Early-stage, venture-backed software companies are not an environment for the faint of heart, but they are amazing laboratories for learning what works in B2B Demand Generation. There’s rarely a clear path forward or entrenched notions of how things must be done. Instead, there are hyper-aggressive revenue goals and everyone is a faithful follower of the church of whatever works.

I recently had some time to reflect on my past ten years spent building demand generation engines for various start-up software companies. Every situation was different and required a different mix of tactics. However, these five principles have proven true time and time again.

1) Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid

Build a demand generation strategy based on marketing fundamentals. Research the market, know the personas of prospects, position the product appropriately, and work within resource constraints. Sure, read Hubspot’s ebooks and listen to your social media guru, but understand that they are selling tactics that may or may not make sense for your situation. Adherence to marketing fundamentals will keep you on course.

2) Do it Right or Not at All

There is no shortage of tactics available to the modern marketer, which creates two fundamental truths. First, almost any demand generation target is attainable with good planning and execution. Second, the best way to ensure failure is to try every tactic available. Executing a handful of the most promising programs well will outperform half-baked attempts on numerous programs every time.

3) Keep it Short

Respect your prospects’ time. Shorter content will generally outperform long form content. Long emails aren’t read, lengthy webinars are tuned out, and content below the fold on landing pages is ignored.

4) Follow-Up Early and Often

A lot has been written about the importance of following up on leads immediately and as many as 7 or more times. My own experience supports these findings. Before you spend another dollar on filling the top of the funnel, take the steps necessary to fix the leaks in the funnel caused by ignored and under-worked leads.

5) Let Your Closers Close

The best way to achieve #4 is to create a team whose sole purpose is to turn leads into qualified appointments for sales executives. A focused and persistent appointment setting team will almost always source more opportunities than sales executives focused on closing deals. In addition to better performance, it simply makes sense to keep your more expensive sales executives focused on closing.

When considering these fundamental truths, keep #1 in mind. I believe these principles hold up well in most environments but I’m sure there are markets where appointment setting teams don’t make sense and prospects love 50-page technical whitepapers. As for myself, I will follow my own advice. My original list was about 25 items long, but I’m keeping it short.