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...
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.
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
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.
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.
Pricing is and will be one of the biggest growth levers of your business.
The best pricing models tie higher price points to the metric that accurately represents the customer receiving more value.
Pricing connected to functionality does this to a certain degree. However, the best pricing models tie to a metric that scale with usage / value.
Some examples of the right metrics:
Hubspot: # of contacts
Patreon: $ earned from Patrons
Slack: # of team members
Models not tied directly to the success of customers inevitably have to increase price over time to capture "expansion". E.g. This is why Netflix has had to increase its price so many times.
The right metric ties the company's success to the customer's.
That's how you land + expand and ramp up expansion revenue from your customer base. It is also how you get to higher satisfaction and negative churn.
Alignment with the CFO is one of the most important relationships for marketing leaders. Why?
1) The biggest roadblock to scaling marketing is budget.
2) The way to get more budget is to have data to show the impact marketing is making.
3) The people to sell that story to are the CEO and board.
4) Your odds of success dramatically increase if you and your CFO are aligned on those numbers and the right-sized budget.
If you're a marketing leader and you haven't spent enough time on the P&L, Balance Sheet, Cash Flow Statement or Financial Projections, start spending a lot more time there.
You will become a far better marketing leader and executive.
You can read more on this topic in our full article, CMO-CFO Alignment in Portfolio Companies: Why It Matters, and How To Achieve It.
Just because a channel is easier to track does not mean it is the more valuable channel.
A lot of companies over-index on channels like Paid Media simply because it is a lot easier to connect investment to ROI.
Meanwhile, channels that are equally valuable such as content do not get as much investment because the attribution is at times unclear.
This is the same reason why some companies ignore more traditional channels (tv, radio etc.), channels that don't have clean attribution (e.g. podcast advertising, influencers) or building a brand through thought leadership (books, podcasts, YouTube).
A lot of this pressure to track is driven by management, who want clean reports on all marketing activities.
The answer is to educate internally on the value of creating a blended model of channels that are easier to track and ones that aren't so that you're building the best marketing engine.
If you become obsessed with the reporting aspect of marketing, you'll eventually be limited to paid...
Obsessing over attribution eventually becomes counterproductive.
There are marketing departments that won't invest in channels because the ROI is not obvious and they can't sell the merit of the activity internally to get buy-in from other stakeholders (especially the CEO).
This is a huge mistake.
When you're going from 0 (where nothing is being tracked) to 1 (where marketing is tracking contribution to revenue), attribution can be incredibly valuable.
Yes, you want to know how marketing dollars invested are leading to a return in closed won bookings.
It's just that some marketing activities create an "environment" for buyers to make their way through to buying your product. A lot of these activities cannot be measured.
Content is a lot like that. Social media is a lot like that. Building a brand is a lot like that.
You can measure some of the metrics around these activities, but you can't measure them all.
But if you stop those activities simply because you can't measure the...
This is why you should NOT worry about decreased engagement as you scale your content and distribution.
Good fit customers only increase their engagement over time. Bad fit customers fall off a cliff.
Content or Ad "Fatigue" is often used as the counter to scaling more content, more emails, more touch points.
But your best fit customers want to hear more from you. You are solving a very real pain in their life.
The more content you put out, the more helpful they will find you to resolving that pain. The more helpful you are, the more likely they are to buy from you.
This is why scaling content to infinite distribution works.
Now, the trick is to leverage personalization and customization whenever possible. That will only increase engagement because you'll have dedicated streams for different segments of your market.
If you focus too much on the bad fit customers and their engagement, you'll get caught trying to be everything to everyone.
Focus on your best fit customers and don't...