How to Score Leads

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 6.37.32 AMThis is the 22nd post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

When we first start building an inbound marketing and demand generation program, every lead feels like a huge success. When I first 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 we have just a few leads.

As we successfully build a pipeline of qualified leads, we’ll quickly find that (A) we don’t want an email alert for every one and (B) not every lead is created equally. A real lead pipeline mandates that we begin sorting and scoring our leads, only delivering the most qualified to our sales team. Lead scoring is simply identifying which leads are the best leads, and delivering them to the sales team first.

We should start lead scoring when:

  • We generate more leads than the sales team can handle
  • We are getting feedback about “bad leads” from the sales team
  • We narrow down our target buyer persona

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The All Hands Meeting

Meeting2Every startup has rituals, from chiming a gong when a sale is made to the CEO writing a weekly email newsletter to the team. An important part of a startup’s weekly routine should be the All Hands Meeting. This is the primary staff meeting and likely the only time that the entire group (especially as we grow) is together, focused on the same thing in one room. It is an incredibly important opportunity for leadership to communicate directly with the team in order to:

  1. Share important updates from each functional area
  2. Praise successes, highlight individual achievements and areas to improve
  3. Get the team excited about the mission, vision and strategy

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How to Advertise in Print

This is the 21st post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

Stack-magsFor 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 gen strategy. Let’s breakdown when it is appropriate to consider print:

When you need to establish your band

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 the new kid on the block as a startup, targets recognizing your brand is going to create more trust and accelerate conversion on content downloads and demo requests. Being seen in a widely read industry print publication regularly helps to build that trust and recognition.

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How to Design for Marketing

This is the 20th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

There are 2 ingredients needed for a killer inbound marketing strategy fueled by content: writing and design. While in the early stages, some startups outsource design, as we scale it becomes far more effective to have designers be 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 we need to do in B2B marketing is define our personas — a detailed description of our target customer, outlining their demographics, behavior and preferences. The persona helps guide us on how to best interact with our target customer to motivate them to take desired actions, such as exploring our product. Design is a critical tool we can use to visually appeal to our 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.

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Leadership Team Structure

tumblr_inline_nviv7dBKCq1qf1f17_540 (1)In the very early days of a startup, there are typically two founding roles: technology and business. The technology founder is architecting and building the product. He is essentially serving as the head of product and engineering. At the same time, the business founder is selling and supporting the product. She is essentially serving as the head of sales, marketing and customer success. Both founders are likely contributing to administration, fundraising and hiring, so they are both essentially serving as head of operations and in some cases, sharing CEO responsibilities.

There is a specific moment in a startup’s growth when it becomes clear: the founders can’t do everything anymore. This is a pivotal point in a startup’s lifecycle because it mandates some structure and organization to scale. Specifically, it requires hiring a functional leader for each operating area of the business. While the founders had to be generalists and constantly context switch between areas of the business, functional leaders (often Director, VP or Head of X) are domain experts that are highly specialized in making one area of the startup crank. Most technology startups have the following functions:

  • Product
  • Engineering
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Customer Success
  • Operations

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How to Launch Product Marketing

This is the 19th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

A B2B marketing organization typically has two core functions: demand generation and product marketing. Put simply, product marketing is responsible for 3 things:

  1. Define messaging, positioning and value propositions (the story)
  2. Enable the sales team with collateral, training, and go-to-market strategy
  3. Analyze market, competitive, product and customer data to unlock insights

Let’s dig into each of these responsibilities to gain a better understanding of product marketing.

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How to Align Marketing, Sales and Customer Success

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 7.00.09 AMThis is the 18th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

Modern B2B startups look at sales and marketing as one cohesive unit responsible for generating revenue. Marketing owns the top of the funnel (generating leads), sales owns the middle of the funnel (converting leads to opportunities and customers) and in the SaaS world, customer success owns the bottom of the funnel (retaining and upselling customers).

Successful organizations understand that in order to convert leads to customers, and retain them, each stage of the funnel must work together in unison. This requires tight alignment between sales, marketing and customer success. Marketing must generate the right amount of qualified leads, sales needs to provide adequate pipeline coverage to close, and customer success must properly onboard, deliver on sales promises and prevent churn.

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How to Manage PR Strategy

prThis is the 17th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

There is a common misconception that lots of PR is critical for B2B startups to grow. While PR is certainly a valuable marketing channel, and in some cases can be a huge driver of new leads, it’s important to break it down and apply our marketing dollars effectively.

The #1 mistake I’ve seen in PR is getting press in publications not read by your targets.

For example, suppose you sell software for restaurants and your initial targets are fast casual establishments (i.e. Chipotle). Your target persona is the CIO of Chipotle and it’s competitors.

In this scenario, while it may get you excited, being written about in TechCrunch isn’t going to move the needle exceptionally far. That is “vanity PR” and it does very little in regards to demand generation among potential target customers.

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How to Manage CRM Imports

excelThis is the 16th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

In an early stage marketing team that supports a growing sales team, there likely isn’t a separate “sales operations” function. When it comes to managing the infrastructure and intake of data, it often falls on the marketing team. For example, the sales team goes to a conference and comes back with a list of leads that need to be nurtured. How do those leads end up in the CRM and marketing automation system, enrolled in the right nurture campaign and tagged with the right field values (e.g. persona and lifecycle stage)?

While it sounds like a simply process, there are so many opportunities to make a mistake in the process. To ensure it gets done right, let’s break down that process, step by step:

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How to Hire a Marketing Intern

This is the 15th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

With the right structure in place, interns can be tremendously impactful in an early stage B2B marketing team. There are a few prerequisites that you need in order to be successful when hiring an intern. Specifically, prior to an intern starting, you should:

Have the infrastructure (automation, CRM) in place

The lead in a B2B startup marketing team should be building the basic infrastructure prior to making any core marketing hires. This ensures the lead has an intimate understanding of the machinery that powers an inbound marketing engine. An intern will be most impactful once that machinery is built and humming.

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