The Marketing Stack

marketingstackThis is the 33rd post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

Here’s what I think happened: engineers are always talking about the “stack” they develop in — simply the list of programming languages and template libraries they use to program. Marketers maybe felt a little jealous and also wanted to have a cool way of explaining all of the tools we use. Thus the emergence of the term “marketing stack.” Similar to engineering, this is a list of the many software applications marketers use to manage campaigns, measure and grow marketing activities.

The competitive landscape for marketing tools is an absolute bloodbath — there are hundreds of valuable SaaS apps for marketers to leverage for better performance and efficiency. Selecting the right mix of tools (i.e. stack) is important to ensure they all work together seamlessly.

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Email Marketing Guide

emailiconThis is the 32nd post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

Despite the explosive growth in digital marketing over the last decade, good old fashioned email continues to be a primary channel for inbound marketing. Once targets provide their contact details to download a piece of valuable content and thus become a lead, we now have an opportunity to email them additional content each week, continuing to nurture the relationship until that lead “raises their hand” to request a demo and talk to sales, thus becoming an MQL.

The weekly email campaigns are incredibly important to get right since they are often directly responsible for driving MQLs. To keep us organized, let’s divide our email marketing into two categories:

1. Plain text emails

These emails look as if they were sent personally, and have a familiar look that drives responses. They are best utilized in nurture workflows or automatic responses to an action, like downloading a piece of content.

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Rise of the Technical Marketer

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 6.28.38 PMThis is the 31st post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

In the not so far away past, “marketing” was primarily focused on large scale media campaigns in print, on billboards and television. The marketing role often mandated expertise in project management or some serious creative juice. Those skills are certainly still important, but now there are new skills that are critical for marketers to have: technical skills.

If we consider a fresh graduate from college, looking to get into marketing, the following technical skills have become a requirement:

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How to Launch a New Product

rocketThis is the 30th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

Suppose our startup is launching a new product. Our product managers identified what to build, the engineering team successfully built it and now we are ready to bring it to market. So… what happens next? The marketing team is responsible for defining the product positioning, messaging, packaging and go-to-market strategy. We need to answer the following questions:

  • How are we describing the product to our target persona?
  • How does the product fit in with our broader positioning?
  • What marketing activities do we need to sell the product?

Let’s break down the process — as we always do — into simple steps:

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How to do Customer Marketing

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 6.22.46 PMThis is the 29th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

The marketing and selling process does not stop once a prospect becomes a customer. Especially if our business has recurring revenue (i.e. customers pay us monthly and can leave us anytime) it is critical that we continue to market new products and valuable content to our customer base. To keep things simple, I categorize customer content marketing into 3 buckets:

  • Content about the overall space and industry
  • Content about how to maximize product value
  • Content that drives upsells of new products or services

Each of these are an important part of the customer marketing mix. Let’s breakdown each:

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How to Manage Tradeshows

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 6.12.58 PMThis is the 28th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

Despite the incredible digital channels marketers have today, large trade shows are still a powerful force in the marketing world. These typically involve vendors setting up massive booths in a convention center with thousands of attendees (ideally target persona customers) wandering through the maze of vendors, learning about new products and sometimes purchasing on the spot.

A large trade show will likely be the #1 most expensive marketing investments of the year. Therefore, it’s critical that we manage it exceptionally well, account for all of the little details, and ensure we are positioned to get a high return on our investment.

When I managed Netpulse’s trade show presence at IHRSA (10,000 attendees), it was the company’s first real trade show experience and we had to define everything from scratch. In the end the show was very successful for us, and we learned a ton of best practices. This post is a breakdown of those best practices, in chronological order from preparation months prior to the day of the show.

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How to Nurture Leads

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 5.52.31 PM

This is the 27th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

Inbound marketing is all about attracting targets to our website, providing them with valuable content and capturing their contact information when they download the content, thus making them to leads. Once we have leads, our goal is to further educate them about our product until they request a demo to talk to our sales team, becoming a marketing qualified lead (MQL).

So what happens between when we get a lead and when they become an MQL? The key is to nurture them in a systematic, automatic and effort-free way. To do this, we need to build lead nurture workflows. This is simply a drip campaign of emails: a series of emails that are scheduled to send in a series, one after another, until the lead takes a desired action, like requesting a demo.

Setting up lead nurture workflows is straight forward. Let’s break it down:

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How to Craft a Marketing Budget

BUDGET

This is the 26th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

As we are developing marketing in a startup, we typically start with a budget of $0. It involves a small team, with people doing multiple jobs at once and stretching resources thin. As the team grows and we want to accelerate growth, we need to determine how we can invest in marketing and earn that money back with new customers. To do that, we need to craft a marketing budget: typically a breakdown in Excel of what items we intend to spend marketing dollars on monthly. To start, the budget should consist of the following items:

  • Headcount
  • Tools
  • Demand Gen Spend
  • Events
  • Consultants

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Business Infrastructure

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 6.46.28 AMWhen a startup begins acquiring customers, it feels pretty magical. Once the sale is closed, there might be a few manual processes in place, like writing down some detailed information about the customer, setting up the product for them and configuring automatic billing. What happens when we have 100 customers? Suddenly, we have a massive influx of new data to track. Is each customer getting billed properly? Do we know who the customer’s key contacts are so we don’t accidentally send them future marketing emails?

These challenges are precisely why a growing startup requires some basic business infrastructure: systems, processes and tools that enable us to do the important stuff (sales, marketing, product, etc) seamlessly. Most companies refer to this team as Business Systems or Business Operations. There are 3 simple goals for that team:

  • Launch and maintain internal tools
  • Ensure visible internal data
  • Create scalable processes

Let’s break down each of these goals:

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Culture Hack: Snapchat

ihrsnapcode_0_1432245461 copyAs a startup grows, the company naturally divides into functions (marketing, product, etc). When this occurs, the team starts to spend more time with people in their function, making it difficult to understand each other’s unique contributions to the company.

For my team at Netpulse, we’re about 85 people between San Francisco and Europe. It’s pretty tough to get to know everyone and understand what it’s like to do their job. So our People Ops Manager, Valerie Ramos, devised an interested strategy: use Snapchat.

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