For business founders, the “To Do” list is never ending, especially when faced with external demands from investors and stakeholders.
The need to increase revenue becomes an all-encompassing obsession, and it’s easy to forget “secondary” tasks – like marketing – that help to fill the sales pipeline.
But failing to build an effective marketing strategy will cause your growth plans to stall. And if you cannot demonstrate ongoing, increasing sales, it becomes harder than ever to secure subsequent rounds of funding. Miss your growth targets and stakeholders are often less than forgiving.
To help you build a marketing pipeline that delivers new leads and sales, there are just six key steps you need to take. Follow this blueprint and you can develop a marketing programme that will fuel your long-term growth.
Bringing a product or service to market requires extensive research. You will have already invested significant time and effort into understanding what your market needs and where your product is positioned. But do you know your customer?
Do your buyer personas take into account emotional state? Where they are on the buying journey? What are the triggers that push them into a purchasing decision?
Without a proper your understanding of your customer, messages are vague and ineffective – the very antithesis of what you need to drive growth.
By understanding your customers at an emotional level, you can craft marketing messages and collateral that connects on a deeper level. You can map out buying processes and how to influence and accelerate your prospect’s journey by supplying the right information at the right time.
And don’t neglect your competitors either. Figure out where your offerings – and marketing – strategies differ. You can then exploit those distinctions to consolidate your position in the market.
With so many tools available you can launch a marketing campaign within a matter of hours. Many ambitious startups jump straight in without defining a strategy first.
Sadly, the “fail faster” approach of modern tech development doesn’t tend to work for marketing – or it does, if you want to blow your budget quickly.
Before beginning a marketing campaign you need to define and agree your objectives. What do you want to achieve, and how will you measure success? These decisions are critical when trying to maximise return on investment and control spend.
You will then need to choose a messaging platform, a framework of compelling messages targeted at the in-depth customer persona created in Step 1.
Your messaging platform will define content and ensure consistency of your communications across all relevant channels.
There are three main strategic directions to consider:
- An inbound approach, (where prospects are drawn gently into your funnel)
- Account based marketing, (targeting specific companies that matter most to you)
- Content marketing, (sharing relevant and value-led content with your target audience – nurturing them through the sales funnel)
There is no one-size-fits-all strategy, but it is most likely that your own blueprint will use a combination of demand generation techniques. At the heart of your strategy will be your website.
Whatever the technology behind your website, it is your storefront to the world. All of your marketing materials – on and offline – will pull prospects back to the website. For a startup particularly, the website is crucial.
As you engineer (or re-engineer) your website, never forget who it serves. Do not let discussions about design distract you from its purpose. You want visitors to find the information they need, as quickly and easily as possible. The site must pull them into your marketing funnel.
Never forget that the primary goal of your scaleup website is to generate high quality leads.
Next you need to pull Steps 1-3 together into a single, coherent playbook. This is the strategy that takes the blueprint and puts it to work generating leads, closing sales and increasing growth.
The playbook unites all of your on and offline channels. In it you outline the audience, the messaging that resonates with them, their buying journey, the content you deliver to them, and the channels you use to do so.
This is the last step before the campaign goes into operation. This is your last chance to refine your plan – and avoid wasting time, effort and money like your less well-prepared competitors.
With planning complete, put your delivery schedule into action. You now need to get to market as quickly as possible so that you can begin generating leads. Which is why you need a fast-track delivery method.
Successful execution of your campaign relies on sales and marketing working closely together. Integrating their efforts will keep both departments focused on what is most important – sales and business growth.
The sales team must be able to feed back into the campaign, providing tweaks and enhancements that increase effectiveness even as content is disseminated across channels.
Because of the speed at which a scaleup business works, you will need effective tools that allow you to collect, analyse and collaborate on data generated by the campaign.
To keep pace with your growth objectives you will need to deploy tools that provide salesforce and marketing automation – a shared Google Sheet is not enough.
Automation is crucial to reducing manual data management because it reduces administrative overheads. Your sales and marketing teams can then focus on providing a personal service to customers – and to closing deals.
The final step is also the first – measuring and reporting on the success (or failure) of your campaigns.
Back in Step 2 you defined what success looks like. Step 6 takes your data and tells you whether those goals have been reached. You are effectively closing the loop to create a scalable, perpetual marketing cycle.
Reporting also provides crucial evidence that your efforts are working – and that marketing has a measurable effect on your wider growth goals.
Don’t forget to look beyond the financial metrics though – engagement-level metrics are equally important, providing insights in how to improve future campaigns, and to refine your customer personas.
To maximise revenue growth, you need to measure and optimise conversion rates. Of prime importance is the conversion rates of visitors to leads – this is where a casual browser becomes a genuine revenue earning opportunity.
Without reporting and statistics, you will not be able to accurately assess performance – or improve future campaigns.
Putting it all together
Conceptually, these Six Steps are relatively straightforward. Research provides the basis for your marketing strategy which then informs your campaign playbook.
Every campaign uses that playbook to keep processes moving forwards – and reporting allows you to assess performance and optimise future marketing operations.
Followed properly, this 6-Step process will help any startup generate leads, drive sales and achieve the growth they so desperately need.
About the author
This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Julia Payne, co-founder of Incisive Edge an inbound marketing agency specialising in high growth tech startups.
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