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As a startup marketer, your success (usually) depends on designing a machine that keeps bringing in relevant prospects, new qualified leads, and sales opportunities
In recent years I have worked with many B2B startups. in Medical, AI, Cyber, DevOps, IoT and more… All the good that Israel has to offer to the world.
In many cases, we came onboard to help these startups present their story to the world and build or improve their lead generation and nurturing processes.
Although it is still fairly common for businesses to generate leads through more traditional channels – like personal referrals or cold-calling, present-day lead generation practices highlight online enablements and tactics – SEO, PPC, social media, content marketing and more.
Hundreds of lead generation strategies are created and implemented by B2B digital marketers across the globe. Some are successful, while others – less so. Today I am sharing what’s been working for us.
Long story short, We spent time and effort in putting together a system for optimized demand-generation, lead generation and sales enablement support. The system has proven to be highly effective again and again.
Let’s set expectations first. If you want an engine that supports your sales by turning prospects into valid opportunities, you’re going to have to build a machine through a lot of trial and error.
This usually requires specific expertise and quite a lot of effort. And as I said before, a lot of patience (and persistence) during the likely lengthy trial and error process.
We have developed for our startups these kinds of machines and we survived to tell the tale…
In many cases, we had to start from scratch. Other times, we built such machines for established tech companies that had simply never created a methodical demand-gen operation of their own before.
And each time we built such a machine, we acquired new and better tools, optimizing our practices to generate even better results.
That’s why I decided to share the structure and building blocks we love to follow, including some concrete examples.
4 major ingredients for your demand generation machine
Think of your startup’s demand-gen strategy as a special dish (or a cake). Step by step, you should follow the recipe and add ingredient after ingredient to your machine. Each step builds upon its predecessor until you wind up with a smart, fully-operational machine that feeds your SDR.
Again, there’s going to be a lot of trial and error, and that involves (some) media spending. So, set expectations internally ahead of time.
Here are the four major components that you will need to have:
1. Amazing-content arsenal
A well-crafted machine, that is built to turn a targeted list into sales opportunities, is based on a well-defined journey that guides prospects through specific stages: From being aware of the offering to establishing the right perception, understanding the core product values, to becoming curious enough to want to hear more (Not your problem anymore 🙂 )
The journey is created through content.
You will need to create top quality, fresh, intriguing and informative content, capable of attracting your audience. you will be needing to generate content that fits each of the journey stages that I’ve mentioned above.
Blog articles, for instance, can be great for generating awareness and establishing the first impression.
Use cases and professional white papers, on the other hand, are great to provoke curiosity and trigger demo requests, among prospects that already know your company.
I’ve previously written about how to generate top quality and results-oriented (blog) content. Read it to get an idea of the standard you will need to meet and the estimated effort that comes along.
You will not only need to deeply study your target audience and hunt for content that will make them tick, but you will also need to always consider the context, which is the message that you want to deliver at the end of the day. Still, you will need to avoid falling into the ‘over salesy’ trap and make sure that you add real value.
And while strong headlines are important and probably most compelling in the short-term, as they effectively attract potential leads’ eyes, it is just as important to ensure that your (top funnel) content is consistently compelling, to create a long-term, engaging rapport with your prospects.
This is true with respect to articles, blog posts, social media communications, and marketing email blasts.
To summarize this part: First, and before the push starts, prepare a content arsenal that answers all journey stages. Blog articles and videos or PR announcements to introduce your company to prospects, value-added guides or reports so they can get impressed and generate the right perception of the company, use-cases, webinars, deep-dive white papers, and more. All content needed till prospects know enough about the products and are ready to be delivered to the sales team.
2. Inbound and outbound push – ABM, Remarketing and so forth
Here’s a truth that marketers know but very few startup founders really get:
AT LEAST six to eight touch points are needed to generate a qualified lead – and seven to 13 touch points to nurture that lead into a qualified, sales-ready position(!)
Now you see why there’s so much content needed?
Here, the high-quality content you have created is used within a multi-channel remarketing strategy, to regularly and consistently stay in front of your targeted prospects and keep communicating your value-added products and services.
Smart content (that was built considering your goals) must now fuel push campaigns, inbound and outbound- via top funnel campaigns, ABM campaigns, remarketing campaigns and more.
Experts struggle here with balancing lead fishing and capturing efforts between a range of inbound and outbound marketing channels.
I personally love to work inbound and outbound in parallel. What do I mean? I usually support sales oriented startup companies. As such, these companies have comprehensive prospects wishlists. While I focus on these lists, I also run inbound marketing campaigns that push top-funnel blog articles to targeted audiences that aren’t necessarily on their lists. I do that as market awareness, positioning and domain ownership is very important as well, and that is achieved by ensuring that the entire industry is being exposed to the company’s communications rather than just the ultra-targeted prospect list (even though pure inbound strategies may not pay off in the short term, they set the company’s future in the long term).
For that reason, I also run remarketing campaigns that are not very selective:
Why does remarketing work? It’s simple. If you ask me, it’s another demonstration of what psychologists call “the mere exposure effect”
It means that the more a person is exposed to a stimuli, the more he or she will like it. Your offering can become the lead gen stimulus to create this effect.
This is why people need multiple touch points before they make a decision. It’s also why remarketing is so effective, when operated smartly of course.
3. Marketing automation solution
Now you have great content and you are using it to generate traffic and in your push campaigns – great.
An important component to add next (in parallel, to be more accurate) to your machine is the right SaaS system to help you track the engagement parameters of your prospects (identify those that are ready to go to sales) and to help you easily run multiple demand-gen activities.
Marketing automation is the technological SaaS solution that uses software to automate some elements of your lead generation and marketing processes. It enables your business to produce better lead generation results without using up too much of your valuable time on traditional outreach and sales tactics.
Marketing automation solution knows how to identify the origins of leads, revealing everything that you should know about your prospect’s journey, help you easily create landing pages for gated content or other, help you launch email campaigns and more. Marketing automation allows your sales and marketing efforts to be:
- More accurate (know which marketing channels delivered best quality leads)
- Calculated according to a single prospect level (provide a score to each engagement event, automatically deliver high score prospect to sales)
- Directed towards lead nurturing that is critical to increasing sales conversions (define a content journey and run your marketing push according to it, based on segments)
While you can start without having a marketing automation system in place, only user-level analytics (enabled when you add marketing automation) can help you identify the true quality of each acquisition channel according to parameters such as attribution and retrospective analysis, so you can make educated decisions on where to focus your now-automated marketing efforts for maximum results.
When combined with your company’s CRM (I always prefer an all-in-one automation system that includes a CRM), your startup can obtain unprecedented access to lead intelligence, enable the tracking of campaign ROI and even help you optimize conversion tactics, which you will, of course, need to use once you’ve successfully generated those leads. We have published a blog post that discusses what you need to take into account when selecting a marketing automation system for your startup. You can read it here.
4. Smooth communication between your sales and marketing teams
Even with the greatest technological advances at your disposal, without experienced sales and marketing teams that know how to work together, all your acquired data will not be worth much.
Instead of wasting your efforts, complete your lead generation machine by combining the work of all team members to accomplish a single goal: Generate sales qualified leads.
Salespeople are key players in the lead generation marketing game. They are highly trained to know exactly what prospects want, what makes them tick, what scares them and where they get stuck while contemplating purchases.
And since generated leads eventually find their way to the sales department, the sales team can be a great asset to the marketing team and its efforts. The sales team can point the marketing team to the content that they should focus on, they can reflect back insights of leads quality, information that can be feed back the various acquisition channels, and so forth.
In fact, B2B companies with well-aligned sales and marketing processes report a 27 percent faster revenue growth than businesses whose sales and marketing departments operate as separate islands. That’s why you must always make sure your lead generation marketers are fully synced with your sales reps.
How do you add this component to your lead-gen machine? Well, first, make sure that your sales and marketing teams sync on a weekly basis and that they meet to brainstorm over your business’ lead-gen and lead nurturing processes.
There’s always a healthy tension between these 2 parties and that’s OK. Just make sure the tension is indeed healthy and is not too intense.
Make sure that everybody in your sales and marketing teams are indeed using the systems and updating them with every piece of relevant information. This must happen, otherwise, the work will have been done in vain and your lead machine will be pretty much worthless.
Building the ultimate B2B demand gen machine for your technological startup requires you to combine fresh content, inbound and outbound strategies, technological tools such as marketing automation and sales and marketing team alignment, with each element building upon each other for optimal results. Think of it as a strategy game, or a puzzle.
Such a machine made up of the smart implementation of these components is expected to reel in lead after lead, which your startup’s teams will be sure to nurture along the sales funnel, driving profits.
It’s one of the best kept secrets that top result oriented marketers know and do – they build priceless demand-gen machines. While they know how to do that, they too struggle with trial and error and they too need time until the results start to come in.
Good luck and don’t forget to join our Facebook group that’s made for global tech pros and startup marketers operating in Israel