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For a lean startup with limited resources (1-2 marketers), but healthy budgets. How would you approach demand gen strategy and effectively develop campaigns that move the needle? What are the big questions to ask yourself?

4 Answers
Sheena Sharma
Sheena Sharma
Heap Vice President, Marketing Acquisition & GrowthAugust 25
  • I'd think about how you can leverage agency and contractor resources to get more out of your small team.
  • Then I'd also look at the maturity of the marketing program:
    • Do you have a decent database of leads, and the goal is activating that database and driving MQLs and SQLs? If so, you should probably lean into marketing automation, engagement programs, email + lifecycle programs, and BDR enablement.
    • Do you have no database to speak of? Then you want to spend time and dollars on ensuring you have a website built for conversion and effective paid programs to drive relevant people to your website.
  • What you want to make sure you are clear on with leadership:
    • What are the force-ranked priorities for your small team? It's fine to say there are three key things you are looking to achieve, but you will not be able to focus effectively if you don't literally force rank them in terms of the first, second, and third things you need to do well.
  • How I'd approach the strategy from there:
    • Given those priorities, you should then develop a strategy that covers at least the next 6 months, which outlines what you can start to tackle immediately (next 30 days), medium term (next quarter or next 90 days), and then beyond that (6 months)
    • You also probably want to build a 12-18 month roadmap that outlines what additional investments (people, campaigns, technology) you'd recommend. And, I'd provide options: A 'small + scrappy' version, a 'medium'-sized version, and a more aggressive/ambitious version. Along with each of these versions, it shouldn't be just an ask for more resources. You should do your best to forecast or estimate the return the business would get for those investments. At an early-stage company with low maturity and not many programs, putting in baseline programs should be able to get you 3-5x ROI in a decent timeframe.
  • Effective campaign development:
    • I'll share a few tips I've learned that have worked for me:
      • (1) Don't give up too early - you can't run a webinar or launch a program and expect to get a result after just a few efforts. Commit to a program for at least a quarter if you can, if not two.
      • (2) Start with a machete and not a scalpel. At early stages and with small teams, it is less important to know WHY a test or campaign worked and more important to know that it DID work - you want to be able to throw a bunch of things together and see a number actually move. Then, you can get into testing what works best: A question-focused email subject line, a red button, or a dedicated campaign on Facebook. In the early stages, you are just looking for any kind of lever that you can pull.
      • (3) You need both 'fuel' and an 'engine' - fuel is the right content for your audience that provides real and meaningful value. The engine is how you capture those leads, how you deliver that content, how you engage with the folks to drive them further down the funnel, and how your BDR hand-off works. If you don't have great fuel, it doesn't matter how good the engine is. If you have a great engine but no one is interested in what you are offering, you are also stuck.
    • Big questions to ask yourself:
      • Does the resourcing we have (heads + dollars) align with the strategies and objectives we're looking to hit?
      • If I invest a dollar here vs there, what return can I expect? You need to get really good about framing tradeoffs in a way that doesn't feel defensive or a resource-grab.
      • If I had 40 or 80 units of time (1 person = 40 hours/week = 40 units of time), how should I be prioritizing and spending that time for the most return?
      • Is the plan that I'm proposing flexible enough to adapt to the needs of the business? You don't want to sign a 1-year agreement with an agency to do SEO or produce shiny videos if you don't know if that's really what's going to drive a result in the next 1-3 months.
      • Do you know what returns the business is looking to get from the dollars you have at your disposal? Having a healthy budget is great, but with 1-2 resources, you do need to make sure that there is enough capacity to effectively use that budget. You can't rely on the same old ebook or webinar replay for too long before you will get diminishing returns on your ad spend.
      • What does it take to prove to the business that you need more full-time folks on the marketing team? You should understand if the business is thinking about marketing HC as a % of overall headcount or if they are looking to see an increasing marketing contribution to business results in order to unlock more resourcing.
Nicolette Konkol
Nicolette Konkol
Morningstar Global Head of Demand GenerationOctober 6

The best questions you can ask yourself as a marketer are always: 

  • who is my target audience?
  • what do they care about?
  • where do they spend time?

Make sure you have a dedicated sales development representative to follow up on leads. You can have some excellent marketing but if the leads don’t get followed up with, what’s the point?

Build programs that provide a steady drumbeat that can act as an always-on “net” to attract and convert traffic to your site and also serve as offers you can promote in paid channels to accelerate activity until you have established an audience.

  1. Develop 1 long form high value piece of content a quarter tied to your marketing themes and repurpose the heck out of the content making it into many “snackable” pieces. Release blogs regularly (SEO & ungated value to your audience, offer other CTAs on the page such as links to your larger pieces of content)
  2. Have a newsletter (low friction way to collect email info and gain permission to continue communicating with your audience)
  3. Once you have a “net” (always on programs that nurture your audience) go build/grow your audience with some strategic paid digital channels that you use to promote the content in your always-on strategy and accelerate audience growth
  4. Invest in a couple of key events for the year where you have target audience alignment and get creative. Having a captive audience and a specific moment in time is a great reason to leverage the channel as part of an integrated marketing campaign that builds up to and off the back of that experience.
Angela Shori
Angela Shori
eQ8 Head of MarketingJanuary 27

When resources are tight, every decision has to be the optimized and prioritization goes to those activities most likely to get your prospective buyer to find you.

  1. Understand who is most likely to buy from you RIGHT now. Focus on that segment. Spreading activity or budget too thin because you COULD serve all verticals will only mean that you will miss out on those most likely to become your customers. Keep your positioning narrow. Win in that segment and then build from there.

  2. Listen to recorded sales calls and take note of the questions that come up again and again. These are the blueprints for the content you need to create and the keywords people are using to try to find solutions like yours. (Often the words your prospects use don’t match the terms your team uses internally.)

  3. Meet them where they are. Both in terms of distribution channels for your content and in how you talk about the problem. If you have to convince them they have a problem, they are not a buyer.

  4. Approximately 60% of the buyer’s journey happens before a prospect talks to sales. Make your website a treasure trove of educational information. This allows people who aren’t really interested in your solution the opportunity to qualify out before involving your sales team. And results in those who do end up on a call being far more educated.

  5. Recognize that you have competitors. It may be the status quo, doing nothing, or a completely different solution that is competing for the same budget, but there is always another option.

  6. On average, a B2B buying team has 6+ people. Understand who has the problem, who has the budget, and how decisions will be reached. Enable your champions to gain buy-in.

Small teams have to be scrappy, but if they stay focused they can generate fantastic results and have the agility to test, learn, and pivot when needed.

Erika Barbosa
Erika Barbosa
Counterpart Marketing LeadFebruary 13

I’m going to approach this question from a product-led growth (PLG) perspective. My recommendation would be different based on the go-to-market motion hence the PLG lens. Happy to answer this from a different scenario as well.

I would start with big questions such as:

  • Do we have product market fit (PMF)?
  • What is our ideal customer profile (ICP)?
  • What problems are our customers trying to solve?
  • What does `value` look like from a customer’s perspective?
  • What does the customer journey look like?
  • What does success look like?
  • Is tracking in place to gauge performance?
  • What are your goals?

With 1-2 marketers, this is going to be all about prioritization. What strategy is going to drive your desired outcomes faster? I would approach the strategy with the near-term and long-term in mind. What experiments do you want to run immediately? What approach do you need to build momentum for future success?

When thinking about campaigns, where your customers `hang out` will dictate channel selection. Typically email and SEO campaigns are going to be table stakes. From a PLG perspective, I would consider mapping out your strategy for the quarter and first half. Bake in experimentation as part of the strategy. Be able to change directions in response to the data. You mustn’t continue following the strategy if new information presents itself that you need to respond to (otherwise you’ll have to react to it later).

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