The Startup Growth Playbook

An Interactive Guide to Growing from Startup to Scale-Up



At HubSpot for Startups we help young companies grow using inbound marketing, but it became clear that to do this there was something missing - a guide to how inbound can be specifically leveraged for startups.

Your company’s path to scale is unique. With this playbook, you can create a marketing plan custom to your company and ensure your business is on a road to success. Full of tools, templates, guides, and much more, the Startup Growth Playbook is an interactive guide that will allow you to approach your marketing at full speed.

You can't out-spend the giants, but you can out-think, out-teach, and out-help them.



At the core of planning an effective marketing (and sales) approach is embracing a set of guideposts to lead your strategy. We recommend the inbound methodology for startups. Broken into four main segments, attract, convert, close, and delight, inbound marketing has proven to be effective for startups who need fast growth but have a limited budget. These four segments will form the framework for the Growth Playbook, creating a foundation on which your business can grow and succeed.

Inbound marketing is about using marketing to bring potential customers to you, rather than having your marketing efforts fight for their attention. Sharing is caring and inbound marketing is about creating and sharing content with the world. By creating content specifically designed to appeal to your dream customers, inbound attracts qualified prospects to your business and keeps them coming back for more.


Embracing Inbound

What Makes Inbound Different?


Go to Market Strategy Blueprint

Beginning Your Journey Towards Marketing Success

Planning your go to market strategy is a critical step in ensuring your future marketing successes. Going to market might feel a little bit like you against the world: there are dozens of different channels you can target: from social media, to organic, to referral, but how do you know which one is best for your company?


With the help of Google’s Go to Market strategy builder you can see which channels are most effective at which stages in the buyer’s journey based on industry, business size, and country. By using this builder, you can make sure the bulk of your marketing efforts are going where they belong.

Google's Customer Journey

Marketing productively requires a significant investment in time, energy, and money. As such, a solid marketing budget should be a critical component of your go to market strategy. These 8 marketing budget templates will help you keep your spending organized, demonstrate the ROI of your spending, and prevent excess spending

8 Budget Templates



As a young company, nothing is more important than driving traffic to your website. The easiest way to attract traffic to your website begins with understanding your target audience then producing content they love.



Persona Development

Defining Your Audience

You can't market a product without knowing who you are selling to. Thus, the first step in attracting visitors is creating a buyer persona for your ideal customer:

"Buyers personas are semi-fictional, holistic ideals of what your customers are really like, inside and out. They are based on market research and real data about your existing customers" 

The buyer persona is more than just why this person needs your product, but about understanding who they really are: What do they look like in terms of demographics? What do they care about?  What are their greatest goals, pains, and challenges?

 Defining your buyer persona allows you to keep your marketing efforts hyper-focused, concentrate exclusively on the most rewarding prospects, and make the most of your limited resources.


Customer Journey

Establish the Path

At the core of any marketing campaign should be a thorough analysis of your customer’s journey. While you can’t understand every possible route a prospect might take towards becoming a customer, it is critical that you do have an idea of the major ones.


If you want to truly understand what drives your customers, check out HubSpot Academy's roadmap to the buyer’s journey to help get you started on thinking about your own customers

Start Paving the Way

Understanding how your customers ultimately reach a purchase is complex. Check out this webinar on how to truly get in the mind of your customer.

Mapping Mind and Method

Website Evaluation

Is Your Site up to Snuff?

You’ve spent many long days getting your website live online and your efforts have paid off: it looks great, it’s easy to use, but you’re not quite done. You need a website that not only functions well but one that drives traffic. A lot goes into creating a website that performs well across devices and search engines.

Website Grader

Grade your website against the rest of web based on overall performance, mobile functionality, SEO optimization, and security operations

Get graded!
How to Make a Mobile Friendly Website

Ensure your website functions well and looks beautiful across all devices.

Learn More!
Growth Driven Design

Full website redesigns are tricky and often lead to lackluster results. Learn how to execute Growth-Driven design and redesign your websites faster for less money and with less stress.

Check it out!

SEO and Keyword Planning

Fine-Tune Your Website

A great SEO strategy begins with your buyer personas. 

They have a problem, you have the solution, but what steps will lead them to becoming a customer? The journey all begins with the first query they type into their search engine.

Figuring out what exactly that first search looks like is the key to developing an SEO strategy - these searches will end up forming the basis for your keyword strategy. How do you come up with these keywords and how do you ensure they are the right ones? Check out the tools below:


Not the creative type? Ubersuggest can supply potential keywords to help get you going

Get Suggestions Now

Research potential keywords to see their historical stats and how they might perform

Amplify your keyword strategy

Use this SEO kit to bring your website's web presence to the next level

Check it out

Use this SEO template guide to ensure you are optimizing your keywords to their full potential

Make the most of your keywords


Reeling in Visitors

You’ve perfected your persona and kicked butt with your keywords, now it’s time to start generating some killer blog posts. At first, blogging might seem like a distraction from your company's true goals, however, there are three important reasons why you shouldn't dismiss content marketing just yet:

  • 1

    Blogging drives organic traffic to your website - every new post provides another indexed page to show up in search engines

  • 2

    Each post provides an opportunity to convert - content will drive leads further down your funnel towards being customers

  • 3

    Blogging grows your website's credibility - unlike paid advertising, content continues to drive traffic long after it's posted.

Clearly, blogging plays a key role in the inbound methodology but maintaining a blog isn't easy for everyone. It can be difficult to put yourself in the shoes of your persona and try to imagine what sorts of posts they would find useful. 

 There are many ways to come up with great blog post ideas: talking with novices about your product, researching what’s already out there, thinking about the challenges that lead you to create your product.


Struggling to come up with good ideas for your blog posts? This blog topic generator will help get you going.

Get Generating

Make your blog look professional right from the very first post using these 5 free blog post templates.

Blog Beautifully

An organized blog makes it easier for followers to know when to expect content. Use this blog editorial calendar to keep your blogging timely.

Get Organized
We don’t want just any traffic to our site, we want the right traffic. We want the people who are most likely to become leads, and, ultimately, happy customers



Now that you’ve attracted website visitors, you need to get their information into your database -- or convert them into leads. It's your job to create content that people will be willing to hand over their contact information for.



Content Offer Creation

Educate Prospects and Earn Trust 

Now that you've attracted prospects through your blog and social media posts, it's time to use more advanced content to convert them into leads. Every blog post should be followed by a call-to-action - a noticeable, clickable button - linking to a content offer that prospects receive in exchange for their contact information.

What type of content you offer depends on the stage of the buyer's journey. The resources below will help guide you through this decision process. 

Which Content for Which Stage?

Deciding which content offers are right for which stages of the buyer’s journey isn’t easy. This “Guide to Building a Killer Content Strategy” will help you decode the buyer’s journey and create a solid plan for accomplishing your content goals.

Start planning now
Ebook Templates

Ebooks make a great content offer for converting leads. However, they can often be difficult to produce for those lacking a design background. These ebook templates will simplify the process by taking care of all the design for you.

get creating
Content Creation Hacks

Often, the biggest difficulty in creating quality content is a lack of time, resources and writing or design skills getting in the way. Check out these 34 hacks created by other marketers to help you tackle these challenges.

Start producing content now



You've worked hard to get customers to your website and convert them into leads, but you aren't done yet. Getting customers across the finish line can be the trickiest part of the process, so make sure you're armed with the best tools possible. 



Engagement and Analytics

Optimizing Your Funnel 

No startup can afford to lose any time or money - quickly figuring out which marketing channels are working and which aren't is critical. Once you've identified these channels, it's time to double down on the successes and re-evaluate or cut the failures loose. 

Check out the resources below to get your reporting and analytics skills up to par: 


Reporting is a critical step in making sure that you’re making the most of your time and money. Use this simple monthly marketing report template to make creating your next report a breeze.

Start Prepping Your Marketing Report Now!

Knowing how much to pay for ads is difficult. While it might feel like luck-of-the-draw, it doesn't have to. Using a few key metrics, the Advertising ROI Calculator can evaluate your ad spending.

Are you spending too much?


Inbound Marketing Requires Inbound Sales

At the end of every well-crafted inbound marketing funnel needs to be a sales team ready to receive leads and close deals. To truly make the most of your leads, it’s critical for your sales team to embrace the inbound sales methodology

To keep up with today’s empowered buyer, the sales process needs to transform too. The Inbound Sales Methodology covers how you can engage with prospects at every step of the buyer’s journey in a way that is educational, helpful, and dare we even say loveable. 

The Inbound Sales Certification course will train you on exactly what inbound sales is all about so you can better identify, connect, and advise today’s buyer.

Start learning

Crucial to making the most of your sales team is use of an effective CRM. HubSpot's free CRM allows your salespeople to easily manage their pipeline and monitor deals in real-time.

Get the Free CRM Now



The cost of acquiring a new customer is dramatically higher than the cost of retaining an existing customer. Creating the final step of the inbound methodology, delighting customers should be treated with the same care and attention as all the other steps of the methodology.


Captivating Customers

Aim to Please

 It's easy to move straight on to the next prospect after closing a customer, but happy and loyal customers can be a game-changer for a new business: they can become repeat purchasers, promoters of your brand, or even play a role in creating your next product.

Check out the posts below to get your startup's delight game in to full gear:

Go Beyond Good Enough: How to Delight Your Customers
Step Up Your Delight Game
You Don’t Know Jack: Learning to Understand and Delight Your Most Important Marketing Asset
Get Educated
How to Design an Inbound Campaign That Delights Customers
Start designing

Continuing Education

Grow Your Knowledge

Marketing is becoming harder and harder everyday: it requires more analytics, more thought, more creativity. However, if done well it can also be less expensive, more efficient, and more beneficial to the customer.

The world is going inbound and so are the most successful companies. If you want to truly master the ins and outs of inbound marketing, there is no better way than to get Inbound Certified through HubSpot Academy.




 HubSpot for Startups Lightbulb

HubSpot for Startups is designed to help startups grow. If eligible, your startup will receive a 90% scholarship for HubSpot's complete software in the first year.

We understand that startups have limited budgets for sales and marketing software. That's why we created HubSpot for Startups. If eligible, you're granted a minimum savings of $11,000 to use HubSpot's marketing and sales software in the first year. The program is a 12-month commitment, and if you choose to resubscribe you're guaranteed a 50% scholarship in year 2!

HubSpot helps you easily build beautifully responsive landing pages, emails, blog content, and more. It also plugs into apps for startups, so you can integrate all your tools. The Startup Onboarding gives you technical assistance in setting up your portal, up to one training session per quarter with a marketing and sales coach, 24/7 access to HubSpot's best-in-class support team, and HubSpot's training academy to teach you best practices for Inbound Marketing and Sales.