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Companies and marketers have invested heavily in becoming very proficient at downstream marketing – email marketing, SEO, landing pages, events, content and so on. And without a doubt downstream requires solid skills. Imagine however that you’re a good competitive runner – you’ve worked hard on your pace, improving you stride and addressing your form. Come the day of an off-track race, it will all be for naught if you head in the wrong direction or make a wrong turn. This is the power and value of the upstream.

Define Your Strategy

Upstream marketing serves as the strategic process of identifying & fulfilling customer needs. Good competitive racers check out the course in advance to get a sense of the terrain and curves and turns. They may even run it. I know I usually do. These runners invest in creating a competitive advance. Competitive runners also know which races are best suited to them, for example are they better at hill or flatland running. In the business world, we’re always looking for how we can create at competitive advantage based on the value we deliver and the value customers require. This type of thinking and planning fall into the realm of the upstream.

Upstream entails any work around defining your strategy, value proposition and positioning, directing the innovation process for long-term sustainable growth, developing segments, analyzing how customers use a product or service.

All programs you design and execute to bring your strategy to life, whether through tailored personalized account based marketing and/or outbound and inbound lead generation, that include tactics such advertising, promotion, SEO, brand building, event, influencer marketing, content marketing, social marketing are in the downstream. If you don’t get the upstream right, the downstream will be polluted.

 

Upstream and Downstream Marketing

Create Demand by Focusing on the Upstream

When you are working on creating Demand with a Capital D, you need to focus on the Upstream. When you’re working on creating demand as leadgen and account based marketing you are in the downstream. Of course the upstream and downstream complement one another. You may have some advantages by being familiar with a course before you run it, but to win you still need to be a good runner.

While Upstream defines your company’s value proposition; downstream supports your company’s value proposition. Upstream directs your innovation process to insure long-term sustainable growth. Downstream delivers programs to support the adoption of your products NOW. Data and analytics are needed in both. In the upstream, you need customer insights, competitive intelligence, data to support creating segmentation, personas and customer journey models. In the downstream, you use your data and analysis to address activities, touchpoints and channels.

Upstream and downstream answer different questions because they drive different but complementary decisions.  You will need measures and metrics for both as well. Category ownership, Customer lifetime value, Share of wallet are measures that indicate how well you tackled the upstream. Measures associated with engagement, influence and pipeline inform your downstream success.

Like competitive runners who consistently win, you need to leverage both the upstream and the downstream. High performing organizations invest in excelling at both.  Let’s talk about how you can become more proficient at the upstream and the downstream.

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