How to Enable Marketing Partners

This is the 14th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

As we map out the B2B demand generation strategy, we’ll find that leads can come from a variety of sources that are driven from inbound marketing campaigns. These sources might include:

  • Direct web traffic
  • Email marketing
  • Organic searches
  • Paid (Adwords, display ads)
  • Social media

Generating leads through these sources requires a lot of work. Depending on the industry, we may be able supplement our efforts by leveraging partners. These could be companies that offer complementary services (i.e. we sell to the same persona) or that have an established integration with our product. Let’s break down the benefits for us and the partner:

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The Startup Operations Gap

5850.WorkingSocialThe startup world is full of visionary and often technical founders. We can stay up all night cranking on code, quickly bring a minimum viable product to market, and passionately pitch to customers and investors, fueling early traction.

Suppose all of that early stuff actually works: we have a product, people want it, we raised some money, and we hired our first few employees. The challenges of building the product, fixing bugs, going through the lean process with early customers and quickly iterating are overwhelming. However, I’ve noticed that the most painful problems for early stage startups more often include:

  • Team misalignment
  • Unclear goals and metrics
  • Confusion over who to hire first
  • Unclear timelines
  • Unstable engineering priorities
  • Miscommunication amongst the team

As I dug into the root causes of these most common issues, two quickly bubbled up to the surface: lack of organizational structure and poor focus.

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How to Write an Ebook

DesigningEbookCoversIconThis is the 13th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

An inbound marketing strategy typically involves many different types of content: PDF guides, ebooks, webinars, infographics, videos and more. One of the cornerstone pieces that your team will create to help tell your product’s story are ebooks. Put simply, an ebook is often just a long guide or a combination of multiple blog posts, well-designed and packaged as a downloadable PDF. Just using the label “ebook” often packs an additional punch that intrigues targets and drives downloads.

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How to Host a Webinar

This is the 12th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

As your inbound machine starts to crank and you are producing volumes of content (guides, ebooks, infographics), webinars can be useful to provide variety and connect with targets who may not be interested in reading an entire ebook. Depending on your target persona, webinars are surprisingly popular and can generate quite a bit of buzz in your industry. They also require a lot of logistics and planning, so let’s walk through the process of hosting a successful webinar:

1. Identify the topic

Each webinar should tangentially relate to one of the core points of your story (i.e. your product’s value props). A great strategy to get started is pairing a webinar and written content piece about the same topic. For example, my team wrote an ebook about the future of technology for health clubs. We’ll host a webinar about the same topic that essentially walks through the content of the ebook. That’s effective because some targets will want to read the ebook and others would rather consume that content in webinar format.

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How to Track 9 Marketing Metrics

This is the 11th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

Over the last 10-15 years, marketing has become far more measurable and analytical. Using closed loop reporting and marketing automations systems, marketers can quickly zoom in on key metrics that indicate if we’re executing effectively. Here is a breakdown of 9 metrics to consider tracking:

MQLs by source

The key funnel metric that us (and our VP of Sales) will care about is marketing qualified leads (MQLs). As a reminder, MQLs are leads that “raise their hand” indicating they are nurtured enough to talk to sales by filling out a demo request form on our website. The more MQLs we can feed our sales team with, the more swings at bat they have to start a conversation. Additionally, we should segment MQLs by source (e.g how many leads came from your email marketing campaigns versus your paid online ads?) This can all be tracked by the marketing automation system.

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How to Create Personas

This is the 10th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

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For most B2B companies, there are several people involved in purchasing and using your product. There might be an end user, decision maker and influencer. When you are building your marketing story and demand generation strategy, consider how you can reach each of these people and what messages will persuade them to take a desired action (i.e. provide their contact details and become a lead). The key to doing this effectively is using personas.

A persona is simply a detailed description of your target customer, outlining their demographics, behavior and preferences. Consider the following steps to determine your personas:

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How to Craft a Startup’s Story

This is the 9th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

One of your top priorities for marketing is likely to generate leads. I don’t blame you… leads are awesome and what your sales team is craving to grow. However, before you can effectively build the demand generation side (i.e. driving leads) of a B2B marketing team, you need to establish the story.

The story is simply the narrative that is used to describe what your product is, why it exists and how it helps targets. It’s the foundation for your messaging and positioning. In some ways, it is like the “value prop” and it is used throughout your marketing world: on your website, social media profiles, collateral, ebooks, webinars and verbally in sales presentations and elevator pitches. The story is a key requirement to align your team and ensure your marketing campaigns are focused on the messages that will resonate with targets and thus drive them to convert to leads. Let’s walk through together how to craft this narrative:

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How to Hire the First Marketer

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 7.45.23 PMThis is the 8th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

If you are the founder or COO of an early stage B2B startup, you’ll quickly realize that establishing the foundation of a marketing organization is a mandate for growth. Particularly once product-market fit is established, marketing is needed to:

  • create messaging, positioning and value props
  • establish infrastructure and tools needed to scale (e.g. CRM and marketing automation)
  • generate leads for the sales team

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How to Manage Lifecycle Stages

This is the 7th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

As a B2B startup’s contact list grows, it’s critical that contacts are properly organized and segmented based on lifecycle stage. Lifecycle stage refers to the step in the buyer’s journey that a contact is in. This is often built into your CRM and marketing automation system (or it needs to be added as a custom field). Let’s break down each stage:

Subscriber

These are contacts that may subscribe to your blog or newsletter. You likely do not know if they meet the criteria to become a customer, as some of them may just be interested in your content. Your goal for subscribers is to share top of funnel content (i.e. content that is not highly specific to your business) and ultimately push the right contacts towards providing more detailed contact information (e.g. job title) by downloading a larger piece of content (e.g. an ebook).

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How to Create an Annual Marketing Plan

imageThis is the 6th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

When you first start marketing at a B2B startup, it may feel like you have a massive, never ending list of to-dos. Similar to building a product in engineering, it’s important to break a project down into smaller cycles and organized categories that make it more digestible to approach. These cycles and categories are typically documented in an Annual Marketing Plan. This is simply a framework and schedule that keeps your team organized, communicating and on pace towards reaching measurable goals.

Let’s break down what goes into an Annual Marketing Plan:

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