Essentials of Startup Marketing Strategy, Part 2: Traffic University Panel
October 23rd, 2014 by Brian Posnanski
Traffic University recently convened a panel of sharp marketing minds to discuss and explore the essentials of a successful startup marketing strategy. Our panelists included Russ Henneberry of Digital Marketer, Travis Arnold of Harbinger Labs and Ed Morrissey of Integrity Web Consulting — all of whom offered deep knowledge of the startup marketing game.
In this second of two posts, we focus on the next four key takeaways for startup marketing (if you missed the first one, click here!). And remember that you can listen to the full 90-minute startup marketing panel as a podcast or read the entire transcript!
You Have to Think in Terms of The Funnel.
“When I worked at Salesforce, we had content for every segment of the funnel. It didn’t matter if you were a small retailer in a small town, we had a customer success story for it. We had a story built in the middle of the funnel for every situation possible. The sales team looked at it as, What do we have to beat Oracle in any situation?”
— Russ Henneberry
Speaking of paid search, you can pay to put eyeballs on your stuff, but how quickly are you going to burn cash to do it? Russ encourages startup marketers to think about the three parts of the sales funnel:
TOFU – Top of the funnel, where customers are not aware of you or just starting to learn about your product or service
MOFU – Middle of the funnel, where prospects know about you and are in the consideration phase
BOFU – Bottom of the funnel, where prospects are ready to buy – they need to be convinced and converted
At the Top of the Funnel, you may just need a blog post talking about a problem the buyer has to capture their attention. But Russ tells startups to focus especially on the middle of the funnel. What types of content do well there, how quickly can you develop that content, and can you drive traffic to it quickly? The middle of the funnel is where customers are evaluating whether to buy your product or service, and they often want to see customer success stories, case studies and testimonials.
To drive people in the middle of the funnel, Russ urges startups to try this: Create a customer success story and drive traffic to the customer profile most likely to find it appealing. Tell them how you are going to solve their problem. “Within a day or two, you’re going to have enough traffic to that page to understand how much did it cost me to get traffic to the page and how many opt-ins did we get?” Then you start looking at your CRM to see how many people turn into customers. The more you do, the more you learn.
If You Build It, They Are Not Necessarily Going to Come.
Much of the panel’s time focused on traffic driving. But especially in the “utopian” world of content marketing, if you build it, customers are not necessarily going to come. There is too much content out there, coming from too many different directions, for any startup to expect would-buyers to stumble on their content. You have to promote it. This means using a variety of paid search channels that range from Google Adwords to paid social media advertising to content distribution networks. And then, when you do get that traffic, you need to have a clear call to action. Get those would-be buyers to do something — whether it’s signing up for something, downloading something or leaving an email address that allows you to continue to market to them.
“It’s amazing how many people do content marketing or even paid search and just drive traffic to the homepage of their website,” says Ed Morrissey. “It’s amazing to me how much that occurs as opposed to driving to a landing page that’s got a huge red button that says, ‘Enter your e-mail so I can sell to you,’ or ‘Call today to learn more about our system.’”
Agile Marketing: Break Down Your Lists.
Travis notes that startup land is populated by solo marketers carrying a lot of buckets and wearing a lot of hats. They’re in “get shit done mode,” with tons of stuff to do. They have a marketing backlog, and often the big “to do” lists they create with the best intentions never get done.
This is why it’s so important to understand the buyer and what they really care about. Zero in on what’s going to move the needle with them first. “You’re building a product that helps [buyers] with a problem,” says Travis. “Believe it or not, you guys are experts in that field.” So create marketing assets, be that content or collateral, that leverages your expertise and speaks to the buyer need. By focusing on what’s most relevant for the buyer, “You take this giant list and you start breaking that up into little chunks that you can do quickly and you move that through in two, three or four weeks” at a time.
The best way to market with no budget is to develop an in-house production process that enables you to quickly turn stuff out that’s relevant and that gets you in front of the right buyers, without necessarily pulling in outside resources that are going to cost you money.
Ask If the Marketing You Think You Need is the Marketing You Truly Need.
Ed Morrissey tells a story about a potential new client who came to see him and asked if Ed’s firm did PR. That’s what the company believed they needed to be successful.
Ed’s response: “I’m not certain you need a retained PR relationship and an article in Fortune Magazine.” Rather than spending $50,000 on a PR retainer, use it to test 10 different lead generation tactics to see which one works the best.
To this point, Russ adds that you can do a two-week sprint to figure out if a particular tactic or piece of content is worthless. Don’t be afraid to kill it. And even if it does work, it will burn out. Eventually, the cost for that traffic starts to go up. And it will eventually go beyond what that traffic is worth.
“Data proves everything in today’s world,” said Ed. “I always ask, ‘Why am I doing this?’”
Once you figure that out, the tactical plan becomes as clear as day.startups