How to Structure a Marketing Team

This is the 5th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

If you are first starting marketing in a B2B startup, you probably see the entire team every morning in the mirror (i.e. it’s just you). As the first marketer, you’re likely faced with a mountain of exciting challenges:

  • Defining what marketing needs your organization has
  • Researching what tools and infrastructure will work best
  • Creating a marketing plan for the next 12 months
  • Assembling a team to work with you

If your company does not have the funding needed to hire, then assume you will start by doing every job outlined in this post. If you are at the point where it’s time to assemble the team, let’s walk through the primary roles. An early stage B2B marketing team that is pursuing an inbound content strategy has an ideal balance of several roles that I refer to as the “Core 4.” These roles include:

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How to Launch a CRM

imageThis is the 4th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

Imagine the CRM (Customer Relationship Management software) as the brain or “mothership” of your sales and marketing team. The CRM is used to track every person that enters our funnel and that we interact with.

Every time a lead downloads an ebook, or speaks to us on the phone, that action is tracked in the CRM. Each time we engage with that lead, we have a record of what we have told them so far and what we need to do to move them along in the buyer journey.

Needless to say, the CRM is a primary component of your organization’s sales and marketing stack (the set of tools you use), right next to your marketing automation system. For a new B2B startup just building the team and launching your first CRM, let’s break down how to approach it:

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How to Launch a Marketing Automation System

imageThis is the 3rd post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

Suppose you have a list of 100 leads. You send a cold email to each one, perhaps using your email marketing software. A few hours later, 15 of them respond, 20 of them just opened the email and the remaining 65 did nothing. So to continue to nurture those leads and try to get in contact with them, you personally respond to the 15, and log in an excel file that the remaining 85 need to be emailed again. You could send a slightly different message to the 20 leads that opened the email, but that would be a lot of work.

That is the reality of a marketing and sales organization that lacks an automation system. Let me tell you from experience: that reality sucks.

If there is one product that every B2B marketer MUST have, it’s a marketing automation system.

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How to Use Closed Loop Marketing

imageThis is the 2nd post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

Marketing is now a data game. Successful B2B marketers are highly data-driven and speak in terms of A/B testing, conversion metrics and trackable marketing journeys. This maniacal focus on data enables marketers to solve the classic problem of understanding which marketing strategies actually work to drive leads, and which ones are a waste of time. The answer to solving that problem is a concept known as closed loop marketing. As we kick off this 50 post blog series on startup marketing, this concept is exceptionally important for all of us to understand.

Closed loop marketing is simply a set of strategies that give marketers access to data on where a lead came from, and what specific marketing activities converted them from target to lead to MQL (if those terms are unfamiliar, read this post). Closed loop marketing is a required strategy for effectively growing a B2B marketing organization. Let’s walk through how it works:

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How to Use Inbound Marketing and Content Strategy

This is the 1st post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

You’ve heard it over and over again: inbound is key for B2B marketing. There are many resources out there telling the story of inbound marketing, so let’s keep this simple.

First let’s review some vocabulary. We’re going to be using these terms often:

  • Targets: people that match our criteria to become a customer. For example, for a day-time dog walking service, targets might be mothers between the ages of 30-50 that live in San Francisco and have a dog.
  • Leads: targets that we have contact information for (i.e. an email address or phone number).
  • Opportunities: leads that have indicated that they are ready, willing and able to make a purchase and become a customer.
  • Customers: people that are paying to use your product or service (duh).

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50 Post Blog Series on Startup Marketing

In January 2015, I published Startups <3 Customers, a guide to sales and marketing for technical startup people. The goal was to give beginners a ridiculously easy way to understand the fundamentals of building a sales and marketing organization in a B2B startup.

If you’ve read that guide and kicked off sales and marketing at your startup, awesome! You’ve probably noticed that there are a lot more details to be covered, especially when it comes to the nitty gritty of actually executing successful sales and marketing.

To help break it down, I’m excited to kickoff a series of 50 blog posts that cover those nitty gritty details for marketing. Similar to Startups <3 Customers, these posts are designed for folks new to inbound marketing. They’ll help you understand more detail of the many facets of building a world class marketing organization.

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New Ebook: Startups <3 Customers

When I first got into startups, one of my core responsibilities was to acquire new customers.

The problem was, back then, I had no idea how to acquire new customers.

As I explored, I learned about sales and marketing, and began to understanding how they are used to acquire customers. It turns out, sales and marketing can be really fun, and really powerful.

I remember searching the internet for a how-to guide to get me started. There are plenty of blog posts out there, but they all seemed to go into too much depth, or skip the beginner stuff. I wanted something that started with the basic fundamentals so I could work my way up. Essentially, a for-dummy’s guide to sales and marketing for a B2B startup.

Fast forward a few years to now, and I decided to write that guide: Startups <3 Customers. It’s a guide to the basics of sales and marketing, particularly helpful for technical founders and employees at B2B startups.

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If you want to understand what the business people actually do, or you need to get the basics of sales and marketing set up yourself, this is the guide for you.

Check it out at startupsheartcustomers.com. I hope it is helpful, and if you have any questions or feedback, email me anytime. Good luck!

10 Startup Lessons Learned in Boston

imageAfter nearly 7 amazing years in Boston, I’m excited to share that I am moving to the west coast!

Like many who graduate from college in Boston, I stayed here for several years after school. The city is overflowing with tremendous opportunity, especially in technology and entrepreneurship.

Boston will always hold a special place in my heart: it’s where I joined my first startup as COO of influencers@ and then co-founded my first funded company, Attend.com. The last few years in Boston have been a wild ride and I learned more than I could have ever possibly imagined. Among the takeaways:

1. Making traction in B2B comes down to one thing… revenue

It’s simple, but there is no better health indicator for a startup than revenue growth. When quickly analyzing a startup’s performance, revenue (or lack of) can enable you to quickly diagnose what areas of the business are effective vs. weak. It was clear the startups I was working on had legs when we quickly booked early revenue. In other words, “revenue cures all.”

2. Building an inside sales team is a science and an art

Sales can be just as technical as engineering. It involves tremendous training, processes, expertise and resources. Establishing the right sales team organization, putting the proper infrastructure in place and understanding the right KPIs to measure sales performance is a true skill, and I gained major respect for world-class sales people.

3. Doing Inbound marketing is critical, and takes time to get right

Trying to do sales without marketing is like eating cereal without milk. The two functions are so tightly aligned, and marketing done right revolutionizes the ability for sales reps to succeed. I learned a ton about inbound marketing, setting up a content engine, and feeding marketing qualified leads (MQLs) to hungry sales teams.

4. Moving fast can reduce your risk

In early stage startups, I learned to measure performance on a weekly basis. It sounds overly intense, but in that stage, every week counts. Understanding progress indicators (from revenue to qualified sales opportunities to new product features released) can help you understand how to allocate resources. Startups rarely die from trying to move too fast. It happens, but it’s far more likely that a startup will die from moving too slow.

5. Recruiting is absurdly expensive and time consuming

There are few things more challenging for a startup leader than finding the right people to join the team. Between finding them (cold email reach outs, recruiters, LinkedIn), selling the vision, getting to an effective comp package and crafting the right role to leave them beaming with excitement, recruiting can be a full-time job.

6. When in doubt, just get it done yourself

There’s a common dogma that you should try to delegate as much as possible, and I quickly realized that while it’s a good general philosophy to hire by, it’s not always true with the reality of deadlines. Leading a startup is a mix of personally cranking through tasks to get them done, and building systems and processes that empower the people around you to get things done faster and smarter.

7. Understanding legal docs is crucial

Especially for those who are more product-driven, few things are more boring than legal. During my time in Boston, I got to dive into lots of legal documents, from vendor agreements to bylaws. There is simply no way around it: running a startup means understanding every aspect of everything you sign. No excuses. Read and ask lots of questions.

8. Never be cheap on basic office comforts

Items like snacks and water coolers and other office comforts, even in the very early stage, make a big difference for the team. The cost is so relatively low, and the impact is so high. Don’t even give it much thought – just buy whatever is going to keep your team happy, focused and productive.

9. Surround yourself with mentors that are doing the same thing at a later stage

I found that the best mentors were often the ones that were currently operating a company at a slightly later stage than whatever I was working on at the time. This gave them fresh experience and a real-time pulse on the challenges a startup leader is facing now. The power of “pay if forward” mentorship helped me through the toughest challenges.

10. Developing technical and non-technical skills is a winning combination

Often, the most valuable people in startups understand the basics of both technical and non-technical skills. Being involved in a technology startup, everyone should understand the core of how software works. Simultaneously, in a sales-driven environment, everyone technical should understand the core of how sales works.

On a more personal note, I am going to miss my friends and mentors in Boston… it’s truly a special place and I can’t express enough gratitude to everyone in the entrepreneurship community there who helped me along the way.

It’s a new chapter: I’m thrilled to be in San Francisco and can’t wait to learn as much as I can. If you’re reading this and you’re  in the Bay Area, shoot me an email – I would love to meet you!

Value of Learning to Code

imageAnyone in sales knows the importance of a good CRM. If we don’t log all of our interactions with a lead, we’ll have absolutely no recollection of where we left off in the conversation. At Attendware, we use Pipedrive and meticulously track everything that we do. Recently, I realized that I have many other conversations, meetings and interactions with people outside of sales, and sometimes struggle with the same challenge of remembering key points and keeping action items organized.

I decided that I wanted a version of Pipedrive for non-sales interactions. Whenever I meet with a mentor, have a call with a potential teammate, etc, I wanted to be able to log it. Basically, I wanted a personal CRM. So I took to Google and began scouring the web for an existing product. It seemed like the best solution out there is Highrise by 37 Signals, which may be a good tool, but is also far more cumbersome than what I needed.

After feeling a bit discouraged from my failed search, I suddenly realized – “This would be a pretty simple app… I could just build it myself. I bet I could finish the whole thing in a day.” I started outlining the app and discovered it would indeed be quite simple: just a database table of contacts and a table of interactions. I’d need to be able to add new contacts, log meetings or phone calls, add notes and a date… nothing that a little PHP and MySQL can’t handle. I used the cliché Twitter Bootstrap front end framework and cranked through the code Saturday night and Sunday morning. By lunch on Sunday – ContactCRM existed! 

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I am by no means a professional back-end developer. I have no formal training and learn as I go by reading tutorials and searching for examples on Google. However, in just a day, I was able to create this tool that solves a legitimate problem and provides real value for myself. Just like being able to fix your own sink or build your own patio, knowing how to code can become a household skill that is no longer reserved for career programmers. Imagine the possibilities as many people pick up the skills to build their own software for personal use. It might even be how some of the future’s great companies get started.

Creating an Empire

imageNow that Attendware has $1M in funding, it’s time to build a team create an empire in Boston. We are officially hiring 2 teammates: a Full Stack Software Engineer and a Sales & Marketing Specialist. I’ve watched amazing entrepreneurs like Ryan Durkin build world-class teams in Boston for venture funded startups. Drew and I are excited to take the plunge and make Attendware the absolute best team in the city. 

When people ask why they should join us on this journey, I’d break it down to a couple of reasons:

1. We have a tremendous market opportunity.

We closed our funding early and quickly because of how much traction Attendware has received early on. It seems like everyone we talk to – in many different markets – wants a piece of the action. We have barely scratched the surface… this is just the beginning.

2. We are backed by the best investors and advisors in Boston.

.406 Ventures wins. Period. Their track record speaks for itself – they only invest in companies that they are confident can be homerun successes. On top of that, Maria Cirino is one of the finest mentors that one could ask for in Boston.

3. Everything is up for grabs – especially culture.

We are building everything from the ground up. Our first employees will have a huge impact on our company culture as it evolves. So far, our culture focuses around openness, speed and quick iteration to demonstrate tangible results. Plus lots of food to fuel us. And occasional trips to the beach to get ice cream in between shipping iterations of product.

4. We are relentless and don’t stop until we win.

We are a team that works hard – extremely hard. When it comes to teammates, we are immensely picky and go to great lengths to surround ourselves with only the best, hardest working people that have what it takes to grow a product from startup to big success. 

So, if you or someone you know can help take Attendware to the next level and come on board with us, please shoot me an email, I’d love to chat!