This is the first post in a three-part series on marketing at tech startups and scale-ups. (Tags: Tech Marketing Series)
When should marketers be hired to join fast-growing startup companies? How do you build marketing teams when the company is less than 25 employees? What are the biggest priorities for marketers who are pulled in multiple directions?
These questions linger amongst seasoned marketers and entry-level talent who see this new tech software-as-a-service industry as a viable option for their careers. To answer these questions, we spoke with marketers at early-stage startups, midsize scale-ups, and marketing tech companies looking to bridge the gap between all sizes of companies.
Today’s piece focuses on Sigstr, an email signature marketing company that launched in 2015 (so just about two years ago) and recently announced a Series A raise of $5 million. Sigstr very quickly made a name for itself as an innovative firm ready to tackle the hyper-competitive, fast-paced world of marketing technology, and counts among its clients well-known brands like California Closets, Roche, SalesLoft, Angie’s List, SteelHouse Advertising Suite, and Pacers Sports & Entertainment.
Brad Beutler, an early employee and the first-ever director of marketing at Sigstr, shared his thoughts and insights about how the marketing function is executed at a tech startup.
What are your priorities when you’re marketing a startup tech company?
Most startups have a small (but mighty!) marketing team that can get pulled in many different directions. That’s why it’s so important to take some time early on and establish your team’s overall goals. If you identify what’s most important, and what the marketing team is measured on, it allows you to prioritize future projects and requests.
For us at Sigstr, our goals are aligned to generating qualified leads for our sales team that then convert to demos and new paying customers. We also prioritize brand awareness activities and messaging. It’s a balancing act you and your team have to be aware of each and every day. Frequent team meetings and constantly communicating our main priorities to the rest of the organization helps with this.
How many people are on your marketing team today vs. when you started at Sigstr?
How has that changed since you’ve been with the company and what was the purpose or strategy of team growth?
I started almost two years ago as employee number eight and the first full-time marketer. Today, we have 40 employees total and three marketing team members (and we’re looking for number four!). It’s been fun to build a foundation for our inbound marketing strategy from the ground up and see it grow and evolve over the past two years.
The marketing team has naturally grown to support our rapidly expanding sales team and overall company goals. We’ve done an exceptional job of identifying needs or gaps along the way, then making it a priority to add more marketing resources (or people) to fill that void.
How do you prioritize your workload when you’re a small team?
The workload is always changing in our type of environment. That’s why we make it a point to meet as a team weekly and talk through each of our priorities. In addition to team meetings, our VP of Marketing also schedules weekly one-on-one meetings with each marketing team member.
We have quarterly goals around marketing-generated qualified leads, demos, and ARR that help shape our priorities and action items. From there, we structure our strategy and start to lay out our execution plan. This helps determine our monthly and weekly goals.
What marketing tools do you rely on to help expand your capabilities as a lean team?
We’re logging into Salesforce and HubSpot daily to keep tabs on our current campaigns, metrics, and reporting. We use tools like Trello and Asana to help with project management. WordPress and Google Analytics are also favorites of mine. The rest of our marketing tech stack includes Optimizely, SalesLoft, DataFox, DemandJump, and of course … Sigstr!
What advice would you give to someone who is managing marketing for a startup tech company?
From day one, always be aligned with your sales team on overall goals and initiatives. Don’t be afraid to raise your hand and let the leadership team know when you need help (whether that be more budget, resources, or people). Keep tabs on what’s working and what’s not working. Fail fast and pour more resources into whatever converts best.
Most importantly, meet with other marketing leaders in our community. Use them as a sounding board and ask for advice. We can all learn from each other and help each other grow faster.
If you are a marketer interested in launching your career in in tech, visit the TechPoint Job Board and browse the latest openings. Stay tuned to techpoint.org and subscribe to our Tech News emails to have the next articles in this series delivered directly to your inbox.