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Reallocating Trade Show Budget

In a lot of companies, getting off the hamster wheel of trade shows is virtually impossible.

So much so that even when trade shows have stopped, the trade show budget has been reallocated to the virtual versions of the same trade shows, which are far less valuable (no relationship building or in-person contact).

Meanwhile, digital marketing budgets don't have nearly as much allocation as required by the market. Paid media is underfunded, content is underfunded, social is underfunded.

Instead, it's time to rethink marketing budget allocation altogether. For example, if you analyze the trade shows you went to in 2019 through to Closed Won impact, you'll find that 20% of the shows brought 80% of the revenue.

Those same companies are ignoring digital channels that can bring in better qualified leads at much higher conversion rates. That is money that has been left on the table for years.

It's time to reallocate that budget with the right digital strategy on the digital channels where...

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Financial Model

Knowing the financial model for your business is critical to your success as a leader. Things you should have a thorough understanding of:

  1. Your Gross Margins: how much cash does each sale generate?
  2. Your CAC: how much cash are you investing into acquiring the sale?
  3. Your Overhead: how much cash do you need to cover your operating expenses each month?
  4. Your Profit Margin: how much free cash flow is the business generating by continuing to operate?

These are the questions your CEO, CFO and board think about every single day.
As you answer these questions, you begin to understand how your role / team / department fits into the bigger financial picture of the organization.
The more you understand that financial picture, the more you can figure out how to deploy the budget at your disposal to make the organization more successful.
It's also how you can lobby for more budget to grow your impact on the organization.

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Who Over What

"Those who lead organizations from good to great first get the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and then figure out where to drive the bus. They always think first about 'who' and then about 'what'. Great vision without great people is irrelevant." - Jim Collins, Turning the Flywheel.

There's a reason why the best CEOs obsess about culture and nurturing leaders within an organization.

While the best strategies and tactics can certainly propel companies forward, they don't prepare organizations for uncertainty and chaos.

When you're dealing with uncertainty, having the right people in the right seats is the highest form of strategy.

This is why whether you're a startup of a $100M company, thinking about who is on the journey with you is the most critical question and the question all CEOs and leaders should start with.

Everything else falls into place when the who is sorted out.

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CGO Career Path

The most natural career path for marketers is to move from a Director of Marketing to VP or a CMO position. This is the obvious path. Less obvious is what comes next. Where do you go from CMO?

The most natural path is to evolve into the Chief Growth Officer for organizations (Note: A Chief Growth Officer is not the same as a CRO).

Chief Growth Officers bring together Product, Marketing, Sales and Customer Success to work on the biggest growth levers of a business.

While you could argue this is the role of the CEO, as organizations grow the CEO transitions his or her efforts to leading bigger picture items like Vision, Culture, M&A, Investor Relations and more. This typically happens as companies cross the $10M ARR mark.

This leaves a gap in the organization -- whose responsibility is it to lead the overall growth strategy of the organization?

The answer to this question is a CMO who can think about strategy at the highest level across functions and bring people in the...

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Budget vs. Performance

One of the most common complaints from marketers is that their CEO / board won't give them more budget.

While it is true that some CEOs don't value marketing as much as others, all CEOs would happily allocate more budget to an area that is helping the business grow faster.

If you're starting with a small budget as a marketer, it is on you to figure out how to deliver value from that budget and perform.

More than that, show the impact on the business of that limited budget.

Then, ask the CEO / board for more budget by pointing the potential to scale performance even more.

Virtually a 100% success rate if you follow the above process.

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Stacking Growth

It's not one thing. It's several things.

While the most popular stories around startups involve founders having the "big idea" that finally moved the needle for a business, this is usually not the case.

It's usually multiple, smaller building blocks that stack on top of each other and compound growth together.

So, you need to:

1) Drive awareness with content, paid media, social

2) Nurture customers as they enter your funnel with education, sales enablement, resources

3) Engage customers with an efficient and effective sales process

4) Empower customers to get to value faster, with better onboarding experiences

5) Enable customers to get more value from your platform as time goes on, including bringing on additional people from their teams / orgs onto the platform

6) Expand customers as they increase their usage on the platform with more effective pricing

7) Find additional products and services to offer more value to your customers

and much more.

You need to do it all. It's not one...

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Servant Content

Too much content out there is self-serving. How do you tell if content is self-serving? Here are some tells.

1) It focuses on "look at me" as the main message.

2) It is not truly helpful at solving an audience's pain.

3) It is rooted in ego and uses cliche words like "groundbreaking", "cutting-edge", "seamless", "robust" etc. as a way to highlight how wonderful the person / company putting out the content is.

Servant content by contrast is all about the audience. It:

-Shows a deep understanding for a problem a person / group of people is facing
-Helps them solve a real challenge / pain they are facing
-Gives them as much information as possible to empower them to make the right decision for them.

Servant content is hard to come by because writing self-serving content is a LOT easier. Servant content means taking a lot of time, effort and empathy to produce.

Create more servant content.

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Marketing Reporting to CRO

Marketing reporting to the Chief Revenue Officer is one of the worst ideas generated inside the hierarchy of so many organizations.

"By having marketing report to the CRO, we have one revenue organization" -- this is the most common reason cited for the blunder.

The BIG error in this thinking is that the CRO is often a sales leader who defaults to sales thinking when it comes to critical marketing decisions. This is a recipe for disaster.

What would a sales-leaning CRO decide when hiring? One more sales rep or more marketing budget? Likely answer is one more sales rep.

The move also creates a layer of bureaucracy between marketing and the CEO -- the person who is ultimately needed to increase marketing impact.

By having marketing report to the CRO / VP of Sales, the CEO foregoes:

-Taking charge of the brand narrative and story
-Connection to the market and customers
-Understanding and balancing the investment in sales and marketing
-Giving marketing the right budget needed

That's not...

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Founder-Market Fit

The best companies are founded by people who have an earned secret or insight about a critical market problem.

These people have often experienced the market problem and pain points first hand. They also have unique industry knowledge and understand the required scope to solve the problem.

They end up being the first Product Managers of the company to figure out what a possible solution looks like. They also end up being the first marketers and sales people who bring together the story and positioning of the company to close deals.

This is why having the right founder for the right problem is critical. It is also why Founder-Market fit is more important than Product-Market fit.

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Creation vs. Distribution

There's a school of thought that suggests that creating a high volume of content is the key to building an audience.

There is some truth to that but there is also a false bar being set.

Creating unlimited content is valuable if you are able to find unlimited distribution.

The way to do this is beyond just posting 10 times a day on LinkedIn or Instagram or YouTube, which will surely lead to burn out because you constantly have to create more content to stay relevant.

You're also hoping the algorithm will help you find more people who view your content --- hoping that those people are your ideal customers as well.

This kind of strategy is pumped by proponents of hustle culture. Post 10 times a day till someone notices you. Keep posting. Keep grinding. (Forget your mental health, don't spend time with family, over-index on content vs. other areas of the business like services or product etc.)

Instead, creating the right pieces of content and finding distribution at scale is the key.

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