Pipeline Marketing, All the Cool Kids Do It
Growth hacking, funnels, MLM marketers, etc, etc, etc.
Marketers are pros at coming up with flashy new terms to describe methods for marketing businesses. Pipeline marketing is another one of these terms, but admittedly… it’s not bad.
In this blog post, I’m going cover what Pipeline Marketing means, how it’s used, and takeaways for you to make smarter decisions about your marketing operations.
Summary: What’s Pipeline Marketing?
Pipeline Marketing is the process of reviewing Closed Won deals in your sales pipeline. Marketers identify demographics about decision-makers, and how the deal came together.
Next, the marketing team reviews ways the experience could have been improved. They create the resources, programs, and campaigns to encourage similar behaviour on a larger scale.
That’s about it.
But who really cares?
In short, your sales team. There’s often a disconnect between sales and marketing because sales has more insight to the micro-level details about a deal’s structure; marketing makes assumptions based on data, but it’s not as granular. As a result, sales people tend to resent the projects that marketing takes on.
Pipeline Marketing bridges sales and marketing and places emphasis on creating marketing projects that directly relate to the development of a sale.
How’s it Different from “Growth Hacking” and “Funnel Building”?
Growth Hacking, a term coined by Sean Ellis, has been very polarizing to the marketing industry. On the startup-level, founders love Sean and his approach to ‘hack’ quick wins that drive traction in their business. On the professional side, marketers view Sean’s approach as ‘janky’ suggesting these “Growth Hacks” aren’t sustainable. Some professionals even go as far to describe “Growth Hackers” as lazy people who take shortcuts (at work and in life).
Funnel Building, a term coined by Russell Brunson of ClickFunnels, has been the dominating approach to marketing for the years 2016 and 2017. Funnel Building is focused on top-of-funnel operations and how marketers can develop creative processes for lead capture. Participants of Russell’s ClickFunnels community will be familiar with such tactics as the 2-part order form, free + shipping book, and million-dollar webinar script.
Pipeline Marketing flips the funnel and focuses on the bottom-of-funnel operations. The focus is on driving sales with lookalike leads and prospects. Pipeline Marketing is not viewed as a janky process, and fits well between the beliefs of professional marketers and mediocre marketers.
Ultimately, we don’t need these words to dictate how we do our jobs. As a marketer, your job is to build brand awareness and generate qualified leads. It’s nothing new to the industry, just forgotten. Pipeline Marketing is a concept that reinforces the understanding of a marketer’s role.
Pipeline Marketing focuses on bottom-of-funnel operations and your closed won sales deals. The goal is to drive sales with lookalike leads and prospects.
How to do Pipeline Marketing
If you want to Pipeline Marketing right, you’re going to need data about your customers. Here are 5 steps I suggest for learning about your customers:
1. Generate a List of Your Customers from the Most Recent Completed Quarter.
Go to your CRM and generate a list of your customers from the most recent quarter. Select 30 customers at random and setup a time with your Customer Success Manager (CSM). With your CSM, review which customers are most ideal. The CSM will have insights to particular products they’ve purchased, when they purchased, why, how well their team works, etc.
Only keep the best customers in your dataset for the next analysis. You can remove the others from your list.
2. Look for Patterns Among Your Best Customers.
From your CRM list, export your most ideal customers. When exporting, you can select to include all properties about the company and their staff. Open the CSV file in Google Sheets and dive in.
In B2B models, some characteristics are more significant than others. For example, if you’re a business selling products/services between $1,000 and $5,000, you’ll want to pay attention to properties like Company Size, Number of Employees, Estimated Annual Revenue, etc.
If you want to get more detailed, use a tool like BuiltWith to identify the softwares and technologies a company is using. Maybe your best customers all use Hubspot.
Here is a short list of patterns you might want to look for:
- Company Size, Number of Employees, Estimated Annual Revenue, Industry
- Organizational Culture, Structure, Team
- Job Title, Decision-Maker, Leadership Style, Personality (e.g. Patient, Formal, etc.)
- Economic Interests (country-conscious purchasing), Security Standard
- Technology Used
- Products and Services Purchased
- Campaigns, Programs
- Social Media Accounts (LinkedIn content versus Instagram/Facebook content)
3. Create a Profile of Your Company’s Ideal Buyer.
Congratulations. You found the answer, but now it’s time to paint it gold for all to see.
If you keep your buyer profile only visible to your marketing team, your prospecting and brand awareness will never reach its full potential.
Make sure you articulate the buyer persona to everyone in the company. Make sure they understand who it is your firm targets, what size they are, etc. Work out the messaging, technology, and motion for which a company does business with you.
For example, my clients are small businesses that use Hubspot for their marketing operations. They typically have 6-10 people on their marketing team and run multiple campaigns to increase brand awareness and to generate new leads for their sales department. Normally, clients can afford to spend $5,000 per month for my team’s services.
4. Build an Experience like Walt Disney Himself
Get your best minds together and create an experience unlike that of any competitor in your industry.
How did your ideal clients find you? How could that experience have been improved? These are the things you need to answer and develop.
Luckily, you don’t need to start from scratch; you can learn from the best. Disney University wrote a book called “Be Our Guest”. It shows Disney’s framework for delivering a best-of-class customer experience. While you likely won’t want to make your startup the next Walt Disney World, there are some good concepts in the book that can help you shape a winning strategy.
5. Measure – You Don’t Do This Enough
Don’t pat yourself on the back for your shiny new “Pipeline Marketing Strategy”. Create it, implement it, and get it off the ground. Once you’re airborne, do a systems check to ensure everything is running smoothly; optimize and refine.
Pipeline Marketing focuses on bottom-of-funnel closed won customers. It’s not like growth hacking (shortcuts and janky one-off solutions) and it’s not like funnel-building (focusing on top-of-funnel activities).
Start with an assessment of your ideal customers to identify who they are. Once you have this, analyze how they found out about your company (Lead Source for all you Salesforce folks).
Build a profile of who runs the business, what their businesses typically look like, and what would be a normal way for them to learn about your company.
Get your marketing team together with some input from sales and customer success to develop an award-winning customer experience. Reverse your sales funnel and focus on the campaigns and programs that will turn average leads into champion users. Scale it up even more to create outstanding lead generation campaigns.
Measure! Set a date in your calendar for 6-weeks out and use that time to review any challenges or frustrations with the customer experience.
There’s a lot of marketers wishing they could tackle projects like these. If you are in the unique position where you can actually make this happen, you’re already ahead of the majority! You got this!