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The Business of Parking: Chasing Marketing Unicorns

This article was first published by the International Parking & Mobility Institute in the April edition of Parking & Mobility magazine. To read the original article, click here.

If you’re looking to make one or two meaty marketing leadership hires to beef up your growth strategy, what you’ve probably got in mind is an “all-arounder”. 

That person – a veritable marketing unicorn! – can:

🦄 churn out cutsheets
🦄 create an eye-popping booth
🦄 lock in high-profile media opps
🦄 attribute and analyze campaign performance
🦄 drive people to your site and park them there
🦄 run irresistible ads without overspending
🦄 orchestrate the perfect pitch
🦄 and write articles (like this one) for awesome publications (*winks at IPMI*)

They’re the Analyst, the Architect, the Lead Magnet, the Media Mogul, the Don Draper, the Practically a Product Person, the Webmaster, and the Sales Team Whisperer – all in one “creative, data-driven” package. 

We don’t live in a world rife with unicorns (though I did recently learn that they’re the national animal of Scotland). But I’m here to tell you that doing a little pre-work makes finding the right person a whole lot easier, especially when you’re running lean.

Different marketing functions support different types of growth strategies.

So, it really can be as simple as looking at what your top biz priorities are and tailoring your marketing job descriptions and interviews for the skills that will make the biggest impact.

I’ll help! Using minimal jargon, because as much as I like saying things like “let’s A/B it”, “ideal LTV:CAC”, and “rig up an attribution model”, I like you more.

Three q’s to ask yourself while staring in the mirror…

Is getting new leads my top priority? 

If yes, you’re looking at demand generation.

Demand gen, as we in the biz call it, is accomplished by running “campaigns” aimed at a target audience that incentivize them to engage with you in exchange for something they’ll find interesting or helpful.

Campaigns typically involve three things:

  1. The Offer – something you make/provide that delivers value (think webinar, product demo, data report, ebook, blog post)
  2. The Channels – tactics for promoting The Offer to the right audience (like email, social media, chat bots, Google ads, or direct mail)
  3. The Call-to-Action (CTA) – what you’re asking someone to do to redeem The Offer (such as “request a demo”, “download”, “save your seat”, “subscribe”)

Demand generation is a killer skill-set for an early marketing hire because this person understands how to:

  • Thematically develop a relevant campaign for a certain audience
  • Segment and target
  • Evaluate performance, set spend, and run tests in multiple channels
  • Track marketing’s influence on sales opportunities

They’re also typically bomb project managers because they work with so many other types of marketers to get campaigns out the door. This is good news if you don’t have a designer or writer and this person manages freelancers or agencies.

Here are three demand gen-adjacent disciplines worth flagging, all of which have space for deep specialization and expertise:

#1: Marketing Operations

Campaigns involve a lot of architecture for tracking, targeting, and attribution. If you don’t have one already, you’ll need a marketing automation platform that either doubles as (like Hubspot) or integrates with (like Marketo) a CRM (like Salesforce). You can do some really sophisticated targeting and drip repetition with these platforms that a non-ops specialist may not be able to hack, FYI.

#2: Content Marketing

Often, The Offer is content. Blogs are baller for improving your site ranking and reinforcing your brand. Ebooks don’t write themselves – in fact, nothing does! You can outsource, but keep in mind that editing is a lift, and ChatGPT isn’t fluent in parking (…yet).

#3: Paid Marketing

Paid marketing (like ads for print, digital, social, and search engines) is a highly specialized area of demand generation that involves identifying efficient channels and using an acronym soup of quantitative inputs (ADV, ROAS, CAC, CPC, CPL, LTV:CAC, CR – LOL!) to back into how much to spend. Then there’s a lot of complexity to crafting ads and channel strategy to make sure those leads you’re paying for aren’t hot garbage.

Or is upselling my customers a bigger priority?

For companies with a strong focus on upselling customers or converting pilots, product marketing and customer marketing will have an astronomical impact.

Product marketing is the lynchpin between sales, marketing, and product. They define and articulate the value of your product and its position in the market.

Someone with a product marketing skill-set can:

  • Assess the competitive landscape using market intelligence
  • Position and package your product for different audiences
  • Produce product-focused PDFs, etc. for sales follow-up
  • Integrate sales, marketing, product, and customer support

To clarify, product marketing plays down the whole funnel (it’s killer for informing, or even writing, website copy, as well as following up from sales calls with PDFs, videos, etc. on how the product works) – not just post-close. 

But the reason that I’m slotting these skills in here is because product marketing is huge for increasing product engagement, proving out your value, and pitching upsell. 

I adore marketers with this skill-set. I think they’re the secret weapon for any “parketing” team. Our products are highly nuanced and require contextualization.

I’m going to spend less time talking about customer marketing, not because it’s less important, but because if you’re looking for early hires and have a customer success function in place, a product marketing or demand gen skill-set could provide air-cover.

Enablement is a hefty part of customer marketing and customer success. Customer marketing works in tandem with customer success to identify opportunities to prove out bottom-line impact, elevate the customer experience, and increase retention.

Here are some low-hanging customer marketing initiatives that I’d recommend:

  • Customer version of your newsletter/other emails
  • Holiday gifting for partners and advocates
  • Case studies and success stories
  • Repository of customer resources (how-to’s, tips ‘n’ tricks, etc.)
  • Email sequences to keep in touch

How strong is my brand? 

Brand marketing promotes your company’s purpose, personality, and POV. 

While demand generation campaigns focus on customer pain and how your company uniquely solves that pain, brand campaigns purport your vision and mission. How you fit in, and how you stand out. 

The primary success metric for brand is “awareness”, meaning footprint and familiarity within your total addressable market. This can manifest through branded search volume, social media trajectory, website traffic, and referrals. (You may observe a spike in views to your corporate LinkedIn after speaking at a conference, for example, or publishing a press release may drive more site traffic.)

Brand campaigns may not generate truckloads of leads, but ultimately they lower your customer acquisition cost. A clear, bold, memorable brand is sticky – ergo, the leads that come in are more likely to qualify for and benefit from what you do.

To invest in brand means to invest in a marketer who can: 

  • Define your identity (visuals and voice)
  • Write your website and optimize it for search
  • Build reputation through social media, events, and press
  • Earn placements in industry trades

Ideally, this person is a strong writer. It’s a gargantuan task to define your company’s “identity” and make it meaningful and legible. My $0.02 is that it’s unrealistic to expect this person to execute complex graphics, yet reasonable that they should develop agility with Canva and/or be able to direct a freelancer. 

Someone who can write your releases and articles in-house is dynamite, but there are also benefits to working with PR, events, and content agencies; your brand marketer would manage those relationships.

And she’s out of room! 

In short, hiring marketing people is less overwhelming if you know what skill-sets you’re looking for based on how those support your growth strategy as a whole. Inspect that first, and then execute your JDs and interviews accordingly.

Sarah Becherer is the VP of Marketing @ Ocra and she really, really loves this stuff. To connect, add her on LinkedIn or send her an email at sarah@getocra.com.

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