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Q&A With Joe Hafner, Seattle HUG Lead

Meet Joe Hafner! He’s an independent marketing consultant and the leader of the Seattle HubSpot User Group. He is a HubSpot expert, and one of fewer than 40 people around the world who holds every certification that HubSpot offers. As Senior Consultant at Ocho Consulting, Joe helps marketing and sales leaders solve complex operational and technology challenges. We chatted with him about marketing and the upcoming Hubspot INBOUND conference.

Q: What do you think is the main benefit of being in a HubSpot user group?
A: Marketing has its own language, and inbound marketing even more so. The HUGs are great for "talking shop" with other marketers. The Seattle HUG has had presentations on everything from CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) to Lead Ads, Buyer's Journeys and Connect Partner Integrations. It's a place to connect and learn from your peers.

Q: What do you think keeps most marketers up at night?
A: One of the big struggles for data-driven marketing leaders today is concern about data quality. We are working with multiple databases, we are importing data sets of varying quality, we are juggling permission settings, integrations, and changing regulatory environments. What is the value of data that we don't have any confidence in? It's a problem.

Q: How has audience-building changed in the last few years?
A: Do you remember that story a few years ago about the guy who personally targeted his roommate via a social media ad? It was a wild example of an "advertiser" using targeting to pierce the identity layer. Big businesses have been appending multiple data sets to build highly targeted profiles since the advent of the credit card. In the last few years, hyper-focused targeting has become more accessible to SMBs, if they have the skill, will and know-how.

Q: What mistake are most brands making when it comes to targeting customers?
A: There are three things I think are undervalued when building an audience: Social spend is not just for B2C. Business people are people, too, and brands need to distribute their ad dollar accordingly. Secondly, targeting needs to become more journey sensitive: For example, exclude awareness ads when re-targeting recent site visitors that didn't bounce. If they aren't using programmatic tools, marketing leaders at least should think critically about their messaging mix from the prospective buyer's point of view. Lastly, I'm a big advocate for optimizing conversions at the bottom of the funnel (with apologies to the flywheel evangelists) before pouring more money into the top.

Q: What do you appreciate about HubSpot?
A: One of the things I appreciate about HubSpot is that they continue to evolve. And that they think about the question, “what is marketing?” At one point, advertising was excluded from an inbound strategy. Now Hubspot sees it as part of the ecosystem.

Q: What are you looking forward to most at INBOUND?
A: This will be my 6th time attending INBOUND since 2012, and I'm always most excited about the serendipity of meeting fascinating people doing interesting work. Also, my wife and I have been binge-watching Fixer-Upper, so it will be cool to see Chip and Joanna Gaines close the show on Friday.

And there's more where that came from with that last question! Check out our How to Succeed at HubSpot INBOUND 2019 guide, and hope to see you there!

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