From Startup to Scale-up: When Marketing Changes

Posted: Updated:

In startups, marketing is most associated with one function: demand generation. After all, the early stages are the proving ground for getting the product in front of as many prospective users as possible. And for good reason: These at-bats are invaluable for collecting feedback, cementing product-market fit, and securing early revenue.

Today’s tech marketer is armed with an unprecedented toolkit of resources to plan and measure our efforts. While the specific tactics can vary across industry verticals and user types, there’s a general roadmap for launching a brand and growing an inbound funnel. Once we fail fast, adjust course, and reinvest in what’s working, then we reach the promised land of a demand generation: a consistent strategy with predictable outcomes.

So, what happens when we pass this litmus test? In my experience, the game changes. Specifically, there’s the opportunity to deploy our limited resources differently. Now that customer adoption is a reality, the marketing function recalibrates with a larger concentration in customer success. You’ll know you’re in this stage when the investor and management scorecard gets longer. In addition to lead acquisition and conversion metrics, your reporting arsenal cites churn, contract value and promoter scores as meaningful markers.

Here are four observations I’ve encountered in marketing during this second phase of growth:

1. The brand matters. Okay, the brand is always important. But, there’s a point when it becomes more than a color palate. Here, the product positioning is crystal clear and has outpaced the iterative test stage. There are user personas with a well-defined problem and motivation factors. And, most importantly, the team, customers, and partners have bought into what it means to be associated with the company. This is when your brand guide starts to include words like “culture”, “authority”, and “on-boarding”.

2. The leadership team reads Disney. In addition to unconsciously streaming repetitive theme songs, Disney is the master of “experience.” Customer experience isn’t a new concept. What’s changed is that smaller firms are investing in creating an own-able experience for customers (and employees), before it creates itself. In this economy, experience is the currency for being different, forging long-term value and driving retention. One side observation: experience initiatives only work if there’s leadership investment and support.
 

3. Think “inside” the box. If we agree that branding and experience matter, then it’s no surprise that employees come first. In my experience, this “inside-out” approach can be a turning point in a company’s trajectory. Writing a mission or values statement isn’t enough from the marketing department. Integrating employee engagement initiatives into budgeting, company programming and processes is a calculated bet on the future of the business.  In today’s tech, culture is often confused with perks. Water bottles and tee shirts are great; an aligned, empowered team of high-achievers is even better.

4. Build a community. There’s a point of maturity where a “community” is formed around the underlying mission of the company. This group is centered on a shared belief that is larger than the product or entity.  You know you have one when customers refer customers, and employees recruit employees. The marketing function flexes its brand muscle to build communities through activities like user conferences, customer forums, peer socialization/gamification, and recognition programs.

Demand generation will always be a key tenet in marketing, and one that requires continual investment and innovation. Yet, as our product and market grow, we have an opportunity to extend the marketing function to live beside and below the sales funnel.

Phil Daniels is Co-Founder of Springbuk, where he leads Marketing for the leading employer-facing health intelligence platform.

  • Perspectives

    • Help Kids Serve Today to Lead Tomorrow

      A movement is underway to continue improving the lives of youth and families in Indiana. This movement was made official by The Indiana Commission on Improving the Status of Children in Indiana at the end of last year when the group released a three-year strategic plan so every child in the state can grow up in a safe and nurturing environment, and have ample opportunities to become a healthy, productive adult.

    More

Events



  • Most Popular Stories

    • Six Towns And Cities Are Stellar Communities Finalists

      The six finalists for this year's Stellar Communities Designation Program have been announced. The selected cities and towns will present new or updated strategic investment plans to a team of leaders from state-connected agencies who will help choose two winners that will be named later this summer. Recipients will be eligible to more direct access to funding and state resources.

    • Fort Wayne, Carmel Among Biggest Population Increases

      Carmel and Fort Wayne posted some of the largest year-over-year population increases in 2016, according to U.S. Census Bureau numbers analyzed by Indiana University's Kelley School of Business. The Indiana Business Research Center also says Whitestown in Boone County was the state's fastest-growing community among those with at least 5,000 residents.

    • Downtown Indy Space to Become Infosys U.S. 'Hub'

      State, city and company officials Tuesday laid out several reasons for why India-based technology giant Infosys selected Indianapolis as its first U.S. tech and innovation hub. They include Indiana's talent pool and academic pipeline. The company plans to invest more than $8.7 million into Indy, hiring up to 2,000 workers by 2022. Infosys says it will occupy around 35,000 square-feet of space in OneAmerica Tower downtown.

    • Restaurant to Bring New Life to Historic Building

      Colorado-based The Kitchen Restaurant Group has announced plans to transform a former South Broad Ripple grocery store in Indianapolis into a new, farm-to-table restaurant. Next Door, which will be the company's second restaurant in Indianapolis, is slated to open in November. The company was co-founded by the brother of business magnate Elon Musk.

    • Airport Land Sale Continues to be a 'Great Success'

      The Indianapolis Airport Authority property director says its long-term initiative to sell thousands of acres "has been a great success." In an interview that follows last week's board-approved sale of two parcels for nearly $9 million, Eric Anderson says he expects more success "on the horizon." The most recent deals total around 150 acres in Plainfield, which could be developed in a similar fashion as other nearby properties.