You’re an early stage startup. You don’t yet have thousands of euros revenue flowing into the company every month. So, how to make the most out of marketing with a limited budget and get your feet off the ground? And how can you use marketing to lift up your sales team? Here are insights from Annika Ljaš, a Visiting CMO in a Superangel webinar.
Being a founder with no marketing expertise, it must be difficult to figure out which trend you should be currently following. Is it content creation and blogging? Google ads? PR? And what are the channels you should be using? OK. Let’s take a step back and start from the things that work and are at your disposal already today.
Interested in the topic? Check out also our growth hacking post on how to increase revenue without increasing ad spend with Kristel Tuul.
How to avoid mindless marketing?
One thing is for sure. You shouldn’t base your marketing strategy on trends and advice that does not match your goals. You’ll always be feeling like ‘Oh, I’m not doing that’. Be critical to what is actually working and what is simply a buzz from marketing people looking to sell you their services.
To be able to implement the right advice at the right time, you need to understand what is happening around you. What are your competitors doing online? Where do your clients spend time? Invest your time into online research and accomplish the following:
- Know your market and follow your competitors/companies similar to you. Track what they’re doing online by researching their activity within the last year, month, 24h. You’ll find out what could also work for you.
- Know your clients. Spend time where your clients do. Follow the newsletters they’re interested in. Track keyword trending on Tweetdeck to get up to date with the latest industry terms.
- Talk with your sales reps.
- Repeat everything that has brought you conversions and clients so far. Stay lean.
At the beginning of your marketing journey, nothing should be paid for. Especially if you’re in B2B. Use native tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Tweedeck, Google Analytics to get your feet off the ground. At this stage, the focus should be on creating content not aggregating and analysing loads of data. However, good metrics to bear in mind are unique visitors (MoM growth) and the channels they came from to understand which marketing channels are working best for you.
Don’t underestimate email
While people buzz that ‘cold emails are dead’, you might be surprised to hear that you can write emails that convert. The key is to keep them short and simply behuman. Avoid word repetition and try to sound conversational. A good practice is to finish the email with a concise, easy-to-follow message, e.g. It’d be great to hear your thoughts on this or Let me know if you are interested. I know it’s tempting to invite them into a Zoom call for a ‘quick chat’ but let’s face it: many people are tired of it. So avoid doing that in the first outreach.
It’s also good to bear in mind that you’re talking to a customer not a VC. Your customer wants to clearly understand what value you provide to them and they gravitate towards industry phrases not software ones. Be confident and keep an attitude that you’re equal to your client. Leave out things like “the current version of our solution / we are expanding” as they reduce trustworthiness. If you are too new to the market or your product is too early-stage, it’s likely that you will go out of business. And why should they risk that?
B2B marketing channels – are your customers searching for your solution?
Are your clients actively searching for solutions similar to your product? It may be that your client doesn’t even know to think of it. Therefore, before you jump into Google Ads and SEO, you first have a complex task of building awareness and demand.
There are good alternatives to ad marketing. In fact, the biggest change for effective B2B marketing has been on LinkedIn. Here are some quick tips to make the most of LinkedIn and generate leads with minimal budget:
- Update your own and your company’s Linkedin profile. Include featured videos, links to useful articles, etc.
- Ask your employees to add that they work in your company
- You can send out up to 100 invitations to follow your company’s Linkedin page per month e. Use them and ask your co-founder and core team members to do the same
- Before generating leads in a new market using Linkedin Advertising, you need to have 100 followers from this country to be able to use ads in their native language
- You and your early stage startup are quite indistinguishable. Use your own Linkedin profile to attract your customers towards the product. Start creating authentic posts regarding bigger trends and learnings. Avoid using too many emojis, article links, and tagging people just for the sake of it. Create a discussion. The key is for the posts to be genuine and to get as many people comment on them as possible
- If you’re sharing valuable learnings and insights regarding bigger trends and markets, use this opportunity to collect emails in return for a download of a high quality asset. For that, you can use Linkedin Lead Gen form ad format.
How to make Marketing & Sales cooperation work?
Start from setting up a strong online profile for the sales people and provide them with practical insights for improving Sales KPIs (e.g. open/response rate of emails) to generating blogs and PR. Good marketing can be a significant cornerstone for helping sales convert.
The secret ingredient for an effective collaboration is talking. The marketing team should create the right content that uses industry terms not startup terms. Include marketers in sales calls to help them understand what clients talk about and the language they are using, and make sharing notes on clients’ questions/feedback a good practice between the two teams.
Launch your product/service in the Lean Startup way
Today, there is no such thing as a ‘big launch’. Instead, typically when you launch a product, you already have loyal customers behind you who love your product. Big announcements require iterating and testing your message numerous times based on the feedback of the same very clients. Change the message and the campaign as many times you need to ensure you’re positioning your product correctly. Bear in mind that a good PR campaign can also lead to other goals that you had in mind, for example, attracting good talent. Be ready to leverage it.
Annika is a seasoned full-stack marketer and PR expert who has led marketing in notable technology companies like Planet OS and WePower. Today, Annika runs her own company Noontide that offers Visiting CMO service to early stage B2B startups. She has already helped over 20 startups get their feet off the ground.