There are some clear points along the growth of your business where you need to invest in marketing expertise. By “expertise” I mean high level marketing experts that have been there, done that. However, that doesn’t mean you need to invest in marketing headcount. Let’s face it, hiring an entry level marketer to “do marketing” means you are leaving the go-to-market strategy for your company in the hands of that inexperienced employee. Not a comforting thought.

How do I know if I need marketing expertise?

From business launch through to high growth, the path won’t be easy and there are some critical events where you should think hard about bringing in qualified marketing expertise.

Critical Times to Invest in Marketing

Launch

When you first launch a new business, you’ve got a lot of passion, but little in the way of funding. That said, if you don’t quickly hone in on a target buyer, a real pain you can solve and a clear message to convey your solution, your business won’t go far. Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of just focusing on brand – getting a name, logo and website. But the best name and pretty website won’t bring customers and funding. Marketing expertise is needed to create clear positioning and early-stage go-to market materials.

Biz Dev

One of the first investments you’ll make is in business development. Usually this is the hire of a seasoned professional who is a hunter with hustle. They will use their fabulous network to get in the door to target accounts. They’ll have a great first meeting, but then opportunities will stall. Why? Because there is nothing to show them. No assets to help educate them and create urgency to move through the pipeline. Marketing expertise is needed to create the customer journey and assets to drive the sale to close.

Slow Growth

Inveitably a time will come when growth slows down. There is a critical decision to make when this happens in order to correct the revenue trajectory. Do you add more business development resources? Do you add more demand generation channels? Has the market changed and the positioning needs to be reevaluated? Marketing expertise is needed to help determine the answers to these questions and more so that a solid go-to-market strategy can be created.

Add Agency

There will come a time where the company presence demands some basic marketing resources to handle. Social media, blogging, website, SEO, etc. You can absolutely hire a junior marketer to handle these things IF you have a strong marketing strategy and an executive with marketing know-how. If not, an agency or freelancer might be the best option and provide the most flexibility. Marketing expertise is needed to determine the right option, help evaluate and hire, as well as put a plan in place for measuring the performance of that spend.

Question Agency

Whether you hired a resource, a freelancer or an agency, there will come a time when you will question if you are getting value out of that spend. Marketing expertise can help here to audit the work done and the corresponding results in order to make corrections as needed.

Product Launch

Whether you have a new product to launch or are entering a new market with your existing product, this is a big move that requires careful planning. Marketing expertise is needed to create a launch campaign to drive interest.

Internal Marketing

Once you’ve figured out a recipe for how much money it will take to generate a new customer with existing resources, you’ll want to evaluate if adding marketing demand generation channels can bring in customer more cost effectively. But what marketers do you hire? Do you start with a VP? Marketing expertise is needed to build a growth plan for adding resources and a series of experiments to determine the marketing recipe for cost per acquisition (CPA).

What expertise should I be looking for?

There are key deliverables you’ll need at each critical event. Here is what you should be shopping for. Click here to get a printable version of this table.

Critical Event  Marketing Expertise/Deliverables Needed
Launch 
  • Positioning – target market, target accounts, compelling reason to buy, buying personas, persona pain, competitive differentiation, how solution addresses pain
  • Go-to-market strategy – plan for how you will generate demand for your offering
  • Investor and/or sales presentation
  • Key messaging for website – web copy plus videos and assets to educate and convert traffic
  • Brand – name, logo, website (tip: don’t choose a name until you’ve got positioning down – this can often provide clarity)
Biz Dev 
  • Prospecting assets – emails, 1 pagers, videos and white papers to garner interest
  • Demo – script for live demo or presentation as needed
  • Pipeline assets – Quiz to determine fit, Business assessment (ROI, Risk, Need, etc.), Case study
  • Competitive assets – “Kill sheets”
Slow Growth
  • Go-to-market evaluation – what is/isn’t working in current strategy
  • Market evaluation – validate there is still a need for the offering and the positioning is current
  • Strategy for growth – detail options for investment in sales and marketing channels to drive growth
Add Agency
  • Determine what the objective is for the investment and the skills needed to meet that objective
  • Evaluate/recommend agencies or freelancers that have the skills and experience to meet the objectives
  • Develop a performance plan to measure agency performance
Question Agency 
  • Audit agency performance against objective
  • Advise agency/company on ways to improve or recommend changing agencies or strategy
  • Recommend new agencies and/or create new strategy and objective
Product Launch
  • Positioning for new product/market – target market, target accounts, compelling reason to buy, buying personas, persona pain, competitive differentiation, how solution addresses pain
  • Go-to-market strategy – plan for how you will generate demand
  • New sales presentation
  • Key messaging for website – web copy plus assets to educate and convert traffic
  • Product naming – brainstorm and recommend names for new product
  • Launch campaign – create a campaign to announce new product/market including all assets such as white paper, video, infographics, social posts, articles for syndication, etc.
Internal Marketing 
  • Determine what the objective is for the investment and the skills needed to meet that objective
  • Create a marketing strategy that includes experiments to conduct and resources to hire over time (not big bang)
  • Develop a performance plan to measure marketing performance

Where do I find the right marketing expertise?

Look for a former CMO or VP of Marketing that has worked in a startup or SMB who is now a consultant/freelancer (like me). Marketers with this level of experience typically can do most of the above as well as have a network of great freelancers to fill in the skills they can’t provide.

Make sure they are cautious in their philosophy about adding marketing resources and they will guide you down a path that will get you the marketing expertise you need, when you need it, without over-investing in marketing.

 

About the Author Trisha Winter

SaaS marketing executive turned consultant with Focused B2B. Helps B2B companies identify target buyers and create focused content to drive traffic and conversions. Expertise in B2B content marketing, account based marketing and product marketing.