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Equilibrium of Optimal Marketing Investment

LTV to CAC ratios are incredibly high in many B2B companies. Yet the same companies hold back on ramping up marketing spend.

If your LTV:CAC ratio is well above 3 (in many companies this number is north of 10) and your Payback Period is below 12 months, ramping up sales and marketing spend aggressively can create a tremendous amount of enterprise value.

Why hold back any spend when you'll recover your investment in less than a year and generate returns for 10+ years?

If your break-even point on marketing spend is at the 18-24 month mark and your LTV:CAC ratio is still above 10, then it's time to optimize and analyze what's working and where spend is being wasted. Once optimized, scale aggressively again.

If LTV:CAC is below 3 and Payback Period is north of 12 months, it's time to go back to product and customer feedback before you think about investing more into acquisition.


PQLs: The Metric Low-Touch Models Need To Improve Sales Efficiency

Improving sales efficiency is one of the most common growth levers that feature in PE investment theses. There is huge potential for growth here if you improve conversion rates throughout your sales funnel. However, you can’t improve sales efficiency if you don’t have data on how prospects are moving through the pipeline towards closed-won.

In high-touch sales models, getting data on pipeline status is as easy as shooting an email to someone on your sales team. But in companies with low-touch models that have small or nonexistent sales teams, this can be more complex. How do you know if a lead is moving through the pipeline if you don’t have a salesperson to collect that feedback?

In a low-touch, ‘try before you buy’ SaaS model (for example using free trials or freemium plans) you’re likely dealing with small deal sizes and short sales cycles. There are thousands of people who want to try out your product: The challenge is converting these users...


How to Hire Marketing Leaders for PE-Backed Companies

Whether you’re filling gaps in the current marketing strategy, growing the marketing function, or restructuring the team to merge products, hiring new marketing leaders is a common step after an acquisition. 

Without the right leaders, Marketing won’t have the management and expertise it needs to scale demand generation, improve nurture, and support Sales. But finding marketing leaders that suit the company, its objectives, and your ideal roadmap can be a challenge.

The right marketing leaders will accelerate your growth; the wrong marketing leaders will keep you stagnating at status quo, or make rash decisions that could damage your brand. If you hire a CMO who isn’t a good fit for your business, the best-case scenario is several months of slow progress on your growth levers, money wasted on initiatives that go nowhere, and the expense and hassle of hiring a replacement within a year.

For PE firms, that kind of outcome is disastrous. With a limited time to...


How to Get Better Marketing Presentations at Board Meetings (+ Free Template)

Portfolio companies often believe that their investors only care about EBITDA and, therefore, that they’ll refuse to invest more into an initiative. If you’re a PE investor, you’ll know that’s far from the truth. 

After an acquisition, aligning the management team and the board around core initiatives as quickly and efficiently as possible is the number one priority for both portfolio companies and the PE firm. Scaling Marketing is often at the center of this, and most PE firms are keen to give Marketing budget to grow—if Marketing can prove they’ll deploy that additional budget responsibly. 

Too often, Marketing walks into the boardroom and asks for another $1 million to supplement their budget, without data to back up their request and without explaining how these projects support the key investment thesis growth levers.

Do you know where and how Marketing would be using the extra budget, and what their projected growth metrics are?...


The Data Framework You Need to Scale SaaS Marketing (+ Free Template)

When we’re brought in by a private equity firm to help a particular investment, the portfolio company’s immediate expectation is that we will ramp up Marketing priorities like demand gen and content right away. 

Our response is always to slam on the brakes.

Scaling is always the goal, but doing so without the right data framework in place is equivalent to setting your marketing budget on fire. Scaling Marketing isn’t like flipping a switch: It’s about building an engine that is predictable so that we can invest more dollars with confidence as time goes on. 

This requires data organization. Without data, you’re pursuing complex initiatives in the dark. You don’t know where to invest or how to track success on those investments. You’re playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey, and maybe you guess right and invest in the right space, but maybe you don’t.

To avoid costly misjudgments, you need to build a marketing data framework that...


How Marketing Needs to Help You Deliver On Your Investment Thesis Growth Levers

The revenue opportunities PE investors identify during the due diligence process usually form a big part of the investment thesis and are pinpointed as core growth levers. After the acquisition, starting to build out the strategy for these leavers and put them into practice is a top priority. Seventy-two percent of investors are looking to validate their investment thesis in the first 100 days. You’ve paid a high price to acquire the company, so it makes sense to validate the core growth levers early to make sure you’ve made the right move.

To make this likely (or even possible), everyone needs to be clear early on what is expected from them. Marketing leaders need to be fully aware of how each of the strategic levers in the investment thesis connects to their function and responsibilities, so they can help make sure the company meets those projections.

There are seven core strategic growth levers often included in investment theses:


Servant Leaders

In honour of Tony Hsieh, who inspired me with his commitment to building a phenomenal culture, delivering exceptional customer experiences, and growing his local community with his time and resources.

Put servicing people at the heart of everything you do and you'll inevitably build something great.

Also, highly recommend you reading Delivering Happiness -- one of the best books on service ever written.


Price vs TAM

Your Price Point and Total Addressable Market play a huge role in how you Go-To-Market.

Large TAM, low price --> Take a 1 to Many approach, drive volume and focus on efficiency. Inbound should be at the core.

Small TAM, high price --> Be super customized and personalized in your marketing. ABM should be at the core.

Somewhere in between --> Mix both approaches for a happy medium.

This is why starting with your company's specifics is important. Don't just buy an ABM solution because you watched a video from a martech vendor.

Truly understand your business and figure out which approach best fits your reality.


Authority Content

Most companies focus on creating content for the funnel. This includes:

  1. Awareness content to bring in more leads
  2. Nurture content to turn more leads into MQLs or MQLs into SQLs.
  3. Sales enablement content to close more MQLs

Very few companies focus on Authority content -- this is content that transcends the sales funnel. It has no interest in selling anything.

Its primary purpose is to serve the audience and market by giving them solutions to pain they are experiencing.

Authority content is not a "10 ways to do X" article. It is not a "Buyers guide for Y".

It is true thought leadership content that builds a connection with the audience because they can see how much you understand them.

Types of content that create this effect:

  • Podcasts
  • Educational videos
  • Books
  • Speaking

It's the hardest kind of content to create because the barrier to entry is deep expertise and empathy.

The companies that succeed at creating this content end up greasing all stages of the funnel anyways because it...


Content vs Brand Value vs Demand

There is a direct correlation between how much you invest in content, your brand value and how much demand you create.

More content where you give value to your audience / ICP / TAM leads to more brand value being created with that audience / ICP / TAM which leads to more demand gen overall because more people search for your brand or choose your brand over others.

Show me company with a great demand gen engine and I guarantee the company has a significant content engine as well.

Simple concept, yet grossly underestimated by many companies.


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