Upstream vs Downstream Marketing: Which Should You Use?

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Upstream vs Downstream Marketing

Upstream vs downstream marketing is often a conversation among marketing and sales teams. But which is better for your business? The two terms refer to different, but equally important marketing tactics. But, so many companies are focused more on downstream marketing. However, the most successful businesses will start their marketing efts with upstream marketing, and then use downstream marketing to support their plan. Keep reading for more tips on how your business should use upstream and downstream marketing.

Upstream Marketing

Essentially, upstream marketing refers to the bigger picture. It’s figuring out your customer’s challenges, and how your team is going to solve them. Upstream marketing can help your business find out how they can best serve their customer’s needs. Often, upstream marketing is a long-term plan that is supported by downstream marketing and sales tactics. It focuses on a lot of research. This research could include everything from competitor analysis to surveying potential customers, to see what they are looking for in their solution. 

Where to Start with Upstream Marketing?

Upstream marketing is the beginning of your marketing efforts. First, your team will have to identify a specific target market. Since your product or service can have multiple different target markets, it’s important to narrow it down to a more specific market. Next, your team will need to do a lot of research on the target market. You will need to answer questions like, “What competitors are they currently using (if any)?”, “What forms of marketing do they respond best to?” and “How much are they willing to pay for a solution to their problem(s)?”. Once you have answered these questions, you can start to release content that is relevant to the target market. This is a great time to introduce your sales team, and therefore downstream marketing.

Downstream Marketing

When considering upstream vs downstream marketing, you need to decide how you are going to achieve your plans. Including any advertising, promotions, and communication strategies you’ll be implementing. In comparison to upstream marketing, it generally is more short-term. But, it could also take months. Downstream marketing efforts can include anything from organic social media content and social media advertisements to Google Ads and email marketing. Every business will have different forms of advertising and sharing of content, it could take some trial and error to find out what works the best for your business.

Where to Start with Downstream Marketing?

Once you have your upstream plan complete, and your sales and marketing teams are on the same page, you are ready to start. In your upstream plan, you have identified what advertising channels your target audience responds best to. Use this to your advantage by sharing content that is highly relevant to what resonates with your target audience. Organic social media and blog content is also a great way to attract relevant consumers, without advertising. By using your research and sharing high-quality content, you can show consumers that your product will resolve their problems better than your competitors. Focus on what makes your product or service better than your competitors, and why they should choose you. 

Upstream vs Downstream Marketing

Upstream vs Downstream Marketing

There tends to be a lot of overlap between upstream and downstream marketing efforts. This is because you will always want to be doing more research, testing, and seeing what works and what does not work. Your sales and marketing teams need to be on the same page and understand what’s going on. Although it may seem like upstream marketing is complete when downstream marketing comes in, upstream should be used as well. Researching your competitors, the market, and your customers are always important. You can always find out new information that can be used to improve and enhance your downstream marketing efforts. 

Which is better?

There is no one form of marketing that is better than the other. You should think of it more like a river, and that they are intertwined. When upstream and downstream are used in conjunction, the result is well-rounded branding and happy customers. Typically marketing teams focus on upstream, while sales teams focus on implementing downstream marketing. But, it’s important to keep both teams on the same page. For example, if a customer asks a sales rep a question about a sale they saw on Facebook, they need to be able to answer the question. 

Tips to Help Your Marketing Efforts

Visitor Queue

A great tool that both your sales and marketing teams can use is Visitor Queue. Visitor Queue is a B2B lead generation software that identifies the companies that visit your website. In addition, you’ll have access to their employees’ contact information, including email addresses, phone numbers, and social media links. Visitor Queue can help your team research leads, by viewing what the lead did on your website, including the pages they viewed, and the time they spent on the pages. This is helpful because you can understand what certain companies are looking for. Then, your sales team can reach out and answer any of their questions and show them how your business can solve their problems. 

Align Your Leadership

As mentioned above, your sales and marketing teams need to be on the same page. This can be difficult since the conflict between sales and marketing teams is so common. In so many companies, sales and marketing disagree, complain, and can be passive-aggressive. But, businesses who communicate and have clear expectations from what they need out of their teams can drive more success. This is why sales and marketing managers need to be driven leaders and work together to resolve any issues between their teams. The best managers will understand both sides of the argument or conflict, and come to a resolution that benefits both parties. If you need any help with aligning your leadership, check out this article on 8 Ways to Resolve Conflict Between Your Sales and Marketing Teams.

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Communication is Key

Piggybacking on leadership, communication between your teams will make or break your growth strategies. Especially with the transition to remote working, communication has become difficult. We’ve all misunderstood a text or email, even if it was just an accident, mistakes happen. To improve communication, you should take advantage of tools like Slack and Zoom. Slack is a messaging app that you can have on your phone or computer, where you can send direct messages, group messages, and more. This will help your teams collaborate, and is easier, quicker, and less formal than email. On the other hand, Zoom is a video conferencing software, where you can take your team meetings virtual. Like I mentioned, sometimes it can be hard to convey a message over a text. That’s how meeting over video can help. You can also share your screen with a web page or slide show, to help guide meetings. 

Set Goals

Just like any other marketing strategy, setting goals will help guide your teams and keep them on track. Setting goals will guide your team to share techniques and collaborate to complete them. Goals are always a great learning experience. If your team isn’t setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, now is a good time to start! This acronym stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. These types of goals have a lower chance of failure since they are so specific. If your team does not meet a few goals, management can help them figure out how to meet them next time, and how to move forward from there. The guidance from management can also build your team’s trust in them and will lead to better relationships. 

Wrap Up

Just like any other form of marketing, putting all of your resources in one strategy is not beneficial. Your business can benefit from using a combination of both upstream and downstream marketing strategies. The most successful businesses will take advantage of using both. I hope you were able to gain some insight on upstream vs downstream marketing! 

As always, if you have any questions about how Visitor Queue can help your upstream and downstream marketing efforts, do not hesitate to reach out.

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Written by

Taylor Hamilton

I am the Marketing Coordinator at Visitor Queue. I recently graduated with an advanced diploma in marketing and administration from Fanshawe College. I love spending my spare time outside with my dog Peach! I am a firm believer that there are no secrets to success, only preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.

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