The marketing and selling process does not stop once a prospect becomes a customer. Especially if your business has recurring revenue (i.e. customers pay monthly and can leave anytime) it is critical that you continue to market new products and valuable content to your customer base. To keep things simple, I separate customer content marketing into 3 categories:
Content about the 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 break them down:
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 your most expensive marketing investments of the year.Therefore, it’s critical that you manage it exceptionally well and account for all of the little details in order to 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.
Inbound marketing is all about attracting targets to your website, providing them with valuable content and capturing their contact information when they download, making them leads. Once you have leads, your goal is to further educate them about your product so they request a demo to talk to your sales team, therefore becoming a marketing qualified lead (MQL).
So what happens between the time you 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, you need to build lead nurture workflows. This is simply a drip campaign of emails: a series of emails that are scheduled to send every few days or weeks, one after another, until the lead takes a desired action, such as requesting a demo.
Setting up lead nurture workflows is straight forward. Let’s break it down:
As you are developing marketing in a startup, you typically start with a budget of $0. It involves a small team, with people doing multiple jobs and stretching resources thin. As the team grows and you want to accelerate growth, you need to determine how you can invest in marketing and earn that money back with new customers. To do that, you need to craft a marketing budget: typically a spreadsheet of what items you intend to spend marketing dollars on monthly. To start, the budget should consist of the following items:
The Content Calendar is often the most-used document of the marketing team. It is the master schedule of content production and distribution. You use the Content Calendar to manage design, writing, and marketing automation campaigns distributing content, such as ebooks and webinars. As the team grows, it’s critical that you maintain an organized, up-to-date Content Calendar. Here is a breakdown of best practices:
Brand can be a nebulous concept. It’s an asset and wildly important to the success of most businesses. At the same time, it’s difficult to manage or pinpoint exactly what it is. To keep things simple, brand is a combination of the story and emotion that targets experience when hearing about or interacting with your company. There are tons of resources about the advanced strategies of building a brand, so let’s focus here on tactical steps a startup can take to begin. First, let’s break brand into two parts:
The visuals are what targets see when they interact with you: logo, graphics, content, website, advertisements, etc. The voice is what targets read and hear when they interact with you: sales demos, support calls, website copy, ebooks, etc. You need to make sure that both the visuals and voice are in tight alignment if you are creating an organized, cohesive brand. Let’s dig into the specifics:
Inbound marketing requires a variety of different content types to appeal to personas in your audience. Some people enjoy reading long ebooks while others prefer watching a webinar. One of the more popular content mediums is infographics: well-designed graphics that visually display data to tell a story.
Infographics have the potential to be virally shared because of their visual appeal and ease of consumption: targets can glance over them quickly to get the idea without applying effort to reading a book or watching a webinar. However, infographics can be difficult to create, especially as a startup. Here is a breakdown of best practices to get started:
When you start building an inbound marketing and demand generation program, every lead feels like a huge success. When I started, I had every MQL emailed to me, and I would click through their source detail to see the exact journey they took from target > lead > MQL. That is awesome when you have just a few leads.
As you successfully build a pipeline of qualified leads, you’ll quickly find that (A) you don’t want an email alert for every one and (B) not every lead is created equally. A real lead pipeline mandates that you begin sorting and scoring your leads, only delivering the most qualified to your sales team. Lead scoring is simply identifying which leads are the best leads and delivering them to the sales team first.
You should start lead scoring when you:
Generate more leads than the sales team can handle
Get feedback about “bad leads” from the sales team
For a modern B2B startup, it almost seems taboo to consider advertising in print. After all, digital is more cost-effective, easier to measure and the way of the future. However, print can still be an effective part of a brand building and demand generation strategy. Let’s break down when it is appropriate to consider print:
When you need to establish your brand
Brand recognition is this hazy, nebulous “thing” that CFOs often despise because it’s so difficult to measure real ROI. However, there is no doubt that if you are a startup, targets recognizing your brand is going to create more trust and accelerate conversion on content downloads and demo requests. Being seen in widely read industry print publications helps to build that trust and recognition.
Two ingredients are needed for a killer inbound marketing strategy fueled by content: writing and design. While in the early stages some startups outsource design, as you scale it becomes far more effective to have designers as an integral part of a B2B marketing team. Design is exceptionally important because marketers use it to:
Connect with a target persona
One of the first things you need to do in B2B marketing is define your personas: a detailed description of your target customer, outlining their demographics, behavior and preferences. The persona helps guide you on how to best interact with your target customers to motivate them to take desired actions, such as exploring your product. Design is a critical tool you can use to visually appeal to your persona. According to designer Kimi Yamamoto, “design shapes both the conscious and subconscious experience.” In other words, it has a tremendous impact on how a person feels.