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:
When 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:
As 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.
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:
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)?
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:
The best leaders spend more time listening rather than talking. After they listen, they provide feedback. One of the key traits of high-performance startup teams is the frequency and quality of feedback. Feedback is an essential currency in team management — it is how we optimize performance, keep people engaged and ensure that the entire team is aligned.
Like many aspects of people management in startups, feedback is often undefined and lost in the shuffle of product development and sales chaos. First, let’s define 3 types of feedback:
Positive feedback: “You did an amazing job here — very well done!”