If you are the only marketer within your organization and If you only have $1,000 a month to grow B2B lead generation, how would I recommend you allocate it? Excellent question.
First, we have to make some assumptions because different conditions will vary my response. We have to assume you already have the fundamentals in place – a website and an email marketing service, like MailChimp. If not, you need to pause and get those in place and operational. Your website is the landing pad for a vast majority of all B2B lead gen activity. It must be well-designed, load fast, and present your brand in a relevant, compelling way to your target audience. Email marketing is highly effective and through automation because a fundamental part of your marketing infrastructure.
We also have to assume that you’re full-time because with a small budget, you’re going to have to put in the time to make up for the lack of money. In growing anything, you have two choices – put in the hard work (e.g. time) or allocate the money. If you don’t have the money, you’ll need to allocate more time and invest sweat equity.
In this scenario, we’re going to assume that your business is fairly new – meaning you have very little brand recognition within your target market. So, building awareness out of the gate is critical. A great product hidden away in a dark cave won’t be found by anyone. You’ll need to bring it out in the light and get people to follow the light to check it out.
I’m assuming you can write well. Whether you’re a marketer, a business owner or a sales manager, written communication skill, as well as verbal and presentation, are clearly important. If you are not a good-enough writer (defined as you can’t articulate your thoughts into words understood by others) than I highly recommend investing in a professional writing or better yet, a copywriting course. It will reap returns for you.
FIRST DEVELOP A LEAN BRAND
And finally, I’m assuming (and this may be the biggest assumption) that you have done the hard but extremely important work of developing your brand. What I mean by “brand” (let’s call it a “lean brand”) includes executing on the key deliverables – identifying your target market, developing a value proposition, and creating key messaging (position statement, core benefits/differentiators and unique selling proportion.) At minimum, you need to be able to answer these questions:
- What is your product or service?
- Who is the target customer?
- What value does your product or service provide them?
And through answering those questions, you can develop a simple value proposition using this template as a starting point…
“Our [products and services] help(s) [customer segment] who wants to [jobs to be done] by [your own verb like reducing, avoiding, building] and [your own verb].”
Turing your value proposition statement into a position statement simply involves adding an extra segment to the above template. This additional segment defines your “position” amongst your industry competitors. For example,
“Our [products and services] help(s) [customer segment] who wants to [jobs to be done] by [your own verb like reducing, avoiding, building] and [your own verb] unlike [competing value proposition].”
This is a template and how it’s organized is fairly generic. For your value proposition, focus more on answering each of the questions I stated above more so than on fitting the exact structure of the template.
DON’T SPEND WITHOUT A MEASUREMENT FRAMEWORK IN PLACE
Before you spend any money, you also need to make sure you have a tracking and measurement framework in place. Google Analytics is fairly easy and costs nothing so at a minimum, get it installed on your website. If you are using WordPress, you should be able to use a Google Analytics plugin to apply the tracking code across your website without a great deal of technical know-how. But, if necessary, as a developer for help. It’s quick work.
Once Google Analytics installed, there are two aspects of it that you need to apply: (1) setting up tracking urls and (2) setting up conversions. You can learn more about both of these here and here. You can’t manage what you don’t measure. At this early stage, you need to learn a lot so you must have the measurement framework in place to generate the data to learn.
YOU ARE THE CONTENT PRODUCER
With a limited budget, you’re going to be the content producer. Beyond the lean brand I mentioned above, content is another foundational component. It permeates across every aspect of your marketing. I’ll write a future post about how to determine what to start writing about. Mindset wise, whatever you write about, think about how you can re-purpose and recycle every production effort. For example, lay out a 6-7 blog post series around a specific topic, publish each one individually then combine all 6-7 posts into an ebook. You’ll need to add smooth transitions so the posts read congruently. I would start at a minimum of 2 posts per week. You want quality content, well-researched and ideally a mix of short-form (450-650 words) and long-form (1,200-1,500 words.) You may do two long-form each month and the other six as short-form.
Content and social media marketing go hand-in-hand therefore; you’re going to take on this special role too. For B2B companies, I recommend focusing on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook (in priority order). Yes, there could be opportunities across additional social platforms from Quora to Instagram to YouTube but as a first step, I would focus on those three, even narrow it down to LinkedIn and Twitter. At the least, I would focus on sharing the content you produce through these two social channels. Each piece of content, I would post at least 3-4 times using different headlines and angles. People view social media at different times and only a small percentage of your followers ever see your posts. So spread it out and test different times and headlines.
ORGANIC SEARCH OPTIMIZATION
As you are producing content and providing a place to direct your click-throughs from your social sharing, you’ll have the opportunity to start on some SEO (search engine optimization.) I won’t lead you to believe that you’ll rank well for your primary keywords with the minimum amount of effort (and potentially skill) that you’ll be able to allocate. But focus on the on-page SEO factors while you post your content. You need to focus on the building blocks and laying a foundation for SEO is an important one for the long-term.
AND THE SOCIAL MEDIA COORDINATOR
Once you have content in production and the social channels to amplify it, now you’ll add outreach – phone calls or emails or in-person meet-ups. I’m amazed how little this happens yet how well it works. If there is one lesson I have learned from successful business owners, it’s the benefits they have gained from mustering the courage to reach out to influencers to introduce themselves and ask how they could work together. Use a tool like Buzzsumo.com to find the influencers in your market. You’ll have to determine the objective for reaching out. Is it to guest write? Typically, an established influencer won’t guest write for you until you have some level of recognition in the market and ample visits to your website. But, if you are a good writer and have proof to provide of your writing skill, an influencer may appreciate allowing you to guest write in their blog. I also recommend asking the influencer to “share” your content on their social media. Influencers like to share great content. As with any partnering opportunity though, it may take ten “asks” to get one “yes”. When you’re the small fish new to someone else’s pond, persistence, kindness and appreciation are crucial to break-through.
You’ll also be focusing on integrating call-to-actions into your website. Ninety to ninety-five percent of your B2B leads will come through your website so it has to be setup to persuade those visitors to convert into leads.
How? With the compelling content you produce that helps address questions these visitors have and want answered. I’ll talk about this in greater detail in another post but you need to have lead forms setup with offers for a high-value content download. The goal is to generate leads for the next phase of your marketing system – email subscribers. I mentioned the ebook above. The offer to generate the interest of the visitor could be the ebook.
You’re also going to be doing email marketing. A tool like MailChimp or Constant Contact are super simple to use. You’ll want to integrate your lead form with your email marketing provider. If you are using WordPress, then this is very easy to do with MailChimp.
What do you send out? You can setup an automation in MailChimp which is a series of emails setup to be sent at specific pre-defined intervals. So once a subscriber is added to an email list, you can setup a series of email to begin going out a day or two after they subscribe and again seven days later and so on. The goal is to continue providing the subscriber with high-value content but in a way that draws them into your solution as the answer to their specific needs. The email series can come from another series of blog posts that you round up and turn into a sequence to teach or explain an important topic for your target audience. You can also setup an automation to simply email out each new blog post made to the subscriber. The key is to continue to provide these interested subscribers with ongoing high value content that addresses their questions and leads them to solving their needs with your product or service. Of course, I am making it sound easy and it isn’t. It takes time and attention for you to understand your target audience’s needs and how best to produce the type of content that serves them best.
WHAT ABOUT THAT $1,000 A MONTH BUDGET ALLOCATION?
I know, I know…I haven’t even started to talk about the $1,000 budget allocation.
Under those assumptions and providing you a list of items to own, here is how I would allocate the $1,000 per month to get started BUT before I jump in, let me talk a bit about testing. I call it the “optimize framework” and basically it involves four steps:
- Develop a theory – “by sponsoring relevant content tweets for my target audience, I can generate 100 new visitors to my website.”
- Test the theory – develop the relevant content as a blog post, tweet it out using a compelling headline and sponsor it.
- Measure the results. Did you achieve your theory? If yes, great.
- Celebrate or Ideate and repeat. Revise the elements of your test to improve the outcomes until you prove your theory
Ok, I kept you waiting long enough, here’s how I would allocate the $1,000 per month…
- I would allocate $125 to test sponsoring your tweets as a way to generate broader reach into your target market. Remember our assumption, your brand has little recognition and therefore, awareness-building is important.
- I would also allocate $125 to test LinkedIn sponsored posts for the same reason. You can get targeted and broaden your awareness.
- I would allocate $250 to test a re-marketing solution whether its re-marketing through Google AdWords or using AdRoll’s re-targeting solution. If you are not familiar with re-targeting (re-marketing is Google’s term and it means the same thing), it’s an ad technology that adds a first-person cookie to your website’s visitors. You can then determine how you want to target these individuals with relevant ads across other websites as they continue browsing the web. This is powerful marketing because based on what the visitor did on your website you can serve them a very specific offer within your ad to bring them back to your website. com calls it the “Boomerang” which really defines what the technique does.
- Finally, and unless you’re lucky enough to have an accessible, in-house designer, I would allocate $500 on well-designed creative for your website offers, email templates, social profiles and retargeting creative. You’ll probably have to stagger your design needs ever a few months since $500 for a good designer won’t pay for all of those items. The creative can help build awareness for your brand and most importantly it must generate action from your visitors. All advertising is a cost until it converts a viewer to a visitor and ideally to a subscriber or lead or best, a customer.
If my math is right, that’s $1,000 a month allocated across a few channels to test and a design resource for creative. You could cut out the designer if you want to wear the “designer hat” too. There are fabulous tools available like Canva that you can use inexpensively to create your own creative. It gets the job done BUT checking off the box is not your goal. No, your goal is generating qualified leads and the creative you develop, especially for re-targeting and your website opt-ins, are critical. I would opt for a designer who understands direct response.
LET’S GET STARTED!
With a relatively small budget and a lot of hard work, you can grow your business and develop strong momentum following this allocation approach. Unfortunately, a $1,000 a month budget will limit your opportunities but with the right measurement framework in place, you’ll learn a lot from it. As you learn, you’ll build the case necessary to request a larger budget with the ROI to prove it’s money well spent. Also, any change in the assumptions I stated may change these allocations but overall it’s a solid plan of attack to get started. Good luck and prioritize your time well.
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