Marketing Priorities in a Challenging Economy

Allison Braley is a partner and Head of Marketing for Bain Capital Ventures. Every day she talks with startup founders from Bain’s portfolio companies about the challenges they face in marketing – especially in the tough economic times we are now facing. 

On the Justin Brady Show podcast she dropped a lot of gems about how startups (and other marketers) can manage the challenges they are facing. Here are some of her points that resonated with me:

On when to brand: Startups need transactional /performance marketing, but at some point, in a startup’s lifecycle branding is required to build a relationship with a customer. According to Allison: “The earlier you start to think with that mindset, the better.”

Allison Braley, Partner and Head of Marketing for Bain Capital Ventures.

On the value of earned media: The value of earned media has evolved as the potential reach of publications has declined. Now it’s part of the content “flywheel” that sees messaging dispersed to the market using multiple channels. Earned media articles are still a part of this, but they are another channel in this model and no longer the sole way to raise awareness and build reputation.

On where to invest: She recommends that enterprise startups go back to first principles: Determine who is the customer and find out where can they be reached. Develop a plan to reach them there and then execute.

On going direct: With the decrease in media readership, some marketers want to “go-direct” using social media. Allison says the challenge is building an audience otherwise you are talking to nobody. It takes time to build that audience, making it hard to pull off a strategy that is focused only on direct channels.

On how to implement a content strategy: Content is critical, and founders sometimes put a lot of pressure on themselves to create it. But creating content takes time and can distract a founder from managing the business. Allison has two suggestions: “Timebox” your writing time so that writing doesn’t take all day. Whatever comes from that dedicated writing time is what you post. Second, understand that content strategy calls for a tiered approach with SEO-oriented “hygiene” content, observational “hub” content and the occasional in-depth “hero” content. Publishing shorter, less in-depth posts regularly is better than putting everything into a hero piece once or twice a year.

Allison shared many more insights on the Justin Brady podcast; I encourage you to listen as it’s easily worth the 30 minutes.