As business continues to expand and grow rapidly, it’s important your marketing team keeps up with the pace and always stay on top of their game, especially when you’re still an early stage start up and not yet have hit product market fit, this is exactly when you need a strong Demand gen strategy, that will help you break through the noise.
In business, like in life, there are many challenges, but if we dig more into what are the most crucial ones for early stage start-ups, we’ll find that having a cohesive Demand Gen strategy in place is pivotal for the growth and success of the business especially for new in-market products.
Why is Demand Gen so crucial for early stage Startups?
As buyers expectations and purchasing habits are constantly changing, also the way Demand Gen marketers are conducting their research and drafting their strategies.
Today, Demand Gen marketers are utilizing the power of valuable tools to help them achieve their goals. Anything from using Intent tools to identify in-market buyers, ABM (Account Based Marketing) tools to help them engage with ideal accounts throughout the entire buyer’s journey, or Hyper Personalization tools to help them create more personalized relationships with their target accounts.
The major shift created within this discipline in Marketing is the change in mindset, moving from a Lead-Gen oriented mindset towards a more educational, trust building mindset, hence, Demand Gen.
Besides being the engine behind how you go to market, producing high quality collaterals, and being the ones that really understand what your customers want and needs, demand gen marketers are so crucial for early stage Startups simply since they are the ones who influence the most on your bottom line revenue. WHAT!?!?
If we look at the traditional marketing and sales funnel we all agree that demand gen starts from the very top, your website. They own the company website, your face, and your most valuable asset when it comes to capturing users information.
Moving forward, they also control the content your brand produces and to whom (TOFU, MOFU, BOFU), and help engaging leads and customers through the entire funnel.
Demand Generation doesn’t stop at TOFU, it goes through the entire funnel and ensures consistency, relevancy, staying on brand, and lastly the overall increase of bottom line revenue.
Here are FIVE of the most common challenges Demand gen marketers are facing and how to fix them:
1. Not having a clear strategy.
How to fix this?
You have an idea? write it down!
Define your success metrics, your goals, assign roles to each step, and choose a top-down or a bottom-up approach based on your specific project and current data.
Thankfully, today there are some great tools to support any strategy efforts, so using any tools like monday.com, Asana, and tools like Miro or Diagrams.net could really help you craft great strategies and make sure that everyone on your marketing team is aligned.
Strategy is the core to anything you do, how you communicate your vision, and how success will look like for you and your team when and after executing your plan.
Pro Tip: Create a clear structure document and share it with other teammates, the idea is to create standardization across the company, and make sure that future processes will be followed by the same structure to ensure consistency and alignment all across the board.
2. Misalignment with your ICP.
How to fix this?
Make a habit of thinking like them!
Identify who are your best customers, based on various KPIs like, average ACV, CAC, and LTV and create a list. But, It doesn’t end up here :).
You’ll need to find out where they’re hanging out, what content they like to consume, what industry jargon they’re using, and what are their biggest challenges and how you (your product) can help them.
Monitor their social media activities, sign up for industry related newsletters, read industry related thought leadership content, and listen to the same podcasts they listen to.
Only then start crafting the content you think they would benefit from the most, using the right marketing automation tool.
But, why does ICP matter? Simply since knowing your ideal customer profile makes it easier for your marketing team and other business functions within your organization to always know who they should go after!
Pro Tip: Create a shared file with your Ideal Customer Profile and make sure to share it with anyone relevant within the company, this way you ensure clarity and avoiding misalignments when it comes to knowing who your prospective customers really are.
3. Adapting to new trends.
How to fix this?
Having a thirst for new knowledge is essential in marketing, if you’re not constantly thirsty for new knowledge you should probably look for a different career path!
While not every trend will fit your needs, you must stay in the know. Best way to go about this is to subscribe to any marketing resources you think will help you stay on top of your game. I learn a lot from great vendors in the marketing automation, intent data & ABM, and CRM space.
Subscribe to their email list, attend to their webinars, listen to their podcasts, and develop meaningful conversations with their top employees to always keep yourself in the game.
Pro Tip: Setting a weekly placeholder on your calendar will help you make sure you’re always on top of things and dedicating the appropriate time for discovering and implementing new trends.
4. Using the wrong technology.
How to fix this?
Periodic tech stack review.
Make sure you review your entire tech stack at least once a month. You’ll be amazed to see how many tools you’re currently using/paying for and you can easily drop.
Using the wrong technology can harm your team’s performance and also set you apart from your goals. So how will you ensure a proper usage of the right technology?
Measure the adoption rate of your team, set success KPIs, and measure the ROI generated and projected from each tool. By following these few simple steps you will always stay on top of things when it comes to using and better utilizing existing technology.
Pro Tip: After listing all your current tools, schedule a monthly review with one or more of your teammates and find out what needs to be added and what can be dropped in terms of current and future Tech Stack.
5. Hiring too soon.
How to fix this?
Create an annual plan for your prospective employee. Make sure you find some good reason to hire them, including quarterly milestones, goals, what they will actually do in this role, create a daily routine framework (at least for the first few weeks), and project their future relationships and what type of support they need to provide to other teams within the company.
Hiring too soon, can really harm your Startup in terms of burn rate and might also create siloed teams. Unfortunately, we see many Startups hiring people for part time positions but ask them to work in a full time role.
Pro Tip: Building a solid plan that will include the pains the new employee should be able to resolve within the company will ensure a better recruitment and success of the intended employee.
What should Demand Gen Marketers do to bring their strategy to life?
Build genuine relationships with C-Suite.
Nothing’s more important for any Marketer out there than building a genuine, strong relationship with the C-Suite.
Meet the CEO. Having a good relationship with the CEO is paramount for the success of any Marketing leader out there, since CEO’s are the ones to take the ‘Big’ decisions within the company.
Meet the CFO. Need some marketing budget? Hiring a new talent? Purchasing a new MarTech solution? You need the CFO approval!
Building this CFO love-hate relationship right from the start will be the best way to get what you want, but more importantly, get what you NEED and FAST.
Meet the COO. Operations play a HUGE part when it comes to Marketing influence and success. Having good relationships with your COO and other members within the Operations team will make your life much easier when it comes to executing your marketing plans and get a bigger seat at the table.
Maximize their communities, network, and peers.
Being a part of a community, developing true relationships, and learning from other great minds in the industry is one of the best things any Demand Gen marketer can do.
Join relevant Slack groups, WhatsApp groups, join webinars of your favourite brands, and make it a habit to read relevant content online (6-8 pieces a day) will all help you in getting closer to your goals, empower your team with new ideas, and develop a culture of adoption based on industry best practices.
Try to leverage the information and the experience shared by your network, and always keep in mind that no one really figured everything out yet, people are always learning, and one of the best ways to go about this is to try and replicate other’s success.
Go outside of their comfort zone and really give a damn about their work.
You know why some Marketers fail while others are so successful!?
There’s one main reason for this, the ones that see success are the ones that always give this ‘Extra’ effort.
They truly give a damn about their work, and they’ll do anything for recognition.
They will stay proactive, but at the same time will help others within the company to achieve their goals. They will push harder than anyone else on the team and won’t clock out at 5PM, they will also help your brand succeed by using their own personal social media accounts.
But, these marketers are the best of breed, make sure you find them, but even more, make sure you can make them stay with you for as long as possible.
Why is transparency so HUGE in marketing? Simply since in most cases it’s one of the drivers to help marketers execute their plans, communicate better, and get everyone on the team to agree and move forward with their vision.
But there’s obviously much more to that, being transparent is important, but what’s more important is how you help and mentor other people within your team and within the company to follow the same ‘transparency’ mindset? Cultivating transparency in everything you do, will, in most cases help others around you to do the same.
Always be sharing.
You know what is one of the most important things the greatest leaders do? They SHARE!
They share everything they’re up to, and everything they are currently working on with their teammates. But why? They do this so others can follow the same path, of sharing, to be more transparent and break the silos between the different teams.
Start by sharing your idea with the relevant people, ask for their input, document it, and create something that will eventually resonate with more people rather than yourself.
The role of the Demand Gen marketer is constantly evolving, and the same goes for their responsibilities and expanding their jurisdiction within the company.
Today, the success of your startup depends very much on your Demand Gen marketing team. Having a strong Demand Gen team will help you achieve your business goals, develop a strong brand presence, get in front of the right people, and most importantly, exceed your annual revenue goals year after year.
While DevOps and Engineers are playing a really important part in building and developing your product, you must remember, you cannot outsource your Marketing, you just can’t especially as an early stage startup that have not yet got any product market fit, not 100% sure about it’s messaging, and still trying to figure out who your ICP’s are.
We hope that this truly cohesive Demand Gen Marketing guide will help you to better understand the importance of Demand Gen Marketers for early stage Startups!