Previously we talked about sales and building a sales pipeline. This time it’s about marketing: what we can do to fill that sales pipeline with quality leads. Marketing now has meaning – beyond well-designed brochures and a functional website.
Essentially, marketing’s job is to create a steady stream of potential buyers so that the sales team can convert them into paying customers. Done right, marketing can pull in qualified leads from traditional channels such as the company website, ads, press, conferences and tradeshows as well as new methodologies like content marketing and social media.
Filling your pipeline. This is what your go to market strategy is all about. And why investors care so much about it. You may have the very best solution on the market, it may be designed to solve your customers’ biggest pain points and customer discovery may show that your customers are clamoring for your solution now. But, where are your customers and how do you connect with them to get that steady stream of prospects traveling to your front door (or website)?
Here are three things you can do to start marketing on Take Action Tuesday:
Know your market
Total Addressable Market may indicate just how big your potential buyer group is, but to motivate people to buy from you, you’re going to need to understand the world they live in. And that includes industry dynamics including regulatory issues, the key stakeholders and influencers they listen to and the resources they consume for information. You’ll also need to understand how they buy, when they buy and how long it takes them to make decisions, sign contracts and, ultimately, pay you. You can begin assembling this information into Strategyzer’s Business Model Environment worksheet. This information gives you the context you need to know where and how best to connect with your customers on their terms.
Revisit your value proposition canvas
Remember how you clearly understood your buyer as an individual? The social, emotional and functional roles they played, the terrible pains they wanted to overcome, and the big gains they wished to achieve. Understanding your potential customer at that level gives you the language you need to attract them to your solution. Use this language as you craft emails, create scripts and develop content for your website and any other material you might write to attract folks to your pipeline. And, if you haven’t filled out the value proposition canvas, or it’s been a while, you can join us Tuesday, July 24th for our workshop, Create a Rock-solid Startup Success Story: Get Your Value Proposition Right.
Start talking to people
If you’ve worked for a large company, then the marketing engine was already in place. The various channels (ads, press, website, conference/tradeshow circuit, content marketing, social media outlets, etc.) had already been established, driving a steady stream of leads into the sales funnel.
Since you’re starting from scratch, you don’t yet know the best places for ads, if press matters, which tradeshows are good tradeshows and what type of content your customers consume. In the beginning, your job is to start talking to people who may or may not be your ideal customer and/or who may or may not lead you to your ideal customer.
The only way to find out is to ask a lot of questions and listen, listen, listen. You’ll soon discover everything you didn’t know you needed to know. Like:
- when the biggest tradeshow of the year is held
- the title of the decision maker for the solution you sell
- the best blogs your customers read to find solutions to their problems
- how often they buy
- the magazines they read
- associations and groups they belong to
and a million more pieces of valuable information. This interaction not only helps you build relationships with your earliest adopters, it provides key insight into when and how customers expect to find you and do business with you. Keep in mind: this is not a scalable technique, but it’s essential to getting started. As you learn, you’ll refine your knowledge into a reliable go-to-marketing strategy your investors will believe in.
Need a boost? Check out Ryan Holiday’s book: Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising. One last reminder: good marketing efforts begin the moment you think you want to start a business. As one of the six core business functions, marketing ensures you’re building a stable foundation for your business.
Hope to see you soon over here at ASU Chandler Innovation Center.