up a massive amount of reciprocity based off of that trust.

And because there's so much of a an overflow of reciprocity, it turns into love. Now, the reason that I'm bringing this up is because if you think about success leaves clues and you understand that this conversation all started with the methodology. Does your organization have a methodology? Does it have the things that we've talked about today?

Is it fundamentally using even this methodology to build trust, to build reciprocity? Do you have a product, a service, or are you a human that people fundamentally can't necessarily put their finger on it, but they go, man, I love that thing. Because that's where we should be trying to get to as as a organization.

People love us, people love us. Here's the other thing too, is that I know that we talked about a second goal, well, hopefully they'll buy our software. the sneaking suspicion that there was a healthy layer of zero expectations. That it was, we're gonna do this and we hope, but we don't expect, and ladies and gentlemen, it is a freeing thing when you can actually go at something that can be powerful and mighty and have zero expectations of what it's gonna do, and just sit there and be excited about seeing it grow into its full potential.

[00:45:55] Mark Kilens: I mean, I agree with that. The, the, the, the thing that I'd say that you should do is you should at least set goals, though. Expectations and goals can be the same. They can be different. I just feel like, you know, doing something without having a why behind it, and not everything has to be measured. there should be an an explicit reason. For it to be done. And your expectations might be, might be like, you know, I don't think this is gonna work. I don't, I have no expectations. So like, I don't, you know, who knows? But like, you still have to have some type of barometer, I think. because that's how you learn.

That's how you kind of close the loop.

[00:46:30] Liz Murphy: Mark, let me turn it over to you for the same question. And I think this might be a good place for us to land today's conversation because, and, and I'm saying this out loud to check myself mostly because Mark, I would literally just sit here and ask you questions until you're like, I have a family. Um, at some point I need to go eat food.

Um, but

[00:46:48] Mark Kilens: do need to jump pretty soon, actually, believe it or not, sorry.

[00:46:54] Liz Murphy: exactly when we think about, um, you, what you think are the one to two things someone should keep in mind. Is there, is there. Going through their inbound journey right now, the way they should be thinking about the inbound methodology, no matter what their role is, what are those one or two things you would encourage them to keep in mind?

[00:47:11] Mark Kilens: It is all contextual to your business or to your organization, right? Nonprofits can use this for-profits, can use it. B two B, B two C. What people miss is, The most important things are like, who are you serving or trying to serve? Why are you serving those people? What are you serving them with? and then the how, the how is like the methodology, the how is like fine.

But like you, you have to think about those things. And then it's like, well, how much does a thing I sell cost? What is the market? What are the per personas? What's the account types? If it's B two B, we're in the stage of my company lifecycle. Am I, what is the skillset of the people at my company?

What's my skillset? So I think one of the biggest things, number one is context. Number one is context. and number two, when it comes to the inbound methodology, it's probably, someone said it, I'm sure, like when we were talking today, it's like the beginner's mindset. You know, having the, uh, the student and teacher mindset constantly, right?

So I'd say those two things are critically important because marketing, I, you know, or go to market, you know, marketing go to market, inbound is now more of a go-to market methodology. you know, isn't slowing down because the world is not slowing down. I would, I would argue the world's speeding up.

There's more data being created year over year. And that is never gonna stop from what the trends look like. One thing that is going to slow down, ironically, and this is why I'm such a big believer in people first, now type of uh, go-to-market ideas, is human population growth in about 70 years is predicted to flatline, if not start to decelerate.

[00:48:46] Liz Murphy: Whoa, really.

[00:48:49] George B. Thomas: Mic drop. Mic drop. End of 

[00:48:51] Liz Murphy: Look, I knew we were gonna get real profound here on this episode, but now we're talking about human population growth. Please go on.

[00:48:57] Mark Kilens: Well, it's, I do jump pretty soon. I actually, it's crazy. I have another, I have one more thing today on a Friday to do, but, uh, the, um, if you look at like data, right? What's data? It's content, it's algorithms. It's literally just like the digital footprints, fingerprints, uh, of, of all of us, right? There's so many types of, the data is insane, right?

And now it's being measured in zetabytes. Don't even know how many zeros that is. Um, In terms of global data created each year, it's, it is hockey sticking and, and, and like, that's, that's, you know, that's, that's one piece of the equation. The other thing that's not hockey, sticking that, that actually gonna plateau and probably decelerate good how to go down is, is people.

so how are you gonna cut through all that noise? If data just keeps getting more and more creative? It's more noisy and it's just like, oh my god. You kind of ignore the data to some degree if you, you know, not ignore it, but like, you, you, you, you, you kind of, you kinda get that in your mind and you say, wait a minute, what I need to focus on are building relationships, relationships with people, because that ultimately is the thing that's gonna have the highest, um, signal to noise maybe.

[00:50:03] Liz Murphy: Incredible. Well, on that note, gentlemen, mark, thank you so much for joining us today. This has been an outstanding and illuminating episode, and, and I hope our listeners feel the same. Uh, and other than that, guys, have a great weekend and we'll talk to y'all next week on the next episode of Hub Heroes.

[00:50:25] George B. Thomas: And between now and then, make sure you're connecting with the humans.