TLDR: Even companies with no marketing generate marketing insights. You just need to know where to look and how to unlock them.
Every company – from a fledgling startup to a Fortune 500 – does marketing.
It’s obvious with the latter group. They’re the ones booking the biggest booths at every event or pumping out a dozen blog posts every day.
With the former it can be a little more discreet. Unintentional, even. But it’s happening.
If the CEO is posting on LinkedIn… marketing.
If the company offers a free trial of their product… marketing.
If sales are sending out cold prospecting emails… yep, even that is marketing.
Look at early-stage companies the world over and tactics like these are in play, often before a marketer even walks through the front door.
Why? Because they’re instinctive. Or they require minimal effort. Or they’re a necessity.
Often all three. Yes, they can be uncoordinated and limited in their effectiveness.
But they can also be treasure troves of information for a first marketing hire tasked with building a strategy from scratch.
I call them my Fortuitous Touchpoints – or FTs for short.
The trick comes in unlocking the insights they hold. And building a system that allows these insights to be delivered to you on a recurring basis.
Unfortunately there is no analytical tool that captures the insights of FTs.
In the early days, it requires a clear understanding of what it is you want to understand, who is best placed to give you that information, where the data can be captured and how to make that regular knowledge transfer as seamless as possible.
Here’s how I once approached it.
Joining a new company as the first marketing hire, I was painfully uninformed on the trigger that prompted customers to seek out a solution like the one we offered.
Our target market was small – relatively speaking – and largely inaccessible from a research standpoint. We were hitting CEOs of BIG companies who had no interest in giving me their time to answer buyer persona questions.
Colleagues did their best to bring me up to speed. But this second-hand always risks being skewed based on the personal experience and prejudices of the individual.
I needed to get as close to the customer as I could, without ever talking to them. So, I turned to the people who were – my sales team.
Every day, a dozen or so colleagues were reaching out to our target base to identify a need for our product. Our response rate was good. Contact was turning into conversations.
And an opportunity for me to close my knowledge gap.
Working with our Head of Sales, I incorporated a single question into our opening pitch: “why is this a priority for you now?”
Every salesperson in every initial conversation with a customer was tasked with asking this question and noting down the answer to share on a recurring monthly call.
It sounds simple because it is simple – and effective. Not only did it generate killer insights for me that influenced our overall positioning; it created valuable connections within the sales team that paid dividends many times over.
So, remember this framework when attempting to unlock your FTs.
> What do you want to understand? For me, it was prospective customer motivation.
> Who is best placed to give you the info? My sales colleagues.
> Where can the information be captured? One targeted question in every sales pitch.
> How to establish knowledge transfer? Monthly recurring insights meeting.
Even companies with no marketing generate marketing insights. You just need to know where to look and how to unlock them.