Jul 5, 2019

What Marketing Skills Does Your Tech Startup Need?

By Matt Dodgson

Co-Founder - Recruiter & Marketer

Creating a buzz. That’s what marketing is all about.

Some amazing tech products have failed because of a failure to create a demand for the product.

Take the Microsoft Zune, the contender to the iPod. Microsoft didn’t push the product enough (which got great reviews), and it suffered as a consequence.

Moving on, let’s say you’re in the promotion mindset.


However, while you’ve made the correct decision, you need to consider the marketing skills you need to create a buzz.

Firstly, have you defined your strategy?

If you’re taking a defined approach, you’ll need the skills that relate to that approach.

If you’re practising agile marketing you’ll need a team with a varied skillset, which you can pick from the skills pool below.

Here are some marketing styles you can consider, along with specific tactics and skills that relate to them.

You also need to consider the golden rule of hiring a tech marketer, which we’ll discuss after.

1. Relationship Marketing

Relationship marketing is about, you guessed it, building positive relationships.

Here are some relationship marketing tactics:

  • Influencer marketing — using industry experts to help sell your products. For example, Wix used tech YouTuber iJustine and model Karlie Kloss in their YouTube campaigns.
  • Employee advocacy — using employees to market your company. For example, Adobe’s Social Shift Program educates company employees on the company’s social media guidelines, shares best practices for their social sharing and helps them to become brand ambassadors.

If you think relationship marketing is how you should promote your tech company, here are the skills your marketer should possess:


If your tech startup is going to make friends, it needs to be attractive to potential suitors.

Think about when you meet someone new and you want to make a good impression, that’s what branding is.

You need a marketer who can help you determine what values you uphold, what your mission is, and how you help people.

They also need to know how to deliver this through the use of language, design, and the marketing tactics we discussed above.

Marketing for B2B Tech Startups – The Complete Guide

Social Media

Social media is where most brands make their connections these days, and if you’re using influencer marketing, you should harness social media platforms.

Your marketer should be skilled at paid and organic social media, as well as creating an online community for your company advocates to share their knowledge and opinions, such as an online forum or a Facebook group.

For example, Java Forums has over 400,000 posts on Java technology. If you can create a ‘home’ for your customers to share knowledge they can help each other, which saves you a job!

Should Your Startup Use It?

A positive aspect of relationship marketing is that it creates strong bonds with your customers, who become advocates of your brand and continue to buy from you.

A negative aspect of relationship marketing is negative press, mistreat your customers and staff and they’ll speak badly about your business.

You need to commit to constant improvement and listen to feedback.

We’d advise all startups to focus on relationship marketing, but focus on getting customers first.

2. Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing is all about setting up your tech startup as an attractive proposition, rather than going around hounding people with interruptive outbound marketing (random phone calls, repetitive radio ads).

The philosophy is attract (offer value before you extract value), engage (make it easy and pleasurable to browse and buy), and delight (customer success is your success).

Here are some inbound marketing tactics:

  • Buyer personas — semi-fictional representations of your customers, containing more information that target markets and audiences, like goals and challenges.
  • Content marketing — inbound is the philosophy; buyer personas are the recipients; content is what you send the recipient to convert them, e.g. blogs, videos, guides.

Here are some inbound marketing skills your tech marketer should possess:

Audience Analysis

Inbound marketers need a solid understanding of their audience because it’s all about solving problems and helping people achieve goals.

You may want your marketer to have experience using Google Analytics for audience insights, survey creation, one-to-one interviews or focus groups; you can also look at social analytics on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Your marketer should have experience analysing secondary research such as research papers, books and articles.

Content Creation

If you want to attract business or people to your tech startup, you need to focus on generating content that interests them. An inbound tech marketer will have experience of doing this.

Think about what skills you need the most, if your marketing strategy contains 80% video, you’re going to need a videographer, if it’s 90% blogging, you’ll need a writer.

Whoever the marketer is, they’ll have to create content for various stages of the inbound journey, so they’ll need a clear understanding of it.

Should I Use Inbound Marketing?

A positive aspect of inbound marketing is that it’s focused on helping the right people, rather than making more sales.

Inbound is crucial where you’re building partnerships, not transactional relationships.

A negative aspect of inbound marketing is that it takes time for content to rank on Google, and for you to nurture clients through your marketing funnel (12-24 months in some cases!).

We think all tech startups should have an inbound mindset, but you should combine it with quicker lead generation techniques like PPC and paid social for some quick wins.

3. Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is using any form of digital promotion to generate more leads, with the exclusion of offline marketing, of course.

Digital became a popular form of advertising as electronic devices and the internet became popular. It’s now the number one form of advertising.

Here are some digital marketing tactics:

  • SEO — grouped into three types: online, offline and technical. Online is how well your pages are optimised, offline is how many other websites site your pages as reputable sources (backlinks), and technical is how well your website is managed (robots, meta descriptions).
  • Website — a website has more than one function, its sole purpose isn’t to look nice. How does it function? What’s the user journey like? Is it easy for someone to find out what you do?

Here are the skills you’ll need in a phenomenal digital marketer:

Technology-Driven Mindset

We’ve never heard of a digital marketer that’s scared of technology, but not all embrace it.

For example, a content writer needs an internet browser, word processing tool and a grammar checker todo their job, not exactly cutting-edge, huh?

You need a digital marketer that lives and breathes tech, you win twice if you find one.

You get someone who wants to advance the martech in your marketing department, as well as someone that’s passionate about technology.

Analytics Skills

The beauty of digital is that everything can be measured, from blog hits to organic keywords.

Your digital marketer should not fear analytics, but embrace them.

Analytics tech marketers how to do their job better, and make them accountable for the campaigns they’ve delivered.

Should I Use Digital Marketing?

A positive of digital marketing is that it’s cost-effective, you can measure your ROI because everything is trackable.

A negative of digital marketing is that it’s easy to copy, so trends catch on quickly and people reproduce them.

Should you use digital marketing? Yes. That’s the short but definitive answer. If you develop any of the marketing strategies we’ve listed, there’s a good chance you’ll be using digital anyway.

4. Direct Marketing

Direct marketing is selling directly to the customer without using retailers, distributors or advertising middlemen.

It’s designed to maximise sales, prevent outsourcing and target consumers by putting an offer ‘directly’ in front of them.

So, whereas inbound and relationship require ‘awareness marketing’ to generate interest, direct marketing goes straight for the conversion.

Here are some direct marketing tactics:

  • Leaflets — print marketing material that’s designed to get the person’s attention as they walk through their door. For example, an accounting software company Sage developed this leaflet to show how their business can prevent ‘accounting headaches’.
  • SMS — sending texts to customers to get them to perform a specific action. In 2016, Lookers sent out texts to 80,000 customers, costing £1,800. The text was a personalised ticket with an offer on certain vehicles. They sold £74,000 worth of cars as a result. Read more here.

Here are the skills you’ll need in a phenomenal direct marketer:

Revenue Driven-Mindset

Direct marketers will differ from inbound marketers; they’ll be more like salespeople in the way they market.

Although maintaining positive relationships is part of this strategy, the main aim of it is to get the sale.

Every decision they make will be based on whether a customer will buy or not. Whether that’s the language they use, the platform they market on or the way they approach customers.

Interpersonal Skills

There’s more chance direct marketers will be out and about liaising with the public or spending time on the phone, so they have to be able to build rapport with people.

For example, there’s a debate on whether you should adopt an inbound mentality when trying to sell over the phone, or use traditional cold calling techniques.

What we can say is, both styles do work, the marketer needs to find what works best for them and adapt styles if they need to.

Should You Use Direct Marketing?

A positive aspect of direct marketing is that it’s product-focused, so your market will know exactly why your product or service benefits them, and how to get it.

A negative aspect of direct marketing is that it’s intrusive, people may not want or need what you’re providing, and you’re telling them they do.

Direct marketing is better suited to B2C customers, as they’re more likely to make snap decisions. B2B companies make slower, more informed choices.

5. Guerilla Marketing

Guerilla marketing is designed to generate interest by surprise.

It focuses on creating a positive public image to build trust with prospects.

Guerilla marketing aims to trigger emotional responses; think about the charity TV ad that made you cry.

You can use any strategy for this type of marketing, but here are a couple of our favourites:

  • YouTube/TV — some TV ads are created with the element of surprise in mind, think Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV ads. Most of these ads are available on YouTube as well.
  • Social media — the ALS ice bucket challenge, everyone was doing it. Did everyone know why? No. But it increased donations from $1.7 million in 2013 to $11.4 million in 2014.

Here are some skills you’ll need for guerilla marketing:

Idea Generation

If you want to start a guerilla marketing campaign, you’ll need someone that can generate abstract, visual or concrete ideas, communicate them to the necessary stakeholders, then develop and deliver them.

If the idea is going to surprise or shock your audience, it needs to be something original.

If you do something someone’s already done, you’re missing the point.

A successful ‘idea generator’ will be able to identify problems and opportunities, refine and reevaluate that idea, validate and test it, then implement it.

Validation and testing are crucial with guerilla marketing, as a small testing pool can often determine whether a campaign will be a success.

Public Relations

You’ll need to be a PR expert if you want to succeed with guerilla marketing. One wrong marketing move could damage the reputation of the company.

You’ll need to be honest, have excellent presentation and communication skills, and be able to multi-task in a high-pressure environment.

A successful guerilla marketing campaign will always have public perception in mind.

Should You Use Guerilla Marketing?

A positive of guerilla marketing is that you have to be creative, and that’s what marketing is all about.

A negative of guerilla marketing is that your message may be misunderstood and you risk alienating your brand.

Also, once we’ve seen something once, it’s no longer a surprise.

We think guerilla marketing is a brilliant way for startup companies to show people how fun and creative they are, but you need a long-term strategy as well.

What’s the Golden Rule of Looking for a Tech Marketer?

Tech. Tech. And more tech!

You wouldn’t employ a marketer for a construction business if they had absolutely no interest in construction, experience in the industry or desire to work in it.

A tech marketer will be obsessed with new marketing platforms, new technology like AR and VR, and trying any new emerging technologies.

You may want to look for additional skills like implementing new systems or tech, and taking technology ideas from inception to delivery.

With that in mind, are you ready to look for a tech marketer?

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