This is the 50th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.
Here we are… the last post in this blog series of building a marketing team at B2B startups. We’ve covered a tremendous amount in the last 50 posts, and hopefully the content has been helpful in growing your team. As a startup evolves, the marketing needs and team structure will as well.
In this final post, let’s consider what we need to account for as we scale the marketing function for a growing business. For my team at Netpulse, we hit a certain level of growth where we started to struggle with challenges such as:
We’re out of content ideas… what do we write about?
Did our team grow too fast… what should our interns do?
Are we seeing diminishing returns from our inbound strategy?
To help answer those questions and more, let’s outline a philosophy and considerations around scaling marketing:
This is the 49th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.
Throughout this blog series on marketing, we’ve gone deep on metrics, dashboards and the tools we use to track them. We’ve covered budgeting and how the different areas of a marketing budget power our lead generation and product marketing. As marketing leaders, we need to effectively communicate the ROI of these marketing efforts to various stakeholders of our companies, from other functional leaders to the CEO and CFO. This ensures that we have the necessary support, budget and collaboration with the broader team to grow marketing. Below is a breakdown of the steps to do this effectively:
1. Set expectations
As with any function or project, we need to set the right expectations from the beginning, and adjust them regularly as conditions change. When I first took over marketing at Netpulse, our team was building nearly everything from scratch. I needed to make sure the sales team didn’t expect an immediate flow of MQLs before we get the messaging right or implemented our marketing automation system.
This is the 48th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.
An important ingredient to successful inbound marketing is variety. Some targets will prefer to read ebooks. Others will attend every webinar and re-watch the recording. In order to appeal to many targets, we need to build content in many different mediums. One of those is online courses.
While on the surface it may sound like a big undertaking, launching an online course is pretty simple. In most cases, it is just an automated campaign of emails that link to content (i.e. articles or “lessons”) that are dripped to the user in chronological fashion, guiding them through the lessons. Here is a breakdown of how to get started:
1. Identify topics
Start by figuring out what topics the course should include. This should be based around our company’s core story and positioning. For example, for my business selling mobile apps to health clubs, we might launch a course on “How to Grow your Club with Technology.” Throughout the course we’d outline best practices for launching new technology, including (but not limited to) mobile apps. This way, the lead is getting educated and nurtured.
This is the 47th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.
The CRM and marketing automation system are the two most important software packages that make up the modern marketing stack. Together, they serve as the core infrastructure required to operate a successful inbound marketing program. Therefore, it’s critical that we tightly integrate them and share data about our leads so they get the right message at the right time.
For simplicity, the automation system is home-base for marketing and the CRM is home-base for sales. Ideally, the sales team is rarely — if ever — interacting with the automation system. Our goal is to only present the information most relevant to the stakeholder. For example, the sales team should only be focusing on MQLs and opportunities.
There are two integration paths to consider:
Sync all incoming leads
In this model, every time a target fills out a landing page form to download content or register for a webinar, their contact information will be synced to the CRM.
This is the 46th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.
For every piece of content in our inbound marketing strategy, there is a landing page hosting, displaying and providing the ability for targets to download it. The landing page is a critical gateway to our content. Depending on it’s design and copy, it will make or break our conversion from targets to leads, a crucial step in the marketing funnel. Therefore, as marketers we need to pay close attention to how we develop and optimize landing pages.
This post outlines some best practices in building and scaling landing pages for B2B startups:
1. Always use the marketing automation system
Landing pages are tightly integrated with other components of inbound marketing, controlled by the automation system. This includes CTAs, content distribution, lead capture and the automations that run when a target converts to a lead by downloading content. While it may be tempting to use a separate service specifically designed for landing pages, it’ll make your life so much easier to keep it all under one roof. I use Hubspot to handle everything.
This is the 45th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.
If we are operating a B2B startup, the website still reigns supreme among the most important communication channels. It is the most visible public display of our messaging, story and products. Furthermore, the website is typically the primary gateway to engaging with our inbound marketing content, typically through a linked blog. Not surprisingly, building a website is often at the top of the early stage marketing to-do list. It is also one of the more challenging, time-consuming and expensive endeavors.
There are many online resources outlining how to design and develop a website, from being mobile-first to creating content that is optimized for search engines. This post will instead focus on the general approach a marketer should take in launching a website, and some pitfalls to avoid:
1. Prepare the fundamentals
Prior to building a website, we need our messaging, positioning and story solidly outlined. Our website will simply be repeating the same core story over and over again, in text and graphics. Once we have it defined, making the website is a lot easier.
This is the 44th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.
An exciting step in a startup’s growth trajectory is when we start expanding internationally. From new laws to currency exchange, international growth brings a fresh set of challenges to the team. For Marketing, international expansion can be intimidating… will we have to run many simultaneous campaigns to address different regional markets? Getting started with marketing internationally is actually fairly simple. Consider the following pointers to kick off:
1. Pay to get started
Some paid acquisition can go a long way. Start by identifying who the major publications (print/digital) and events are, and secure a few sponsorships. Purchase a lead list. If possible, set up a booth at a local event. We need to kickstart our international marketing with an initial list of targets, so manual efforts like paid email blasts and events can get the engine started. This can compliment a locally targeted digital campaign on Facebook, Google and retargeting.
This is the 43rd post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.
When we are building a product in startup mode, nobody knows who we are. If we’re following an inbound marketing playbook, we’re going to create a story, establish our messaging and begin creating content to attract targets to our web properties and convert them to leads. As we create more content, we’ll start to earn more brand authority and trust in our market. If we are creating quality content that provides unique and valuable insight to our target persona about their problems, we will start to become thought leaders. Here is how it works:
1. Identify your internal leader
To establish a thought leader persona, we need to identify a person that will be the face of our brand and the go-to “thought leader” for whatever problem our product is solving. This may be our CEO, our VP Marketing or Founder. Once this person is selected, they should be the face of content. That means:
This is the 42nd post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.
With the right tools and technology, marketing effectiveness can easily be measured and tracked. Gone are the days of “half of our marketing is working, we just don’t know which half.” In this series, I’ve outlined some of the top metrics that B2B startups need to account for when measuring our marketing. However, those metrics don’t mean a whole lot unless stakeholders from marketing, sales and leadership can easily access them and draw conclusions. To make that happen, we need to build dashboards.
Our marketing automation system is typically the tool used to create and view dashboards. As we are getting an initial view of our marketing metrics set up, consider the following:
1. Configure in the marketing automation system, CRM or BI tool
We’ll build our dashboards using the reporting tools in the marketing automation system (e.g. Hubspot), CRM (e.g. Salesforce) or BI tool (e.g. Birst). Typically the tool is pretty straightforward to use. Here is how Hubspot’s looks:
This is the 41st post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.
Throughout this series on marketing, we’ve covered quite a bit about crafting a startup’s story with marketing and positioning. This translates into ebooks, webinars and other inbound campaigns. However, there is a critical source of information during the buyer’s journey that marketing does not have full control over: what the sales team says. As marketers, we need to put effort into training the sales team on our messaging and positioning. We need them to embrace our brand’s story and make it their own. It’s essential that we conduct effective training for sales. As we do so, consider the following:
1. Make the story a part of the onboarding process
Every time a new employee joins our team, we need to educate them about our story. It should be hammered into their mind from their first day on the job. We need a comprehensive slide deck that marketing presents to new hires, breaking down the core concepts of our story. Depending on role, it may be valuable for new hires to read our ebooks, listen to webinars and join sales demos to see the messaging in action.