As B2B demand generation and buyer behavior continue to evolve, engaging your buyers requires various strategies, tactics and tools. Recently, LiveOak Venture Partners hosted a network & learn panel discussion with some of Austin’s B2B tech and marketing leaders (including Launch Marketing CEO, Christa Tuttle). The marketing panel shared their experiences and perspectives on a few key challenges and opportunities in B2B marketing for startups.
Below are a few key takeaways from their discussion:
Evaluate your existing martech stack and identify critical needs
With over 6,800 marketing technology solutions available to B2B marketers in 2018 (a 27% increase from last year!), it can be easy for startups and mid-sized B2B organizations to feel overwhelmed.
As marketers in fast-paced and smaller-sized organizations are being asked to accomplish more with fewer resources, marketing technology solutions can empower marketers to do more. However, time and time again we see executive leaders investing in martech solutions without properly reviewing and identifying their marketing needs.
As CEO of Launch Marketing Christa Tuttle discussed, it’s important for B2B organizations to examine their marketing core and identify critical needs, including a robust customer relationship management (CRM) solution and a marketing automation solution. In today’s tech-driven marketing landscape, these two martech tools are proving critical to business success.
“Be clear on what your marketing requirements look like to help you hone in on the right solutions for your organization and avoid being distracted by all the bells and whistles that some martech solutions offer,” noted Christa.
Some additional key martech solutions to consider include:
- Web analytics
- Content management system (CMS) based website
- Email marketing (if you don’t have a marketing automation solution)
- Solutions to help manage social media and paid search efforts
Leverage your customer’s voice in your content strategy
Another key B2B marketing takeaway was on the power of leveraging content produced by your customers (i.e. testimonials and product reviews) as part of your content marketing strategy.
While many B2B organizations leverage internal marketing assets such as case studies and product demos to market their solutions, CEO of TrustRadius Vinay Bhagat emphasized that organizations need to also incorporate their customers’ voice within their marketing.
Today’s B2B buyers are extremely savvy when it comes to researching products/services and evaluating what other customers are saying about a company’s solution. They are putting more trust in customer reviews and referrals from friends, colleagues and peers. On top of this, B2B buyers are looking for the brutal truth and want to know both the pros and cons of a product/service.
By adding your customer’s voice and language alongside your own internally-produced content, you can help drive conversions. One proven way of doing this is by incorporating customer testimonials as trust signals in your landing pages.
Remember, being authentic can help your organization build trust which in turn will help drive company growth.
Ensure alignment between your marketing and sales team
Also discussed during the panel was the importance of achieving alignment between your marketing and sales teams.
As highlighted in this ZoomInfo article which lists various marketing & sales statistics, aligning sales and marketing leads to 38% higher sales win rates and can help your company become 67% better at closing deals. In addition, B2B organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing operations achieve 24% faster three-year revenue growth and 27% faster three-year profit growth. As you can see, sales and marketing alignment is critical for the success of your business.
As shared by CMO of CS Disco Neil Etheridge and Hive9 CEO Darin Hicks, sales and marketing teams must be in sync with one another to be successful. They suggested making it a priority to get your sales and marketing teams together in a room and make sure both teams are in agreement on the following items:
- Identify each stage of the sales funnel
- Determine naming conventions for each stage in the funnel
- Set clear expectations for SLAs
Build and cultivate relationships with B2B analysts and influencers
Lastly, if your startup is in the process of launching a product/service in a new industry space, you not only need to focus on planning your strategy for marketing your new product/service, you’ll also need to educate your target audience on the need for your particular solution.
CEO of Hive9 Darin Hicks discussed cultivating relationships with analysts and influencers as a way to build awareness for your new space within your industry. Because tech analysts and influencers are seen as industry experts and thought leaders, they can spark conversations among peers to generate interest and awareness in your solution. By tapping into the influence tech analysts provide, they can begin to more formally create this new space for your product/service.
While having your sights set on analysts from Gartner or Forrester are great to aim for, focusing on tier 2 and tier 3 analysts should also be targets for your startup to pursue. Before you consider engaging an analyst, be sure and do your homework to see how analysts view your market which can help you on how to best position your solution.
As trends and approaches in B2B demand generation continue to evolve, make sure you consider these key takeaways and think about how you are addressing these areas in your own internal marketing efforts.