If you’re looking for a plan to help get your startup from zero to millions in revenue, Leela Gill lays the groundwork for every startup marketer with her marketing cheat sheet. What does the process look like? These five steps can be a game-changer.
Step One: Audit where you currently stand
Where does your business currently stand? Are you just getting started? Have you been there from the beginning? You have to audit where you are now to properly measure your growth. Leela recommends that you do this quarterly. Startups need to constantly question if their ICP and marketing personas are on par with their customers.
Well-established companies may not understand the need to audit your ICP and personas quarterly. But for Series A/Series B companies, they may change throughout the process—especially if you’re talking with your customers like you should be. You have to have informal conversations to understand who they are and what they do every day. You can ask them fundamental questions like, “How did you discover us?” A quarterly cadence allows you to go to market in a coordinated way.
Step Two: Understand your budget + costs
When you’re marketing for a Series A/Series B company, you’re likely operating on a thin budget. That’s why it’s important to understand your costs (including cost per conversion) and how it pertains to your industry. You have to make the most of your budget. In Leela’s case, she usually allocates 40% of her budget to her team and the rest to campaigns, paid sponsorships, and influencer marketing.
You need to split your budget in a way that gets you people power and program power to execute. Leela tries to hire in-house for critical core competencies, such as subject matter experts (SME). She believes that you need someone running content in-house. They don’t have to write everything, but they need to review all content to ensure it aligns with the company’s messaging and value proposition. Start with a core team and leverage external resources with content, PR, and sometimes design.
Step Three: Understand your team’s skillsets and strengths
In an early-stage company, you can’t wait a full year to review where your content, performance, budgets, and team skill sets are at. As you’re scaling, it’s important to do quarterly reviews to assess where you’re at and where you need to improve.
You can also outline every team member’s responsibilities to map out a backup for each of them. Then you can pair people together to learn from each other, so everyone is cross-trained. Then there are always two people on your team that can execute a skill. It’s also a great way to connect people to brainstorm new ideas and strategies.
We do a quick skill-gap survey when onboarding new employees. We want to make sure we can help them develop in the areas they’re weak and focus on the areas where they’re strong. So if we bring on a social media person that doesn’t know much about TikTok, we want to get them the training they need to excel in that area.
Step Four: Think about the big picture
Your C-suite likely has a projection for anticipated growth that you’re all operating on. As an early-stage marketer, you want to take those projections and break them down into actionable goals. What are your anticipated conversion rates? If you need 200 leads per week, where will they come from? Work backward to create a plan to determine both marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs). Then you track everything consistently to decide where to make changes.
When you’re an early-stage business, and you’re growing, keep it simple. You can develop a lead scoring program to help you decide what’s an MQL or SQL starting in Series B. But if you’re early stage, you can use vague definitions, i.e., “They asked for a meeting.” Focus on the fundamentals, then move toward making sure your leads meet your ICP.
Step Five: What are your exit criteria?
If you’re marketing for a Series A company, you need to focus on testing your frameworks, ICP and personas, etc., to understand what’s working. The next logical step is to help your company grow. So you must design scalable programs, get models in place to bring in leads, and get processes and cadences in place to grow your business to Series C and beyond. You must understand the strengths of the company and your process capabilities.
This is just a basic explanation of Leela’s five-step marketing cheat sheet. For more details, be sure to listen to episode #61 of the Content Callout podcast!