HubSpot Academy recently turned 10 years old.
To celebrate this milestone, here are ANOTHER 10 lessons I learned from starting, scaling, and marketing HubSpot Academy.
11. Internal Communication
To build something transformational outside of the organization, you have to first build something transformational inside the organization.
Being able to communicate your vision, plans, and successes internally is the first step.
[Here's a link to a Corporate Academy Pitch Template which has some slides you might be able to use do communicate internally]
12. Stakeholder Alignment & Management
“If you want to run fast, run alone. If you want to run far, run together.” - African proverb
You can only go so far if you're doing this alone.
Find commonalities between your goals and other teams to find bright spots to collaborate, update, and create new processes.
For stakeholder management, RACI was my favorite.
13. Project Management
A required skill if you want to take something from idea to launch.
When we began scaling, we leaned into project charters, project plans, and change request logs were just a few we used.
14. Executive Sponsorship
Without our exec sponsor, HubSpot's Former CEO Brian Halligan, HubSpot Academy wouldn't be what it is today.
You need at least one executive or leadership team member bought into your vision and you/your team. Without them, your team will always be deeply buried within the company, reactionary and tactical.
Shoutout to all the executive sponsors who see the boundless opportunities with a well-executed customer education and corporate academy program.
While you might wish it weren't true, marketing matters.
My colleague, Chris LoDolce, says, "this isn't Field of Dreams. If you build it, they won't come."
Determining the learning outcome is essential, and so is the transformational outcome for your learners.
When communicating why someone should take your training, think of it like a "before and after" photo from a fitness program or diet pill; those before and after photos sell the dream all by themselves.
What is the before and transformational after state for your learners, and how will you help them get there?
Lean into that + testimonials (social proof) to get learners over the fence.
Then figure out a way to drive more traffic and learners to your program.
[To see four marketing frameworks we used to grow HubSpot Academy, check out our “Marketing Your Learning Program” Templates.]
16. Foster a community & celebrate learners
In my first ten lessons post, I said that our team celebrated everything.
One thing we did to foster a community was we celebrated our learners.
We wrote so many "congrats" letters for certification recipients and "thank you" notes for learners that our hands hurt. We reached out on LinkedIn; we met with them at our conference, and so much more.
Most of it wasn't scalable, and that's okay; not everything always has to be scalable.
17. Make mistakes of ambition
I made many mistakes, many of which still makes me cringe when I think about them.
But every one of those mistakes I learned from was worth it because it moved our team's learning forward, too, since I shared my failures with them.
If you're too scared to make mistakes, let this be your call to get a coach, mentor, or work with your manager to overcome this; the costs of perfectionism are too high.
18. Team Sub-Culture
While most organizations today prioritize company culture, the best team proactively creates its subculture.
Someone once referred to the HubSpot Academy team as the "theatre kids" at HubSpot.
And while I wasn't a theatre kid, I appreciated the sentiment.
We were HubSpotters, but we were more than that. We weren't afraid to buck the trend, get creative, and be a little weird. We created a subculture where we gave ourselves permission to be ourselves.
As most learning professionals probably are, our team's subculture was also learning-obsessed.
[Below is the early team doing a human pyramid to show off our Halloween costumes. We decided we'd do this 30 seconds before, and somehow all got into formation. I guess we were the theatre kids.]
19. Post-Course/Certification Surveys
One thing that I continually go back to is one question we asked after people completed our certifications, "What's one thing we should do to improve our XYZ program?"
The answers were gold. I would run audits twice a year to review these, find trends, launch big updates to our certifications program, market them differently, find new learner segments, and essentially opportunities to improve the program.
Reviewing our post-cert data also surfaced whispers that eventually became significant initiatives, like the Education Partner Program and the HubSpot Certified Trainer Program.
20. Build relationships with others internally
Solid relationships with others in varying departments are a great way to test ideas, get feedback, and sow the seeds of potential partnerships.
It's also a great way to let others learn about the work that you're doing and the impact that you're having in a more casual environment. Both of which are great ingredients for creating internal champions who will speak well of the work you're doing.
Who knows, you might even make long-lasting friendships too.
Have you built a CE Program or Corporate Academy? What lessons would you add? Let me know on LinkedIn.