By Hugo Angelmar
Breaking the conversation in three parts helps people translate their strengths and interests in the tech world. Specifically, it’s important to look at the target customer, the variety of marketing roles and the stage of financing of the company. Let’s start with the target customer, of which there are three types: consumer, enterprise and small & medium business (SMB).
The target customer determines how you promote your product and who you market it to. A business to consumer (B2C) company targets consumers like you and me. In this segment, your efforts are spent attracting consumers and getting them to use your product repeatedly. The best way to do this is through telling a great story about the product itself. Your product is your marketing, and your ability to analyze customer data gives you the essential insight to understand what is and isn’t working (from both a product and marketing point of view). A bonus is that it can be satisfying to work on a product you and your friends know and use.
The enterprise segment focuses on large, Fortune 500 companies. Customer acquisition is driven by direct sales, and an enterprise marketer works closely with a sales team to convince a group of people that the company offers the right “solution” to a specific need.
Enterprise customers often have custom requirements, and marketing must follow suit. It’s a complex sales and marketing process that deals with multiple layers and personalities in the target organization. Successful marketers in this space need to do a great deal of qualitative research and remain close to the sales team to understand both the “political” and “procedural” sides.
The last category of customers, SMBs, is a hybrid of the first two. This is a diverse group, and you encounter SMBs every day. SMBs can be a corner cupcake shop, a retail store at the mall or a medium-sized Chinese electronics importer. The decision maker at an SMB may be a person with little or no formal education or it could be an ex-McKinsey consultant who has decided to eschew the corporate life.
SMBs tend to be price-sensitive and time-strapped. Unlike an enterprise, where entire teams need to be courted, there is usually only one decision maker. Of course, your product has to be good, but the biggest challenge is getting it in front of the decision maker, and then persuading her to buy it.
Types of marketing roles
After you have considered your audience, the next question to address is: What roles should I look for? When I first applied for marketing roles, I simply had no idea what the various titles meant. After I joined Facebook, everything began to make sense. If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed, you’re not alone.
All marketing roles ultimately revolve around the customer, each one from a different viewpoint.
What do our customers want/need, how do we get our product team to build it and what is the best way to tell customers about the products we have?
Product marketers are the glue between marketing and product development. They talk to the customers, research the market and work with the product team(s) to understand use cases and prioritize features based on their potential impact. Once a product is nearly ready to launch, a product marketer prepares all the relevant materials and works with marketing, support and operations to ensure a smooth launch. If you are an excellent project manager and love bringing a product to market, this is the role for you.
Where can we find our customers, and how do we get them to try our product (and engage with it more)?
This is where the company meets the market. Acquisition marketers create ads, short videos, headlines and calls-to-action (including punchy subject lines for emails). Their goals are finding repeatable and profitable ways of acquiring customers. The term “demand generation” is often used in the B2B space. Running events (e.g. private dinners, conferences), attending trade shows and hosting webinars are much more prevalent when working with “high-value prospects” (C-suite execs with large purchasing power).
What information and materials do customers need to purchase our products and remain informed about them?
Marketing communications teams produce materials highlighting the company’s products, customer successes, best practices, etc. These marketers work across the lifecycle from pre- to post-customer acquisition. They tend to have strong communication and writing skills, as well as project management skills. I find they often have extrovert personalities.
Part II of this article, covering ‘four stages of a tech company’, will be published on May 27.
(Hugo Angelmar is the founder and CEO of Chief.io. He has worked with and for a number of venture-backed start-ups, and advised early-stage companies on growth, sales and marketing strategies.)