What Corporations Can Learn from Startups

6 minute read

Upland Admin

Before joining Kapost, I spent two years as a marketing manager at a world renowned company with over 40,000 employees worldwide—a goliath in its industry.

When my former colleagues heard that I was leaving to join a startup many said, “You have a lot of ideas that a startup can take advantage of, it’s a good fit for you.”

Wait a second.

If I have a lot of ideas to offer, why is a startup the place I should be? Why not a corporation?

In the sea of business, corporations are often looked to as the powerhouse “battleship” traveling on a well-mapped, strategically charted course. They have the size to make waves in their marketplace and invest in new ideas, but with size comes the difficulty to react to disruptions in the market—especially when pesky speedboats like startups come zipping along.

As a marketer at a startup, no day is the same; a planned course of action can be completely scrapped in a day’s time. While startups may not have the mainstay of a corporation, they have the agility to take risks and change directions quickly.

Like all things, the key is striking a balance. Corporations become massive enterprises because they are leaders in their industry, building off of decades of experience. But often, as companies grow, they loose sight of the innovative ways of thinking that got them to the top.

In my short time at Kapost, I have experienced what makes a marketing department at a startup so different from a corporate marketing team, and what corporations can adopt from startups so that they can be just as agile, daring, and innovative.

Accelerate Ideas

Corporate marketing teams are often filled with dozens of talented marketers; that’s a lot of brain power to take advantage of.

“How do you empower creativity, collect ideas from your brilliant marketers, and act on best ones?”

However, creative ideas are quickly stifled when the process just to get an idea heard—let alone acted upon—is lengthy, outdated, and the idea itself is unlikely to gain the momentum it needs to become actionable.

The days of requiring marketers to “send the idea via email with an attached proposal, then we can talk about it” are over. If your inbox looks like most busy marketers’, it’s full to the gills with other critical tasks and must dos.

And as a result, brilliant ideas get shuffled to the bottom of your email list or tagged and archived, doomed to becoming a never-thought.

So, how do you empower creativity, collect ideas from your brilliant marketers, and act on best ones?

Start by doing two things:

  1. Create an idea form. Unlike the ever-daunting “corporate proposal,” an idea form is the easiest way team members can get their ideas heard and assessed. It encourages your team members to catalogue their ideas as they come, so great ideas aren’t left off the table. When creating an idea form, keep it short and only capture the most important details, such as: a short description, it’s content type and supporting assets (i.e. blog post, white paper, video, etc.), its intended audience, and the campaign, product, or vertical it’s supporting.
  2. House proposed ideas in one central location. If your team members know their ideas are being read and considered—and not buried under countless emails—they will likely provide more. While not every idea is going to be a great idea, even the “bad” ones can spark innovation. By housing ideas in a central location, you can keep a running log of all your team’s ideas, tag them, and revisit for inspiration.

At Kapost, we have an ideas form built right into our platform. It has a completely customizable form so that we can collect the most important information we need to asses an idea. Every idea submitted can be seen by all team members so others can jump in to give support or ask questions.

Talk about collaboration!

Break Down The Silos

Corporate divisions often find themselves huddled in their own teams, seldom collaborating with others. Corporate marketing doesn’t communicate timelines and content with field or regional marketing teams, demand gen teams have data, but it doesn’t get shared. And in a worse-case scenario, no one is communicate with sales. You get the picture.

There are two easy ways you can break down silos for a quick-win: opening communication and maximizing visibility into each other’s plans.

If marketing team X has created top-of-funnel content that marketing team Y could take advantage to engage buyers at the bottom of the funnel but they don’t know it exists, the result is a lost opportunity and under-utilized (expensive) content.

So think small and share often through a hub where all employees can access all content at any time. At Kapost we have the functionality to filter our Content Gallery to see what has been created so we can repurpose great content.

And equally important is knowing what campaigns and content are currently being planned. If all marketers within a company can see which campaigns are coming down the pipeline and the associated content in development, there is a great chance for cross-team collaboration, and a stronger customer experience throughout the buyer’s journey.

Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously

Corporations are very aware of their brand image, and rightly so.

Your customer trust your brand so much that they’ve put potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars down to use your services. But many times B2B marketing teams write as though they forget their content is being read by humans.

Remember: It’s okay to write conversationally to your customers.

Unveil to them that there are real people making real decisions that affect the next best business innovations. Treat them like the humans they are.

Be tactfully humorous, and communicate in a way that customers can enjoy and can have fun communicating with you.

What is your brand’s voice? Does your company have a personality? Corporations are never too big to be personable.

As each year passes, corporations and startups are competing in the same oceans of opportunity more and more,  and there is plenty they can learn from each other.

Do you have any other advice for companies that want act more like a startup?

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