For growing SMBs, marketing plays a critical role in generating demand, utilizing multiple integrated disciplines. Often this is seen as the sole purpose of marketing – filling the pipeline. But the function can (and should) go beyond this to support a myriad of other business goals and objectives – supporting the CEO’s strategic imperatives.
Since growth is the #1 goal of all companies and there are many factors that play into how companies grow, let’s dissect a few strategic objectives that may be feeding the growth strategy and the ways that marketing can and should support these objectives. All of the following are important in order to drive more accurate and successful programming at the tactical level.
Leveraging the Customers
The classic acquisition vs. retention statistic that it takes 5X the cost to acquire a new customer than it does to keep points to the requirement to pay close attention on how to engage and nurture your installed base of customers. Everyone in a company should be involved in making sure customers continue to be a top of mind focus and are enriching the “customer care” experience. Looking at ways to increase penetration (other departments within an account, referral programs, co-marketing opportunities, new products/services, upgrades, etc.) should be in the purview of marketing as well. Consistent and timely information can help to grow customer relationships. Something as simple as a great email program – planned and executed correctly – can drive significant revenue upside.
Seeking Investment & Partnerships
Whether a company is seeking capital infusion, partnerships or M&A opportunities, Marketing should be strategically looking at the short and long term goals for the company and then supporting those on a tactical level. For example, the marketing team can put specific awareness programs in place to attract attention from the desired audience, evaluate the market landscape and opportunities, pinpointing potential dovetails for everything from joint marketing partnerships to alliances to strategic investors – and then help craft and communicate the ‘win-win’.
Driving Channel Performance
Many companies sell in part through channels to expand growth opportunities. In larger companies there are entire sales and marketing organizations dedicated to the channel. For some SMBs, they may have dedicated sales resources for the channel, but marketing is generally tasked with this as an adjunct responsibility. Regardless, marketing should be working hand-in-hand with sales to design programming and institute a robust channel program to (again) both retain existing and attract new partners. At the end of the day, the channel needs support, attention and engagement in order to be successful and marketing can play a big role in making that happen. Want a deeper dive? Learn more about channel programs and the results they can yield.
Penetrating New Markets/Segments/Verticals
If growth is to be supported by penetrating new markets or segments, marketing should be involved in analyzing the size, ability to penetrate, competitive climate, and SWOT. They should fully understand the challenges, targets, and messaging that will help penetrate and hence expand opportunities. In our work with clients, we find that understanding the nuances helps with accuracy of targeting and messaging and done right, helps the company to focus on the highest chance of success. Segmentation analysis can be done against a thorough framework to provide rational decision-making. After some industry analysis, one of our early stage clients with a technology platform that could be applied across many verticals focused solely on “owning” the construction market for their technology solution since it was an emerging, high growth opportunity and competitors were deeply entrenched in alternative verticals, making them hard to displace. The result was penetration into top accounts, a strategic partnership and strategic investment in the space. Want some tips on segmentation? Find it here.
Launching New Product or Services
When launching new products or services, marketing should understand the customer needs and be able to translate the value props and inform the launch plan, materials, and rollout for new offerings to ensure the communication is both accurate and compelling. Generally if a company has a product marketing function, this is covered, but smaller companies often don’t have someone specific on staff. Marketing should have a direct relationship with customers to ascertain and understand use cases, benefits, and personas/roles. Additionally, a tight integration with sales to understand prospect conversations, including objections and questions, can help gain a more complete picture of the targets. Several of our clients have required this type of expertise – everything from naming to rollout – either to “take the reins” or provide added resources around this discipline.
Most companies seek global dominance. For example, expansion to EMEA or APAC (for US companies) is a sure way to grow. Just as this decision demands resources in sales and customer support, for example, marketing to the rest of the world is also a complex decision. Disparities in language aside, there are cultural considerations, preferences for localization, different channels for social media and content, and potentially (depending on industry) laws and regulatory issues. Understanding upfront the lowest barrier expansion areas, balanced with an accurate view of resource requirements is something marketing must evaluate in order to proceed.
Growth will likely come from a combination of the factors above, but having marketing work on the strategic analysis required to drive the right programming will pay dividends.