The International Entrepreneur – Managing Growth in Marketing

embarrassedI am fortunate to work with very talented B2B technology marketing professionals and this week’s article is dedicated to them.

B2B technology marketers are a particularly dedicated group of professionals. They often work with underfunded marketing budgets. They rarely have enough trained staff. And they have to understand the nuances of highly complex products and services and translate it all into messaging that makes sense to both technical and non-technical stakeholders. But challenges are even greater when the company starts to grow. Scaling marketing on a shoestring budget requires a whole new level of creativity. This is something I see with most of my clients. Here’s my advice to these marketing managers:

Don’t Do It All

The typical small and growing technical firm has one in-house marketing full-time employee. This person might even wear multiple hats (many roles) in the company. What normally happens as the marketing role begins to expand is that the marketing manager begins to work more hours trying to keep up with the increased work load. But this is only a temporary solution. Instead, it’s important to take the step back and ask:

  • Out of my responsibilities are there any that are not actually necessary? Those are the first to fall off the list.
  • Am I making time to plan and organize my work load, or am I just starting each day in a reactive mode?
  • Does the marketing program have an overarching strategy? Are the different activities interconnected?

All of these questions can lead you to better uses of your precious time.

Look for New Resources in Unexpected Places

If your company happens upon a windfall of cash, then maybe the marketing funding will receive the budget needed to properly staff. But in small B2B technology companies, this rarely happens. Instead, you’ll need to be a bit more creative. Here are a few of my favorite sources of free and near-free marketing resources:

  • College Interns. These are students eager to gain real work experience and hopefully a great reference before they start their job search. Be sure to get faculty references and hire for strong communication skills and positive energy.
  • Outsourcing. Are there marketing tasks that can be delegated to outside resources without breaking your budget? Look for tasks that are specialized and that an outside resource could do much more efficiently than you can. Examples can include graphic design, website development, and parts of social media.
  • Bored homemakers. Yes, I said it. Mothers (& fathers) from marketing careers who have taken a break to focus on raising children often are interested in small defined projects they can do from home. A contract worker in this situation rarely cares about earning top dollar but is grateful to keep a hand in their former career. It’s a win-win.

Justify Additional Marketing Budget by Addressing Key Revenue Issues

Early in my career I worked for a healthcare software company in northern California. I was the proposal (RFP) writer. But in between deadlines I would stop and think about the company’s future path. Our average sales cycle length was 18 months and our close rate was about 50%. Knowing that, it was easy to add up the deals in the sales pipeline and see that we were not going to meet our financial goals a year away. I approached my department head with this information and an idea – what if we had a dedicated lead generation analyst focused specifically on finding leads? Even one new sale would justify that position for years. The company immediately funded the position and I was promoted. I actually did that proposal-leading-to-promotion a few more times before leaving the company.

I hope this article gives you some new perspectives on how to weather the challenges of technology marketing. If you need any help managing growth and change in your company’s marketing function, please contact me.

Here’s another B2B technology marketing article you might enjoy! How Fluffy is Your Marketing?

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