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ICP Variations

Your internal customer profile and journey work will only get you so far. At some point, generalizations put customers into buckets that don't exactly fit who they are.

This is how companies end up finding customers who are using their products for completely different purposes than initially forecasted.

Some of those use cases end up being a massive growth lever for businesses, if only the business takes the time to understand the subset of the ICP that needs that problem solved

This is why analyzing all the true variations of your ICPs is important. Each variation has differences in terms of:

  • How big the market is
  • Where they can be acquired
  • What the margin on landing the customer is
  • What their LTV is

The more you understand these variations, the more you can unlock the growth potential of a business.

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Bottom Up Forecasting

Forecasting is not just a math exercise. In a lot of companies, it is treated as one.

If Finance puts together aggressive projections without properly understanding the specifics growth levers inside the business, it is setting up the organization to fail.

Without proper input from Marketing and Sales, the organization is far less likely to meet its sales projections.

To use a bottom-up approach, we need to understand all the different inputs of our revenue model. This is where questions like the following become important:

  • How much pipeline is being generated per channel?
  • What are the close rates on pipeline by region?
  • How much can we upsell our existing customer base?

This means functions like Marketing and Sales need to have the right data points to inform forecasting decisions and actively push Finance to involve them more in budgeting cycles.

Unrealistic, uninformed expectations are a big reason why companies miss their sales projections.

And the better the forecast, the...

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Great CMOs Long-term Focus

Great CMOs don't survive in companies with a short-term focus. Average CMOs don't survive in companies with a long-term focus.

This mismatch is why CMO tenure is less than 2 years in most companies.

In companies with a short-term focus, hitting next quarter's projections matters more than anything else. This is when shortcuts are taken, this is when bad marketing strategies are deployed, this is when customers are not the focus.

Great CMOs either quit or are fired for wanting to do things that pay dividends with time horizons more than a year out.

In companies with a long-term focus, creating long-term enterprise and customer value is the objective. Short-term tactics and hacks go out the window.

These companies are hard to find because it all starts with the CEO and investors. Great CMOs thrive in such environments because their inclination to play long-term games aligns with the company's.

This is why "selecting" the right company to hitch your horse to as a marketing leader is...

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Discount vs. Close Rate

Discounts can be helpful when it comes to closing deals, but they're not nearly as helpful as a lot of salespeople think.

Your customer has a pain point that is large enough to lead them to look for a solution in the first place. Their willingness to pay for a solution is connected more deeply to your ability to solve that problem and less to how much of a deal they can get.

Beyond a certain percentage, a discount destroys all the work done by marketing and sales to communicate the value of the solution to that pain point.

Even if the customer ends up buying, the operating model around the deal ends up breaking after a threshold. The costs to deliver are the same, the margin just decreases.

Lower margin = lower access to resources = lower ability to deliver to customers.

This is why marketing and sales need to hold firm on pricing.

Discounts are fine as a small give. They should not be the reason deals close.

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ROI vs. Effort

Mapping marketing opportunity versus effort / investment tells us where we should really focus.

The key to success is balancing activities that are easy and have low barriers to entry (e.g. paid media) and activities that require more effort and have high barriers to entry (e.g. content).

You need to do both as you scale a business.

High ROI / Low Effort avenues often buy you the internal political capital. That's why doing them first is usually a good place to start because they help you get the internal buy-in to do the High ROI / High Effort activities.

As the business matures, most of the enterprise value is created in doing the High Effort activities that generate High ROI because that's how you close more deals, grow faster and win over a market.

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Videos vs. Website Visitors

In a social first world, driving everyone to your website by default is a big mistake.

A video view on YouTube / LinkedIn / Facebook is just as valuable as someone who reads your blog post (maybe even more so). A podcast episode download is just as valuable as someone watching a webinar.

If your top of funnel metrics exclude content reach on social platforms, your understanding of how marketing is driving pipeline for your business is distorted.

The obsession with website funnel metrics leads to loads of missed opportunity because in many cases your audience wants to see your content, just not on your website.

Provide the content within the distribution channel that has your audience's attention. You will generate more demand, which was always the goal of increasing website traffic anyways.

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Inelastic Demand

Pricing is one of the biggest growth levers inside any business because it adds a significant amount of expansion revenue and grows total customer value without additional costs to acquire that revenue.

Most businesses can only increase their price so much before demand begins to decline. In terms of economics, demand for most products is elastic.

One of the major benefits of building a brand is that it makes demand more inelastic.

This is where Marketing builds tremendous enterprise value because it enables demand inelasticity.

Stronger brand = higher price for same demand = higher margins

This is why brand-building activities like content can't be just measured by things like page views, emails captured, MQLs or even pipeline.

The full business value is much greater.

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Value of Strategy vs. Tactics

Tactics lose value as you progress in your career. Strategy gains value as you progress in your career.

Tactics peak in value at a certain stage and even begin to lose value as you move to higher level conversations.

Meanwhile, strategy continues to gain momentum and accelerates in value as you begin to see the Matrix in what you do.

This is why at some point in your career you have to transition from obsessing over tactics towards obsessing over strategy and the big picture.

It’s not easy to do. But bigger picture work almost always moves the needle by a lot more.

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How Top of Mind Unlocked the Value of Marketing Data With Help from How To SaaS

 

“Our organization hadn't really spent a lot of focus, time, energy, or money on marketing ourselves,” explains Nick Belenky, EVP Sales at Top of Mind Networks. As the leading mortgage CRM, the team knew this was an ironic situation to be in. Top of Mind had been so focused on giving a great product experience and helping customers market their businesses that they weren’t maximizing the marketing opportunities for their own solution.

This isn’t an unusual position for SaaS companies to find themselves in. Often, marketing to existing customers and supporting Product and Customer Success takes priority while the potential for marketing-led growth takes a back seat. 

The Top of Mind team knew they needed to build their web presence and make it easier for new customers to find them. But they didn't want to waste time on haphazard experimentation without knowing what outcomes to expect or which KPIs to track. 

Following a recommendation from their...

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Raw Marketing Skills

Too many companies pass up on high-potential marketing candidates due to a lack of experience. Over-indexing on experience can lead to a lot of expensive hiring mistakes to be made.

There’s just not enough marketing talent out there to supply the demand / need from companies looking to hire for those roles.

Instead, focusing on raw skillsets and committing to levelling up those individuals so that they can eventually fill the shoes of a bigger role can lead to enormous success.

Raw skills to look for:

  1. Communication: Written, verbal, presentation skills, ability to manage expectations.
  2. Creativity: Thinking outside the box, being able to bring personality.
  3. Data-driven: Inclination to look at metrics and performance as positive feedback loops.
  4. Speed: High rate of quality output and an ability to pick things up about the industry / technical skills

This applies whether you’re a startup looking to attract a talented Director of Marketing or if you’re a...

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