How to create a marketing strategy for a corporate scaleup

Corporate ventures need to adapt their marketing strategy as they scale. Learn how to do it in this article.

After months of tireless testing and iterations, you finally have the green light to start scaling your corporate venture. For many intrapreneurs and corporate innovators, this phase feels like a much-anticipated finish line - the ultimate success milestone. However, the truth is, the real work is just beginning. 

During the scaleup phase, you’ll be tackling a whole new set of challenges, including growing your team, automating processes, building partnerships, and of course, creating a scaleup marketing strategy. 

But, if your marketing efforts were already successful, why should they have to change?

Well, for one thing, evolving from a startup to a scaleup means you’ll have to start positioning yourself differently within your market. You’re trying to go from “scrappy challenger brand” to “established player”, and your marketing strategy needs to reflect that. This will entail adapting your messaging, look and feel to appeal to a broader customer base.

In most cases, this will require a marketing reboot, complete with testing and quite a few iterations, before you find your sweet spot. To give you a better idea of how to create a marketing strategy for your scaleup, we’ve provided some key tips below. 

Tip 1. Align your marketing efforts with your expansion strategy

International expansion to new markets is a common ambition among corporate scaleups. However, this type of expansion can be challenging with many variables impacting your marketing efforts:

  • Cultural differences from country to country 
  • Legal and governmental requirements
  • Disparate time zones
  • Physical distance and its impact on logistics

These are just a few of the ways your marketing efforts will be affected:

Speed

With every new country you add, your efforts will increase exponentially because you’ll need to factor in all the points mentioned above, e.g.:

  • Marketing experiments will need to be tweaked 
  • Websites need to be translated 
  • Every new ad or post will have to be adjusted 
  • You’ll be collaborating with new country managers, so factor in time for their feedback

This will significantly reduce your operational speed.

Budget

Expanding to new international markets can be quite expensive, especially in the beginning because it takes time and resources to build up awareness. The more countries you add, the higher the budget.

Market presence

Building up your presence in a new market happens through continuous repetition. You’ll need a lot of impressions and interactions with the target audience to build up your recognizability. Keep in mind that the time, resources and focus you’ll need to succeed will increase with every country you add.

At Bundl, we’re not a fan of “oil spill expansion”. Instead, we recommend a springboard approach in which you start with one country, build your presence there and only then start to expand to neighbouring countries. This continues until you’ve covered the entire continent and are ready to grow beyond. Keep in mind we don’t mind picking a country in each continent, but we do advise trying to tackle whole continents at once (on a country-by-country basis). 

Tip 2. Implement growth loops instead of funnels

Traditional marketing funnels prompt acquisition through various activities like paid search ads and content creation, in most cases activating new users through a contact form or sign-up. Under this system: 

  • Retention is tracked through return visits or return business
  • Profits are tracked by looking at the average revenue per customer (ARPU)

Lastly, customers are asked to refer their network, in many cases in exchange for an incentive. Despite their popularity, funnels come short in a variety of ways:

The approach is siloed

Funnels tend to encourage separate responsibilities for different departments (e.g. marketing is in charge of acquisition, sales is in charge of revenue and product development is in charge of retention). This can inhibit collaboration and broader wins.

They’re hard and expensive to maintain

In order to succeed, funnels constantly need to be fed with new inputs, which need to be acquired through paid ads, new content and social media activities. All costly and time-consuming activities that add to your customer acquisition costs.  

Growth is linear

Funnels require a steady flow of inputs and produce linear growth. This pays off in the short-term, but eventually puts a cap on your long-term growth. 

In contrast, growth loops foster organic, exponential growth by “looping” your outputs (normally discarded in a funnel) back in with your inputs. To show you how growth loops work in practice, let's take a look at a real-world example from Airbnb:

Some of the benefits of using loops include:

  • Better cross-departmental collaboration
  • More sustainable and organic growth
  • They tend to be unique to your business, making it harder for competitors to copy them

Tip 3. Bring in the right talent

Most startups operate with lean teams and flat hierarchies, where everyone does a bit of marketing here and there. These teams are usually made up of creative people with an appetite for problem-solving. These traits make them perfectly suited to build a company from scratch, hustling to get in those first few customers.

However, now that your venture is about to scale, it’s a good time to start building up your internal capabilities with complementary team members. Look for profiles with expertise in areas like SEO, paid acquisitions and content marketing. Adding these valuable skills to your team will enable you to optimise all the winning experiments from previous phases and build on them during the scale phase.

A good place to start is by hiring your chief marketing officer (CMO). Once he or she is on board, you can proceed to hire the rest of the marketing team together. By having your new CMO approve all new team members, you’ll ensure a more streamlined and cohesive team environment.  

Tip 4. Focus on customer experience

Customer experience boils down to the “perception” your customers have before, during, and after they engage with your business. So naturally, the way you market to them plays a big role in whether or not they choose for a competitor, make a purchase or give you any return business. Happy customers can also become valuable advocates for your business, leading to organic growth.

Here are just a few ways you can use marketing to enrich your customer experience:

  • Engage your customers by becoming a thought leader
  • “How to” articles
  • Video tutorials
  • Case studies and examples that engage
  • Leverage social media to create a sense of community and customer loyalty 
  • Engage your customers by staying active in various channels
  • Always respond to your customer questions and comments
  • Create a convenient onboarding experience
  • Automate the onboarding process where possible
  • Make sure all information is available, quickly accessible and easy to consume
  • Make sure your values and messaging is consistent 
  • In ads
  • Physical stores
  • Social media channels
  • Your website 

Tip 5. Keep testing, measuring and learning

Much like the startup phase, your chances of scaleup success will be greatly increased through continuous validation and data-led decisions. Make sure to establish concrete success metrics and KPIs early on in the process of creating your new marketing strategy, so you can track them and quickly pivot if something isn’t working.   

Here are a few things you can expect:

  • Your paid acquisition costs will increase during the scaleup phase. So optimising your channels, bringing in new experts and refining your campaigns will be worth it. 
  • Proven tactics from previous phases are a good way to forecast your KPIs (If you don’t have any proven tactics yet, you’re not ready to scale). Your stakeholders and investors will thank you for making accurate predictions based on past successes.  
  • During the scale phase, you’ll be growing your team, which will result in an influx of new personalities. In most cases, this will require you and your team to overcome a variety of new operational challenges. A close working relationship between your general manager (GM) and your business development representative (BDR) will help smooth the process. 
  • Take a “squeezing the lemon” approach to launching new experiments. That first squeeze doesn’t get much juice. The second time you squeeze it, a lot more juice comes out. It’s going to work the same way when you launch your new experiments. They’ll work in the beginning, but they’ll only reach their full potential later on. So keep squeezing. 

As explained by our Venture Hub Lead and Chapter Lead in Growth, Gilles Waterschoot:

“Prioritisation is always important, but it becomes vital when you scale a venture. During the launch, a little messiness is permitted to get your first customers and test your product, onboarding and backend. However, now that you’ve got your foundations in place and are ready to scale, you should put laser focus on scaling your winning experiments. No excuses. ‘Squeeze the lemon’ as they say”. 

Final thoughts

Perfecting your marketing strategy is no easy task. There’s no one right way to do it and it can take a while before you’re able to reach your goals. But don’t be discouraged! By starting small, listening to your customers and following the tips above, you’ll significantly increase your chances of success.  

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Looking to take your venture to the next level? We can help you build a clear, measurable, and automated scaleup strategy to boost profits at light speed. 

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