Episode 10: "The Brandwagon Interviews" Podcast with Brian Halligan of HubSpot

Lisa Marinelli


From tactics to taglines, Wistia’s CEO, Chris Savage, chats marketing with the brains behind successful brands on our new video series, Brandwagon. Last week, Chris sat down with Justine Jordan, Head of Marketing at Help Scout, talk about how design thinking is essential in her approach to marketing and brand building. Today, we’re excited to share our extended interview with this week’s guest, Brian Halligan, CEO of HubSpot.

Check out the episode to hear Brian talk about how building a better experience is essential to building modern brands people love.


Or listen on: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher

Watch the actual Brandwagon episode here!


Aside from creating software for inbound marketing and sales, HubSpot has become the expert at being a marketing expert over the past decade. The company has consistently provided interesting and effective content, and Brain Halligan, CEO of HubSpot, shares this was their intention from the start.

Today, the industry is evolving, and Halligan believes businesses need to offer more than just a great product to build their brand. In order to grow their businesses, brands need to offer the best experiences for their customers. On this episode, Halligan discusses balancing creating a new product or strategy that challenges the status quo and building a modern brand people love. Plus, he talks about HubSpot’s approach to creating an engaging culture and shares some lessons any marketer can learn from his favorite band, The Grateful Dead.

Key takeaways

“It used to be that you’d take an ad out on a newspaper, or an ad out on a tv show, or an ad out on a radio show, and you’re renting space on somebody else’s asset. Today, it’s really easy to create your own newspaper or blog, or your own radio station or podcast, or your own TV show or video cast, and then sell your own ad on your own asset where you can pull people into that in a new way — and we were right about that. ” On this episode of The Brandwagon Interviews, Brian Halligan explains how he believes marketers should be thinking about growing their businesses.

Here are some of the lessons learned throughout the episode:

  • Stand by your principles and encourage your customers to try new things
  • Building a diehard fanbase of 5% of people is more effective than trying to appeal to the other 95%
  • The marketing funnel is an outdated way to understand your marketing strategy

Notable moments

Short on time? Check out some of our favorite moments during this interview between Chris and Brian.

00:58 – The experts on being experts

If you’ve looked to the internet for an answer to a marketing question, chances are you’ve come across a HubSpot article. After all, HubSpot is one of the best resources for modern marketers. In Savages’s opinion, HubSpot is an expert at being a marketing expert, and he wonders if this was their aim all along, or if they evolved to their current status as a go-to resource. Halligan talks about the beginnings of HubSpot and how it was their intention from the start to provide the most interesting and effective content for marketers.

4:08 – Building a product to deliver on your promise

Savage asks Halligan how companies should think about building products if they spot a trend and want to make an impact. Brian talks about how most products begin as a way for founders to solve their own problems, and as a result they tend to be successful because they’re solving the same problem for everyone else. Savage and Halligan discuss how to balance creating something new versus developing for your existing customers. The pro tip? If you believe in a product or a strategy that’s going to change the status quo, stand by your principles! Your customers may want more support doing things the “old way,” but if you want to create something new, you need to encourage your customers to try new things.

8:45 – Brand affinity for the Grateful Dead

It’s no secret that Halligan is a huge fan of the Grateful Dead. He wrote a book about it after all! Brian talks about three ways the Grateful Dead disrupted their market and became leading content marketers. He talks about how building a diehard fanbase of 5% of people is more effective than trying to appeal to the other 95%, and how, by directly connecting with customers, the Grateful Dead became one of the most iconic brands/bands in history.

17:23 – “Brand experience fit”

Halligan shares some of the things he feels HubSpot “got right” along the way as their business grew. He talks about how creating an agency service was a big win for HubSpot. This reinforced their belief that making a great product today is table stakes. In the past, making a great product was challenging and expensive, but today it’s much less expensive and serves as the starting line for any new company. For modern brands, it’s making a great experience for your customers that counts.

20:01 – “Culture is like product for employees”

Chris asks Brian how many people work at HubSpot and how they’re scaling. He also asks Halligan how they handle communicating with such a large workforce. Halligan talks about creating a culture that keeps your employees engaged and attracts the best talent in a highly competitive space. HubSpot has maintained a culture of extreme transparency with their employees and the company wiki along with quarterly all-company meetings allows them to stay close with their teams.

29:06 – From funnel to flywheel

Wrapping up the conversation, the two talk about how the marketing funnel is an outdated way to understand your marketing strategy. Touching on product versus experience once more, Halligan shares how HubSpot thinks about its business in terms of three distinct flywheels. He explains why the company switched to a flywheel philosophy and shares why he thinks this is the way marketers should be thinking about growing their businesses.

Lisa Marinelli


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