Growth strategy, growth hacking, growth marketing. Call it what you want, but there’s no denying that growth is one of the most important topics on startups’ agendas today.
But as hot a topic it is, so many companies are still struggling to effectively achieve growth. That’s why we’ve pulled together a panel of Boston’s top growth experts from leading tech companies including Hubspot, Wayfair, ezCater, and LogMeIn for GROWTH: Your Company’s Most Critical Vital Sign.
On April 14 at 5:30 p.m. at WeWork South Station, they’ll share with us their best growth advice and actionable tips you can apply to your own strategy.
Kaite Rosa: In July, you’ll come up on your one year mark as CMO with ezCater. What growth marketing tactics have you employed in your first nine or so months with the company? Any major successes you can share? What about some tactics that didn’t go according to plan?
David Meiselman: For a big chunk of time, we really focused on a lot of foundational work – migrating to a new CRM and marketing automation platform, integrating our commerce data into those systems, and defining existing and potential touch points across the customer lifecycle. All of that work gives us the ability to be very targeted in our communications and customize content so it resonates with the individual.
Beyond that, we have focused on two primary things – driving new volumes of prospective users and moving new customers more quickly to recurring status. We also kicked off a lot of broader marketing initiatives, like PR and content marketing, aimed at increasing awareness and brand recognition and building an audience.
The growth tactics that work best for us are when we encounter a target in a “moment of intent” – in our case, someone who, at that moment, needs to order food for a business meeting or event. That’s why search marketing works so well for us. We position ourselves when they are already oriented to a transaction. So search does very well for us.
Finding other opportunities like that is tough. We were hoping that some of the digital advertising platforms that let you hyper-target based on persona characteristics would create a good new volume for direct response customer acquisition, but we haven’t gotten where I’d like quite yet. Thus far, those platforms are serving us best to raise awareness and build audience, but we’re continuing to work on cracking the conversion nut in those places.
KR: You’ve worked at both startups and well established firms. When it comes to growth and marketing, what are the biggest differences? Are there any surprising similarities?
DM: The biggest differences are pretty obvious and are centered around culture and scale. On culture, big companies are usually more conservative and risk-averse, while startups need to find ways to grow, so they try a lot of things and they’re OK with failure. This is not surprising. Startups are in search of a repeatable model, while established companies are focused on running the repeatable model they have already discovered.
On scale, big companies often have divided responsibilities across people and departments. This makes it hard to try new things and move fast – which are obviously key to growth tactics. At a startup, you can move fast and break things (then fix them), which gets you to growth faster.
There are plenty of similarities, though. Best practices and methods for optimizing tactics are pretty common, regardless of the size of your company. Testing creative elements in a campaign, for example, is pretty much the same, whether you’re working for a big company or for yourself. I have always found that big differences in the tactics themselves come more from a company’s business model than the size of the company itself.
KR: How have the advances in digital marketing over the past decade or so impacted how companies of all sizes approach growth?
DM: It is a beautiful time to be a growth marketer. Ten years ago, we could only dream about what we have at our disposal today.
I think the biggest differences are probably seen in having easier access to integrated data and in the proliferation of tools that are available to us at reasonable prices under a SaaS model. Integrations used to be long, complex, and painful, so you often had a limited ability to connect all of your downstream data on outcomes back to programs and tactics. And, if you did, it was after some very painful technical projects. Today, most of the systems we use have pretty robust APIs (and many have existing connectors to each other) which make the integrations much easier and a heck of a lot quicker.
The barriers to entry for new marketing tools have come down so far. Cool tools are being built all the time that provide all sorts of capabilities that used to require internal development efforts to deploy. Now, you can drop a few snippets of code in a site footer and provide custom content or messaging based on rules or data in your automation platform. You can also model and track your campaigns or experiments very efficiently. You would not believe the size of the spreadsheets we used to use to figure out what was working and what wasn’t.
The net result of all of this is that small teams and individual people can have a bigger and faster impact on outcomes, which is what growth marketing is all about.
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