The key to growing a startup these days is based on understanding why traditional sales and marketing strategies are failing and why new activities are taking over.
Sales And Marketing To Fuel Growth
A good combination of sales and marketing is needed for successful startups’ growth. Sales relate to those one-on-one direct interactions that add revenues to the organization bottom line. Cold calls, email, networking events, and meetings are all part of the direct sales process.
Marketing, on the other side, involves those activities that a startup takes to reach and recruit prospects. Some examples are direct email campaigns, online advertising, PR and more traditional advertising, such as TV or Radio.
Direct sales marketing embodies all these strategies. Research has shown that there’s a need of 3 to 12 touch points to convert a lead into a client. More important than the quantity of contacts though, is following and maximizing each contact point so that the time, cost, and effort put into each sale decrease.
What’s Not Working?
There are some marketing techniques that have been proved over the years that are still relevant. People still love video advertising. As a matter of fact, video accounts for 69% of all consumer traffic, according to Cisco Visual Networking. Aside from this, however, many other activities are failing. Sirius Decision has reported that on average the sales cycle has increased by 22% over the past 5 years.
- According to the 2016 DMA Response Rate Report, direct mail is expected to experience a 19% decline over the next 12 months;
- A mere 13% of people who read print publications report ever looking at the ads;
- 44% of direct mail is never opened;
- 70% to 80% of online users don’t look at online ads, preferring to focus only on organic search results;
- 86% of people ignore television commercials.
Effective Sales And Marketing Strategies
Buyers have become more and more complicated to reach due to their ad-blindness. For this reason, it becomes very important for startup founders and marketers to find new and innovative ways to target their audience.
Without doubts, it is the role of a startup founder to ensure that information is delivered to the prospects at the right time, in the right format and platform. This is where inbound marketing strategy becomes crucial.
This refers to the time spent understanding company goals and strategy, as well as the industry and consumers. This step is where startup founders focus on attracting customers rather than seeking new leads.
The important points here are:
- Clarify what the business is and ask yourself:
- What does it mean to “grow the business?”
- How will you know if you are being successful?
- What are the long and short-term goals?
- What is the sales process?
- Keep checking on the industry
Regardless of the experience, someone might have in an industry, things will keep changing. Innovation is a constant nowadays and it’s important to stay ahead of the curve. This is where industry research comes in.
- How do other startups fare against meeting (or exceeding) their goals?
- What marketing strategies are other organizations implementing to attract clients?
- What current events and news are impacting your industry?
- Is there a B2B marketplace a startup founder can access?
- Are there any leaders that a startup founder can speak to within the industry?
- Understand your customer base
Another important point is to talk with people on the ground. Your salespeople, but also everyone else involved in consumers relationship, should be doing this. Use those people to gather as many insights as possible to understand what potential customers want.
Here are some good questions to ask:
- Which marketing tactics work best?
- Are customers complaining about any current strategies?
- What are the customer demographics?
- What questions are the sales teams answering most?
- What pain points does the product or service help alleviate?
2. Create Effective Content
Startup founders cannot expect users to discover their website magically. There’s a need to update the content constantly. Over 70 percent of marketers say relevant content is the most effective SEO tactic. Startups that blog 16 times or more per month enjoy four times more leads than those who publish blog content less than five times a month.
The most effective content focuses on helping customers reach their goals or solve problems. Although old content might still be relevant and create value for prospects, it’s best to make sure new content is created constantly.
3. Pay Attention to SEO
In the word of content marketing, SEO is a very important activity to keep in mind. SEO consists of all the factors that influence search engine ranking. This is what makes your customers know where to find your startup. Once you have a good understanding of what your target customer base is looking for, it’s important to spread those keywords on your website.
To optimize a website for SEO, Entrepreneur magazine suggests that startup founders:
- Create a priority list of keywords that pertain to the customer base and market segment
- Review industry sources and competitive lists to determine which keywords should be used
- If there are frequent misspelled words, include those in the web pages as well
- Track the site’s rankings every 30 to 45 days to ensure the keywords remain effective
- Determine goals ahead of time and make sure they are measurable to review them regularly
- Create page titles
- Develop new sitemaps for Google and Bing
- Place strategic words throughout your content pages
- Continually test and measure the business’s success
4. Podcasts Really Work
People love to receive something for nothing. In the world of marketing, the most valuable asset is knowledge. Offer this to potential customers through an effective use of Podcasts.
Podcast listening, as shown by Hubspot, increased by 23 percent between 2015 and 2016.
5. Become Social Media Savvy
The effectiveness of social media marketing is controversial. Some people say it’s a complete waste of time, however, the numbers suggest otherwise. After all, the breadth of audience participation is unparalleled.
- 72 percent of adult Internet users utilize Facebook;
- During the past two years, content consumption on Facebook has increased by 57 percent;
- Instagram has 500 million active monthly users;
- LinkedIn has 450 million members, with a reported 25 percent active on a monthly basis
- 30% of U.S. millennial use Snapchat regularly
6. Stay In Contact
Depending on the product or service your startup offers, it might be that it is crossing your target audience mind on a daily basis (such as a food-related product) or less frequently (such as expensive beauty treatments). Once you have an understanding of this, it’s important to structure your sales and marketing activities with that in mind and be there when they are ready to buy.
The best way to do so is to maintain a constant and consistent communication with your target audience.
- Collect the customer’s information at every opportunity, but be aware of new regulations, such as the GDPR
- Craft email campaigns to stay in contact with prospects and previous customers
- Be sure the business is listed in local directories and search engines.
Having an effective sales and marketing strategy means more than relying on direct mail campaigns or traditional advertising activities. It involves a multi-dimensional aspect, that develops in a multi-sensor process. It’s crucial for startup founders to keep up with industry trends, as well as understanding new technologies available in the market to assist your sales and marketing efforts.
What activities are you currently implementing in your startups to leverage both sales and marketing? Do you see any direct result thanks to the strategy you have implemented? Share your experience in the comment section below.