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Upstream, Upselling, and Downstream Marketing Opportunities For Business Growth

If you asked most people where they find their audience, you’ll often get a very narrow response. Most advertising and marketing activity is associated with the vendor selection of the buyer’s journey… but is that already too late?

If you’re a digital transformation consultation firm; for example, you may fill out all the details in a spreadsheet by only viewing your current prospects and limiting yourself to the strategies you’re proficient at. You might do keyword research and focus your attention on search engines for those users seeking digital transformation agency, digital strategy consultant, enterprise implementation firm, etc.

Where is Your Audience?

Moving Upstream Of The B2B Buying Journey

It’s not all about your target audience. It’s also about your current customers, your prospects’ upstream activity, and their downstream activity.

Moving back to the example of a digital transformation consulting firm. If a company gets significant funding to scale up their organization… a key step in that process is investing in digital transformation. Or, if key personnel are shuffled within an organization, their new leadership may seek to transform their customer experience.

So, if I’m a digital transformation company, it’s in my best interest to build relationships with companies that are upstream. This may include:

  • Venture Capital Firms – providing presentations to VC clients would be a great way to build awareness and educate prospective clients.
  • Mergers & Acquisition Firms – providing research and education to M&A firms would be ideal. As they merge and acquire customers, they’re going to have challenges to centralize their digital experiences.
  • Attorneys & Accountants – one of the first steps companies take as they scale up is to work with legal and financial representatives.
  • Recruitment Firms – Businesses that are scaling or having turnover in leadership positions often work with recruitment professionals to bring talent within the organization.

What kind of businesses can you partner with who are upstream of your prospective customers?

Providing Additional Services To Your Current Customers

One of the most frustrating messages to hear from a client is, “We didn’t know that your company provided that!” after you hear the news that they signed a contract with another company.

A critical step in onboarding your client is communicating all the products, services, and partner opportunities that your business can offer them. Because you already have an established relationship with the company, may already be listed in their accounting systems for payments, have already red-lined your services agreements… it’s often easy to expand the relationship that you have with them.

Partnering with other organizations that you trust is often a great opportunity to build value and even drive revenue. We have referral engagements with many companies that we know and trust to do a great job for our clients. It’s a winning strategy for both your clients and your own cashflow.

What partner companies do you know and trust that you could introduce your clients to? Do you have referral agreements with them?

Being A Downstream Resource To Your Current Customers

After we complete our implementation with clients, they’re often contacted by the software provider to speak at conferences, participate in interviews, and being quoted in industry publications.

Because you’ve provided an outstanding experience for your client, take the time to partner with them on promotional opportunities. Your public relations firm should be working to get them speaking opportunities and your marketing team should be helping them author thought leadership articles on industry sites.

As they get those opportunities, it’s only natural that your company will be mentioned in the context of the content they’re providing. Because they’re not working for you nor paid by you, they’re speaking to audiences as an authority and a trusted colleague. That type of customer advocacy will drive amazing awareness for the work you’re doing.

How can you assist your clients to promote their success in partnering with you? What resources can you provide them in that process to drive awareness for your business?


Why rush to the same place all your competitors are? Begin to work upstream, downstream and in front of your current clients to drive more activity to your bottom line.

Douglas Karr

Douglas Karr is CMO of OpenINSIGHTS and the founder of the Martech Zone. Douglas has helped dozens of successful MarTech startups, has assisted in the due diligence of over $5 bil in Martech acquisitions and investments, and continues to assist companies in implementing and automating their sales and marketing strategies. Douglas is an internationally recognized digital transformation and MarTech expert and speaker. Douglas is also a published author of a Dummie's guide and a business leadership book.

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