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Customer Success Business Growth

Rejuvenating PLAY’s HubSpot & Inbound Strategy

Gabriel (Gabe) McCarthy

Salted Stone led the self-professed ‘anything but beige’ innovation consultancy, PLAY, through a full-scale inbound marketing and sales strategy. Suffice to say, we became their dream team!


Our Client

PLAY is a Sydney based innovation consultancy that works closely with big-name FMCG manufacturers and retailers to improve their new product development. With roots in market research, PLAY is the authority in using consumer insights to spur innovation.

The Problem

Before PLAY engaged us, the team was right on the cusp of a major change.

Despite a long list of top-tier FMCG clients and innovation at the core of its practices, PLAY had never truly positioned itself as the expert in FMCG innovation. It was time to shift the messaging and update the brand identity in alignment with their renewed offering, ‘PLAYHouse.’ These changes would set PLAY on course to truly ‘innovating innovation’ in the Australian FMCG market.

But as they say, a goal without a plan is a plan to fail. PLAY recognised the need to create a robust marketing strategy to achieve its mission. It would involve leading the movement to innovate FMCG and fostering a community that shared the same values and thinking. Their team wanted to share expertise through informative, engaging content. PLAY believes that the more it shows and tells, the more people would appreciate their willingness to teach, and the trust they sought would naturally follow.

This approach has a name – it’s Inbound 101. PLAY’s team recognised the value of inbound marketing as a proven concept, yet needed expert guidance to implement it. That’s where Salted Stone came in.

Teaming up with PLAY, we set ourselves the challenge of planning and executing a comprehensive inbound strategy within four months to build market awareness and drive sales during their rebrand launch. This means we only had until March 2021 to:


  • Devise and implement a comprehensive inbound strategy
  • Execute updated branding across key channels and assets
  • Optimise the website (built on HubSpot CMS) for UX and conversion
  • Build an email nurture strategy to guide people through the funnel
  • Plan and execute online promotional activity for PLAY’s rebrand.

Playing to our favour (pun intended), PLAY was already up and running on HubSpot’s CMS. They had the right tech to help us bring their vision to the FMCG market. But we had to hit the ground running to meet the March deadline.

Our Solution

We jumped straight to work, kicking off with a set of collaborative growth strategy workshops. Our strategists and PLAY’s team put their heads together to review the brand messaging and competitive landscape, and define the buyer personas.

Perhaps the most important step in our planning process is buyer journey mapping. Arming ourselves with this understanding meant we could architect an inbound strategy geared toward two target personas. The strategy was developed out of two customer journey maps, with specific goals and pain points tied to each stage of the journey.

Essential to this strategy was our choice of tech – the easy-to-use, but powerful, HubSpot CRM equipped with CMS Hub, Sales Hub and Marketing Hub (Professional). PLAY recognised the benefits of leveraging contact data but hadn’t unlocked the platform’s full potential.

What’s more, we could show the benefits of HubSpot’s smart content feature to personalise content based on persona type and engagement. After we cleansed PLAY’s HubSpot contact database, the platform was ready to power our inbound strategy.

So, just how did we generate leads, MQLs and SQLs? Well, we put a few tactics into play:

  • To generate awareness and interest, we leveraged organic and paid LinkedIn content. But there had to be clear pathways for personas entering at either the top, middle or bottom of the funnel. Case in point: if a contact completes a form to gain a top-of-funnel content offer, they’re automatically categorised as a lead in HubSpot and nurtured accordingly. Then, if someone else downloaded a middle-of-funnel offer, they’d be enrolled into a separate MQL nurture.
  • Establishing thought leadership in the FMCG space is key for PLAY. That’s why we developed custom HubSpot landing pages that encouraged visitors to ‘Download an Asset’ relevant to their interests and pain points. This was a collaborative approach, leveraging PLAY’s existing blogs, reports and webinars, and our UX expertise.
  • Data segmentation is essential when it comes to personalisation, so every form submission segmented contacts into HubSpot lists by their persona type, lifecycle stage and interests.
  • We also ensured the sales team made full use of their HubSpot CRM. When contacts automatically move from MQL to SQL, the right salesperson receives a HubSpot notification with a custom token-filled message. The team then qualifies good fit contacts for a discovery call while the rest are marked as ‘Subscriber’ and enrolled into a new nurture sequence.
  • Plus, our copywriting wizards created a press release announcing the launch on Retail World Magazine – a key source of information for PLAY’s target audience.

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And as a matter of urgency, we restructured and redesigned the website in a way that provides an optimal user experience and fully harnesses HubSpot CMS’s capabilities. Here are a few of those improvements:

  • A total sitemap restructure in alignment with key persona buyer journeys.
  • New web copy that ensured PLAY effectively communicated its repositioning.
  • Revised page UI/UX to facilitate a more seamless user experience.
  • Identifying valuable content pieces and featuring these on key pages.
  • Installing HubSpot-powered video on key pages (some of which we developed).
  • A domain switch to playinnovation.com.au.

The Results

UX-optimised HubSpot CMS Website

We designed and developed a completely refreshed, on-brand website, built and powered by HubSpot. Key engagement touchpoints are clearly identifiable – now there’s no getting lost! And the updated navigation helps direct users to find the answers they seek, while spruiking insightful, persona-relevant content.


High-quality Flagship Brand Video

This was probably the most fun we’ve had on a shoot! The team created an upbeat, informative video to tell the world about the new, you-beaut PLAY. After some agile strategic workshopping, together we craft a solid purpose, on-brand tone and CTAs. We scripted, shot, edited and produced the final version which now sits on the homepage. Check the vid out below.



Inbound Strategy Launch (Phase 1)

PLAY can now confidently say they’re making the most of their HubSpot Marketing Hub and Sales Hub investment. Altogether, we implemented an inbound strategy complete with landing pages, automated emails using smart content, contact and deal based workflows, and forms and CTAs that (upon interaction) allocate contacts into appropriate lists in their HubSpot CRM.


Any time a contact enters PLAY’s HubSpot CRM, they’re immediately triaged down a personalised nurture journey, until they feel self-serviced enough to reach out to PLAY. At this point, the contact becomes an ‘Opportunity’ PLAY can qualify and sell to.

Read next: 10 Things to Consider When Evaluating a Marketing Platform

Our Impact

In the last 5 months since beginning our partnership with PLAY, we successfully proved the real impact of an inbound approach, all enabled by HubSpot’s powerful tools.

"We needed to refresh our website and work on our marketing strategy - all within a pretty ambitious timeframe. Our account manager Gabe has been awesome - making sure things keep moving and has really driven things from the S2 side to make sure milestones were met, and that their own work was of a high quality. Gabe is very driven and invests himself in his client's business, and clearly takes pride in his work. Highly recommended."

Chris Thomas, PLAY Director & Founder

PLAY’s website is attracting and educating better-qualified contacts. Not to mention, the automation behind it reduces manual effort in assessing and qualifying every single lead. Ultimately, PLAY can focus on serving the influx of leads and customers.

Our strategic inbound program demonstrated:

  • A customer-first, inbound approach, is both engaging and incredibly effective.
  • HubSpot’s ability to empower teams using a 360-degree view of contacts throughout their entire buyer journey.
  • The value in entrusting a HubSpot Elite Partner agency to lead a strategic plan that places buyers front and centre.

In the end, both the hard results and reviews speak for themselves. As the KPI's we're agreed to, and well on track for measuring on for the next 12 months are:

  • Number of new MQLS = 252
  • Number of new SQL Meetings with a Purpose (AWP) = 84 
  • Number of Prospects at the Proposal stage (new Opportunities) = 28
  • Number of new Customers = 14

What ultimately made this engagement rewarding was to work so closely and transparently with PLAY. The trust we shared throughout the process was essential to producing a successful outcome. PLAY has always prided itself on being the ‘dream team’ to their clients, but now, they’ve found the same in us.

Consider this just Phase 1 of our strategy. We are truly thrilled to keep collaborating together and play our part in taking their marketing and sales to new heights. Onwards!

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