The hardest part about growing a tech startup is the transition from being founder-led to scaling go-to-market teams that generate demand and build traction as you work towards $1m ARR. With increasing investor expectations, new people joining the team and the need to get results fast, the stakes are high even for the most seasoned professional.
To generate demand, these are some things to think about before you start increasing head count or bringing in outside support, for example a marketing agency:
If 3% of people are actively buying, and 7% are intending to make a change, over the short term we need a way to identify those buyers who are currently seeking solutions.
This is why in the early days, outbound sales can be effective in getting quick wins but it doesn't help to expand your pool of buyers; and its harder to command price premiums than when someone is bringing their pain to you having already failed to solve it.
Everyone from marketing to sales and product needs a clear view of your buyer and user personas, and agreement around your ideal customer profiles since they will be guiding decision making. These should serve as a core piece of your strategy and help to align GTM with product before you start scaling marketing and sales.
If you don't have these, or you can't build them in house - this should be the first thing you engage an agency around. But keep in mind, because this is a core component of your strategy it needs to be collaborative and have internal buy-in so get everyone involved. Use Confluence or similar for easy iteration as you learn more over time.
3. Generating demand isn't the same as generating leads.
It's not about marketing building lists for outbound sales. It's about creating an unfair advantage in your category with a long term view. It's about dominating that category, and expanding it. If 90% of the market isn't ready to buy, or simply isn't interested in buying from your company, how do we move these people into a buying position?
Although it might be easier to measure, don't just try and capture existing demand with gated content or create awareness in isolation. Turn awareness into affinity, educate the market, build trust in your brand, lead with expertise - help the market understand what has changed, why it is important to them and how it will impact their business.
4. Understand how your buyers buy, talk to them don't guess.
Assumption is the mother of all mistakes. You can't generate demand if you don't know where your buyers hang out or how they make decisions. It’s easy as a tech company to adopt a generic B2B mindset - everyone else is running ads on social and sending people to landing pages and an SDR so we should as well...
But do your buyers spend time on LinkedIn? Do they spend time on Facebook, or YouTube? How technology literate are they? Are they early adopters or late majority? Do they Google when they have a problem, or do they call a colleague and ask how they are solving it? Who are the gate keepers? How do you get to decision makers?
5. Are you competing, disrupting or creating a new category?
If you're competing in an existing category, put simply, the demand is already there. And it's cutthroat. Red oceans are filled with the blood of competition. But on the upside, you can hire from the industry and leverage institutional knowledge, or find an agency who has run similar campaigns before - and you probably should have started yesterday!
However, most tech companies are seeking blue oceans. They are trying to create uncontested market space, they are disrupting an existing category or creating a new category to build high margin businesses. But this is hard, and the closer you are to creating a new category the more expensive it is. Everyone is learning - from the CEO to the new grad. From in-house teams to external agencies, meaning there is a much large upfront investment to get successful results.
There are no quick wins when you're wanting to generate demand - but there needs to be a mindset shift as you move from start-up to scale up if you're wanting to achieve rapid growth.
You need smart people who can work this out on the fly, whether the work is done internally or externally. And funding that allows you to take on the challenge.
Need help building a go-to-market strategy, generating demand or running supporting marketing campaigns? Sometimes one conversation can ignite a spark that challenges your thinking. Book a call with Aamplify, we're ready to light the fire.