Operator Insights: Optimizing Marketing Strategy: betting on the best channels for your company

Operator Insights: Optimizing Marketing Strategy: betting on the best channels for your company

May 14th, 2024

We are lucky to meet and chat with accomplished individuals who have been there, done that, and lived to tell the tale. In this series we bring you the direct voices of operators in the trenches, allowing you to gain insights straight from the source. Whether you are looking for a boost to your Sales & Marketing, Finance, Operations & People, or a combination of all three, then read on and remember to subscribe to our newsletter so that you don’t miss out on future nuggets of wisdom!

Let’s dive in…

Say hello to Christelle.

Christelle Arquié, is the Head of Enterprise Marketing, Southern Europe at PayPal—an internationally renowned payment platform simplifying online transactions through its website and mobile app. By creating an account and linking it to a checking account or credit card, users enjoy faster, safer, and more convenient checkouts. PayPal goes beyond digital transactions, offering credit and debit cards branded with its name. The service enables users to pay, send money, and accept payments without the need to repeatedly enter financial details— it is trusted by 173 million people globally to facilitate seamless transactions on millions of websites across 202 countries supporting 21 different currencies.

We had a riveting conversation with Christelle, delving into strategies around budget allocation, activating the right channels and making informed decisions. Of course, a requisite, prior to all of this is intentional effort to establish fundamentals i.e. setting clear objectives, and diligently tracking results. Sounds simple, right? However, in reality, it requires dedication, skill, and determination to stay at the top of your game.


  • Budget Allocation: Clear OKRs guide budget allocation, with quarterly reviews optimizing spending based on business factors. Robust analytics support budget negotiations.
  • Channel Activation: Prioritize foundational pillars before activating channels, considering long-term goals, cost-effectiveness, and internal resources. Phased approaches and iterative testing optimize results.
  • Marketing Strategy: Product-led companies focus on online sales funnels, while sales-led organizations target larger enterprises with longer sales cycles. Collaboration between marketing and sales is crucial, and skill sets within the marketing team vary based on the business model.

Partech asks and Christelle answers: -

What are the strategies you’d recommend for effective budget allocation?

As generic as it sounds, establishing clear OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) and getting them signed off by your board is critical. It helps set the direction, guides your strategy, and your budget allocation. It will also help you stay on course when things get a bit crazy! Leaders need to be aligned on what the marketing team is expected to deliver: Build a strong brand? Increase lead generation? Minimize churn? Most likely you will get asked to do a bit of everything but by using the OKR framework you’ll be able to prioritize.

For early-stage B2B companies, I usually like to focus on shorter periods—i.e. 6 month cycles of H1 and H2—rather than planning extensively for the entire year. Your business moves fast and is still in a discovery phase, so too should be your marketing strategy. Avoiding planning too far in advance will give you more flexibility and agility for mid-year pivots or recalibrations.

The allocation of your marketing budget will depend on the nature of your business, your target audience, your business model, and many other factors. A rule of thumb in B2B would be to consider:

  • 30-40% on your content strategy
  • 20-30% on paid ads
  • 10-20% on events
  • 10-20% on brand development (including design needs)
  • 5-10% on PR
  • 5-10% on tools and other operational expenses

However, these allocations are also contingent upon your OKRs. You can review them quarterly or at mid-year to keep track of how you are doing vs your targets and decide whether you need to accelerate on a specific channel that is showing traction or cut an initiative that is not picking up.

In my experience, clearly mapping out your key results at the year's onset will help in the process. Also, crafting a solid analytics framework showing the performance of each channel vs spending (ROI) will support your case when it’s time to negotiate for more marketing budget :).

It is sometimes difficult to avoid stretching resources too thin. How would you go about activating channels one by one and making informed decisions on whether to double down or pivot?

To start with, you need robust foundations. In the first months or year, your budget should go mainly towards building your fundamental pillars – such as branding, website, content, SEO/SEA, PR. This will lay the groundwork for when you need to accelerate.

To avoid stretching yourself too thin, you might want to ask yourself::

  • Am I building this for the long term or short term?
  • Is there a cost-effective way to activate a channel even if it's not my main priority?
  • Do I have people internally who have skills or interests in this activity?
  • Do I have the bandwidth to manage additional channels?
  • Will this directly contribute to revenue or is it just nice to have?

Getting clarity on those aspects will go towards helping you decide how to go about your different channels. A common challenge startups face when they first kick off PR is to hire an agency and then get disappointed when they do not get the ton of articles they were expecting. The reality is that if you hire a PR agency when you don’t have the skills or time to build your brand foundations and a detailed PR plan aligned with your other activities, your agency will most likely fail. Instead, consider hiring a PR specialist for short-term engagements to support you when you know you’ll have something to share with the market.

When it comes to branding, it can get very expensive and time-consuming. A phased approach could make more sense for your business. You might not need an (expensive) agency with a full-year contract and recurring fees, but rather a talented freelancer to build a foundational brand pack and then to be on call when you have specific needs.

When launching social media and paid activation, the main question is which channel to activate first. If you spread your budget across 10 different channels you won't be able to draw solid learnings. Instead, you could test 2-3 channels in short bursts and pause while you analyse the results. You can test again with a new set of ads or keywords to refine and pause again. Iterate as much as possible and when you have enough data you can make an informed decision on budget allocation. Once you’re in run mode, test a second set of channels. And so on.

How does the marketing strategy differ between a product-led company vs a sales-led organization? And what considerations should companies keep in mind?

From my experience, product-led companies usually target SMBs, have low prices necessitating high-volume sales. The game is all about optimizing the online sales funnel—from acquisition to sign-up and onboarding. Your marketing team will need to focus on tracking acquisition costs, time to sign-up, usage metrics, and retention rates. There is a shared responsibility for success and need for strong collaboration between marketing and product teams.

A comprehensive data-driven approach should help to avoid situations where teams start blaming each other when targets are not met. Analyzing the entire sales funnel allows you to identify bottlenecks and drop offs and helps you to understand what needs to be changed: acquisition strategy for more qualified leads, onboarding processes for quicker user adoption, higher or lower pricing, product road map if key features are missing, etc.

In contrast, sales-led organizations target mid-sized and large enterprises. Access to the product often necessitates a contractual agreement, leading to longer sales cycles. It just takes more time, but average customer value is often higher. Here the marketing strategy might revolve around building brand awareness, top of mind recall, educating potential until they are ready to be handed off to sales, and attending events. In this case, there needs to be close collaboration between marketing and sales to define ICPs, provide insights on lost deals, craft the sales materials needed (case studies, videos, demos…), and to decide on events to attend.

Something else to keep in mind: depending on your business model you will need different skill sets within your marketing team. Selecting the right profiles in your team will be key to getting the most out of your budget.

Main takeaway

Ensuring clear Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) are established and integrated with budget allocation is the first step for a successful marketing strategy. Then, it's important to prioritize the development of foundational pillars before activating channels, taking into account long-term objectives, cost-effectiveness, and available resources. Finally, don’t forget that the approach to marketing varies between product-led and sales-led organizations, with an emphasis on optimizing online sales funnels for the former and building brand awareness and educating potential customers for the latter.

A bit about Partech.

Over 40 years, Partech has built a team of independent thinkers to drive forward the technology landscape. Today, the firm looks as unique as its approach, with a range of funds and a portfolio of 220 diverse businesses across sectors in 40 countries across four continents. The Partech team looks to challenge founders, working with them side-by-side to drive digital transformation forward.

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