Category: Marketing

How to Create Personas

This is the 10th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.


For most B2B companies, there are several people involved in purchasing and using your product. There might be an end user, decision maker and influencer. When you are building your marketing story and demand generation strategy, consider how you can reach each of these people and what messages will persuade them to take a desired action (i.e. provide their contact details and become a lead). The key to doing this effectively is using personas.

A persona is simply a detailed description of your target customer, outlining their demographics, behavior and preferences. Consider the following steps to determine your personas:

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How to Craft a Startup’s Story

This is the 9th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

One of your top priorities for marketing is likely to generate leads. I don’t blame you… leads are awesome and what your sales team is craving to grow. However, before you can effectively build the demand generation side (i.e. driving leads) of a B2B marketing team, you need to establish the story.

The story is simply the narrative that is used to describe what your product is, why it exists and how it helps targets. It’s the foundation for your messaging and positioning. In some ways, it is like the “value prop” and it is used throughout your marketing world: on your website, social media profiles, collateral, ebooks, webinars and verbally in sales presentations and elevator pitches. The story is a key requirement to align your team and ensure your marketing campaigns are focused on the messages that will resonate with targets and thus drive them to convert to leads. Let’s walk through together how to craft this narrative:

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How to Hire the First Marketer

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 7.45.23 PMThis is the 8th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

If you are the founder or COO of an early stage B2B startup, you’ll quickly realize that establishing the foundation of a marketing organization is a mandate for growth. Particularly once product-market fit is established, marketing is needed to:

  • create messaging, positioning and value props
  • establish infrastructure and tools needed to scale (e.g. CRM and marketing automation)
  • generate leads for the sales team

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How to Manage Lifecycle Stages

This is the 7th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

As a B2B startup’s contact list grows, it’s critical that contacts are properly organized and segmented based on lifecycle stage. Lifecycle stage refers to the step in the buyer’s journey that a contact is in. This is often built into your CRM and marketing automation system (or it needs to be added as a custom field). Let’s break down each stage:


These are contacts that may subscribe to your blog or newsletter. You likely do not know if they meet the criteria to become a customer, as some of them may just be interested in your content. Your goal for subscribers is to share top of funnel content (i.e. content that is not highly specific to your business) and ultimately push the right contacts towards providing more detailed contact information (e.g. job title) by downloading a larger piece of content (e.g. an ebook).

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How to Create an Annual Marketing Plan

imageThis is the 6th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

When you first start marketing at a B2B startup, it may feel like you have a massive, never ending list of to-dos. Similar to building a product in engineering, it’s important to break a project down into smaller cycles and organized categories that make it more digestible to approach. These cycles and categories are typically documented in an Annual Marketing Plan. This is simply a framework and schedule that keeps your team organized, communicating and on pace towards reaching measurable goals.

Let’s break down what goes into an Annual Marketing Plan:

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How to Structure a Marketing Team

This is the 5th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

If you are first starting marketing in a B2B startup, you probably see the entire team every morning in the mirror (i.e. it’s just you). As the first marketer, you’re likely faced with a mountain of exciting challenges:

  • Defining what marketing needs your organization has
  • Researching what tools and infrastructure will work best
  • Creating a marketing plan for the next 12 months
  • Assembling a team to work with you

If your company does not have the funding needed to hire, then assume you will start by doing every job outlined in this post. If you are at the point where it’s time to assemble the team, let’s walk through the primary roles. An early stage B2B marketing team that is pursuing an inbound content strategy has an ideal balance of several roles that I refer to as the “Core 4.” These roles include:

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How to Launch a CRM

imageThis is the 4th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

Imagine the CRM (Customer Relationship Management software) as the brain or “mothership” of your sales and marketing team. The CRM is used to track every person that enters our funnel and that we interact with.

Every time a lead downloads an ebook, or speaks to us on the phone, that action is tracked in the CRM. Each time we engage with that lead, we have a record of what we have told them so far and what we need to do to move them along in the buyer journey.

Needless to say, the CRM is a primary component of your organization’s sales and marketing stack (the set of tools you use), right next to your marketing automation system. For a new B2B startup just building the team and launching your first CRM, let’s break down how to approach it:

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How to Launch a Marketing Automation System

imageThis is the 3rd post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

Suppose you have a list of 100 leads. You send a cold email to each one, perhaps using your email marketing software. A few hours later, 15 of them respond, 20 of them just opened the email and the remaining 65 did nothing. So to continue to nurture those leads and try to get in contact with them, you personally respond to the 15, and log in an excel file that the remaining 85 need to be emailed again. You could send a slightly different message to the 20 leads that opened the email, but that would be a lot of work.

That is the reality of a marketing and sales organization that lacks an automation system. Let me tell you from experience: that reality sucks.

If there is one product that every B2B marketer MUST have, it’s a marketing automation system.

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How to Use Closed Loop Marketing

imageThis is the 2nd post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

Marketing is now a data game. Successful B2B marketers are highly data-driven and speak in terms of A/B testing, conversion metrics and trackable marketing journeys. This maniacal focus on data enables marketers to solve the classic problem of understanding which marketing strategies actually work to drive leads, and which ones are a waste of time. The answer to solving that problem is a concept known as closed loop marketing. As we kick off this 50 post blog series on startup marketing, this concept is exceptionally important for all of us to understand.

Closed loop marketing is simply a set of strategies that give marketers access to data on where a lead came from, and what specific marketing activities converted them from target to lead to MQL (if those terms are unfamiliar, read this post). Closed loop marketing is a required strategy for effectively growing a B2B marketing organization. Let’s walk through how it works:

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How to Use Inbound Marketing and Content Strategy

This is the 1st post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

You’ve heard it over and over again: inbound is key for B2B marketing. There are many resources out there telling the story of inbound marketing, so let’s keep this simple.

First let’s review some vocabulary. We’re going to be using these terms often:

  • Targets: people that match our criteria to become a customer. For example, for a day-time dog walking service, targets might be mothers between the ages of 30-50 that live in San Francisco and have a dog.
  • Leads: targets that we have contact information for (i.e. an email address or phone number).
  • Opportunities: leads that have indicated that they are ready, willing and able to make a purchase and become a customer.
  • Customers: people that are paying to use your product or service (duh).

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