Last week, I discussed how start-ups and growing businesses can lay the foundation for their marketing without a dedicated team. Once a company reaches the point where it has a healthy online and social media presence, and a steady stream of content, it’s time to start considering making that first hire.
The (Un)usual Suspects
But don’t rush into making a marketer your first hire. A marketer could be the right fit for your business, but depending on your approach, a sales person could be just as valuable. A sales person who is savvy enough to understand what you’re doing and figure out who is using the content assets you have in stock can offer tremendous marketing capacity. This sales person can then use this information to focus on the larger customers who can transform your business.
If you do hire a marketer, it should not be a #CMO — at least initially. Hiring a marketing associate who is adept at social media to promote and recycle your content is a good start. As your sales increase, it’s time to expand your presence at the major industry events. These events, though sometimes tedious, are a prime way to meet customers. Start by simply attending. Only once you become larger you will need to buy a small booth. As your sales increase even more, so too should the size of your booth and your presence. But you don’t need to invest in a big booth until you have such a large reputation that clients will actively seek you out on their own.
What’s crucial is that whoever you hire already has existing content to work with. That’s why building up a content library in the early stages of marketing is so important. With robust content in place, your hire, regardless of whether that is a sales person or a low-level marketer, can quickly leverage that work to expand your marketing reach.
Your new hire should also start creating content that positions your company as an industry thought leader – content that is not directly promotional to your product but that instead establishes the business as an authority in your field. In the long-run, this will build respect and brand credibility.
All Grown Up
Once you’re consistently generating and repurposing content, have brand credibility, and increased sales, it’s time to consider hiring a CMO. But you must have a budget in place that they can put to work. Otherwise, you’re wasting your resources and your CMO’s talent. Your CMO should be able to scale your digital marketing and your presence at industry events. You shouldn’t have to question what their return on investment is — it should be clear.
With a CMO onboard, it’s worth considering whether to also hire a PR agency to promote the brand even further. PR agencies do everything I’ve laid out in this article with the added bonus of presenting your story to the press and analyst community.
But let me be clear, I don’t think a PR agency is essential. You can present yourself to the press, and in many cases, having your executives do this outreach and develop relationships with journalists is a wiser path. Journalists are just like the rest of us —they want to talk to the experts. A PR agency makes sense when your principals are so busy that they don’t have time to interact with the press. If you do hire a PR firm, they should connect your product to a larger trend. To do this, they must first understand the product. The better they understand your product, the better job they can do. But many PR agencies never gain this understanding, and the result is frustration on both sides.
With a skilled PR strategy, your company can begin to get contributed articles and product placements. For in truth, the tech press does not cover technology. Rather, the press covers money. So through PR, you need to show how your product is relevant to the financial world — the most compelling stories to journalists are those that combine finances, famous leaders, and then cutting edge tech.
At this point, the #marketing evolution is fully realized. You’ve covered all your bases and you are engaging in paid media or putting on events on your own. Marketing is invaluable when you understand where you company is and what it needs to thrive at any given time in its development.
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