Article

Ignore the Bottom of the Funnel: The Path to B2B Revenue for Seed-Stage Startups

The Million Dollar Question

How do you maximize your B2B startup’s revenue growth while spending an optimal amount of money on marketing and sales? That is the million-dollar question that every new venture has to grapple with. Most B2B founders start by focusing on direct outreach to their network and introductions, which is the right thing to do. But even with the biggest network, you will quickly exhaust this channel.

Many B2B CEOs think that the next thing they should do is hire an expensive salesperson and expect them to magically get them paying customers. In some cases, this is the way to go, but for most, the question remains: who will they talk to? You have no inbound leads, none of your target audience knows your name, and at best, you have LinkedIn Sales Navigator or Apollo to create a few lists and cold email campaigns. You can barely call this an outreach strategy.

Because founders have to wear so many hats, they need to do the activities that have the highest return on investment. This leads them to skip over the Awareness stage of the funnel because it is hard to see and measure the impact on revenue generation. 

This is where everything goes wrong.

Skipping your Top of Funnel (TOFU) activities makes every other stage of the funnel 10x harder. If your target audience isn’t aware of you, hasn’t built trust in your expertise, and doesn’t understand the value that your company brings, you’re going to have to accomplish all of that in one single cold email. Good luck with that. You will be forced to compete only at the bottom of the funnel, which is where every single one of your competitors is pouring their money. This is the fiercest part of the funnel and the part you are least equipped to win.

The secret that most B2B founders don’t know is that TOFU activities don’t have to be as overwhelming as they are made out to be. If you properly operationalize these activities, use modern tools, and apply the right frameworks, these essential steps will be some of the easiest tasks you can do in a day.

Map Your Target Market

Using tools like PhantomBuster, Apify, and Databricks, you can build a comprehensive database of your target audience. Building a list from a few keyword searches on LinkedIn Sales Navigator isn’t enough anymore, and your CRM isn’t powerful enough to be a data warehouse. You need to take it further.

For example, you might know 5 of the most important conferences in your industry that everybody goes to. You crawl the agenda for each of those to build a list of all the speakers. Then, you crawl the LinkedIn networks of those speakers to create a comprehensive list of the most influential people in your industry. Then, you can scrape the people who follow and comment on all of these posts to find out who is actively engaging on the topic that is relevant to what your company sells. You might then enrich this list with contact information (emails, phones) so you can run a coordinated, omnichannel campaign to these people to generate awareness. Then, create a contact list of the people who engaged with your awareness campaign (opened emails, clicked on links, visited your website) and start calling them. Such well-targeted audiences give you 1 customer out of 100 contacts, whereas with untargeted campaigns, you may need to reach out to 10,000 contacts to get 1 customer.

Mapping your market gives you the ability to be far more strategic with your limited bandwidth. You can segment your target market to understand what opportunities are the most relevant to you in the short vs long term. 

And once you know WHO you are going after, it is much easier to decide WHAT you need to say to them. Content is king; if you don’t have thought leadership content, all your outreach will not move the needle.

Thought Leadership Content Made Easy

Generating and distributing a high volume of high-quality content is by far the cheapest way to build awareness. The more consistent, unique, and value-driven you are, the more your audience will trust and respect you. By the time you first make contact with them,  they’ll already know and love you. Closing the sale will be simply focused on configuring the best possible product for their needs. 

The challenge is the bandwidth it takes to accomplish this. Many founders are turning to generative AI for help, but they quickly discover that it isn’t as easy as it looks. Gen AI is causing a massive proliferation of mediocre content that doesn’t deliver the promised value. This leaves a sour taste in your potential customers’ mouths. AI can help, but you need a strong process around it to make it work.

Learn More: Growth Llama Episode 2 - Prompt Engineering

You need to operate like a media company, but you won’t be able to hire all the roles you need with your limited budget. You need all the roles to make it work, but you need them only in a fractional capacity for it to be affordable.

Specialist skillsets, expertly coordinated

For most founders, the solution is to use a team of contractors for each role they need. But this still relies on you to do all the coordination and the heavy lifting on the strategy front. This can work in the early days, but you very quickly become the bottleneck for scale.

What you really need is a single team that understands your end-to-end goals so they can make effective micro-decisions that add up to overall campaign performance. You don’t want a factory. You want a special ops team of talented people. A team that knows how to crawl competitors' websites, create keystone content that captures attention and understand the latest tactics to influence the algorithms. 

It isn’t about making content go viral, it is about building a consistent audience over time and giving them the content they need to move them down your sales funnel.

Run Your Omnichannel Outreach Campaigns

Now that you are creating thought leadership,  you need to figure out how to get your message in front of your market via the right channels (ads, cold email, LinkedIn, etc.). You need to be able to track the interactions that are happening on a daily basis within your target market so you know which messaging works best.

LinkedIn advertising is fuel on the fire

Not everybody has an ad budget, especially at the Seed stage. However, it remains one of the fastest ways to accelerate growth when properly applied to initiatives that are already gaining traction. 

For example, putting just a few hundred dollars into retargeting people who engaged with a piece of your Top of Funnel content with an in-depth customer case study can rapidly generate leads at the lowest possible cost per acquisition. Another example is to build a custom list of conference attendees and use that to drive awareness of your thought leadership content, which creates high-quality but inexpensive awareness. When you meet someone at the conference who read your article, they already know your company and have a great impression of you.

Engaging your audience with Emails and DMs

Cold email and LinkedIn DMs still work despite the deluge of spam we all receive. But most people do them completely wrong and burn their potential relationships. 

Crappy content + bad targeting = No leads.

The first mistake that founders make in the early stages is that they are always asking people for a meeting, a referral, or a sale. This doesn’t work anymore. Your messaging MUST be value-driven. You need to provide value to your target audience and ask for absolutely nothing in return until they have signaled an interest. You need to provide them with a blueprint for achieving their own success. Give them research data they can’t get anywhere else. Entertain them. Really, you need to make their lives better than they would be without you. And. ask. for. nothing. in. return.

Once you’ve provided enough value, they will make it clear that they would like to hear more about the solutions you offer. When that happens, you must be ready to move while the opportunity is hot. You cannot afford any delay at this stage. Your nurture funnel needs to be absolutely dialed in to give them whatever information they need the moment they need it. You better be ready with your sales collateral. If you don’t have it, you will lose opportunities left and right.

You can do all of this yourself. Or you can offload.

As the founder of a seed-stage startup, you wear many hats. You are trying to maximize how much you accomplish while maximizing your runway by spending smartly. We get this. That is why we have crafted a series of packages that allow us to take the most high-leverage work off your plate. These packages are designed to scale with your startup as you increase revenue and progress through funding rounds.

LinkedIn Activation Package - $1,500/month

Our goal with this package is to grow your Top of Funnel awareness in the right target markets. We will create a highly targeted list of people in your target audience based on your short-term goals, craft content specifically for them, and automate your growth activities in this space. Over time, we will expand your target market for longer-term goals to stay ahead of your revenue goals.

  • 2 blog posts per month
  • 3-5 LinkedIn posts per week
  • 1 interview-style video
  • LinkedIn Connection automation
  • Automated introduction funnels
  • LinkedIn profile optimization

Lead Generation Package - $5,000/month

Our goal with this package is to start generating an increased amount of leads. We will use our market intelligence capabilities to map a larger portion of your target market, generate a buyer persona, and create a funnel that leads to booked meetings. If you are trying to hit a revenue target before your next fundraising round, this is the package you need.

  • Everything in the LinkedIn Activation Package
  • Website landing pages
  • A larger database of contacts
  • Cold email outreach journeys
  • Keystone articles and guides

End-to-end Marketing & Lead Generation Package - $15,000+

At this level, we will custom-tailor a growth solution for your startup. We can function as your outsourced marketing department, functioning as your fractional CMO with an entire operations team called “the marketing cloud”. We can scale the team all the way from Seed to Series A, Series B, and beyond.

  • Go to Market Strategy (defining the target market segments, selection of right channels, right messaging, and competitive positioning) 
  • Market Intelligence (a database of all your potential customers and collection of market signals as indicators for strong interest in your product category)
  • Content Production (websites, whitepapers, videos, articles, short attention span snippets)
  • Omnichannel Outreach (ads, cold email, LinkedIn, cold calling, landing pages)
  • Business Intelligence (detailed campaign performance analysis)
  • Technology Operations (managing all your marketing and sales tools)

If you want to learn more about these services, check out our Growth Engine Whitepaper.

Case Studies of Success

Our client success stories, including SkyCreek, Actium, and Digitsec, showcase the effectiveness of our approach in transforming marketing strategies into tangible results. These cases highlight how innovative, knowledge-based marketing strategies can significantly enhance growth and efficiency.

“We generated more customers in the last 6 months than in the previous 18 months”

Schedule a Meeting

If you are interested in any of our services, don’t hesitate to schedule a meeting here: calendly.com/oneforce_inc/knowledgebase

Ignore the Bottom of the Funnel: The Path to B2B Revenue for Seed-Stage Startups

Ignore the Bottom of the Funnel: The Path to B2B Revenue for Seed-Stage Startups

The Million Dollar Question

How do you maximize your B2B startup’s revenue growth while spending an optimal amount of money on marketing and sales? That is the million-dollar question that every new venture has to grapple with. Most B2B founders start by focusing on direct outreach to their network and introductions, which is the right thing to do. But even with the biggest network, you will quickly exhaust this channel.

Many B2B CEOs think that the next thing they should do is hire an expensive salesperson and expect them to magically get them paying customers. In some cases, this is the way to go, but for most, the question remains: who will they talk to? You have no inbound leads, none of your target audience knows your name, and at best, you have LinkedIn Sales Navigator or Apollo to create a few lists and cold email campaigns. You can barely call this an outreach strategy.

Because founders have to wear so many hats, they need to do the activities that have the highest return on investment. This leads them to skip over the Awareness stage of the funnel because it is hard to see and measure the impact on revenue generation. 

This is where everything goes wrong.

Skipping your Top of Funnel (TOFU) activities makes every other stage of the funnel 10x harder. If your target audience isn’t aware of you, hasn’t built trust in your expertise, and doesn’t understand the value that your company brings, you’re going to have to accomplish all of that in one single cold email. Good luck with that. You will be forced to compete only at the bottom of the funnel, which is where every single one of your competitors is pouring their money. This is the fiercest part of the funnel and the part you are least equipped to win.

The secret that most B2B founders don’t know is that TOFU activities don’t have to be as overwhelming as they are made out to be. If you properly operationalize these activities, use modern tools, and apply the right frameworks, these essential steps will be some of the easiest tasks you can do in a day.

Insights on accelerating business growth

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  • Optimizing your sales funnel
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