Running a company, specifically a startup, is a challenge in and of itself. As the CEO, you’re busy with shareholder relationships, employee relationships, maintaining the culture of your company, fundraising, empowering your employees to drive results, and so much more. As such, you hire someone to take over the marketing functions in hopes that they will align their efforts with the vision and goals of your company. Typically, here are the two scenarios I’ve encountered:
- You have unrealistic expectations, i.e. you think this person will be able to cure all sales problems and are disappointed when they don’t.
- Since you don’t know much about marketing, you disengage yourself and let this person run the show. In some cases, this person can make it happen, i.e. get shit done. In other cases, not a whole lot happens, i.e. slow execution, slow results.
Further, here are three phases to nail down when ramping up your marketing:
1) Strategic Planning
In this phase, you want to fully understand who your target audience is. Break your audience down into buyer personas, define objectives, set timelines, and identify the investment needed to achieve specific milestones. More specifically, consider implementing agile marketing, which aims to improve the speed, predictability, transparency, and adaptability to changes within marketing. Then, you will be able to plan out your initiatives into the following sprints:
- Plan 2-4 weeks at a time.
- Have stand up meetings – Every other day have a 10 minute stand up where quick data reporting and updates on efforts can be made. Structure these into succinct updates, otherwise they tend to feel worthless as they will get repetitive. A good structure can be broken down into: What do you plan to accomplish today (limit to 2 executions); 1-2 successful experiments; and 1-2 challenges.
- At the end of the sprint, have a retrospective meeting and make sure that data points are reported. The goal is to make sure that results are generated, measured and that better decisions can be made moving forward.
- Plan the next sprint.
A key aspect to the strategic planning isn’t just to solidify the marketing plan, but to also solidify (with flexibility for change) marketing operations. The earlier you institute a sense of organization, the better you will be able to focus on driving the type of results you expect.
This is where you align tactics with your strategy. The biggest mistake I see marketers make is the over promising of the ability to execute more than five tactics at a time. If you’re just ramping up your marketing efforts, start with three tactics and then add on two more from there. Doing this will allow you to keep everything in order and properly track and measure what is and isn’t working.
A few key takeaways:
- Make sure you narrow down what major KPIs will need to be tracked during execution
- Have resources available for developing creatives and copywriting
- Some executions may need more than just one sprint to determine its effectiveness, so be persistent and wise enough to know when to pivot (tip: use both gut decision making and analytical decision making)
With an array of analytics solutions (and even free solutions like Google Analytics) there shouldn’t be an excuse as to why you don’t have any installed on your website. Break down your analytical data into two buckets: quantitative and qualitative. Here’s how to look at the two:
- Quantitative – Clear numbers and data collected, e.g. “We had 500 website visits this month.” or “We have 1,000 Twitter followers.”
- Qualitative – Involves empirical evidence that can be inferred by executions that cannot be tracked on a 1:1 basis. For example, “When we attended a trade show, we saw an increase of website traffic by ‘x percent’ and leads generated by ‘x’.
Here are a few analytical tools to check out:
- CrazyEgg – Great for visually seeing what happens on your site with a heat map, scroll map and click map.
- SpyFu – Easily research and see which keywords your competitors are ranking for in both paid and organic search.
- Hotjar – Similar to CrazyEgg in some ways, however, this tool provides more insight on what’s happening on your website by allowing you to have recordings of site sessions, create polls and surveys and much more.
Find a balance to educate yourself and also help establish the following in a collaborative manner with your marketing personnel by:
- Defining expectations and accountability
- Defining your marketing strategy
- Defining your marketing budget
- Knowing where the marketing gaps are within your startup and have a tangible solution