“Growth marketing” seems to be the buzz word of the moment, but what exactly is it? Every brand invents in marketing in the hope of growing their company, don’t they? So what makes this any different? In this article I set my own definition and give you 6 tips to achieving marketing that will actually grow your business.
More than a 100 years has passed since John Wanamaker famously said that half of his advertising budget was wasted. Yet today, the dark secret that most of us marketers wouldn’t like to admit is that marketing attribution is still a fuzzy old business. There are still so many interactions with our brand we never see, even with sophisticated tracking technology. The truth is in many cases, attribution is an educated guess, which makes it harder to get a clear picture on ROI. Then came the pandemic. In times of budget restrictions, marketing has historically been one of the first heads on the chopping block and so I see the ‘growth marketing’ as an industry-wide attempt to remind business owners that marketing is tied to their success.
For me ‘growth marketing’ is not some new approach. It’s about working with companies that are in a rapid state of client acquisition. Where generating new leads and converting customers is more important than brand awareness or maybe even account-based marketing. Typically, these type of companies are looking to expand their customer base at speed, may be less developed in terms of process and procedure, and will need a different set of priorities…
Choose sales above everything
If the point of your marketing is to create more sales, then start by helping the salespeople! This is your easiest win. This is your biggest return on investment. Sales enablement is more than just a good brochure, some piffy email copy and a few workflows. It’s about considering the full customer journey to conversion. Thinking about the different questions that prospects have, the different scenarios that play out, what to do when they get cold, what they do when they are about to buy. But your marketing team can’t do this if they are only involved at a distance. They need to go and sell something themselves. They need to be involved in sales meetings. This will help to inspire them as to what marketing material will help sales do a better job.
Choose your data wisely
I love contradictions. So here’s one. In order to grow you need to leverage data, and you also need to ignore it. Data is important, but it can also quickly become a bottleneck. Too many companies are so focused on getting as much data as possible, they become overloaded and instead of allowing them to make better decisions, faster…it does the opposite. The data your marketing needs is stuff they can actually effect. It’s no good finding out that 70% of your customers read The Guardian if you can’t afford to advertise in it. So use data, but focus on what’s going to bring you in more customers. Also, while data should help you make better decisions, an important part of all growth is failing. Sometimes you have to test things out, get some data and then realise this isn’t the right direction to take. If you’re too afraid to fail, you’ll never grow.
Choose consistency over quality
As a general rule of thumb, when acquisition is your main focus, it is more important to get your messaging out there on a consistent basis than it is for it to be perfect. Most marketers will recognise that online activity in the form of content marketing has a lot softer and slower return than sales enablement. One blog on its own is no good. You need a steady stream of regular content to keep in front of people and help you cut through the noise. Even though most businesses recognise this, they still spend a lot of time worrying over small details which ultimately will not affect the bottom line. While this is not to say that putting out a lot of crap is good idea, the phrase I often think about is “I was going to buy from you but…”
So let’s say you’re making a landing page “I was going to buy from you but..,your stock image was a little cheesy.” Is not very likely. Yes, you want your marketing to be the best it can be, but if that means delays in it going out, this may be doing more harm than good. Prioritise things that do matter like “I was going to buy from you…but there’s no phone number on the landing page.”
Choose sustainability over hacks
I hate the term hacks. I’ve been doing marketing for 11 years now, and trust me, there’s no secret formula or magic system that will get you ahead without coming at a heavy cost. While focusing on acquisition it can be very easy to get lost in a numbers game. To carpet-bomb linkedin, To ramp up your call volumes. To send a few hundred completely-cold emails. And I have to be honest, this approach can and will bring results, but that’s not all it brings. Your sales team will quickly burn out due to the high stress, high amount of work etc, they will get lazy and start copy/pasting emails, lowering their effectiveness and conversion rate. You won’t be able to keep up this pace, because naturally if you create a lot of interest, you then have to follow it through the entire pipeline, and last but not least…quite often if it does all convert, your business may not be able to handle it operationally. You’ll loose the customers you acquire just as quickly, and you end up causing more long-term damage. So think carefully before you tell your marketing team they need to bring in 400 leads each month!
Growth marketing needs to have a heavy focus on helping sales, and means that some of the more traditional and often ‘softer’ aspects of the marketing mix will have to take a lower priority. While growth and customer acquisition is important, it still needs to be done in a repeatable and sustainable way.