Ah, swag. It’s the seemingly limitless supply of plastic junk that we pile into tote bags at events. Companies spend thousands of dollars on branded swag as giveaways for prospects and customers. The goals are noble: attract people to your booth at events and get your branding front and center as their desk decoration. Swag can certainly be beneficial, but alone will not make an event booth a winner. I’ve always been wary of investing heavily in swag, so let’s outline how to get ROI from swag and the best approach to selecting items for your business. Consider the following:
1. Candy can’t lose
I admit it, I have a sweet tooth. But hey, so do a lot of us, so keep candy in mind as a simple, cheap and effective giveaway. Stick with the big bag of assorted name brand chocolates. I’ve tried printing branded candy… the chocolate is usually low quality. The wrapper ends up in the trash, so just stick to better candy that people actually enjoy.
One of the most frequent requests marketing receives from sales is for new collateral. It seems like a new objection is encountered or new use case identified, additional flyers or ebooks are necessary. Needless to say, a growing company’s collateral can quickly become unorganized and disjointed. In order to maintain a streamlined collateral process, consider the following guidelines:
1. Define an owner: Product Marketing
The ideal owner for collateral is the Product Marketing Manager (PMM). As part of their role, they should be regularly listening to sales calls, interviewing customers and crafting the company’s messaging and positioning story. While many stakeholders will be pushing for different collateral items, the PMM needs to act as the central hub, prioritizing the collateral roadmap.
Like other functions, the marketing team should meet weekly for 30 minutes. There is often a large agenda of items to discuss, so it’s helpful to establish a structure to keep the meeting organized. Consider the following for weekly marketing meetings:
1. Start with highs and lows
I like to start each meetings with a round of highs and lows. Each team member shares an update about the best part of their weekend (high) and the worst part — often humorous (low). It’s a great ice breaker that helps the team bond and get in the talking mood. Try to ensure that the team keeps each update brief.
Since a startup involves everyone wearing many hats, the marketing team likely has responsibility for not only building a brand amongst your target customer persona, but also amongst potential recruits joining the team. Consider the following brief overview:
1. Craft a story and messaging guide
Similar to your story for target customers, you need to craft a story for target recruits. What are the core value props of your team over others? How can you clearly communicate the culture, perks and opportunity? Follow a similar strategy to the Craft a Startup’s Story post here.
Social media is an important distribution channel for inbound content. Depending on the target persona, social can also be a fantastic way to communicate, drive word of mouth referrals and generally build brand recognition.
There are plenty of great guides to effective social media and community management. Let’s focus this post on building the foundation of a social strategy at a B2B startup:
1. Lock down the right handle for all channels
The first step for social media is to identify a handle (i.e. username) that can be consistently used across all digital properties. This may be difficult as many handles are already taken. In general, try to keep it short, avoid hyphens, underscores and random numbers.
It may not be possible to get the best handle on every channel, and that is acceptable as long as the most important channels have the right one. For example, my team has the Twitter handle @netpulse, Facebook page facebook.com/netpulse but Instagram handle @netpulseapp.
While you may only attend massive trade shows once or twice a year, your sales team often finds themselves setting up a table at a conference to meet with prospects and sell. Every industry has these conferences, and while expensive and time consuming to attend, they usually yield leads. To make them worth it, you need to carefully plan the logistics and get the details right. After fumbling my way through the first few, here is the approach that my team now takes:
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.
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 information to download a piece of valuable content and thus become a lead, you 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 since they are often directly responsible for driving MQLs. To keep you organized, let’s divide your 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.
Suppose your startup is launching a new product. Your product managers identified what to build, the engineering team successfully built it and now you 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.You need to answer the following questions:
How are you describing the product to your target persona?
How does the product fit in with your broader positioning?
What marketing activities do you need to sell the product?
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 you manage it exceptionally well, account for all of the little details, and ensure you are positioned to get a high return on your 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 I 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.