Nobody [Should] Put Marketing in the Corner

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by Niamh Bennett, Director of Marketing, ActiveNav

Everybody wants results from marketing. But are you investing to get those results? Having a 10-person sales team that doesn’t create that much pipeline, an intern and £4k a month in marketing won’t get you what you need.

Generating qualified leads isn’t easy, particularly if you’re an SMB. Typically, there’s not a huge budget available, you’re not a well-known brand name, and don’t have the connections to draw tons of sales prospects into the pipeline.

The important thing to remember about marketing is that it can’t be a “check the box” activity. It needs to align with the sales and product strategies, and the overall business strategy. That’s because marketing influences all revenue. Look at it broadly – you don’t need an attribution tool to know that at some point a prospect is going to go to your website, download a case study, read your blog, etc. 

That being said, there are ways you can scale a marketing engine without all the luxuries big brands enjoy. 

Set Smaller Goals, Then Scale

No matter your budget, don’t jump into any channel without testing it first. Why spend 50% of your budget on display ads if you don’t know if they work for you? Test, then scale.

Takeaway: Only after basic market validation of an idea is done, building a process-driven engine to generate leads can then be a priority.

Marketing Sourced Revenue is What Counts 

While marketing influences all revenue, what’s really important is marketing sourced revenue. Marketing teams are often driven to “get more leads” with Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) as the primary metric, regardless of how poor the funnel metrics are after the conversion. Measuring the marketing department by sourced revenue using tools like HubSpot can help remove the conflict that can often occur between sales and marketing teams. 

Takeaway: You get what you measure. It’s very clear on sourced revenue growth what’s driving impact. 

Content, Content, Content 

Content hands-down still remains the best channel for B2B from a brand building and direct response marketing perspective – but that’s table stakes in 2021. With your content, you need to create something that 100 people will rave about, not something that thousands of people will kind of like. If you don’t have the budget available for content syndication, then you need “raving fans” to share on your behalf. That only happens if people find value in what you’re creating and believe it’s worth sharing. 

There is a constant debate about whether content should be “gated” or “ungated”. Gated means putting it behind a form. You’re essentially making people pay for it with their information. 

At ActiveNav, before we rebranded, we gated everything, no matter what the content was. When we re-launched our website in late 2020, we decided to only gate our highest value pieces e.g., a Gartner reprint or a 20-page eBook. We want as many people to read our case studies and listen to our podcasts as possible. The result? 90%+ of the time our inbound leads request a demo or pricing and can be turned over directly to our AEs.  

Don’t forget to use content in a variety of ways. That webinar you did last week – turn it into a blog post. And an eBook. And post about it on social. Don’t create one piece of content and leave it at that. Make it easier for the consumer to choose how they view your content by offering it in several different formats. 

Repurposing content doesn’t need to take a lot of time either. Services like will transcribe your audio or video to text for $1.25 a minute. That webinar can now be quickly turned into a blog post and shared. 

Takeaway: Your content must earn attention. Don’t aim to create something for everyone. Narrow down to what your Ideal Customer Persona (ICP) cares about. 

It Doesn’t Always Need to Break the Bank

ActiveNav’s previous website made it very difficult for a customer to book a demo or find the information they needed. While working on the redesign, we knew that we needed to make our current site easier to use in the meantime but didn’t want to spend a ton of time or money. So, we implemented a free chatbot from Drift and on the same day booked a demo. If you don’t have a chatbot on your site already, I highly recommend installing one. I also recommend that it’s manned by a real person as opposed to a bot, as people like to talk to other people – especially while working from home! 

Another low-cost option is looking at podcasts that target your niche market and going on as a guest. Can’t find one that suits your market or customer profile? Start your own! You can start simply by recording on Zoom ($14/month) or Zencastr ($20/month) and hosting it on Transistor ($19/month). Boom, you’ve got a podcast for less than $40/month. On the podcast, you can invite thought leaders, customers, partners, prospects etc. It’s yours to own. 

But whatever you do, you need to do it consistently. 

Takeaway: Be creative and consistent no matter what the spend. Consistency is by far the MOST important component when it comes to building an audience. 

Need for Speed

When you’re building and scaling your marketing program, there is a need for speed. Spending weeks on a 40-page eBook to find that only 20 people have read it is not a good use of time. That’s where testing comes in again. Rather churn out 4 eBooks that are 10 pages each and see what’s resonating with your audience. Don’t second guess – just ship it. 

Also – when it comes to content and lead gen, don’t copy your competitors by doing exactly what they’re doing. Marketing ultimately comes down to trying to get attention, so you need to be where your competitors aren’t. 

Lastly, marketing can’t perform miracles. You need to hire the right people (the expression “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur!” comes to mind here), and give your team time and budget to be able to find what’s working and then scale. 

Final Takeaway: Building out a strong marketing engine as a B2B SMB comes with its challenges. But it’s not impossible by any means. Start small, be consistent, and focus on what makes your product/service unique.

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