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When a start-up makes the leap from series A to B funding, it places a lot of pressure on the company’s marketing capabilities.

At this stage in the start-up journey, investors expect more structure and more obvious professionalism in marketing. You can no longer build your marketing effort solely or mainly around your founders and their vision. 

The time for scrappy, ad-hoc communications is over. Now, you need structure, not just in brand identity, but in your messaging guidelines, your product marketing, your demand generation, your relationship with your channel and other partners — and more.  

We call this the series-B marketing great leap forward. Here’s what it looks like: 

  • Brand marketing: you need a structured brand identity and tone of voice. It doesn’t have to be a 50-page guide to every element of branding, but it needs to cover the basics – and it needs a control system to prevent deviation but allow evolution 
  • Revenue marketing: your product should now be defined as something separate from your company; your target segments and your marketing plan should be clearly defined and your demand engine somewhat proven and reliable 
  • Marketing communications: you should have comms planned for multiple personas across each key point on the customer journey – and across multiple channels. 

Often, by this stage in their lifecycle, the start-up’s Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) has at least a small, dedicated team to work with.  

In one sense, this is a blessing. The CMO has help to hand. But it can also be a curse. Having previously done the marketing themselves, the founders hand over to the CMO, dust off their hands and think ‘job done’. 

This completely underestimates the marketing challenge facing the CMO as they take the start-up from its series A to its series B funding round. 

The series-B marketing great leap forward 

The series-B funding round is a key stage on the start-up marketing investment maturity path, running from pre-seed to series-D. At each stage, the challenges associated with convincing investors, securing funding and hitting growth targets are unique.

The series-B CMO has a huge job to do. They must create a branding, marketing and communications vehicle that’s almost as comprehensive, data-driven, accountable and effective as anything a corporate would produce.  

Among other things, that means: 

  • Taking the disparate, ad-hoc branding elements the start-up has created, making them consistent and filling in any gaps to build a comprehensive brand identity. 
  • Building data-based audience segmentation and then creating marketing campaigns, with measurable success metrics, for each segment. 
  • Marketing the marketing model to potential investors, clearly demonstrating how it will enable the start-up to achieve growth and revenue goals. 

You can’t just hand over some blog posts, email templates, the keys to your website and then tell the CMO, “best of luck”. That’s how you set your CMO up to fail. 

What do we mean by fail? Not showing enough revenue growth. Not having the time or headspace to develop a proper market understanding. And not having the tools they need to scale fast enough. And these are all among the top-five reasons why CMOs get fired1.

To find out more about the marketing investment maturity path, check out our infographic. 

Give your CMO what they need to master the series-B transition

To avoid this outcome and the damage it can do to your company as it heads into its series-B funding round, you need to give the CMO the tools, technologies, and team they need.  

For most start-ups, it’s unlikely that it will be economical, or speedy enough, to do this in-house. Building the right team, with the right mix of skills, and putting together the best mix of marketing tools, will take too long and cost too much. 

The answer is to partner with an outside specialist. A b2b or b2c tech marketing agency that specialises in branding, marketing and communications for start-ups can give your CMO instant access to everything they need to win new customers, grow revenue, and convince investors.  

The right agency will work with you to identify exactly the marketing tools you do and — and don’t — need for your series-B funding round. It will help you develop exactly the mix of branding, marketing and communications your company needs to achieve its current goals and to give it a platform fit for future growth and evolution. 

The Rubicon Agency has three decades of business and consumer tech marketing experience working with both start-ups and some of the world’s leading established technology brands. 

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