In order to launch a new Salesforce consultancy from scratch, you must have a marketing and branding strategy in place. The brand and message are the cornerstones of every Salesforce consultancy. A strong message can create a strong brand, and with a strong brand comes a strong customer base.
In a brand-new Salesforce consulting firm, I was working with co-founders to build the business and the brand. Here’s my story of how we laid a marketing ops foundation from the ground up…
Where I Started
My opportunity to join the Salesforce ecosystem came about early in 2021, during the COVID crisis. I realized it would be very apt to start a Salesforce CRM consultancy during this period; several large clients recognized the opportunity to transform their businesses through digitization.
With clever marketing and branding, we managed to build a successful Salesforce consultancy in less than 12 months, growing in our first year from 1 to 20+ employees, plus external associates.
We managed to grow organically, not investing too much money in buying media space or publishing job ads for example. You can do a lot ‘for free’ by being very careful with your budget.
Marketing Within Marketing
Having a solid marketing strategy in place is the key to the success of any business. If you’re unable to market your business to the right audience and set up the foundation for growth, then you might as well consider your business almost dead.
We used the term “marketing” in a few different ways in our company. Our specialty was marketing automation using Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Another way to put this is that I was responsible for marketing in our team of marketers. Or, I was asked to establish general marketing operations within a marketing automation consultancy as part of my work as chief marketing officer (CMO). It sounds complicated, doesn’t it? There was some complexity, but it wasn’t impossible.
In a small start-up company, everybody pretty much does everything. So, we set up a marketing team and began working. My role as CMO was to be ready to take on any tasks while also thinking about general strategy at the same time. With this approach, you can develop every skill you will ever need.
These were some of our main activities:
- Developing a useful (SEO optimized) multilingual website: A website is one of the core foundations of your business. There you can present yourself as an organization that is really serious about its work, and it is a place to showcase achievements to potential clients.
- The clever use of social media: You can achieve a lot through social media without having to spend a penny! We used our socials to show the world how unique we were, while simultaneously emphasizing our expertise and specialization. With no costs, other than our own time, we were able to build a LinkedIn audience of 1600+ targeted Salesforce professionals.
- Events (online and on-site): Events such as conferences can be time-consuming and costly. Nevertheless, it is essential to carefully select events that will benefit your networking and lead generation, as well as your ability to meet potential future employees. There are a number of global and regional events organized by Salesforce itself, which offer opportunities to network with Salesforce representatives and to meet with other consultants. Events such as webinars and community meetups can also be very useful if you have a smaller budget.
- Internal (partner) relations with Salesforce: Proactively maintaining a great relationship with Salesforce is extremely important. In addition to sending you leads, their account executives may also cover some of the above-mentioned event costs for you if you have a solid relationship.
- Employer branding: The more employer branding you have in place, the less time and money you will need to spend listing job ads and screening CVs. Every tech consultancy needs developers and consultants, which are becoming harder to find. You should aim to create a situation where the best candidates approach you, rather than the other way around.
To do all this, you need to make sure that you build a marketing team that is nimble and dynamic. Whenever possible, you should use freelancers and agencies in addition to your internal team. With platforms such as Upwork, you can quickly and efficiently find experts for micro-projects that your internal team may be unable to complete.
In many cases, your overall brand will be your first point of contact with future customers or partners. The importance of getting it right cannot be overstated. Despite your best efforts, if your brand isn’t hitting the mark, your business will fail. The best brands are those that are trustworthy, inspiring, and engage with the consumers.
Having built our own brand, we were able to explain who we were to the world. This is how we did it:
- Be authentic and unique: In a sea of other brands, some of which are fierce competitors, you really have to stand out. Choosing a name for your company should be creative, but you don’t want to spend too much time on it. Once your audience becomes familiar with the name, it will grow. Think about names that (at first glance) seemed meaningless: Led Zeppelin. Haribo, or IKEA.
- Be relentless: It’s important to stick to your plans and only change strategy when there aren’t any other options. Grit and determination are the most important ingredients in the formula for success.
- Always be consistent with your brand and message: Being relentless requires that you know what you’re talking about. Setting a few keywords and slogans about your business is very helpful. Don’t be afraid to repeat them like a parrot.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat: While the repetition is intentionally ironic, it’s also here to emphasize. Repeating your brand messages constantly is so important. You want to be the only company they think of your specialization.
Management’s Support is Crucial
Marketing strategies are only effective when they are implemented with the CEO’s support and respect. There is no better scenario than a CEO who is able to present naturally in public and handle media relations (interviews, for example). But if this does not come naturally, then media and public speaking training is available – the benefits will undoubtedly be substantial.
In order to avoid any misunderstanding between the marketing department and the top management, it is essential to establish a proper business process mapping. The goal is to define key metrics to measure success and define the goals and objectives for each process.
Therefore, every part of your business process, whether it’s updating your website and social media or managing events, must identify the stakeholders. It is also very important to get feedback from all stakeholders. Ensure that everyone understands and agrees with your processes before laying them out.
Flowcharts or diagrams that describe all steps are usually part of business process mapping. But it isn’t necessary (especially in small consultancies), as long as everyone has a clear understanding of their roles.
Whenever possible, use the Salesforce platform internally. For example, we managed the entire marketing budget and planning using Salesforce, which made approval and reporting a lot easier. And make sure to let everyone know that you use Salesforce internally, as this is the foundation of your expertise!
Salesforce is Your Customer Too
As a consultancy, we tried to understand the inner workings of Salesforce. Salesforce is a huge corporation that employs more than 70,000 people. It has a vast and elaborate network of vice presidents, directors, and account executives (AEs). Each one covers certain territories, Salesforce products, industry verticals, and client sizes.
So we realized very early that we had to handle Salesforce as a client, with an account-based approach. On a daily basis, we worked on internal relations, and the people at the top of our company maintained relations with Salesforce representatives. This is all part of what we call Salesforce partner relationship management.
Brand building isn’t just about building your reputation among the general public or certain groups of experts or professionals. It is also about developing your own voice within Salesforce’s ecosystem and towards Salesforce executives. You must have a distinctive and recognizable brand within the Salesforce community.
Of course, the best way to do this is to score spectacular contracts. Even if you don’t have that, you can still do a lot by reminding everyone about your expertise, your great team, and your specializations that are hard to come by. Our Salesforce Marketing Cloud (Interaction Studio) specialization, for example, helped a lot, since there are not many experts available.
So, how do you find your best Salesforce friends?
- LinkedIn: You can create a great network and personal brand using LinkedIn. It’s the first place where you can search people by their company, titles, or sector to be able to find those that will be useful connections.
- Events: Attending Salesforce events is an excellent way to find like minded people as well as Salesforce executives. During the event, you’ll be able to rub shoulders with people you wouldn’t have otherwise known, especially at the large events like Dreamforce where people have traveled far and wide to attend.
- General research: To find out who can help you solve a certain issue, you can always use tools like email, direct messages, or the phone to contact people you have found online. There’s nothing wrong with some good old fashioned stalking!
The First 5 Things a CMO Should Do
- Understand that the business model and founders’ vision is crucial since this will shape your work.
- Be patient. You will need to do all the tasks at first (including making coffee and washing dishes) in order to lay the foundations to build a top marketing team.
- When assembling your team, don’t be too hasty. Work long hours in the beginning and do small tasks until you’re certain you’ve found the right people to relieve your tasks to – plus, be sure that the business can accommodate their compensation.
- Master the technologies that your company provides. Otherwise, how will you explain and sell them?
- Make sure you know your audience(s). If you don’t know the needs of your target groups, you can’t communicate and build your reputation. The same applies to earned media or mass media in general.
Salesforce is the leading and most powerful business cloud software solution available in the global market – you can harness this with your own consultancy. The branding and messages you portray are the cornerstones of every Salesforce consultancy, so you need to make sure that it is done correctly. Alongside this, you need the support of your management and to treat Salesforce like your customer. It’s important to have a strategy to make sure you benefit from it!