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Is there a certain process you follow (or would follow) when starting a new challenge as the first and only marketing person for a B2B startup? I'm looking for: questions to ask the founders and other employees, which analyses to do, how you start customer/persona research, etc.

  • PL

    Pierre Lechelle

    over 4 years ago #

    Thanks for the ping on Twitter. That's a tough question but here is a rough idea of the process that I generally follow:

    1. Make sure you understand the Value Proposition and Customers: you should interview the team & customers at this stage. You want to understand what are their problems, who they are and where do they hang out.

    2. Audit the flow of users: go through the quantitative and qualitative data to understand where are the main drop offs and where you can have the most impact.

    3. Assess current channels and new opportunities: feel free to use The Bullseye Framework.

    4. Prepare your Growth Strategy based on all the information gathered in the previous steps.

    You should then start to experiment through The Growth Process. You'll also gather more data around the area of focus chosen in step 4.

    This process sometimes take weeks. I also try to ask everyone in the team: "Where do you think are the low-hanging fruits?" as most people will generally have a tons of ideas to fill your backlog.

    Review as much internal document as possible. Generally you can find plenty of information in there. If they have a knowledge base of previous experiments, that's awesome.

    Finally, don't overthink it. Once you've done this work, start doing & experimenting. Do some sanity checks with the team to ensure you're not doing anything too crazy ("targeting X while they've been focusing on Y") but that's where most of your learnings will come from.

  • TM

    Ty Magnin

    over 4 years ago #

    Great question. I've done this twice now, and in both cases there was a roughly established audience by the founders & earliest team when I came on. So when you sit down, you'll want to find a few topics that are hot/interesting and a single place to publish them on. you want to put all of your weight into one thing.

    At Appcues, that was our User Onboarding Academy—which actually predates me.

    At the same time, you'll want to focus on what's below the surface—the keywords and lead gen pipes—that you will need as you scale.

    I would argue that without a big audience, growth experiments have no meaning. It takes a while to reach stat sig for most experiments.

    As for your colleagues, absolutely gather all the info you can from them. Hop on customer development calls to learn more about the personas and pain that you are looking to solve. But at the end of the day, they most often don't have the answers there waiting for you. You'll have to uncover those yourself.

    The last piece I'd advise you to do is to get already established influencers in the space excited about your project. Build relationships with these people, and they will in turn write on your blog or tweet out your content.

    The process is likely different for every company, but stay hyper-focused on a few things that you can really put your weight behind and you'll do great :)

  • LH

    Lucas Huizinga

    over 4 years ago #

    Very interesting question. I believe you should work on doing analysis, in the weeks prior to your first day at the new job. At this stage, you aren't biased yet, embrace that moment, it won't ever happen again!

    Spend a few days on researching your new employer and their industry. I think you should identify a couple of things:

    1) Try to understand what your new employer is solving. Are you going to market a solution to an age-old business problem or is your company selling a less critical product? Are there famous experts in the industry? etc.

    2) Learn who your competitors are, what are they offering and how do they talk to their audience. Figure out what they do on social, blogs and what their pricing looks like.

    3) Nerd-out on some numbers. I believe it's smart if you are on-par with your new figures. Check out Google keyword planner, see what clicks are costing at Adwords and Linkedin. Use similairweb.com and alexa.com on your domain and one a couple of competitors'.

    4) Try to act like you are the target audience. Is the content on the current website sufficient to keep browsing? Or are you left with lots of questions?

    First day
    Try to see if your assumptions were correct. See what else is there to learn about. Talk with the founder, a lot. Understand why he started the businesses and what his vision for the upcoming year is.

    Set an ambitious goal for the first 12 months, and make a plan for the first three months. Use the first month to get all the metrics together and put some tools in place. Develop a couple basic persona's, use paid advertising to test your strategy. Improve the plan over time, based on measurable targets and you will win.

  • JM

    Jordan McBride

    over 4 years ago #

    There's many different approaches one could take as the first marketer on board. My personal thoughts on this would be the following

    1. Customer Research: do a thorough analysis (qualitative & quantitative) on who your customers are so that you can know who and how to target. Answer the following questions (a framework from Hiten Shah)
    - Who are your customers?
    - Where do they hang out?
    - How should you engage them?

    2. Content analysis: Most SaaS companies today are using content marketing. Thus, why it's so important to analyze the history of the companies content to see what type of content drives what type of traffic. Pulling this data will give you the numerical information needed to have a targeted approach in your marketing efforts, rather than old school sweat equity marketing.

    3. Sales & Marketing analysis: It's really important as the only marketer to know what the relationship between your sales and marketing departments are. If there isn't one then you better create one fast. Sales and marketing can't sustain without being integrated with one another. Sales guys/girls know the customers intimately and they know what types of content ammunition they need to draw in the big fish. You as a marketer need to be able to take their input and strengthen the marketing efforts to align with the ultimate value point - which is the customer.

    Above all else - be prepared to hit the ground running. Work hard, ask questions, and document everything!

  • AC

    Alex Chaidaroglou

    over 4 years ago #

    Pretty solid replies already. I have been in exactly that position and have other friends who have also been there. Here is what I'd add to the other replies (apart from reading blogs like a maniac):

    1) When asking who their customers are, don't take their word for granted. Most startups haven't looked at their customers for quite some time.

    Ask them who their customers are, but you will want to verify their answer. You can't tell them that, so just ask for permission to see their customer base and to see if you can identify some trends.

    In essence you are looking for both trends and verification of who their *major* customers are.

    2) Learn what their strategy is and if they have one. You will have to prioritize your marketing activities and find growth opportunities within that strategy.

    If for example their strategy is to be mainly self-serve and their numbers can't afford sales reps, you can't buy traffic from expenssive sources, or go for big companies.

    3) Check all their metrics on average and if possible by specific channels. Metrics include, but are not limited to:

    - Conversions (from visitor to free trial/account, from free user to paid, from paid to upgrade/upsell)

    - LTV (customer lifetime value)

    - CAC (customer acquisition cost - per channel, per keyword, per campaign, as much digging as you can)

    - Total customers

    - Your best sources of *customers* + *free trials/accounts* (not traffic)

    - Churn

    Try to find some quick wins, for example by optimizing the CTAs from the blog to the homepage. Track the improvement and show it to the founders.

    4) Find your skills and go niche.

    Are you excelling at content marketing? Paid acquisition? Attribution?

    Try many areas since you are the first marketer, but as you move on, try to find where you are *best* at (not what you like most) and specialize in that.

    5) Manage expectations. If you are the first marketer to join, make crystal clear of what's expected of you and what you can deliver.

    Are you there to do necessary work, but also find potential opportunities wherever they hide, or are you there to just do the founders' bidding and try to increase whatever metric they want?

    6) Finally... Where do you see yourself in 1 year? Where do they see you in 1 year? Any overlap?

    Easier said than done. If you find the company's view of your career doesn't match your aspirations, you might have to start exploring other options.


    Both me and friends have been in that position, I am sure you will do great. If you have any questions down the road feel free to reach out to me.

    You might also find useful this: https://growthhackers.com/articles/proven-growth-hacking-strategies-for-b2b-saas-the-definitive-guide

    Good luck my friend and Godspeed!

    P.S. Explore customer success with the founders

  • CP

    Connor Phillips

    over 4 years ago #

    Here are two points that I would look at before getting into things like competitor analysis and customer research.

    1) Lay out all of the data points that are currently being tracked. What data points are currently being used in reporting and how are they related? Once you have an understanding of the current data/reporting structure, think about what additional data points would be useful to have to get a more detailed look into your user base.

    2) Create a report that encapsulates the full sales funnel from acquisition to sale broken out by acquisition channel and the various types of ways users can become a customer. This will give you the full view of how the company has performed before you got there and will give you benchmarks that you can operate against.