Years ago, when I started working for a startup independent software vendor (ISV), I was a late-blooming copywriter. It was 1995, and widescale use of the Internet was spreading. I saw the opportunity to brand the company I was working for at a fraction of the cost of a print ad in a B2B publication and proceeded to build my first website.
Understanding what Inbound was going to be, I set out to drive as much traffic to the new website as the budget would allow. Back then we had a different method to the madness (which it truly was) of Inbound – send out postcards or letters through the USPS, use CRM and an inside sales team to call as many prospects as possible giving info and a link to the new site, and finally (and fruitlessly) paying an unholy sum of money to get a banner ad on a B2B publication.
The CEO of the Point of Sale company I worked for couldn’t envision the forecasted return I posed for the budget I was looking to get, but in good faith, we proceeded to do the first online marketing campaigns of my career. Knowing that any money spent needed to be reported on, we proceeded to create the best CRM system with lead tracking that was available at the time – “ACT!”.
Sales results from our marketing were mixed because of how poorly we sourced lead activity, and leads came from four or five different sources. But ultimately, we could say we had a website that went from zero traffic to quite a bit of traffic in a short period of time.
This story is not one of SEO or web analytics, for these things didn’t exist in 1995. What I really needed in 1995 was a team of resources to help me with all the things I wanted to do in marketing. We were a small company just getting into the POS marketplace, competing with industry giants such as IBM, Systems, and NCR.
I needed a big marketing and branding presence, but I was just a copywriter. Naturally, I asked for a nicer computer and proceeded to teach myself to use Adobe Photoshop, PageMaker, QuarkXpress, and Macromedia Freehand and Flash. We need to tell good stories about customer experiences, so I studied PR and media relations and started scratching the surface of business journalism.
In a few short years, I carved out a nice employee niche for ISVs as an entire marketing department hire in a single resource. I didn’t realize how good my employers had it as I wrote copy, designed ads, booth signage, and built websites from a single desktop. But my options were few and far between, given my budget.
The Pragmatic Solution to Your Marketing Team
Does it really make sense for an ISV to hire a team of marketing people after a round of funding or a big sale? Perhaps not. A single marketing leadership FTE could be as much as $200k per year (total compensation package) and they’ll need some admin help, even if to share with the sales lead. As a budding, hopefully growing ISV, you might be in for $250,000 for a resource that you’re still going to have to educate on how your customers buy products.
And frankly, ISV isn’t for everyone. You’re going to have to find the right employee that thrives in that type of your environment and gets along with your other startup personalities. And this is if they stick around and don’t take the enterprise software dollars which will likely be available to them after you spend the precious time and money training them in software literacy.
Today, most ISVs don’t have enough capital to invest in a quarter million dollars for the mere beginnings of a marketing team. They might not have enough budget for even a single marketing resource. To compete with the software giants selling to the Fortune 1000, today’s ISV does need a little bit of a lot of different things – marketing strategist, PR agency, graphic/web design, AR consultant, and SEO. You just don’t need these all the time.
So, should you hire them on or try to find the FTE that can do it all like I used to do 20 years ago? Sure, there are online job sourcing sites for contractors, but you still have the unknown of employee stickiness and the technology subject matter expertise problem.
I didn’t know it at the time I started my business, but Perri Marketing, Inc. solves this problem with an offering we call Marketing as a Service. We offer a team of marketing resources – copywriters, designers, social media experts, campaign managers – from a single contracted resource that you can turn on or off, on-demand, much like you’d procure SaaS or IT as a Service.
Our team is comprised of professionals who work on nothing but technology-business content for marketing automation systems and yes, we sell marketing automation too. We can drop a team of technology marketing professionals into a startup ISV at about a third of the cost of hiring a marketing director or marketing VP and sales & marketing admin. If you need an injection of tech marketing expertise and the content to help your sales team sell, please contact us today for a complimentary 30-minute ISV sales and marketing evaluation.
To learn more about our marketing philosophy and experience check out our whitepaper titled “The Expanding Role (and Budget) of Today’s CMO and 5 Critical Success Factors.”