Startup Marketing: Building out a Sustainable Marketing Funnel From the Start

Startups are busy. The people who work at an early stage startup and even a later stage “startup” have a couple things in common.

  • Startups care about building out marketing processes to help them “automate” their marketing.
  • They usually don’t have a ton of marketers on staff to run a highly complex product so they are looking for “easy” ways to do marketing.
  • They have usually focused their sales and lead gen efforts on using their network to grow the business. They have gone to trade shows, and done more traditional marketing to start their business and now it is time to think about longer term ways to grow. Inbound is usually a good answer to this problem.

We need to clear something up about what “marketing automation” really means.

And….why a startup usually is not a fit for marketing automation in the first place.

What is marketing automaton anyways? 

  • People are obsessed with this term. But, half the people I talk to don’t even know what it means. Most people think that marketing automation means automating your marketing processes. When in fact it is not that at all. It is just one part of your marketing and it revolves around email marketing.
  • Marketing automation is the process of taking your database of leads/customers (anyone who should be marketed to) and segmenting them into certain criteria (or lists) so that you can attach a lead nurturing campaign to that list. When someone in your database or when someone joins your database as a lead fits this criteria they will be emailed to a certain way.

Startups should stop thinking about email and start thinking about sustainability of their marketing. 

  • Instead of focusing on how to do lead nurturing and automation of your database you should be focusing on how to grow your database. Lead nurturing and automation will not do this at the stage you are at.
  • If a company tells you that you are a fit for automation you should ask them why. Tell them to explain why and how automation will help you grow your database.
  • For automation to work well you need to build out the top of your marketing funnel. How are you actually driving new leads?

Focus on how to get more leads into your funnel so you can automate email nurturing to those people to push them through your funnel. 

  • Most people who come to your website are not ready to be sold to. So even if you are doing inbound marketing right and getting traffic to your site they are likely not all ready to be sold to. You need to figure out ways to expand your top of your funnel to drive more good quality leads so that you can start to nurture them the right way from the beginning.
  • Growth tools are not part of a marketing automation platform. Marketing automation is a buzz word which people don’t really understand.
  • Marketing automation in itself will not help you generate net new leads.

Most startups who are just starting out begin a search for marketing automation tools or software. Instead of focusing on how to nurture your leads and customers you should first ask yourself how are you going to drive a sustainable lead gen program. 

  • Buying lead lists won’t work for long. It is not enough to build out a big business.
  • You think you need a short term boost to your marketing so you start thinking the wrong way. You start to think about buying lists and going to trade shows and buying ad words. All of those things are fine as a part of the marketing and lead gen mix but they aren’t enough and won’t help you to sustain your goals.

Think about how you can build out an inbound marketing plan from the beginning. If you want to drive sustainable growth for your business you should be thinking about how to drive traffic over time before you start nurturing your database.

Do you have a database of leads anyways?

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