Percolate's vision is to create systems that unlock the potential of marketers. We're building a Content Marketing Platform to help teams manage the operations of content, from strategy and planning through development and execution, and offer a microcosm of the broader marketing process.
We have 300 employees across offices in NYC, San Francisco, and London, our investors include Sequoia Capital, GGV, and First Round Capital, and over 600 brands are using our software including Google, Mastercard, Levi’s, Cisco, and Blackrock.
Most categories of marketing technology are designed to manage the processes that occur after content has been created. The majority of F1000 companies have made significant investments in systems that deliver content - reaching the right person at the right time - or measure marketing’s impact on the business.
All of the activities that contribute to the development of content - strategizing, segmentation, ideation, and campaign development - have typically been managed manually, using standard office suite tools. And while most marketers at F1000 brands struggle with the new scale, pace, and pattern of marketing, many view this as a process challenge, not as a technology problem. Our role is to shift this mindset, framing the production challenges of the marketing department as a problem that should be tackled with software as the primary solution.
We have developed a framework to guide our marketing efforts and create alignment across functions and teams. A targeted set of communications allows us to focus limited marketing resources and by extension, eliminate unnecessary or unqualified touch points for our sales team.
Our framework places prospects in one of 6 stages on the customer journey:
"I know something is broken in the way we do marketing"
"We need software to help us solve our marketing challenges"
"We are looking for a system to help us with our content challenges"
"I’m looking at Percolate along with two competitors"
"I want Percolate"
"Let's get going!"
Communications in each stage have a specific role to play, for example in Stage 1 we want to build empathy around content challenges, in Stage 2 we present content marketing systems as the best solution, and in Stage 3 we build credibility as the leading Content Marketing Platform. Based on this framework we plan our content, allocate resources, and chose the appropriate channels. Over time the goal is to move the prospect on to the next stage.
Stage 1: "I know something is broken in the way we do marketing"
As I mentioned earlier the goal for our content in Stage 1 is to build empathy around content challenges. We develop guides, gather research, and ask our customers to share their best practices on topics like planning, customer experience, and content strategy. The final asset is typically either a whitepaper, a case study, or a webinar that we promote across our social channels, ads, blogposts, emails, and sometimes direct mail.
Example: Strategy + Execution - The Marketer's Briefing Handbook
We developed a whitepaper and webinar to highlight the role briefs play in narrowing the gap between a brand’s strategy and the team’s execution. It included tips for writing an effective brief, a customer example, and the results from a survey where marketers answered questions about how they brief different teams.
We think a lot about how it all ties together – from clicking on a LinkedIn ad and filling out the form on the landing page to downloading the asset and receiving the 'Thank you' email.
Stage 2: "We need software to help us solve our marketing challenges"
In Stage 2 we encourage prospects to start thinking about centralizing their marketing creation and planning. We focus on the benefits of moving content marketing workflows into a system and present Content Marketing Platforms as the best way to solve for their process pain. We host workshops in cities around the country, meet people at trade shows, publish articles, and guide prospects to our website.
Example: What is a Content Marketing Platform?
We developed a guide for how to invest in a Content Marketing platform along with an email aimed at our Stage 2 CRM, linking to a blogpost on the topic. The blogpost encourages prospects to download the guide, and also to take our Guided Product Tour. The tour gives an overview of the main features and encourages visitors to get in touch with our sales team.
We designed a brand identity for 'Alta', a made up B2B brand, to populate our Guided Product Tour. We decided to make our fictional brand an established technology company with multiple hardware and software product lines. We worked closely with our Solutions Consultant team to ensure Alta's marketing activities and workflows would resonate with our target customer.
Stage 3: "We are looking for a system to help us with our content challenges"
Once we're talking to prospects in Stage 3 it's time to build credibility as the leading solution to content marketing problems. Third party validation is key which means we let analysts, partners, and customers do most of the talking. We participate in analyst reports by for example Gartner and Forrester, invite partners and customers to speak at our events, and publish customer stories.
Example: Made with Percolate
'Made with Percolate' was a celebration of the best campaigns our customers produced throughout the year. We interviewed the teams responsible and put together a hardcover book and a website to inspire marketers – and to showcase how a Content Marketing Platform helps the world's best brands create campaigns that deliver results.
Stage 4: "I’m looking at Percolate along with two competitors"
Every deal is unique, and at this stage it's all about matching the needs of the customer in ways that our sales team and solutions team are best suited to create materials for. We provide templates and assets to enable them to create customized, on-brand communications quickly. This includes Keynote themes with a wide range of layouts for both decks and documents, templates for charts and tables, and libraries of photography, icons, illustrations, and product screens. We host classes to share best practices and include guidelines in the tools to encourage everybody to create effective communications.
Stage 5: "I want Percolate"
In Stage 5 the prospect is ready to become a customer, it's just a matter of getting it done this week rather than next week. In marketing language this is when you want to have a 'compelling event' up your sleeve, something that will drive urgency and get everyone motivated to iron out that last wrinkle. Since this is usually best done in person Stage 5 is mostly about getting everyone in the same room.
Example: Transition Conference
Transition is our flagship annual conference focused on how technology is shaping the future. We bring together amazing people from different fields and industries to share ideas, stories, and lessons learned along the way. This is a great time for us to announce product updates, introduce customers to each other, facilitate meetings with our executive team, and bring prospects into the community. If you're curious about the event branding you can go to Transition 2016 or Transition 2017.
Stage 6: "Let's get going!"
In Stage 6 we welcome our new customers into the Percolate family and do everything we can to start the relationship off in a delightful way. This includes a clear plan for the implementation process, access to our Success Center, and of course some awesome swag. We continue offering all the things mentioned in the previous stages together with opportunities to speak at events, participate in customer stories, and join our Beta program to help shape the future of the product.
Example: Percolate's Success Center
Our Success Center is the place to get answer to questions, learn about the latest releases, and get tutorials for how to get the most out of our product. We host our Success Center on Zendesk and collaborate with our product team on the user experience – for example how customers access articles through search or directly from the product. We create templates and assets for our education team to enable them to create on-brand product tutorials, both in Keynote to generate PDF's and in iMovie to generate simple screen recordings.
We also develop quarterly release videos to introduce the new features and functionalities. Sometimes we ask a Product Manager to participate in an interview coupled with product animations, and sometimes we do a live action film showcasing how a marketing team is using Percolate to produce a campaign. You can learn more about how we make films in-house here.