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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...

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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?...

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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...

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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...

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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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Price vs Service Load

Every business should aspire to be in the top left quadrant -- where Price is higher but Service Load is lower. This is when margins are the highest and can be reinvested into building an even better product and business.

This is why some of the biggest companies in the world are B2SMB SaaS companies. Shopify, Hubspot and Atlassian all fit in that quadrant.

It is also why Product-Led Growth companies with price points around $1K eventually end up trying to move upmarket and why B2B Enterprise companies try to lower their service load with better software that needs less customizations.

It is where the most value is created for the customer the fastest. There is more automation, better self-service, more transparency, better outcomes, better experience.

Win-win.

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Step Function Expenses

Revenue increases gradually while expenses increase like a step function. This is a key dynamic to understand whether you're the CEO or a team member working in a business.

Every time you ramp up expenses, it cuts into your profitability. This is why ramping up expenses in the right areas is critical.

The right expenses are better framed as investments. They ramp up revenue as well so your profitability curve smoothes out.

Every time you bring a budget proposal to the CEO or board for an expense that doesn't ramp up revenue, the likelihood of getting that budget drops to 0.

They have so many places where they can invest additional dollars that investing it in a place with no ROI has a high opportunity cost as well.

This is why many functions, including marketing, are viewed as cost centers by companies.

Marketing costs look more like expenses than investments when the marketing leader cannot explain how added cost, program or headcount the company will ultimately grow the business...

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