You've had your startup for awhile. You've bootstrapped, and you've succeeded. Your sales team has grown and has been kicking ass, only you haven't invested in marketing. And now you're starting to feel it.
Your marketing just might be a Big Hot Mess.
You proudly grew with moderate, or no, investment. And that means everything, justifiably, went into sales. That's what was needed to keep you alive. You have a team to support and a company to grow, if it wasn't bringing immediate ROI it didn't get attention. And grow you did.
You've got customers, and they love you. You know how amazing your company is, and now it's time for the rest of the world to know how good you are. Only there's no awareness in the general market. Your Sales team kicks ass, but it's starting to putter because the lead flow is slowing down. Reaching out to their network worked really well in the beginning. Now their network has been farmed. Sales are growing, but not at the same rate. Not because your product isn't great, but because you didn't have the time to set up a consistent, scalable lead generation process. You didn't have the resources, and sales was more important than marketing. As it should have been, sales is how the company has gotten to where it is now.
You probably do not have a consistent clear message. Or the right tools set up, and the ones set up probably aren't optimized. Perhaps you haven't been paying attention to analytics like you should, or maybe your look and feel is scattered and disjointed.
You have Marketing Debt. Like Technical Debt, it means the quick fixes and shortcuts, or the simple ignoring of processes that worked when you were small and your growth was organic, means that later you have some re-working, re-building, and process creating to implement in order to grow to critical mass.
Depending on how bad the Marketing Debt is, it can easily take a year to 2 years sort out your messaging, your look and feel, the processes, and build a scalable lead generation model.
Where to start to fix your marketing debt?
At this point your marketing team is probably anemic, over-worked, stressed out, and under producing - because there's too much to be done and where the heck do you start?
Start with where sales come from now, and what methods of lead gen you want to test in the future.
Let's look at some of the ways to fill the lead gen funnel:
e.g. Building lists, cold email workflows, cold calling
|e.g. Conferences, trade shows, CABs, PACs, hosted evenings - your own or going to others||e.g. SEM, Facebook, industry publications, ads in newsletters, print, billboards, paid article placement||e.g. Blogging, guest blogging, Twitter BOTs to landing pages, giving away Case Studies, White Papers, and datasheets etc.||e.g. Press write ups, reviews, industry pundit and analyst outreach||e.g. Partner programs and incentives for customers|
Typically messaging means the website - why? Because 60% of all business to business buying decisions are made before someone contacts your company and the bulk of that decision is made from information from the website. Your website is crucial.
The first stage of most websites the content is long and explains what your product is, even before, occasionally, the benefits. Why? Because no one knows what you do yet, and it needs to be explained. And you'll find at various stages of growth that message changes, gets shorter, more succinct. Your message starts to resonate as you explain the benefits instead of features. You speak to what your customer wants, because now you have customers and you know what they want. Now is the time to create a messaging guide, and to consider re-doing your website.
Have you been working with one designer the entire time? Do you have a brand book that clearly states the rules so that your quickly growing company can fly in formation and show a united face to the public? If not, your brand might need some work. A strong brand builds mindshare, which increases recognition and trust and makes meetings easier to get, and deals easier to close. Design is meant to sell. Everyone knows T-Mobile Magenta, the Apple logo, and Intel Inside.
Does your sales team have the materials they need to get deals done? Do you have recent case studies and white papers? Testimonials and datasheets? Videos? Infographics? Webinars? What's typical for your market? What's missing? Now is the time to make a list of what you need and start checking things off. While making this list think about how materials can be re-purposed. White papers and case studies with similar subjects can be gated on a landing page and go into an outbound email campaign. These landing pages can also be added to the bottom of a blog post through a Call To Action (CTA).
This is just the start of things that need to be done, and depending on how agile your organization is, it can take 6 months to a year or more to get these things sorted. Hiring takes time, training takes time, and creating takes time.
In future posts I'll focus on the Lead Generation Funnel tactics mentioned above.
If you have Marketing Debt, we can help