By Mark Nardone
In a Q4 2018 Crunchbase report, findings show the rise in “supergiant” VC rounds, adding that 61 percent of VC funding came from nine, 10 and 11-figure transactions. On the same note, 2018 also saw a record number of private tech company financing events.
With the number of investments in growing brands on the rise, business owners need to be proactive about adjusting their strategies after a funding round. This includes the marketing department – it’s as much a marketer’s job to be engaged and involved throughout the funding process as it is the founder’s or CEO’s.
As your brand continues to grow, build awareness and establish credibility in the market, taking your marketing and PR strategy to the next level is key. For B2B brands, this can be a difficult task, as buying cycles are lengthy and customers are looking for more and more validation throughout the process. Venture capitalists are looking for brands who are prepared to tackle this challenge head on, and have the right teams, departments and skillsets to match. Let’s review the top five strategies that B2B marketers should address after they’ve received funding.
- Audit and Assess: Don’t jump out of the gate too quickly. Take a moment to recognize where your brand is now and where you hope to be in five years. Does this goal align with your current reputation in the market? Take a look at your digital footprint. What areas of your brand need to be adjusted for you to reach that next stage of growth?
- Action: Dedicate someone on your team who has this skillset or bring in an agency to help audit and assess. This isn’t a step you should take lightly, as it sets the stage for every marketing decision you make moving forward.
- Messaging and Positioning: As your brand evolves, so should your messaging and positioning. Expanding your offerings and testing out new markets means you likely have new audiences with different needs. You may be selling to new titles, or entirely new targets, but either way, your messaging and positioning will need some fine tuning.
- Action: Do your research (ahead of time) on the new industries or titles you’re marketing to. Creating buyer personas that outline their interests, habits and other nuances will better prepare you when the time comes to sell.
- Challenge Your Department – Do You Have the Right Assets? If you lack the necessary tools and assets, you’ll stunt your growth. Growing is all about telling your brand’s story and bringing new ideas to life. Do you have solid relationships built in earned media to move that story? How about a content strategy in place to support it? Have you begun engaging with analysts? Making sure you have the right resources at the right time will ensure success.
- Action: Identify the right person or people with the right skillsets to support these strategies. For larger teams, integration across departments is critical. For smaller teams, start with what’s feasible. Creating a content strategy is useless if you don’t have someone to execute it.
- Establish a Thought Leadership Bench: Your brand’s credibility rides on it. The C-suite is the face of the company and should guide the industry on trends and ideas. To lead you towards that next stage of growth, activate a thought leadership program. If your CEO is passionate about the industry and tells a good story, then you’re on the right track. If that’s not the case, consider media training or identifying other leaders to step up and support him or her. As VCs are evaluating your brand against competitors, they’ll want reassurance that your executives are knowledgeable and in it for the long haul.
- Remember: VCs invest in the people before the brand. You can have the most innovative and engaging product or service, but without talented people backing it, a VC won’t be interested.
- Turn to Data, But Don’t Forget the People: As your growing brand is taking off, don’t get ahead of yourself and forget the basics. Measurement and analytics should be at the core of everything you do when you’re trying to efficiently and effectively scale. Mapping traffic patterns to your site or tracking which customer journey touchpoints were most successful will provide key insights and set you on the path to a consistent growth trajectory. And while all of those components are important, humanizing the data and understanding what people value and what motivates them should be at the core of your analysis.
- Hint: According to a Forbes report, those who practice data-driven marketing are six times more likely to increase profitability year-over-year. Are you one of them?
As you continue cycling through these five strategies, remember to never take anything for granted. The market can move quickly, so you need to remain agile and be proactive, which becomes much more difficult as you grow. That’s the beauty of a small business – take advantage of your size while you can. Stick to quarterly re-assessments of your progress and never forget the role a marketer plays in your brand’s growth trajectory.
Mark Nardone is the Executive Vice President of PAN Communications with 25+ years of experience in marketing and PR. He oversees the firm’s strategic direction across brand marketing and business development efforts. Mark is passionate about growth marketing. He provides brands with seamless transitions into their next stage of growth by creating compelling ideas and developing integrated approaches to move those ideas through the market.