10 timeless techniques to make your marketing do more
Marketing—especially in the competitive world of B2B tech—is tough. It’s all too easy to get caught up in day-to-day noise, to repeat patterns that are proven to be ineffective, and to look for quick fixes (the addictive Ts: tips, tricks, and technologies).
But it’s much more effective (and honestly not as difficult as you might fear) to instead adopt different ways of doing things.
To that end, here are 10 ways to make your marketing do more—I employ each and every one of them, and they’ve served me very well over the years.
Adopting any one of these approaches can make a meaningful difference, but the best part is that they work together in a wonderful synthesis that compounds the return on your time, energy, and money.
- they are timeless, rather than trendy
- they can be put into practice no matter your budget
- they don’t rely on fancy technologies
#1: Think bigger.
At some point in a company’s growth—for instance, once you’ve figured out product-market fit—marketing becomes the single most important investment.*
*And if your employer isn’t committed to meaningfully investing in marketing, then my honest advice is to find a different employer
At this critical stage, investing in marketing (e.g. headcount, content, large-scale awareness campaigns) gives you a shot at success, while trying a minimalist, just-enough approach that only dabbles in marketing is an assured path to mediocrity.
Budgetary constraints will exist, of course, but the big change here is shifting from asking, “What’s the least amount we can spend on marketing?” to “How can we make the biggest impact with our marketing spend?”
Really get creative here: get your thinking going with completely absurd ideas that would require infinite budget, and then pare it back until you align with reality.
#2: Objectives, strategies, tactics—in that order!
Starting with tactics is a great way to stay busy and occasionally get something effective done.
Starting with clear objectives, then choosing strategies, then selecting tactics is a much more likely path to success. Plus, it’ll be much more efficient operationally, because you’ll only be doing activities that contribute to your goals.
#3: Try new things (and take a fresh approach).
Doing the same things as last year will (at best) get you last year’s results; more likely, it’ll get you poorer results because the rest of the world is pushing forward.
Want different results? Do different things.
And don’t use last year’s plan as a starting point, because then you’ll implicitly be taking an incremental approach (I’m assuming your goal isn’t “grow by 3% YoY”).
Instead, clean the slate to open your mind to new ideas (and apply the top-down objectives-strategies-tactics method).
Looking for more (potentially) helpful lists? You might like Eleven Ways to Improve Tech Marketing in the Waterloo Region.
#4: Take some risks.
Unless you’re working in an O-ring process, 3/4 is better than 2/2.
6/8 is even better still.
Remember, for most marketers, the numerator is much more important than the denominator.
Plus, if you’re not having some failures every now and again, then you’re not pushing things far enough—just make sure to manage the potential downside.
#5: Make asymmetric bets.
A limited and acceptable downside for an unknown—but potentially very high—upside is a terrific investment.
“Worst case is we’re out $5k and a few hours of work. But we think there’s a reasonable chance we could get a few hundred leads and maybe get picked up by industry media.”
A good marketing mix has a few reliable things (the 2/2) and then a bunch of bets and experiments (the remaining 4/6).
Here’s a recent example that illustrates these last three points: Arctic Wolf recently commissioned Penn & Teller to do a live virtual event promoting Security Operations.
Penn & Teller are real pros and from experience (my old company once brought them in for a live performance) I know that they’re not cheap*, but the very constrained downside of this event if it turned out to be a flop is, essentially, only the cost of Penn & Teller.
*Arctic Wolf probably spent more on this event than most KW tech companies spend on all annual discretionary marketing spend…but that’s what it takes to compete, grow, and pursue a path to IPO
What’s the upside? Uncertain but potentially huge and easily scaled by heavily promoting the event and then posting the recording.
I’d bet that it only needed to lead to one or two new customer sign-ups to break even, but from what I gather (from this LinkedIn post), the event attracted hundreds of attendees—so there’s no doubt in my mind that this foray into the mystic arts was well worth Arctic Wolf’s investment.
Oh hey, just remembered we also have 20 Questions Every B2B Marketer Should Ask, Heading into 2020
(I’m pretty sure they apply equally well to 2021)
#6: Outside in, not inside out.
Want to overtake your peer competitors? Be the first in your cohort to build messaging, content, and sales processes around market problems and customer needs.
Too many tech companies take literally years—often five or more—to figure this out. Until they do, their ‘messaging’ is built around around internal team structures, licensing models, technical architectures, and other internal artefacts.
#7: Take a full-funnel approach to content and sales enablement.
Marketing’s job is not (just) to create awareness and demand—go beyond MQLs/SQLs and create content that anticipates and addresses buyer and evaluator needs throughout the entire process.
This is another one of those things that can reveal how mature/immature a company is: it doesn’t matter how many leads you bring in if you can’t turn them into sales, and most of you reading this post aren’t in the “add to cart” type of business.
Full-funnel content enables your prospects to self-serve (which helps to ‘offload’ effort) and equips your salespeople with the right asset at the right time. Ultimately, this approach contributes to increased sales effectiveness by:
- Increasing the absolute number of wins by creating more opportunities
- Increasing the win rate by showing compelling value and overcoming buying barriers
- Shortening the time through the sales cycle by actively directing prospects and avoiding stalls (e.g. by rapidly addressing inquiries via self-service content or by having answers at-hand)
- Increasing the average deal size by helping to sell more things (e.g. by showing solutions to more problems, by demonstrating positive ROI) and by limiting discounting (e.g. by proving meaningful differentiation)
#8: Decide, act—and learn—faster.
Action creates clarity: know your priorities, gather info*, choose the best available option**, and execute.
*Don’t spend any time gathering information that won’t impact the decision
**Don’t spend any time lamenting the lack of more favourable options
Usually the cost of delay is much higher than the consequence of a mistake (especially when a correction/adjustment is possible).
Plus, by deciding and acting faster than before, you’ll have more time to go after the 3/4 instead of the 2/2—and you can apply the lessons learned.
Looking to waste your time and energy? Then check out 5 fun and simple marketing hacks to decrease your effectiveness.
#9: More conversations, fewer meetings.
Meetings are a great (boring) way to fill your time and get nothing done, while creating the illusion of effort and work (see also: Slack). And it’s funny how they often can’t get scheduled until next week.
Conversations keep things moving and don’t waste everyone’s time.
#10 Have fun!
You’ll do your best work and you’ll find greater fulfillment when you’re enjoying yourself =)