1. 7 x GTM WHYs
Know the answers to these seven WHYs and use them to inform your most crucial GTM decisions.
Why are customers buying from you? Why are they not? Why are those specific competitors shortlisted against you? Why are your products/services needed now? Why are they different? Why do customers return? And why do they not?
Find answers to these you can have confidence in, and you have valuable intel to decide exactly where to play, and who to focus sales and marketing efforts on. You’re all set to explain who your products/services are for and why yours is the best, and you’re armed to set yourself apart from other players. These are some of the most valuable of GMT insights that form the backbone of any sound scaleup marketing strategy.
2. De-Risk your Marketing
Be brutal in attacking any grey areas. If the return on any significant marketing spend or activity isn’t delivering an obvious outcome, prioritise understanding why – and consider pausing while you do so*. No one wants a leaky bucket. Scaling businesses need to protect every precious marketing penny, all the more so given the current climate.
* CAVEAT: Before chucking any activity out the window, ensure the way you’ve been measuring the impact of that activity is rigorous enough in the first place and that you can confidently stand behind your review process. We often we see costly activities, particularly events, being disregarded because expectations were either wrong, unrealistic or too vague in the first place.
3. Exec level commitment
Until Marketing has an equal seat on a scaleup’s Exec table, it’s highly unlikely Marketing will ever perform to its maximum capability. Without the right representation from the right senior Marketer, decisions will be made for Marketing by non-marketing professionals. And there is great risk that comes from this.
More often than not scaleups start out life being either been Sales-led or Product-led. And Marketing can often be on the back foot, on catch-up as a result. Your Allies has typically come into level up Marketing functions because Marketing either hasn’t been prioritised early on enough, or has been led by someone without sufficient scaleup marketing experience.
By committing to the guidance and experience an Exec-level Marketer can bring, gives a Marketing function the best chance of delivering what the business needs. But more than that, the right Marketer at the helm will add far greater value to a scaling business – for example, by identifying new market opportunities, by fortifying partner relationships through win-win comarketing, or turning a brand into a powerful strength.
4. Place Marketing at the Frontline
The highest performing marketing functions are the ones joined at the hip with Sales, Product and Customer Success; on the frontline with Customers and Partners; and with a direct line into competitor and market intel. A constant flow of information between these part of your business and the market will feed marketing with crucial customer intel. Insights needed to shape the high-impact campaigns and big ideas ambitious scaleups need to survive, and thrive.
5. Prioritise home-grown ambassadors
Allowing your Marketers to lead the wider business as Brand Ambassadors will help to:
- Educate employees on how to talk and write about your brand
- Protect your brand and IP
- Shape spokespeople, influencers and broadcasters to amplify your company’s voice.
More often than not it’s a scaleup’s spokespeople who will see greater traction from their social media activity versus the social media activity of the company itself. The marketing function that successfully nurtures brand ambassadors from within can expect to see a wealth of good outcomes as a result.
6. Content: Invest and Repurpose
It now takes on average 26 touchpoints* before a B2B decision-maker is ready to engage with a supplier. And with anything between 65% and 80% of the buyer journey taking place online, the one thing you can’t skimp on is content.
Allowing prospective buyers to learn about how your business is relevant to them and how you can help them win, by consuming content received at the right time and in the right format is genuinely one of the toughest marketing challenges.
But it can feel like a big, vague, wide open thing, can’t it? For scaleups content usually encompasses the following:
– The articles, reports, whitepapers, points of view, talking heads, and other lead pieces you use to educate and bring your audience closer.
– The backbone of and outputs from your webinars, events, podcasts and round table discussions.
– The collateral you arm sales with (playbooks, explainer videos, brochures, cheat-sheets, case studies, ROI calculators, competitor comparison tables…)
We’ve seen without fail every business that’s gone light on content take a hit on sales and marketing performance. Without sufficient content, a slippery road lies ahead:
– Marketing may have to rely on just one or two hits or touchpoints, to count as a lead or MQL.
– Sales lose faith in following up leads and MQLs which simply aren’t qualified enough.
– Moving opportunities through the sales process feels like pushing water uphill.
– Justice is not being done to the incredible product/service that’s been built. It’s not being allowed to shine through via content.
But it’s not all about new-new content. We see Marketers missing smart opportunities to repurpose existing content to make it work harder, go farther and tap into a wider audience all the time. Repurposing must be a firm feature of any good scaleup content plan.
7. Understand what good really looks like
As well as cost per acquisition, ROI and revenue contribution being key measures of success, find a way to capture and analyse other high-value outcomes such as:
- The first impression your brand and demand gen campaigns
- The impact of lead spokespeople engaging with the market (e.g. speaking at events, joining expert panels, sharing insights on LinkedIn…)
- The ripple effect from Partners, Customers and industry experts talking about your company
There are untold gems to be found analysing these types of these seemingly less tangible outcomes.
8. Compare yourself
An exercise in our view which is not run frequently enough, and is often forgotten, is lining up the competition’s websites and lead collateral alongside yours. Same to be said for looking at other Players in your space – companies you admire, companies which might complement your offering, companies your customers rate.
And we mean literally line them up – screenshots of websites, visuals, straplines placed alongside one another can point us to a wealth of insights.
How do you look compared to theirs – visually, proposition-wise, and from a UX perspective? Are you well differentiated enough? Are you proud of how you stand alongside? What do their lead messages tell you? How have they decided to present their products and services and to which segments of the market – by industry by buyer persona, by challenge or need? What are they doing which you aren’t or could do better? What themes are they hanging their hat on this year? What content, CTAs, events, customers and partners can you find out about?
These are just some of the questions to drive valuable learnings from to ensure your marketing stands out, and much more. (Of course what this exercise doesn’t tell you is how well their website and lead collateral performs. But better to have part of the picture than none at all.)
9. Take the easy route with Social Selling
Through the Your Allies LinkedIn Accelerator over 450 B2B professionals have gone through our social selling, LinkedIn and Sales Navigator training. Time-poor Exec Teams, seasoned SaaS/Tech Sales Gurus, hungry Bizdev Teams, sceptical IT Professionals and Dev Teams – we’ve coached them all. (And loved every second of it.)
To help social selling initiatives get going in the early stages, the frictionless route is the best way forward. By identifying the already-social-media-savvy individuals, or those who are simply motivated and eager to learn, you’ll find a more direct route to the outcomes you want to achieve.
Social selling and LinkedIn marketing isn’t for everyone. And nor should it be. Every employee has the right to decide whether they do or don’t engage on behalf of their company. Naturally, it might be a fair expectation for salespeople and company spokespeople to take the lead here.
But back to our point – kitting out your most eager of brand advocates with the skills, advice and content they need to drive social selling and LinkedIn marketing initiatives forwards is a smart move because:
- Precious coaching time is spent on getting to the good stuff rather than convincing sceptics of something they may never be ready to do.
- These individuals may often already be well connected on LinkedIn, meaning when they do ramp activity up their network is already receptive and/or has expansive reach.
- They have the appetite to put your advice into action and are therefore most likely to be instrumental in making your initiative fly.
- By showcasing the success of these individuals, others may be inspired to follow. Even the more healthily sceptical ones.
And a word of thanks – without those who have challenged our social selling advice and reasons for focusing on LinkedIn, we’ve been able to respond and in turn paint a realistic picture to the teams we’ve coached. We begin every session reminding people in the room that we must sprinkle a very healthy dose of salt over all of this this. Social selling is but one tactic, and LinkedIn is but one of many channels, that B2B scaleup marketing must embrace. (When have you ever heard a salesperson month-on-month describe LinkedIn as being the reason they’re smashing their sales target?)
10. Phone a friend
Whether it’s warm friendly customer supporters, company alumni you have retained strong bonds with, or industry partners you simply just click with… don’t be shy in asking for their take on things. Before putting marketing messaging, big themes or thought-leadership out into the world, tap into trusted individuals who know your business, and importantly who are in your Customers’ world.
These checkpoints are often overlooked. The more you can look at your business through the customer and industry lens, the sharper you set yourself up to be.
Provided these asks are done respectfully and without becoming a burden, phoning a friend will deliver countless benefits. And of course you can find a way to thank them.
11. Don’t write-off proprietary GTM research
Scaleups rarely have the luxury of having reems of customer references to draw on. Customer intel that deeply defines and clearly clarifies Product Market Fit is the Holy Grail in this stage of a business’s journey.
But there is another way to sidestep this by running your own smart, proprietary research. A few options include:
- Investing into polls and surveys run into well-profiled audiences which align to your target buyers, run by an external market research partner (take a look at Censuswide and Pollfish for starters)*.
- Hosting small, self-run focus groups consisting of existing customers**.
- Running in-depth telephone or virtual interviews with Senior/C-Suite of your Ideal Customer Business, you’re able to access*.
* These polls can allow you to ask anything from 5 to 15 questions for a reasonable price tag (ballpark as of Sep23 = £1k – £5k). Of course the more senior you go, the harder they are to reach/the higher the cost of the survey will be. The other beauty here is that you receive the analysis and exec summary for the poll – hard-lifting all taken care of.
** These two options are (more resource-intensive a you’re doing the heavy-lifting here, from start to finish).
Whilst this won’t equal firsthand responses from your own, broad customer base, this fills a crucial gap helping you understand where you fit and why within prospective target audiences. And there are a tonne of uses for the results and analysis from these polls – informing GTM approach, polishing value props and messaging, shaping content themes, producing blogs and thought-leadership – and that’s just for starters.
This is a big subject we’re not going to cover in one article. Drop us a line if you’re interested in hearing more about how this can work for your business. We genuinely thing it’s one of the best things a scaleup can invest in.
12. Stand on the shoulders of Giants
We see many missed opportunities when it comes to comarketing and joining forces with Partners to go to market. Doing everything from scratch, on your own as a scaling company isn’t the smartest move.
There are efficiencies and gains to come from teaming up with Partners and Allies in the right way, including:
- Amplifying your reach through a stronger more established Partner brand
- Earning kudos by association with the right Partner, their products and services
- Media and journalists taking a closer look
- Reaching prospective customers sat in your Partner’s marketing database
- Tapping into their market expertise and understanding to drive forward stand-out comarketing initiatives.