Digital marketing & start-up scaling: Can Santiago be the next Dublin?

16 June, 2016

With the upcoming “Creo en Chile” entrepreneurial fair in Santiago, we recall a recent visit of Inbound Marketing Strategist and HubSpot CEO, amazed by the start-up ecosystem of the Irish capital.

‘Dublin is the world’s scale-up capital,’ says HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan, and one of the brains behind the Inbound Marketing methodology. That was the title of Silicon Republic’s John Kennedy recent report on Halligan’s visit to Ireland. The software company expanded its operations in the city after only three years, to 500 people. 

Halligan claims:

“If Dublin plays its cards right, it could be second only to Silicon Valley, not for actual scale, but for the ability to scale-up.”

Dublin’s entrepreneurial ecosystem clicks with HubSpot and the Inbound Marketing philosophy, especially with the SaaS and B2B culture. According to the report, Halligan explained that companies were traditionally wasting money on email marketing, online marketing, and PR but still failing to get B2B inbound deals as “the online marketing model is broken.” HubSpot's venture in Ireland has been successful. 

“When we first came here, we sent six Americans and gave them three goals: get the revenue machine going, build a culture and replace yourselves. The last one is moving back to Boston in two weeks.”

Dublin was ranked in 2011 by Forbes Magazine as the “best city to do business in.”

“We’re very much more of a B2B [business to business] enterprise city than a consumer internet city,” told Niamh Bushnell to The Guardian, Dublin’s first commissioner for startups. “We don’t have a home market per se, so we specialize in areas that make sense to us and that are big globally. So we think internationally and connect internationally from a very early stage.”

 “We want to be credible, we want to be on a par with the way people are talking globally, and we want to have the data for it,” says Bushnell. “Finally, we can say, ‘Here it is; crunch the numbers; knock yourself out.”

When are Chilean innovations scaling up? 

Scaling up by presenting remarkable and enticing, data-based content. Dublin's testimonial case resonates with what Chile is looking for. It’s a small economy with a growing entrepreneurial ecosystem and many great ideas waiting to be put in motion and scaled up.

It's not news: entrepreneurs need scaling up to expand and survive. It is one of the concerns that will be addressed at the creative, entrepreneurial, and innovation fair “Creo en Chile.” The goal, according to Fundación Chile, is:

"To present to a broader audience new ideas in areas such as education, science, technology and start-ups, among other ones, to exchange experiences about innovation and entrepreneurship in the country.”

The encounter is conducted by Chilean development agency Corfo, with the support of Asech, Fundación Chile, iF, Start-Up Chile, Club de Innovación, Fundación Teléfonica, Compete, and Octopus.

The challenge is not only to develop a good idea and get an initial go-to-market fund.

To survive, as Dublin has, we need to expand beyond our home markets. One of the barriers is –of course-the (non) use of the English language. The second concern: how do we grow by raising ourselves above incumbent global companies?

At last year’s Global Startup Ecosystems Report, three ecosystems had fallen out of the top 20 since 2012. One of them was the city of Santiago, although it was a runner-up amongst the 20 best startup systems in Latin America. “Santiago experienced fast “catch up” growth for several years but is now just a bit above average with a growth index of 2.6 (average = 2.4),” the report states. 

In terms of marketing, the report is critical:

“The world has changed so completely it can be hard to recall the “quaint” days when most of what we knew about a product was from a TV commercial or what the local salesman had to tell us. These were the glory days of branding, when a company could define its own image, irrespective of critical review, and then communicate that identity with clever marketing as long as they had the money to spend on ads. But this advantage of large companies has disappeared in the wake of information transparency. Consumers can find the best price for a flight on Kayak and the most inexpensive product on Google.

 (…)This same transparency applies to B2B offerings as well, with price and quality comparison tools available for almost every industry. If there is a niche left where transparency doesn’t exist, you can be sure someone is working on a solution to fill the gap.”

The report is very critical about traditional marketing:

“The traditional Industrial Era approach is more and better marketing. Focus on marketing can create a spike in revenue if this area is unoptimized or when new Information Era tools like segmentation and analytics suites are developed that allow further optimization. Marketing is powerful, but it isn’t the silver bullet either. “

Forbes, however, claims that digital marketing is a great equalizer for startups:

“In both business and consumer environments, with digital marketing technology, the playing field between big companies, mid-size businesses, and even startups has been leveled tremendously. The new success factor is not the size of your budget, but your skill in crafting the right message, sending it out through the right channels, and tuning the system for maximum results.”

So, can Inbound Marketing be an equalizer and scale-up tool for Chilean companies?

We believe it can be. Rather than a set of digital marketing automation tools, Inbound Marketing is an entire strategy focused on the consumer -and getting to know him- rather than just blasting your product to an unknown market. 

HubSpot's State of Inbound for Latin America presents important trends and figures of the biggest challenges companies face with digital marketing. Even though it's not a significant number, its mention on the polls reflects a concern to expand—the challenge: "content for international sites," an interest of 23% of small companies. 

Biggest challenges in Latin America

Source: Estado de Inbound Marketing en Latinoamérica 2016 

In an earlier blog, we had discussed how Inbound could help scale up startups.

  • Leads come to the company through organic visits from search engines and social media and help businesses focus on a quality marketing and sales process. With a larger ROI ratio, the method facilitates a two-way conversation with leads, focusing on clients actually needing a start-up solution. 
  • Rather than investing extraordinary sums of money in running a lengthy and extensive marketing campaign, a start-up's insight and knowledge are the engines to grow its online presence and getting its word out to other markets. Lastly, automation provides valuable data to adjust and refocus marketing strategies and campaigns, as they can feed directly into a continuous improvement cycle. 

If you can "craft the right message," it is definitely something worth considering. 

Do you believe digital marketing can be an equalizer?  How is your marketing strategy developed?



My name is Izzy and I am a co-founder of IDS, an award-winning HubSpot Solutions Partner. I lead our team of consultants who provide professional guidance to help businesses implement the HubSpot CRM platform migrate, integrate their tech stack to HubSpot to create a seamless environment for sales reps to use. There is nothing I love more than solving the challenges that come up when someone wants to migrate an old system or integrate their tech stack with HubSpot - it's like a puzzle!

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