We are witnessing a time when technology is making marketing easier than ever, but where getting it right and driving results has never been so hard.
6 Steps to Accelerating Growth for Startup Marketers
For startup marketers and tech founders, there is an additional set of challenges, pressures and demands – from investors and stakeholders – as you start your scaleup journey.
With the clock constantly ticking, revenue expectations are high, and forgiveness scarce. Prioritisation and focus are key. One, ever-present pressure, is the need to attract prospects and convert them into customers. The constant need to drive sales and feed the sales team.
Unlike more established businesses, tech startups don’t always have resources or unlimited budgets available. To counter this, working smarter and more strategically is essential.
It must be said though, there are no shortcuts to delivering an effective tech marketing strategy; no silver bullet or secret sauce, despite what those vested in pure marketing tactics may tell you. However, there is a methodology – a blueprint – for planning and delivering a winning tech startup marketing programme. One that recognises that the tech buyer is more sophisticated and that the technology industry is different. If B2B marketing is a discipline, then given its nature – fast-moving and competitive – tech marketing is most definitely a specialism.
Your winning blueprint for scaling your startup focuses on 6 key steps.
Without doubt, you will already have undertaken all the expected research into your model, your product market fit etc. But when it comes to acquiring new customers, you need to delve deeper.
Everyone is familiar with buyer personas, but to deliver results, you must really understand your prospects’ emotional state. You need to know where they are in their buying journey and the decision-making process. This will enable you to hook your messages on rational needs, and anchor your stories on emotional triggers. The value this brings should not be under-estimated. It is at the very heart of successful scaleup marketing. Ignoring it will result in vague marketing messages, targeted at everyone, and appealing to no-one.
With your ideal client profile and personas created, you now need to think about the customer journey and how you can influence and accelerate your prospects’ journey. With a deep understanding, you can layer content over your prospects’ questions, finding insights that will shape your strategy and enable you to laser-target your campaigns.
The final piece of research centres on your competitors – but not the normal, vanilla research. You need to find the points of differentiation. Better doesn’t always win the battle, but different often does.
Developing a winning marketing strategy that is integrated cross channel and optimised, would seem like the obvious starting point for an ambitious tech startup. But with the lure of easy-to-access tactics, surprisingly, a documented strategy is all too often missing.
This is a mistake.
The first part of the strategic planning process is agreeing marketing objectives – what you are seeking to achieve and how your success will be measured. With limited budget and resources, understanding on what part of the marketing and sales funnel your efforts should be focused is an imperative.
From there, move onto your messaging platform. Crafting communications is an art. Developing a framework of compelling messages, aimed directly at your target audience should be a key pillar of your scaleup strategy. And again, one size does not fit all. Your messaging platform will inform your sales and marketing content and ensure consistency of communications, cross channel.
It is at this point that you should consider the overriding strategic direction your marketing should take:
- An inbound approach, (pulling prospects into your funnel),
- Account based marketing, (targeting the companies that matter most to you)
- Content marketing, (sharing relevant and value-led content with your target audience - nurturing them through the funnel).
Most likely, your strategic blueprint will consist of a combined demand gen approach.
With your research and strategy complete, your output will be a strategic blueprint that will be used to implement your marketing campaigns.
And at the heart of those campaigns will be your website.
Whether your website is transactional or informational, it is your virtual storefront. It should be the central destination for both online and offline channels. For a tech startup, your website is one of your most valuable assets – if not, the most valuable.
Your site serves many purposes, but a note of caution. Your site is there to serve your prospects and customers. Frequently, the purpose of a website is lost, mired in design and subjectivity. Whilst brand positioning is obviously key, the user experience is crucial. And a great user experience does not happen by accident. It needs to be carefully planned and designed to provide a frictionless journey, enabling your prospects to meet their objectives, whilst allowing you to meet yours.
Ultimately though – and this requires balance across brand and user experience - the real job of a scaleup website is to generate leads, one optimised to capture prospects, convert sales, and drive growth.
With your website optimised to generate high-quality leads, it’s now time to attract the visitors you need to convert into customers. It’s time to turn your strategic blueprint into a growth-driven campaign playbook. Now, by using tactical building blocks, you can accelerate your scaleup by creating an actional marketing plan and a repeatable, scalable process.
Many companies, tech or not, start at this point. But such an approach often results in wasted budget, time and energy. Why? Because the on and offline channels you use are the delivery mechanism for steps 1 – 3. Without these steps, you’re relying on hope, rather than a strategy. Strategy must always come before tactics.
Your campaign planning – your playbook – is where all the components of your integrated strategy come together – your target audience and messaging, their journeys, your content and digital channels. This is also where you get ready for delivery, your campaign execution.
With your planning complete, your campaign playbook signed off and your delivery schedule agreed, you are ready to go. Now it may feel, because it’s true, that you have nothing yet in-market. That’s why you need a fast-track delivery method, that gets you to market as quickly as possible, without taking shortcuts that may impact performance.
Campaign execution is the business as usual state, but successful execution requires an aligned and integrated approach between sales and marketing. Feedback from the sales team is crucial to ensure leads are of the right type, quality and frequency.
On one level, successful execution is about alignment, integration, communication and collaboration. But in scaleup, there is a more practical and mundane challenge. How to process the data, when the once handy spreadsheet becomes unmanageable. In scaleup, thought needs to be given to salesforce and marketing automation, together with the wealth of other tools that can enable your marketing (and sales) teams to focus on their true job in hand – which is not administration.
And so, onto the last step.
Whilst reporting is the last step in our 6-step process, it is actually where you need to begin. In your strategic blueprint, you will have considered the performance measures and success metrics by which you will judge and ultimately, be judged.
With reporting, you are closing the loop. Your reporting framework should cascade down from your primary financial and sales-driven metrics, through to engagement-level metrics.
And whilst you can measure performance against your goals with absolute numbers, remember, there is the multiplier effect at each stage. To maximise your revenue growth, you need to measure and optimise your conversion rates, particularly, visitors to leads. This will result in greater opportunities, and opportunities for sales. Improving conversion rates can often have a more dramatic effect on sales and revenue growth than simply increasing the number of leads.
As well as reporting to investors and stakeholders internally, you need to understand how well different content, channels and tactics are performing. This understanding will ensure your campaigns, and your website, can be optimised, to drive your scaleup trajectory.
In summary then; the research fuels the marketing strategy and the website provides the bedrock upon which the campaign playbook is created and then executed – with reporting closing loop to link performance and optimisation with your evolving business objectives. It’s a simple 6-step process to generate leads and drive sales but for more detail on each stage you may want to read the Startup Marketer’s Guide to Accelerated Growth.
Over to you
Got a question or just want to chat about your startup marketing challenges? Please feel free to get in touch or book a free consultation with one of our tech marketing experts.
For more information about Incisive Edge please visit us at: www.incisive-edge.com