Am I putting myself out of a job, or am I demonstrating my skills and experience by giving helpful advice to my potential client base?
Only time will tell.
I'm often asked, "Rebecca, how do we go about building the sort of lead generation machine you talk about?" Well, you're supposed to pay me a hefty consulting fee to tell you that. But instead, I'm going to outline it all in a blog post. Hopefully you'll still hire me, being convinced by my charisma and blog writing skills that I really do know what I'm talking about and therefore I'm the right person to help you with your marketing efforts.
1. Get your strategy straight.
This is the part I'm confident I can "put out there" without potentially undermining my own success. You really do need a commercially-capable marketing head to pull this together for you. You need someone who can look at your goals, your pipeline, your existing data and your product, in order to create a go-to-market strategy that will set you up for success. One size does not fit all, and you need a damn good plan in place before you start promoting yourself as the solution of choice for your customer base. The right person will be asking you about your pricing model, your existing customer base, your investment runway, and your commercial goals. The wrong person will send you a quote for a new website or a set of blog posts. Make sure you've got someone onboard who can sit at the C-suite level and engage with your business strategically, otherwise you will be throwing money into the wind.
2. Build your target list.
So you've got a cool product, and a handful of customers - and you think you know the sort of people and businesses you need to target in order to generate sales. Great! Now it's time to build a list. Don't wait until you've got a perfectly crafted ICP, "good enough" is a start. You need to get your name and your offering in front of people to generate attention, and at the very least, find out if your product is really of any use to them. Have a look at names, job titles, locations, sub-sectors, and any other data you think is relevant, such as company size (headcount or turnover) and even their own internal team structure. This is not a list for you to spam with intro emails. Yes, I'm talking to YOU, the people who keep spamming me with Subject: Quick question..? sales emails! Don't you dare email anyone until you've got something genuinely useful and interesting to say... but I'll elaborate more on that later.
3. Talk to your existing customers.
Before you carry on with the next steps, you need to talk to your existing customers - assuming you have a few. Not only do you need their case studies (including quantitative evidence that your product is a great solution) but you need to get a real understanding of their professional interests and challenges - both relating directly to your product, and in a more general sense. Based on their input, you can start crafting your content strategy around their needs, rather than your own.
4. Engage with your audience using soft content.
When I say "soft content" I don't mean "marketing fluff". I am talking about content that is not hard, cold, sales-driven messaging. The Soft Sell is one where you are more interested in helping your potential client than you are in converting them to a sale. Market reports, industry news, interviews, best practice, guides, insights... these are all content pieces that have the potential to help your contact to do their job better. That's what you should be aiming for. Puff pieces about your latest round of funding are of zero interest to your potential customer. Put their needs first.
5. Deliver strong commercial messaging.
Hello salespeople! This is the part you're going to like. Once you've got that soft content in place, you're in a position to start flexing your credentials. But beware of the hard sell: you really need to be showing the evidence of your product's usefulness to your customer. "Don't tell me, show me" is your mantra. Case studies are good, but the key snapshots of feedback from those case studies is even better. Someone is far more likely to read 3 small, key pieces of information than an entire case study. Get that quantitative data in front of your lead, and make it easy to see how they too could enjoy those benefits by becoming a customer.
6. You're only as good as your data.
I'm not just talking about your product data, I'm talking about marketing data. You don't need a big, complex, expensive solution - in fact, that's probably overkill when you're in the B2B space. But you should know some very basic data about your sales and marketing processes. The number of leads generated in any given time, and how many of these converted into meetings and then customers, is key. You should also know how many people are opening and reading your emails, how many people are clicking on your ads, and how many people are visiting your website - and what they're doing when they get there. It's not always easy to trace the source of a sale (a lead might read 3 emails, click on an ad, then search for you using Google before reading a few blog posts and then taking action on your website CTA!) but you can ensure that what you're creating is leading to engagement. Since you're B2B, engagement is a really great indicator of success. (We can talk about that in more detail at another time, if you like!)
7. You're only as good as your stack.
No rude jokes, please. I'm talking about your marketing tech stack.
Email marketing platform
Ad delivery and reporting platform
Project management tool
Subscription management tool
...and potentially a few others. Some products will meet many of the above requirements in one place (HubSpot is my favourite, but not a given!) or you may need to cobble together a few different things in order to get the functionality you need at a price you can afford. But the principle at play is this: you are trying to build a SCALABLE business. You can't do that without tools and automation in place that remove the need for manual intervention, and you can't do it without the ability to report on what works, and what doesn't.
8. Content is King - with a caveat.
I hear a lot of talk about blog posts, SEO, and video marketing... just to begin. Far too often the conversation revolves around the channel first, and the content itself second. Focus on the content first (points 4 & 5 above) and then decide on your channels. The likelihood is, if you come up with a great content idea, you'll want that to be executed across many marketing channels using customised formatting to ensure high levels of engagement. There's no point running a digital video marketing campaign if your target audience is rarely online - you may need to produce a printed brochure in order to reach them!
Obviously all this is easier said than done! Without the experience of having done this work for a long time, it's hard to prioritise and execute on the strategies above in an effective way. That's where an advisor or contractor can do great work for you, particularly when you're time-poor and need lean, effective solutions to be tested and implemented in a timely manner. If you've hired a junior or mid-tier marketer to help you get started, an advisor or contractor can offer invaluable guidance and mentoring to that person, ensuring they're set up for success with the right tools and priorities to execute upon.
Did you find this post useful? Would you like some support in making it all happen? Book a call with me today - I'd love to chat with you!