As an entrepreneur and former head of marketing at a SaaS startup that sold to one of the country’s leading MSPs, I understand the challenges of growing a technology start-up.
Lack of time, financial or human resources, and expertise often cause the marketing function to be pushed onto the back burner. Here are three marketing truths you need to know before you dive in.
Everyone is Responsible for Your Brand, Not Just Marketing
We know that one of the responsibilities of any CMO or director of marketing is to protect, promote and position their brand. But, it’s important to remember that everyone in your organization is responsible for how your brand is perceived and how well it’s represented during each interaction your employees have with prospects and customers.
These interactions can be everything from how the phone is answered, to how your customer was treated when they reached out to discuss a billing error, to how clean your restrooms are. Every individual interaction sends a message.
It’s not good enough to believe that if you have a friendly salesperson who knows just what to say and is dressed well that you’re all set. Your brand, whether perceived to be good or bad, is built by your customers and prospects based on an emotional response they have to every interaction with your company.
So, remember, it’s not just your CMO or marketing director that is responsible for your brand. Everyone at your company, from accountants to technical support representatives to the human resources team and your summer interns should be encouraged to be good stewards of your company’s brand.
25 Loyal Customers are More Valuable than 1,000 Facebook Likes
Founders of tech start-ups and other small businesses often believe that setting up a Facebook page and getting thousands of Likes in the first couple of months, or creating a Twitter page and buying lots of followers, will show prospects, investors and potential employees what a great company it is.
In the short term, that may be the case. You may have some prospects who say, “Wow, look at all the people who like them on Facebook. Maybe I should give them a try.” But, without a great customer experience to back that up, your new customers will likely be one-time customers, never to return.
It can be a challenge for tech founders with limited resources to run the marketing department, consistently generate new leads, close new customers, and service the customers you already have, all at the same time.
When push comes to shove, the small number of loyal customers you already have are more valuable than trying to get 1,000 people to Like your Facebook page.
The reality is that Likes mean nothing. But, existing customers who are treated well will buy more, are more likely to pay full retail prices, and remain customers for a longer period of time.
How can you give those customers the best experience? It’s not with marketing. It’s by respecting and empowering your employees. Remember, it’s not a cliché to say that happy employees make happy customers which drives increased revenue, customer retention, and new referrals.
As the founder or CEO of a tech start-up, share your vision and your goals with your employees. Don’t be afraid to be open about what’s happening with the company – the good, the bad and the ugly.
Those employees have joined your company believing in your mission, your vision and the direction you want to go.
If you’re open, respectful, and empower your employees, they will do everything in their power to be your customers’ champion. As a result, those customers will become your most vocal advocates and your second sales team, sending new customers your way.
Your Buyer Persona is More Valuable than Marketing Tactics
Did you notice that nowhere in this post have I talked about email marketing, trade show booths, press releases, inbound marketing, or content creation? That’s because every business is unique, and it would be wrong to say that all of these tactical marketing activities you normally hear about are appropriate for all tech founders to implement.
You may be ready to hire an in-house marketing manager, director or CMO, or be looking for a marketing executive to sit on your advisory board, or maybe thinking about outsourcing your marketing responsibilities to an agency. Here’s the best piece of advice I can give you on how your conversation should go.
If the first thing out of their mouth is about creating high quality videos, writing white papers, starting a podcast, or putting together a press release distribution schedule, end the conversation immediately and look for someone else.
The initial conversation you have with them should be about your company—its goals, both short term and long-term, the company mission, a review of the market and your primary competitors, as well as an in-depth understanding of your best and most profitable customers. This includes not only a demographic analysis of your target buyer – their age, job responsibilities, education, family, etc., but also a psychographic analysis – why they do what they do, how they feel, their values and attitudes.
Once these topics are discussed and understood, the marketing strategy can be put in place and the marketing tactics will follow.
Talking marketing tactics before this discussion happens is a waste of your time and money, and will not deliver the customer or revenue results you’re looking for.