If you’re leading marketing for a B2B tech startup, you likely face many challenges; one of the least productive yet most annoying: the non-stop parade of well-intentioned but often completely off-the-reservation marketing suggestions from your co-workers in other disciplines.
After all, when everyone’s used a search engine, attended a webinar, browsed a social media feed, downloaded an eBook, or watched a video, your team’s opinions must be considered, right?!? --- even at the expense of ignoring what’s best for your target buyer personas and business goals. Not so fast!
With such a limited amount of resources, including budget and time, marketing leaders must be super-vigilant about only focusing on those initiatives with the most significant potential to impact business goals positively and the already set marketing goals.
In this blog post, you’ll learn how to set marketing goals for your B2B tech startup.
Setting the Right Marketing Goals to Achieve the Current Business Growth Goals
Before you can set marketing goals, you need big-picture business goals. In B2B tech startups, high-level goals usually come from the CEO and board of directors.
Consider the SMART goal-setting framework -- so that your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timebound).
Bear in mind, within IT startups getting to product/market fit (PMF) and go-to-market fit (GTMF) directly influence goal setting.
Once a company knows which customers can have the most success implementing its product or service, marketing goals often snap into place much more quickly. Before that, often, the goal is to drive enough velocity of deals and new customer bookings to get vital feedback from customers. You'll know you're on the right track with even a few case studies from your target buyer personas.
Without those case studies, it’s tough to know if your set marketing goals are advancing business goals -- or just providing some nominal cash flow that slows the burn rate.
So be sure to prioritize customer insight research; focus on a few core buyer personas and an ideal client profile (ICP).
Breaking Your Marketing Goals Down Into More Manageable and Measurable Micro-Goals
Armed with documented buyer personas and an ideal client profile, start breaking your marketing goals into more manageable and measurable micro-goals -- and their first cousins: objectives and results (OKRs) and key performance indicators (KPIs).
From the top down, get clarity on the following:
- Revenue growth goal
- Average customer lifetime value (CLV) (LTV) or annual recurring revenue (ARR)
- Calculate: the number of new customers to achieve the goal
- Historical close rate from sales opportunities to new customers
- Calculate: the number of sales opportunities to achieve the goal
- Historical percentage of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) accepted by sales
- Calculate: the number of MQLs to achieve the goal
- Historical percentage of leads that become MQLs
- Calculate: the number of leads to achieve the goal
If you don’t have much of this data, build your sales forecast based on conservative assumptions and benchmarks from your niche with B2B tech -- taking into account your business model, your target customer size, your target customer industry, and the relative sensitivity of your target stakeholders represented by your primary and secondary buyer personas.
Also, ask about average sales cycle length to ensure you can set attainable goals, allowing time for strategy and ramp-up before considering average sales cycle length. Otherwise, even if your industry targets and business model strongly foretell a 6-12 month sales cycle, you may be wildly unrealistic if your marketing goals look for a return on investment (ROI) within three months of launch.
How B2B Tech Startups Can Avoid Misplaced Marketing Goals
Marketers are often set up to fail because of wildly unrealistic expectations and toxic internal power dynamics.
Many times, sales directors control the day-to-day activities of the marketing team. So marketers don't get the opportunity to do marketing -- but instead are 90%+ focused on short-term sales activation -- or, worse, administrative assistance to the sales team.
Allowing this can be an enormous mistake as the digital buyer's journey completely changes purchasing decisions. Consider some of the latest industry trends:
- 83% of a typical B2B purchase decision -- researching, comparing options, and evaluating pricing -- happens before a potential buyer engages with a vendor. (Gartner)
- 70% to 80% of B2B decision-makers now prefer to make decisions digitally. (McKinsey)
To give the marketing strategy a chance to succeed, the marketing leader must have an equal seat at the executive level along with the sales leader.
Otherwise, marketing just becomes a puppet of sales, and the company gets stuck selling as if it's still the 2010s. (being strongarmed into sadly living in the past.)
The key: the org chart for your B2B tech startup must equally prioritize marketing, sales, customer success, and product management. Otherwise, marketing won't be able to work on meaningful growth goals that support a competitive, world-class customer experience (CX).
What have you found most crucial when setting marketing goals for a B2B tech startup? Let me know in the comments section below.
And if you need to level up on goal setting for marketing and overall growth of your tech startup, enroll now in our free 7-day eCourse: Go-to-Market Strategy 101 for B2B SaaS Startups and Scaleups.