I love being a marketer at start-ups. We have a blank slate to work from, we’re a small team so we get to wear many hats and there’s just so much opportunity to do things to grow the business. These are the things that make work interesting and rewarding. These are also the things that that make finding focus so difficult. When everything needs to and can be done it’s hard to pick what really drives the company versus what is just marketing “stuff”. How do you pick? Here’s how we focus.
Our business is B2B. We focus on selling to medium to large enterprise customers. The buyers are sophisticated. They’re marketed and sold to by some of the best companies on the planet. Their baseline is that your company has good products, smart people AND good marketing. They also get pitched by a lot of other people with good products, people and marketing. For us this means marketing’s role is to support the selling process, bring credibility to the business and find ways to reach people who everyone else is trying to reach. For us this comes down to 3 areas where all of the activity happens:
Product marketing is the fuel of B2B technology marketing. It’s even more important than, gasp, demand generation. The positioning of your products and articulation of that positioning is what enables sales to sell and customers to decide. Positioning is the first step: what problem do you solve, why does that matter and why is your product unique in its ability to solve that problem?
After that the hard work really starts. That positioning needs to be crafted into materials that communicate it. For us that’s our web site, decks, sales sheets and video. Marketing materials aren’t just for sales. B2B prospects use your sales team’s materials to pass around their company to get feedback and support before buying your product. And they do it without you being there to explain it. This is why doing it right matters.
While I wish I could fill my funnel with a 100 bucks of AdWords and one awesome ebook the reality is that B2B demand generation is hard. It’s even harder at the beginning. There isn’t a “one thing” that solves the problem, you need a mix. That mix will have some things that are organic and paid.
I think B2B companies who have success with zero marketing spend are very, very rare. We put our efforts into content marketing, performance media and events. Content marketing done right takes time but it works and you also get the added benefits in search, thought leadership and PR.
I admit it, we buy ads, but we buy ads that are highly trackable and aligned with intent (search) or use our content as the ad itself (ebook placement). Lastly we do events. Events are expensive but in early stages they work. They are the quickest way to build pipeline and credibility.
This is the home of PR, influencer relations, awards and speaking. All of these things can bring leads to the business, create credibility and help attract talent. It’s also the place where a lot of people put too much time and ignore the other two priorities. They’re difficult to measure and often really hard when you’re starting out.
We’d like to get better at PR but for now we’re spending PR time on product, customer and funding “news”. Influencer outreach is really important to us. We find the time to brief and get input from formal analysts, bloggers and people who know our space well. We apply for and sometimes win awards in our community. We think it’s important for recruitment. We love speaking gigs but haven’t spent enough time on them.
So that’s our mix in marketing. These will change in importance and the amount of time we spend on each over time but they’re the ones that matter for us. I think the tactics differ in B2C and for those who market to small business but I think the categories are probably the same.
What do you think?