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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Creating a Marketing plan for your start-up in 7 easy steps



'Hockey Stick' Growth at your start-up 




In the USA, Europe, and the UK, there is a dearth of Marketing talent, particularly in red hot Software businesses like Fintech, Networking, Telecommunications and Cyber Security.

By Marketing talent I mean individuals with smarts, training, experience and drive who can take a business to 'the next level'; whether that means faster growth, more sustainable or greater revenue or higher profits. This goes for any start-up from first round venture backed to private equity invested all the way to IPO or Merger and beyond 


You also need to have a Head of Marketing who will take responsibility for success - or failure, and particularly in growth businesses, someone who is not afraid to take some risks

For this reason, Start-ups sometimes tolerate the types of personalities that the HR department of regular Fortune 500's would not accept. There are numerous examples of this in the media but I find the satirical comedy Silicon Valley is the best example. 

So Here's my 7 point plan to create a good start-up Marketing Strategy and then to execute it flawlessly.


1. Ensure that you have control over Marketing. Otherwise, you may be in a situation where you are trying to execute a Marketing Plan created by someone else that you don't truly believe in. If you absolutely must be in this position, then at the very least, ensure that you are on the same page as the person who has created your marketing plan. 


2. Data, go through all the date and find out what is going on. Don't just rely on the facts you see. Talk with people, try to establish whether the data you are seeing on paper matches what you are hearing. Countless times I have dealt with either no data at all or data that doesn't match reality. Don't be the fool that devotes inordinate hours and resources creating complex models using bad information. As they told me in business school 'Garbage in; Garbage out'. It doesn't matter how good your plan is, if it's based on inaccurate information, it'll be useless.


Even a fledgeling  Start-up will inevitably have had many failures already and you can use this information to avoid making mistakes and model successful behaviour. “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” —Michael Porter


3. Targets, start thinking about what you are trying to accomplish. Is the problem that you have a weak brand? Is it that no one outside your core user group really understands your products? Are you simply preaching to the converted? Do your competitors have an iron-grip on certain Regions or markets? Is it that you have weak or poorly growing revenue? Are you sinking resources into the same old Marketing investments getting diminishing returns (This is happening a lot with Field Marketing, to the extent that some big names in technology are abandoning Events completely)?


Establish what that core problem is and then ensure that all your efforts are geared towards driving solutions to that.


4. Create a plan around that. For example:


a. If the problem is that your sales team are not converting your good leads, then bring in added Business Intelligence. A remarkable tool for this is Rainking, which has a team of 600 researchers calling companies and finding out information that will enable you to identify opportunities quicker and more effectively.


Additionally, if you are not lead scoring already, then I would suggest you start doing this. The way this works is - your sales team will immediately get alerted automatically when a lead reaches a certain 'threshold' score. So let's say that score is 10, then a lead from a company with $1 Billion revenue that has requested we contact them would immediately be a 10. A Lead from a company that is on our target list would immediately be a 10. A Lead from a company that could be a target, would be a 5. When that lead has downloaded 3 key reports in the last week, then it becomes a 10, and so on. However, you have to ensure the algorithm that determines scoring is accurate. I've worked at companies were this is not the case and I'd say no scoring is better than bad lead scoring. 


b. If the problem is that you lack the numbers of leads needed to start with, then both Zoominfo, which I started using back in 2009 or Rainking, which I started using in 2015, are both effective. I would also work with the Marketing team to create compelling content, ideally Gartner or Forrester or failing that, some other well-known research firms, like IDC. Linkedin has just developed a new Account-based Marketing - (I met with the Head of Linkedin's EMEA business in a previous blog post) tool called Lead generation forms.


5. Execute your plan relentlessly. Ensure that everyone is on board with it.


6. Analyse your results regularly, at least once every 6 months and if not effective, pivot. If it's truly disastrous, be honest about it and go back to the drawing board quickly. This is essentially the same idea that I learned in Product Marketing for innovation, the stage gate process 


When you do this look at Key financial metrics, like ROMI - Return on Marketing Investment (NPV, IRR, Payback period, etc..  Customer Lifetime Value, Cost per Click, Transaction conversion rate (For B-2-B, numbers of prospects who click on your links who go on to become Sales Qualified Leads).
                      



7. Finally, and most importantly, encourage criticism and make your entire company a safe place to share information and mistakes. You cannot take important calculated risks without mistakes and you can't learn without them either





Wednesday, May 10, 2017

House of Lords Cocktail Party

Like Lord Maurice Saatchi, founder of Saatchi & Saatchi and MC Saatchi, I only applied to one University. There are quite a few Universities that are well known to be Second choices. His message on the evening and now the world's shortest poem was 'LSE made me'.





Maurice Saatchi got a first in Economics back when that was a very hard accomplishment and of course He is one of the greatest minds in advertising, author of the Iconic 'Labour isn't working' Campaign that ushered Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative Party into power in 1979






There were some prominent MPs, Peers, Academics and Executives from organisations like JP Morgan, HSBC, Fidelity Investments, Barclays Bank, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Wells Fargo, BP, PWC and Accenture, at the event, to name a few.










Thursday, May 04, 2017

Why getting my MBA was a great decision

Graduating with my MBA, May 2008, Matthews Arena, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, with my then 18-month-old daughter Charlotte.



Getting an MBA at Northeastern University's D'Amore Mckim Business School and working in the USA for 10 years are the 2 best decisions I made in my career so far. An MBA is a massive commitment. You pay up to $120,000 and devote 2 years of your life to training in all aspects of a business. It’s longer than that if you count the time taking the GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test) as well as doing your applications and interviews.
So even getting to starting the program was challenging work for me. Once I did start I was taking Accounting 101 classes with a class where up to half were accountants, Finance Classes with Finance specialists, and as for statistics. I have never been so proud of a ‘B’ grade in my life. I had to take special lessons with an excellent tutor every week so I could manage to complete my 3 exams and project using a statistical software tool.
Sure, Organizational behavior was a little easier and Marketing a bit more intuitive. However, Product Marketing with Gloria Barczac was hard. I did my project with a Head of Product Marketing at Philips on the Stage Gate Process around developing a Wireless Heart Defibrillator. We interviewed everyone at his company involved and wrote the report and presentation around that.
    Real Estate Finance was tough too. One of the guys on my team was a Vice President at Blackrock, the real estate investment firm. I had to learn how to use a tool called Oracle Crystal Ball to create a model showing 1000 permutations of investment scenarios to predict who an investment may turn out – called a Monte Carlo analysis.
I got to work as an analyst at an investment bank that was working on deal sizes of several hundred million dollars. I also worked as a Marketing Analyst. These were not the kind of options available to me pre-MBA.
It’s exactly 9 years ago now, but like most exciting and challenging situations that stimulate you and help you grow, it’s still very fresh in mind. Getting an MBA remains one of the best decisions I made in my life.