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 messages the sales team conveys. As a marketer, you need to put effort into training the sales team on your messaging and positioning. You need them to embrace your brand’s story and make it their own. It’s essential that you conduct effective training for sales. As you do so, consider the following:
1. Make the story a part of the onboarding process
Every time a new employee joins your team, you need to educate them about your story. It should be hammered into their mind from their first day on the job. You need a comprehensive slide deck that marketing presents to new hires, breaking down the core concepts of your story. Depending on their role, it may be valuable for new hires to read your ebooks, listen to webinars and join sales demos to see the messaging in action.
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, inexpensive 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 that the marketing team receives from the sales team is for new collateral. It seems like whenever a new objection is encountered or new use-case identified, additional flyers or ebooks are requested. Needless to say, a growing company’s collateral can quickly become unorganized and disjointed. In order to maintain structure, consider the following guidelines:
1. Define an owner: Product Marketing
The ideal owner for collateral is the Product Marketing Manager (PMM). They should be 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.
The marketing team should meet weekly for at least 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 then the worst part — often humorous (low). It’s a great ice breaker that helps the team bond and establishes a talking mood. Try to ensure that the team members keep each update brief.
Since a startup consists of everyone wearing many hats, the marketing team 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 opportunities? Follow a similar strategy to the Craft a Startup’s Story post here.
Blog posts are an integral part of inbound content strategy. They provide easily accessible information to target personas and drive them to downloadable content. Launching a blog at a startup is a necessity to convert targets to leads, so let’s breakdown a simple set of steps to get started:
1. Build the infrastructure
Maintaining a blog requires a content management system, such as WordPress. If you are using a marketing automation system, such as Hubspot, it has built in blogging functionality. It is advantageous to use that because it tightly integrates with the analytics, landing pages and call-to-action (CTA) features.
Some blog systems have templates and others may require you to code HTML, CSS and sometimes proprietary content management language from scratch to customize the blog. Designing a blog is a large undertaking, much like developing a website. Plan on a web developer working on it for 6 weeks and include time to A/B test different concepts.
Social media is an important distribution channel for inbound content. Depending on the target persona, social media can also be a fantastic way to communicate, drive word of mouth referrals and generally build brand recognition.
There are plenty of great guides on effective social media and community management. Let’s focus this post on building the foundation of a social strategy for 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 company 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 stumbling 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. Therefore 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 develop 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 they 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, therefore becoming an MQL.
The weekly email campaigns are incredibly important since they are often directly responsible for driving MQLs. To keep you organized, 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.