How to Launch a New Product

rocketThis is the 30th post of a 50 article series for new marketers at B2B startups.

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?

Let’s break down the process into simple steps:

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How to do Customer Marketing

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 6.22.46 PMThis is the 29th post of a 50 article series for new marketers at B2B startups.

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 categorize customer content marketing into 3 buckets:

  • Content about the space and industry
  • Content about how to maximize product value
  • Content that drives upsells of new products or services

Each of these is an important part of the customer marketing mix. Let’s break them down:

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How to Manage Tradeshows

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 6.12.58 PMThis is the 28th post of a 50 article series for new marketers at B2B startups.

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.

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How to Nurture Leads

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 5.52.31 PM

This is the 27th post of a 50 article series for new marketers at B2B startups.

Inbound marketing is all about attracting targets to your website, providing them with valuable content and capturing their contact information when they download, thus making them leads. Once you have leads, your goal is to further educate them about your product until they request a demo to talk to your sales team, becoming a marketing qualified lead (MQL).

So what happens between when 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 in a series, one after another, until the lead takes a desired action, like requesting a demo.

Setting up lead nurture workflows is straight forward. Let’s break it down:

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How to Craft a Marketing Budget

This is the 26th post of a 50 article series for new marketers at B2B startups.

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 at once 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:

  • Headcount
  • Tools
  • Demand Generation
  • Events
  • Consultants

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Business Infrastructure

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 6.46.28 AMWhen a startup begins acquiring customers, it feels pretty magical. Once the sale is closed, there might be a few manual processes in place, like writing down some detailed information about the customer, setting up the product for them and configuring automatic billing. What happens when we have 100 customers? Suddenly, we have a massive influx of new data to track. Is each customer getting billed properly? Do we know who the customer’s key contacts are so we don’t accidentally send them future marketing emails?

These challenges are precisely why a growing startup requires some basic business infrastructure: systems, processes and tools that enable us to do the important stuff (sales, marketing, product, etc) seamlessly. Most companies refer to this team as Business Systems or Business Operations. There are 3 simple goals for that team:

  • Launch and maintain internal tools
  • Ensure visible internal data
  • Create scalable processes

Let’s break down each of these goals:

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Culture Hack: Snapchat

ihrsnapcode_0_1432245461 copyAs a startup grows, the company naturally divides into functions (marketing, product, etc). When this occurs, the team starts to spend more time with people in their function, making it difficult to understand each other’s unique contributions to the company.

For my team at Netpulse, we’re about 85 people between San Francisco and Europe. It’s pretty tough to get to know everyone and understand what it’s like to do their job. So our People Ops Manager, Valerie Ramos, devised an interested strategy: use Snapchat.

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How to Organize Content

This is the 25th post of a 50 article series for new marketers at B2B startups.

The Content Calendar is often the most-used document on 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:

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Brand Strategy

color_bubblesThis is the 24th post of a 50 article series for new marketers at B2B startups.

Brand can be a nebulous concept to wrap your head around. 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:

  • Visuals
  • Voice

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:

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Weekly Reports

In a startup team, there is nothing more important than clear communication. If we get communication right, we are far more likely to build the right product, serve customers effectively and hit the goals necessary to raise funding and grow. The problem is, most startups move ridiculously quickly, which is a perfect recipe for communication to get lost in the shuffle. For this reason, I always implement my #1 favorite management tool: weekly reporting.

Weekly reporting is simply having each member of the team fill out a brief form at the end of each week with a summary of what they worked on, results, concerns and general information to share with the team. Each form submission should be emailed to everyone on that team. This simple process is amazing for keeping everyone aligned. Let’s break down what an ideal weekly report looks like.

Each weekly report has 4 key pieces of information to collect:

  • Top Objectives: what did you work on this week, and status of each?
  • Concerns: what is broken? Let’s air it out in writing so we can address it.
  • Plan for Next Week: what is upcoming so we can confirm we’re aligned?
  • Other Information: what details should the team know (e.g. travel plans)?

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