Marketing Tactics vs. Strategy: Striking a Balance

One of the biggest differences between marketing jobs at a large company versus doing marketing at a startup is the breadth of responsibility.  At a large company, marketing roles are highly siloed and folks are slotted into field marketing, PR, communications, strategy, etc. and they rarely work on projects or tasks that cross those lines.  At a startup there aren’t enough people around to start splitting up jobs like that so more often than not there are one or two people doing everything.  That’s is the fun part of doing startup marketing (and one of the dangers of hiring a person who has only ever worked at big companies for your startup, but that’s another blog post).  The challenge of course is that you have to wear a lot of hats simultaneously So how do you find a balance between the strategic and the tactical sides of the equation?  In my experience most marketers are more comfortable on one side or the other and they tend to spend too much time in that comfort zone.  For example, folks that are awesome at lead generation can easily spend all their time doing only that.  Folks that are good at strategy often find lead generation “boring”. All strategy and no tactics – you might never get off the ground There are obvious problems with not paying attention to short term revenue.  Even though your positioning and strategy might establish you as a thought leader (yeah, hate that word but you know what I mean) in a market, you might not survive long enough for that strategy to translate into revenue without...

Marketing ROI: 5 Reasons You Aren’t Measuring it

AMR published a study of marketers in North America that showed that only 50% of marketers formally analyze metrics to judge ROI.  To me that’s a stunning statistic.  Only 50%!?  I’m a bit of a numbers nut, I’ll admit it.  I blame my engineering background.  But seriously, half of the marketers out there aren’t tracking any metrics to determine what’s working and what isn’t? I got thinking about it.  Why wouldn’t you want to measure any metrics to track ROI?  Here’s what I came up with: 1/ You don’t want to spoil the purity of your artistic vision with all of those icky “numbers” – Some days I wish I was an artist and I didn’t have to worry about pesky things like revenue and profit and feeding my children, so I could just concentrate on the beautiful-ness of my lovely marketing. Yeah, OK, no I don’t. 2/ You don’t think it can be measured – I hear this one a lot and frankly I just don’t understand it. Yeah, OK, there might be the odd small thing you are doing that you can’t track but seriously people – you’re driving people to your website, don’t you care how many convert?  You’re trying to get folks to call you, doesn’t it matter how many of them actually buy?  You are running specials and promotions, but you don’t care how many take you up on them? 3/ Your executive team never asked you to measure it – This might be a good reason except that one day you’ll get a new CEO who asks where your metrics are and you...

Marketing is Dead (long live product marketing)

I gave the keynote presentation at ProductCamp Amsterdam over the weekend.  It was an amazing trip.  The intelligent and charming organizers (shown in the photo left to right Xavier, Vladimir, Mark,  Jelmer, and Kevin) not only shuttled me around and fed me good food but they also put me up in by far the largest hotel room I have ever stayed in (below is a shot I took from the loft. Yes, it had a loft).  The venue (kindly donated by the folks at Backbase) was fantastic and the crowd was full of smart startup folks that asked really good questions. The talk I gave was one that I’ve wanted to do for a while.  It was on the changing nature of marketing in a world where buyers are much more in control and traditional marketing tactics are not only ineffective, but down right annoying. The talk is called Marketing is Dead (long live Product Marketing). I want to thank the organizers again for inviting me and for being such good hosts.  And if there are any other European conference organizers out there reading this I’d like to say that in addition to Amsterdam I like London, Paris and Berlin very much…. Here are the slides: Marketing is Dead (long live product marketing) View more presentations from April Dunford. If you enjoyed that, you should subscribe!  You can sign up for email updates, subscribe via RSS or follow me...

Brand Marketing has Left the Building

Last week I attended Marketo’s User Conference and I had a great time being elbow-to-elbow with 600 other hard-core marketing folk (if you don’t know them, Marketo provides a marketing automation tool that helps marketers automate lead generation campaigns).  One of the themes of the conference was around the transformation of marketing from a cost center to a revenue driver.  Phil Fernandez, Marketo’s CEO had this to say in a recent blog post: In today’s “buyer’s in control” market, traditional marketing and sales approaches have become grossly inefficient and outdated. By relying on antiquated strategies and ineffective methods, organizations find that 80% of leads and 50% of the sales team time is wasted. This misalignment adds up quickly and creates significant revenue leaking points across the organization. The solution to this “revenue leakage” requires a shift in thinking about marketing’s fundamental role in the business.  This shift moves marketing further and further away from doing more traditional “branding” style activities, toward campaigns and tactics where there is a direct line of sight to revenue. Why is this shift from brand marketing to revenue marketing happening in the first place? Digital makes measurement possible – Digital marketing has made it possible for marketers to measure more of what we do. 10 years ago when I was spending my money on print advertising, traditional PR and events it was hard to track the amount of revenue I influenced.  Because it was hard to measure we often allocated marketing spend across tactics based on anecdotal information.  We took a guess at what worked based on how many people we got in front...

Marketing Metrics 101 for B2B Startups

I think people are finally coming around to the idea that good marketing requires good measurement.  I’ve seen online B2C startups use Dave McClure’s Startup Metrics for Pirates as a starting point for measuring what marketing is doing.  For those of us selling to businesses however, particularly where there is a sales team involved and a pipeline to track, the world is quite different and Dave’s metrics don’t cover everything you need to track. Here’s how I’d construct a basic set of marketing metrics for a B2B startup (and a single slide that I would use to present them): Think about the goals before you start The main goal of tracking marketing metrics is to get a measure of ROI or program effectiveness so you can make sure you are spending more and more on things that drive revenue and less and less on things that don’t. A good set of metrics will allow me to predict that if I spend $1 on a certain marketing tactic, I’m likely to get $X of revenue in Y days. A good set of metrics will also give you a feel for inside and outside sales effectiveness and overall sales pipeline velocity as well. Rocket watcher b2b marketing metrics View more presentations from April Dunford. 1. Pipeline Measurements # of Targets– sometimes referred to as “suspects” this is anyone in the universe who is on the receiving end of your marketing. Sometimes it is helpful to track the number of companies in your universe of targets in addition to the number of individuals, especially when you are targeting a niche and want...

Discovering What Customers Really Want

I’ve been fielding a lot of questions from startups about how you figure out what customers really want vs. the “nice to have” stuff.  This process of “Customer Discovery” as Steve Blank calls it is something that a lot of founders I’ve spoken with don’t have a lot of experience with.  I had an email exchange recently with Tim Johnson talking about my favorite question: “So What?” I like to have marketers use it on themselves but Tim related an example of how he uses it in customer engagements.  It was a great example and I asked him to write it up in the post below.  Although his examples are around trying to close deals, I think they apply equally well to an early stage startup that is trying to get at the root of what’s really important in a solution vs. the nice to have stuff.  What I also like about this story is how it illustrates how customers may talk about “brand” characteristics as being important (we like company X because they are “fun”) when what they really mean is something much more tangible (company X’s products work with what I’ve already invested in). Read on… If you want to cut to the chase or destroy all the hubris around a conversation with a customer, the absolutely most effective question you can ask is, “So what?” A softer version is “Why is that important?” The customer will either tell you why it’s a key decision criteria or they will admit that it just sounded nice to have or they didn’t need it in the first place. The...
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