Top Takeaways on Early-Stage B2B Marketing


Panelists: Jake Braly - CMO,  Krisp; Ron Harnick - VP of Marketing, Endor Labs; Joe Andrews - CMO, SupportLogic

ModeratorAnne Gherini - CMO, Sierra Ventures


In the fast-paced marketing world, success hinges on staying ahead of the curve, aligning with sales, and creating a compelling narrative that resonates with your target audience. 


Sierra's Early-Stage Marketing masterclass featured diverse experts advising founders and early teams on increasing their impact through marketing. Joe Andrews, previously VP of Marketing at OODA, InsideView Technologies, and Director of Product Marketing at VMWare, specializes in narrative-driven marketing that highlights disruptive events and resonates with the target audience. Jake Braly, previous marketing leader at Highspot, Apptio, and Microsoft, excels in corporate marketing and category creation, with a keen eye for understanding market trends and adapting strategies. Ron Harnik, pulls on his expertise at Tastewise, Palo Alto Networks, and Spot by NetApp, showcasing his passion for brand-building and revenue generation through engaging campaigns and thought leadership-driven virtual events. Together, they provide invaluable insights into the dynamic marketing world and offer actionable strategies for sustainable growth.


Here are the top points made about early-stage marketing:


Product marketing is essential to building your foundation: Product marketing is the foundation of your marketing strategy and is crucial in the early stage. By understanding your market, creating detailed buyer personas, and crafting compelling messaging, you lay the groundwork for effective marketing campaigns through data-driven insights and iterative testing. Take the time to research your target audience, identify pain points, and tailor your marketing efforts to address their specific needs.


Develop a narrative: Shift the focus from describing product features to telling the story of the disruptive event or market shift that necessitates your product. Highlight the "why change" message to address the most prominent competition – the status quo. For an even more significant boost, align your narrative with major trends and extend your brand's reach to attract and retain an engaged audience. Hitching your brand to significant market shifts can accelerate your growth and amplify your message.


An early-stage marketing leader's job is REVENUE: All of your marketing channels need to be focused on revenue as a key goal. Product marketing and demand generation work together is this revenue-focused strategy to drive the best returns. Pipeline is not just sale's responsibility; it must be shared amongst the revenue team. 


Iterate on your demand generation strategies: Demand generation is not a one-and-done activity. It requires an iterative approach, constantly refining your strategies based on insights and data and embracing experimentation, and trying out new ideas, formats, and messaging to allow you to learn what resonates best with your target audience. A/B testing is a powerful tool in this regard, where you can compare two variations of a marketing asset to see which one performs better.


Data-driven decision-making is the backbone of successful marketing: Data will help you make informed decisions, understand potential demand, and accurately measure your campaigns' success. Metrics, such as conversion rates, click-through rates, and lead generation, provide valuable insights, and by regularly tracking these KPIs, you can identify what's working well and what needs improvement. In the early-stage, data is not abundant so marketers need to leverage the available data and be data-informed. 


Collaboration with the Revenue Team: Marketing, sales and CS alignment is fundamental for driving revenue. Collaborate closely with the sales team to establish shared KPIs and a unified approach to engaging prospects. When marketing and sales teams work harmoniously, they can create a seamless customer journey, improve lead quality, and ultimately increase revenue generation. Marketing leaders can foster alignment between these two departments by implementing shared KPIs, regular communication, collaborative lead nurturing, joint training, and technology integration.


Build and promote your brand identity: Corporate marketing plays a vital role in establishing your brand identity in the market. Develop a strong brand message, a compelling visual identity, and a consistent content strategy. PR events, content marketing, and market positioning are crucial components of corporate marketing that will elevate your brand's presence.


Balance short-term tactical efforts and long-term brand building: To create sustainable growth for their businesses, marketing leaders need to adapt to changing market conditions and customer preferences while preserving a focus on long-term goals; marketing leaders can navigate the complexities of modern marketing and propel their companies to thrive in the competitive landscape.


The experts reinforced that early-stage marketing is more than just demand generation. Marketing leaders must also lay a solid foundation with product marketing, brand identity, and go-to-market collaboration with sales. Success comes from agility, collaboration, and a commitment to delivering value to the company’s target audience.