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If marketers could time-travel to the recent past, they would never recognize their work today. If you have been in the B2B startup marketing for 10 to 15 years, you already know that the field has evolved so greatly that it’s almost impossible to remember what it was like before…
…back when reaching out to audiences was mostly done with press releases and centralized media channels, and no one could tell which of these efforts worked well or not, or to what extent.
This article shares insights from a recent guide that highlights this shift in marketing and presents new methodologies for B2B startups.
The new era of B2B startup marketing
The past few years have flipped B2B marketing on its head, and that means new goals, new skills, and a whole new approach. Data pros, for instance, currently lead many marketing campaigns and are hard to recruit. This is something we never considered when traditional marketing ruled that realm.
Branding, PR, and events remain crucial to the business, but they are performed differently and are accompanied by new capabilities and platforms.
If marketers rely on old-school marketing alone, they only tell half the story. Even traditional activities can be tracked and measured, and you can’t talk yourself out of a bad campaign anymore.
Founders are in a tight spot since they must hire the right people for the job and avoid the traditional marketing pitfalls. Marketers love buzzwords like “growth hacking” or full-stack marketing, but few know how to employ them properly for a B2B brand.
We’ve identified some common issues that startups face in the post-seed to round B stages:
- Founders hire the wrong people (or agencies) to do the job and then get disappointed. Creative agencies, branding agencies, marketing agencies, storytellers… As much as they are appreciated, they don’t do what startups need to do to grow a business.
- Founders mistakenly believe that marketing executives hold all the keys to growth due to their seniority. That’s mostly not the case.
- B2B marketers hide knowledge gaps by saying that they don’t need to execute. Well, if you don’t know how the architecture is built and executed, you won’t be able to manage it properly.
- Many marketers who claim to be full-stack don’t actually include growth marketing, funnel marketing, inbound, digital, and ABM in their offering.
- Many founders and marketers have yet to learn that marketing and sales are so closely connected, that they’re hardly separate jobs anymore. This means that both sides should understand (and contribute, business-wise) to the big picture rather than stick to their formal role and nothing beyond.
It all boils down to knowledge gaps that founders have with regards to today’s growth marketing profession and how professional it is.
Building a B2B startup marketing machine
Basically, micro-targeting and attribution tracking capabilities have transformed the ecosystem. It was first felt in the B2C arena, and later on in the B2B one.
Today’s B2B startup marketing building blocks include familiar components such as strategy, messaging, storytelling, website and collateral building, PR, and more.
But once the basics are in place, everything needs to move toward building an impactful growth strategy and execution. What’s it like? The complete B2B growth marketing for startups guide gets into it in detail, but here are some concepts you should know.
- Your first goal is, well, to set measurable goals: Setting KPIs is an art and should be done in a way that makes them hard to achieve (yet feasible), and in a way that allows you to measure your progress.
Ultimately, the goal is to track every marketing step, how each channel contributes, and progress – both quantitative and qualitative. Later, the marketing scheme should also determine its own ROI based on predefined questions (which, again, are all listed in our guide).
- Create an enriched prospecting list (and an ABM list) of your target audience: Data collection, intent enrichment, and advanced targeting tools should be your besties as soon as the process begins.
Use automation tools and enrichment platforms to build prospect profiles filled with relevant data, and prioritize based on specific scoring criteria (you can’t call everyone at once). Did we mention that everything is covered in the guide?
- Inbound/outbound marketing (the heavy lifting): The impact game is done via many communication forms and channels that are taken into consideration, with specific content to match each one. While we can’t go into all the details here, let’s just say that the process involves a lot of mapping (yes, again) and content creation. You’ll combine one-on-one conversations with a broader outreach to make sure that your voice is heard by those who need to hear it.
The content cornerTo give you a better understanding of the content creation process, here are a few steps worth noting.
- Content creation: You already know who your audience is; now you need to create different marketing funnel content they’ll find interesting. Each of these should accompany different funnel stages: everything from guides, online training, articles, social media posts, PR announcements, and more.
- Promotion: Even the world’s greatest content needs a little boost to reach the right eyes, let alone content published by a young, brandless startup. Organic, direct, and paid promotion channels must be calculated to ensure that the startup story isn’t a shout into the void. How is it done? You already know where to find the answer.
- Data collection: Cookies (or other forms of tracking technology) should help you gather personal data regarding content viewers such as attribution source, which will be beneficial almost immediately. Later on, your marketing activities and ROI calculations will rely on the information you managed to collect. Each channel will be analyzed and judged by its performance compared to all the others (e.g., Facebook direct, Facebook communities, Facebook ads, Google search ads, LinkedIn groups, LinkedIn ads, etc.)
- Nurturing: The ‘multi touchpoints’ concept in B2B marketing is real and there’s basic psychology behind it. People trust familiar brands. Repetitive messages are more likely to be processed. Nurturing is essential for closing opportunities, or in marketing-speak, for the purpose of turning MQLs to SQLs. There are a time and a place for every marketing or sales prospecting move, and your nurturing process will move leads in the right direction and offer relevant content until they are fully qualified.
We’re sure that the above ideas leave you with many unanswered questions:
- What type of mapping, sales and marketing automation, enrichment, and promotion tools should be explored?
- What content should be created for every step of the marketing funnel?
- How can you score a qualified lead?
- How can you determine if a campaign is effective and ROI positive?
To name just a few.
Download the guide “Understanding the shift that B2B startup founders must adapt to, and how to make the right decisions” and step into our world of B2B startup marketing. Discover how we build and implement a comprehensive growth operation for our B2B startups.