What the Heck is Growth Marketing!?
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The confusing thing about the term “Growth Marketing” is that every business wants to grow. Every business wants to acquire new customers, to increase revenue, to measure success in dollar signs year over year. But desire alone does not the growth marketer make.
It’s about so much more than that. Yes, you need to acquire customers, but you also need to make acquisition easier. You need to deliver on your promise when they do sign. You need to give them reasons to become avid evangelists for your brand.
In this episode of Renegade Marketers Unite, 3 CMOs in very different fields to share their unique perspectives on what it means to be a growth marketer, how they’re applying it in the real world, and what success looks like. (Hint: 500% quarterly growth, reducing negative brand sentiment by 90%, etc.)
Tune in to hear insights from three all-star Growth Marketing CMOs: Jennifer Houston of D-Wave Systems, Gary Sevounts of Socure, and Katherine Post Calvert of PagerDuty (previously Khoros).
What you’ll learn:
- What it really means to be a growth marketer
- Why customer experience is part and parcel of growth marketing
- The B2B metrics that matter to growth marketers
- CMO Huddles
- Renegade Marketers by Drew Neisser
- Jennifer Houston episode: B2B Marketing IS Rocket Science
- Chart: Traditional Marketing vs. Growth Marketing
- [01:12] So, what the heck is Growth Marketing?
- [03:00] Jennifer Houston: Growth Marketing is… Authenticity
- [04:05] Making authenticity real at D-Wave
- [07:00] Behind D-Wave’s 90% drop in negative brand sentiment
- [09:04] Nurturing brand advocates
- [11:22] Gary Sevounts: Growth Marketing is… In our DNA
- [15:00] How to win: Proof of concept as an acquisition model
- [20:02] Katherine Calvert: Growth Marketing is… The Customer Experience
- [25:24] Creating the space for customers to flourish
- [29:25] CMO Huddles Testimonials
- [32:17] Growth marketing metrics
- [37:20] Marketing metrics need to be aligned with Sales
- [41:10] Changing board & investor mindsets
- [42:44] Growth Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing
- [44:26] CMO Tips for aspiring growth marketers
Highlighted Quotes“If you’re not viewed by your board and executive team as the truth teller, then you're not doing your job.” —@JHouston89 @dwavesys Click To Tweet “It's your job to bring people along with you, whether it's the audience that you're trying to sell to or the teams that you're asking to support you.” —@JHouston89 @dwavesys Click To Tweet ”A B2B marketer has gotta be thinking about creating, accelerating, and retaining revenue. That's what we do.” —@kpcalvert @pagerduty Click To Tweet “If you stop at the transaction, you're forgetting the rest of your opportunity to continue to grow that customer and increase the lifetime value. Don't forget the journey when you get to the destination.” —@kpcalvert @pagerduty Click To Tweet “Many companies underestimate the opportunities within their customer base. Engagement level, penetration within different verticals, activation with different products. There is a gigantic opportunity there.” —Gary Sevounts @socureme Click To Tweet “A result is more than an effort. Details matter. Be the owner you are… Those are the three principles I believe will separate a successful Growth Marketer from the one that tries to be successful.” —Gary Sevounts @socureme Click To Tweet
Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 297 on YouTubeFull Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Jennifer Houston, Gary Sevounts, and Katherine Post Calvert
Drew: Hello, Renegade Marketers! Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite, the top rated podcast for B2B CMOs and other marketing-obsessed individuals. You’re about to listen to a recording of Renegade Marketers Live, our live show featuring the CMOs of CMO Huddles, a community that shares, caring, and daring each other to greatness every day of the week.
This time we’re talking about what it means to be a growth marketer with master marketeers Jennifer Houston of D-Wave, Gary Sevounts of Socure, and Katherine Calvert, who was at Khoros at the time of this recording but is now CMO of PagerDuty. Okay, let’s dive in.
I’m your host, Drew Neisser, live from my home studio in New York City. Today, we’re going to be exploring the topic of Growth Marketing.
Now, if you’re unfamiliar with the term, you’ve got good company and you might wonder—isn’t growth of the goal of all marketing? Well, yes. But there’s an important wrinkle here in that in almost all definitions of growth marketing speak to both landing customers and expanding those relationships.
Now I want to go through a couple of these definitions because it is a little bit all over the map, but here we go:
Growth marketing is intelligent, data-driven marketing for the purpose of adding revenue to the bottom line of your business. Notice this, revenue, not customers.
Growth marketing isn’t about fixating on one part of your funnel. It’s about looking at your entire customer life cycle and using those insights to create compounding returns that drive more engaged customers. Again, not about new just acquisition.
Growth marketing focuses on customer building relationships and fostering loyalty. It’s a long-term strategy where authenticity and engagement create advocacy.
So, for the purposes of this show, we’re going to going to call growth marketing a holistic approach to revenue generation moving well beyond the traditional obsession of marketers with new customer acquisition.
Let’s bring on Jennifer Houston, CMO of D-Wave Systems and star of episode 257 of Renegade Marketers Unite. Hello, Jennifer.
Drew: So let me ask you this right off the bat. Did any of those definitions of growth marketing resonate with you?
Jennifer: Yeah, I think the one, the third one did it the most because it had the word authenticity in it. And I think authenticity and loyalty and advocacy are just core to our ability as marketers to engage in long-term customer success. If we’re focused on only one part of the funnel, we’re missing out on this concept of trust and of activation and of authenticity. I think it’s that exchange that makes those long-term relationships.
Drew: Interesting. So what we’re really talking about here is to make sure that I put this in layman’s terms. It’s not just get them in the door, forget about it. Okay. And so when the word authenticity is used a lot in marketing, and sometimes it’s thrown around and some might even say it’s a contradiction and an oxymoronic term when it comes to marketing.
So what do you mean when you say authentic?
Jennifer: One of the things that we do at D-Wave is we build quantum computers, which is by themselves mindblowing, right? And so how do you build authenticity around something that people aren’t even sure that works? Being honest, being trustworthy, being humble, demonstrating what is real versus what the hype is, is really all about our brand.
For us, when I think about authenticity, we have to live and deliver everything that is. And the handshake back with our customers is that when we deliver something real, they lean into that and become these long-term brand advocates with us.
Drew: So this is really interesting and you and I have talked about this because there is this world of hype and you hear quantum computing and isn’t it in their hands to make it, to do something amazing with it? I mean, you’re delivering a machine. Tell me a little bit more about that, so I make sure that I got it.
Jennifer: Yeah, it actually goes beyond that. I think when we originally started and we thought, okay, we’ve got these big systems. We’re now available in the cloud. It’s going to revolutionize the world. But what we realized is because it was this big idea and because the technology makes you think differently—you think quantum leap, it’s not zeros or ones anymore.
It’s much more of a generic, like you’ll look at the lowest energy. What are the possibilities that come out of this, right? Which is not the way that we like to consume information. We’d like it to be zeros and ones. And so to your question, we realized very quickly, maybe about 18 months after putting it in the cloud, that we had a responsibility to add a professional services arm to that as well, so that we could help imagine the possible about what could I do in financial services or what could I do potentially in life sciences?
You know, everyone has these business problems they’re solving for, but how do I even tie that to quantum? And so for us, that back to that authenticity, we recognized that we weren’t doing enough for our customer base. Our platform wasn’t enough. And so we moved into this, how do we add people and humans and brains for that change management?
Drew: Okay. And that is such an important point. And now I think I get it. I’m not going to say I can—but what’s happened here is so many SaaS companies, for example, they put their product out there, say “Knock yourself out, go use it.”
And we know that most software is underutilized. And we know like in marketing technology. Most of it, it’s got 10 widgets and you people use to… I mean, think about your phone.
It’s the same way you got a hundred apps, you use three of them. So the notion that,t in order for your customers to really truly take advantage of your product, you need a service arm that can help them imagine what they’re doing. And that feels now consistent with the definitions that we’re talking about because they can’t grow in the usage of the product and they can’t become advocates unless they actually do something with the product that was, A, consistent with a promise upfront, and B it sort of takes advantage of what it is that they bought.
So we talked about on the show, there was this reputation issue when you got there. How’s it going now?
Jennifer: Well, I am actually thrilled you asked me that question because when we started, we were at about 28% negative sentiment and I just got the 2021 numbers and it was 2.6%. So over a three-year period of time, we went from almost 30% to under 3%, which you know, is just thrilling.
Okay, those are numbers. We’ve measured it, but more importantly, it’s how our customer base has leaned in. All of a sudden, we’re getting calls from people or emails or, you know, participating in webinars or fill in the blank. We have these things called digital boardrooms, where we invite small groups of people and again, handcrafting, so that the onus is not on them to learn. How do we help bring them forward? And I think that building that trust has then engendered a new relationship, a new opportunity for relationship with these customers and potential customers. And that in itself is just thrilling.
Drew: If I’m doing the math, it’s like you’ve had a 90% drop if you will. You’ve gotten rid of 90% of the haters. But in the meantime, you’ve worked really hard to get the people that are positive, even more positive.
Jennifer: Like in anything political, there’s the fence sitters. And then there’s the haters and the lovers. Like you’re not going to move the people who hate you, but you’re going to move those fence-sitters and those people who love you, you’re going to—or that’s your goal, right?
You move them so that they are so passionate about you they become the advocates. And in that authentic exchange, we’re going to make you successful. We’re going to help you get your next job. We’re going to help you be one of the bleeding edge—I call them the quantum pioneers. And in that, what comes back to us is this long-term loyalty.
Drew: And I’m curious, you’ve mentioned that digital boardroom. When we talk about—now that we’ve defined growth marketing as really: Yes, you’re getting in the door, you’re landing a new customer, but this expansion comes as a result of advocacy. So we’re now zeroing in on these advocates. What are you doing? You know, are there other things that you are doing that are helping them?
Because again, these quantum pioneers—I love the fact that you’ve named them—but what else are you doing in that area to nurture your advocates?
Jennifer: Yeah. So one of the things that we heard—I never look at any marketing activity as a one-directional. I’m not just trying to bring you in. I’m trying to learn from you.
And so in our digital boardrooms, what we learned there—digital because we couldn’t be in person. What we learned was that there was number one, huge interest. Number two, a huge amount of learning curve that was hunger for more information. And number three, the biggest question everyone had was, What is the right use case and how do I get started?
So three things happened out of that. Number one, we built the professional services launch program that specifically helps people move phase one, phase two, phase three, phase four. It’s consumable, it’s affordable, it’s thoughtful. It’s on the customer’s terms. That was the first thing that came out of what we learned from those digital boardrooms.
The second thing that came out of what we learned was that there was a hunger for interconnection with these, between different people who played these roles of these digital or these quantum pioneers. They felt like they were alone within their organizations. So bringing them together, we actually built something called a quantum council that we now meet quarterly of business leaders who are talking together about how did they share the best practices, and actually ultimately put out thinking about what the world needs through the lens of business on quantum. So that was the second big thing that came out.
The third thing came out of it is that there’s just this unquenchable demand for more information. And so really thinking through the buyer’s journey, but then also the consumer’s journey. So it wasn’t just the top of the funnel, but all the way through, and then the journey that those people as they stand alone often inside of their businesses as the only people or the few people who understand quantum, feeding and caring and nurturing that entire time. So whether it be white papers, whether it be, we’ll go in and do a lunch and learn for the organizations or whatever.
I mean, none of these are new, but they are, in aggregate, it demonstrates our commitment to those customers.
Drew: Love it. We’re going to now move on to Gary, Gary Sevounts who is the CMO of Socure. And so Gary, how are you?
Gary: Doing fantastic. Thank you.
Drew: And how are things in Silicon Valley?
Gary: Things are crazy and fun as always.
Drew: And I know that you, Socure has had incredible growth. Do you consider yourself a growth marketer? And if so, how has that impacting your approach?
Gary: Absolutely growth marketing truly is the fundamental approach to everything we do. I would say there are three areas of growth marketing I want to highlight today. One is somewhat different from the way people approach growth marketing.
In our case at Socure, what we’ve done, we became part of growth marketing engine for our customers. In other words, we empower our customers to grow. Every time we get a prospect that is really interested, we engage with them at proof of concept where we actually work with their data and we’re able to show them what is the lift gonna be by moving to Socure platform. So they can see the friction that they’re going to reduce, the amount of approvals that they were missing before, the amount of new customers. And the revenue that they can generate and the numbers are very real and they’re based on their actual data.
And when we compare that with what they were doing before with that data and what we will do with them, it’s very clear the return on investment on their growth engine. So when they engage with, typically within a few months, within a year, they see gigantic increases or from like a couple of million dollars to tens of millions or even hundreds of millions of dollars.
So missed revenue, miss growth that they were able to open with Socure. We become the growth engine, the growth marketing for our customers.
For us, it goes then to the next step where growth marketing is in the DNA of all our organization. For example, each product marketing leader acts like a CMO of their product. They’re not just in sales enablement. They’re not just in writing content or collateral. Each product marketing leader truly understands the revenue, the pipeline, the conversion specific to their products. They’re experts in their product areas. They actually are co-owners of the growth marketing plan for their product line.
At any point of time, they’re aware of: What is the pipeline, what our conversion is, what is the revenue, what are the renewals, what are the upsells.
So the third part is we created this really interesting department called Treasure Ops, where they own the crossroads of account-based marketing, digital inbound, content marketing, and other types of marketing, where we’re really looking at old different signals to identify most promising companies and then deliver truly customized, specific to their needs content, and message at the right time to help them address their needs and turn them into initially pipeline then customers and then the upsell. So yeah, definitely growth marketing is in our DNA.
Drew: I want to go back to the proof of concept and what I think is so interesting thinking about that in the context of growth marketing—because we’ve said growth marketing equals customer success. And it’s interesting to me that, you know, there are categories where there is no proof of concept. There is, it’s like, you buy it, it works out or it doesn’t. And I think it’s mazing that your sort of acquisition model is what becomes self-fulfilling in this sense, if you do a POC and you promise a certain delivery and that customer gets it, then you win.
And they win because you’re making them successful. So that’s really interesting. And I’m curious because not every company can do POC or does them, and I’m sure you’ve been at brands that couldn’t. What is the trick to being able to do a proof of concept cost effectively for your business and for these products?
Gary: Yeah, let me give you two thoughts there. One thought is around one company that we all know is Marketo. I remember the first time when I was looking to buy them, the marketing automation tool, we were looking at Marketo, Silverpop at the time, Eloqua and a bunch of others. Their sales approach of Marketo was very different, which really caught my attention.
When I asked the Marketo sales rep to give me a quote, he said, “That doesn’t really make sense. You don’t know our tool yet. Why don’t you do like a pilot or like a test or POC? And then if you like the product, then I can, I’ll be happy to give you a quote.”
No matter how I pushed the guy, he would not give me a quote. So he insisted we did a pilot. We really liked it. Only then he gave me a quote that was pretty significantly higher than the other companies who didn’t even try to add this extra level of friction to qualify me and to establish the value. Even though the other products may have been similar, the perception of the value that Marketo put behind their product and the rigor and the pilot was significantly different.
We ended up going with Marketo and really never looked back. Now in our environment, there are a lot of companies who don’t do POCs. It’s extra friction, right? The salespeople are afraid of it. Like what if the customer says no? What if they don’t give us their data? What if this, what if that? The really amazing part with Socure is the founder and our CEO and the team that institutionalized this POC concept where when we have a prospect that is well qualified… We want to work with them. We want to equip them with the very specific, clear numbers that they themselves can see what they will be gaining in terms of the growth, but they can also become internal champions within their companies that they can objectively present what these technologies can make in terms of difference.
And to me, when I joined the company, this was a complete eye-opener to the amount of the rigor, amount of the details and structure, how the company has institutionalized that process. And again, I’ve seen companies in this space who don’t have POCs, and it’s a very much of a hit and miss.
I can tell that this is one of the reasons why Socure is growing over 500% per year, which was the Q4 number of the last year.
Drew: I was going to ask you about the growth. Cause I know that in our private conversations it’s been crazy growth and your team has expanded. And so if anybody has any doubt out there about POC or proof of concept as a business driver, what I think is so interesting—and breaking down what you said—it qualifies the customer because if they’re not serious, they’re not going to do it.
And that’s a really important part of it. It’s certains their commitment. And then it makes it easy for them to make the business case. Because most of the time with the acquisition of a software, particularly in the marketing technology space, it’s a leap of faith. Well, we think it’s going to be able to do that based on the averages of the other companies.
Whereas you’ve sort of taken all the risk out of the acquisition because you say, “Hey, we’ll prove it.” And then you can bring the price up.
Gary: Absolutely, and I’ll tell you this. I worked in many companies and the typical salespeople ask for ROI, right? And it becomes this, “Oh, we cannot build ROI.” It’s different from one customer to another one. It becomes this theoretical exercise.
The lesson I learned at this company is to go that extra step, to really pay attention to the ROI, to the proof of concept, and showing numbers, and then systematize that and institutionalize that where this becomes part of the DNA.
Because as our CEO says, in the end of the day, it’s a math problem. Right? We’re an analytics company and we can prove that this is what you’re getting and answer any question. It’s very transparent, very obvious, and it’s really game-changing.
Drew: Love that if you want to, I think 500% quarterly growth qualifies as growth. So case made. Okay, we’re going to now bring on Katherine Calvert, who is the CMO of Khoros. Katherine, how are you?
Katherine: Great. Nice to see you Drew, how are you?
Drew: Good. I’m imagining you’ve been listening to this conversation and I just want to set the stage here for folks because Khoros is a relatively new brand. It came together as a result of Lithium, which a lot of folks know, and SpreadFast merging.
So I’m imagining… customer expansion as you integrated these products was a big part of what you’re doing. Anyway, talk a little bit about, you’ve been listening to this conversation so far. What resonated with you and what sort of is different in terms of how you approach your challenge?
Katherine: I’ve loved the conversation so far, and I’m a little humbled, right?
We like to think our technology is sophisticated and innovative. It is not quantum computing. So to clarify, but when we brought Lithium and Khoros together, the whole idea was that you have to be able to connect the dots of customer engagement. And that’s why I’m so excited about how you’ve talked about growth marketing and the threads of this conversation.
Jennifer picked up on authenticity. That’s so important and so critical. One of the words that leapt out at me in those definitions is the idea of a relationship. And that was really why we created Khoros. The economy has changed, right? It’s no longer a consumer economy. The way I think of it as the relationship economy and the barriers to entry are so low.
It’s so easy to tell the world about a great experience. And it’s so easy to tell the world about a bad experience, and it’s not that hard to get what you need from almost anywhere in the world. And so the companies that can differentiate on that customer experience see the kind of growth that we’re all aspiring to.
So as a marketer, obviously, really fun to get to be a part of that journey. I think I always think of the old hair club for men. I’m not just the CMO, I’m also a client. I just love helping companies think about this mode of engagement or customer experience as part and parcel of marketing.
And I think that’s the big difference when you go from that mindset of like, we just need to get leads in the top of the funnel and close transactions to this model of really thinking about customer engagement is everybody’s responsibility, then you start thinking about how much more share of wallet can we get? How long can we keep this customer? What’s the lifetime value of that customer?
Gary was talking about qualification. When you really understand your customer and who’s happiest, it’s going to help you as a marketer understand who the right kind of customers to pursue, what are the right prospects for your business? And by listening to what your customers care about, the good and the bad, you can learn a lot about how to get more opportunities for yourself.
Drew: In wrapping that, summarizing that idea. It’s like, you can’t be a growth marketer unless you’re tracking customer experience. Did I get it all there?
Katherine: You got it. I came from the school, came up through the marketing world and then Jennifer touched on authenticity. I came to this company because I’ve been a customer. I had used our community software at a FinTech company. And when they first came and pitched us as the CMOs. “Wait, what? We’re going to make it easy for everybody to talk to each other, all our customers, and we’re going to make it open and public, and people can see what they’re saying to each other?”
And that was a big mindset shift, right? But once the genie is out of the box—and the reality of this digital world we’re all in is that the genie’s out. And if you’re not in the conversation, that means they’re talking about you behind your back.
And so when you open those conversations and create that network effect around your customers, that’s how people make buying decisions now. So opening that gate and thinking about the relationship as a long-term relationship, not just a transaction, that’s where we see growth as a business ourselves and where we’ve seen really exciting stories.
Drew: So again, the goofy thing about the word growth marketing is that it throws you in different because every business wants to grow as I started.
But what we’re really saying is, yes, you need to acquire customers, but you need to keep them too. And not only that, if you keep them in the right way, you will create these advocates. And so when you think about your role, because you’ve now been there a couple of years, I’m sure have to think about pipeline. I have no doubt that you have to think about pipeline because I don’t know a CMO who doesn’t have to think about it one way or another.
So let’s talk about when we think about growth, we’re thinking about, yes, we’ve got to get them in the door. We had to get the right customers in the door and then of course we have to keep them.
I’m curious. How you use your own tool to help you? And I don’t know if that works on a pipeline level or is it really your product comes into being when they are a customer. So talk a little bit about this because I’m running around in circles at the moment.
Katherine: Sure, sure. So Khoros is a customer engagement platform.
So we’re creating basically a central bank for all of those digital interactions in a contact center. In your marketing team, your social channels, email chat messaging, and then peer-to-peer communities right now, a lot, historically, those things all happen in silos or maybe in a center of excellence. And then you’re not able to harvest the learnings from those moments.
That’s what we try to do when people interact with you, they expect to be known the way that they know you and we try to help our customers create those opportunities and then also create forums and places and systems of engagement for customers and prospects to connect.
How do you buy software? You ask the market, you ask your peers, might talk to analysts, but you’re talking to a fellow huddlers in the CMO group, you’re talking to on LinkedIn groups, you’re researching and being part of those conversations and being plugged into what the market and those prospects are telling you is what is going to help you get the customers into the funnel.
We know that once upon a time it was buyers are 60% down the buying journey by the time they talked to a sales rep. I would posit it’s probably more like 70 to 80% at this time. And so back to, How am I measured? I’m measured on originated pipe and originated bookings, but I can’t, if I’m not very, even above the funnel, if I’m not darkening the skies and listening closely and participating in those conversations, then I’m missing the chance to even welcome them into my funnel or my house to have those conversations.
And then once they’re in the door, how do I think about action? And we are a multi-product company. We have a platform with a variety of solutions. Most people start with one, and then I need to keep thinking about how to convey the value of the full platform and not just be a point-to-point solution.
And that starts very early. It starts with, “Hey, here’s what great looks like. We understand you. As you said earlier, you can only bite off this piece right now because it might be a new or a transformational piece of software, but here’s what great looks like. Here’s what we should be thinking about as a North Star.
And I think that came up earlier in the conversation. So much of this is evolving and it’s changing. And for all of our industries, the three of us sell very different things, but we’re all learning how to get the most out of this new technology because a lot of it’s new and new stuff keeps coming, whether it’s a new channel or a new technology.
And so creating space to be a trusted partner, I think once upon a time that was come to me and I’ll answer your question nowadays. You have to know that you’re not the only one with the answer. So how can you create part of your brand value should be creating a space where I can not just ask the vendor, but my other peers who are trying to solve those problems and then create space for those ideas to flow?
Drew: I love that. And as it was thinking about all of this and in my book, Renegade Marketing, 12 Steps to Building Unbeatable B2B Brands, I talk about this notion that customers are the primary target before prospects and what you really helped me crystallize when you talked about your reputation is, it’s sitting out there in the metaverse, it’s out there.
And if that isn’t a good reputation, It’s going to be that much harder. You’re going to get fewer leads and so forth. And this is one of the reasons why I’ve tried to turn this thing upside down. If you’re a B2B marketer, I would say start with employees, then get to customers, and then get to prospects.
And so I feel like I could probably rename the book as saying How to Be a Renegade Growth Marketer. But anyway, we’re going to take a quick break.
And so I’m gonna, I’m gonna talk, you mentioned huddles, so let’s for a second—
Launched in 2020. CMO Huddles is an invitation-only subscription service that brings together an elite group of CMOs like the three folks that you just saw to share, care, and dare each other to greatness. One CMO described huddles as timely conversations between smart peers in a trusted environment while another called it a cross between an expert workshop and a therapy session. Because we have three huddlers here with us right now—and Jennifer, you were just with us, Jennifer, come on back. Did anything that I just say describe CMO Huddles—does it ring true for you?
Jennifer: Absolutely. I think the key thing that just comes out of this long statement is trust. It’s a safe place where you can have trusted conversations and not have to know everything. I think our jobs can be lonely. Sometimes we are the people who have to understand everything. And it’s really nice to have a community of people that probably know more than you do.
And it’s okay to ask, or they may not know more than you do, but they know more about something because that’s what’s so interesting about the huddles community: There are some deep pockets of expertise that are extraordinary.
Drew: And Katherine or Gary do either of you want to add to this conversation about huddles?
Katherine: I thought that Jen’s point about it can be lonely is so important. Sometimes there’s expertise you’re looking for. Often a lot of this is, there’s no perfect answer. You just need to chew on something with somebody or peers who have looked at this or can help you look at the same problem from a few different angles. And that’s been incredibly valuable.
Gary: Let me jump in really quickly. Marketing, I think you’ll agree, is changing so quickly. What worked a year ago may not work today. What worked five years ago, some things work, but a lot of things not, right? And we’re all independently solving a lot of those and the challenge is, other than forum like this, we’re not sharing that. This is an amazing and perfect opportunity for us to get together, learn from each other, and hear those tidbits of wisdom, Share those bits of wisdom, which could be a really smart way to success in many ways.
Drew: I love it. And I love the fact that here you mentioned this notion that marketing is changing and what worked yesterday might not work today. We spent September talking about digital fatigue because so many CMOs were seeing certain things not work.
I mean, whether it was the webinar or just email campaigns or whatever, they started to see this slide. So we’ve troubleshot on a lot. Anyway, if you’re a B2B CMO that can share and care and dare with the best of them, please hop over to CMOHuddles.com or hit me up on LinkedIn to see if you qualify for a guest pass.
Okay. So I’m curious, if we’re growth marketers and we’re saying that what really counts is not just acquisition, but retention and the full revenue, how are we changing the metrics and the KPIs that we look at? Because so many CMOs that we talk—and this comes up in huddles a lot. The number one metric is pipeline and sourced.
What are the metrics that you were using that make it different from a growth marketing standpoint versus your normal demand gen thing. Anyone want to go first with that one?
Katherine: I can start. I think the traditional metrics for marketing being—and let’s never forget, we’re still trying to change perceptions of the marketing team and evolve to be known as the revenue center that we are.
So I start with that same place of marketing’s job is to create, accelerate, and retain revenue for the business. So when I build my pipeline targets, the only nuance we’ve added in the last few years is that when we slice it all by geo and region, we’re also looking at new logo versus install base.
And when I build that pipeline model, the sales team and I agree on commitments for originination for both new logo and install base. We’re tracking historically how much of that install base I can generate because we can, right? It’s a different motion, absolutely. But if you think about ABM and the work that you can do there, that impact is critical.
So just starting there has helped us make it clear that we have skin in the game on the install base.
Drew: How about you, Gary? How are you looking at metrics?
Gary: I agree with the point that at the end of the day the revenue is the name of the game, right? The companies grow and succeed with revenue and growth. In our case, similarly, we have a conversation with the CRO and agree, so what is the percentage that is going to come from existing accounts versus partners versus prospects, and then broken down by different products and other different criteria. And then we work towards then we execute. And then we have preliminary and intermediate measures, but at the end of the day, again, it turns into a revenue generation measurement attribution.
One key thing, you nailed it, Drew, earlier is that many companies underestimate the opportunities within their customer base. So the metrics will look there is the engagement level, the penetration level within different verticals, within our customer base. We look at the activation with different products and there’s gigantic opportunity there that I have not seen a lot of company capture. So that’s one of the key metrics areas that we focus on.
Drew: Got it. And Jen, how did your metrics compare so far to this conversation?
Jennifer: Well, I’m sort of giggling to myself because we are just building quantum computing as a new market. So I had to get out of the, out of the brand issue and move into who are the buyers.
And by the way, people don’t yet wake up in the morning and say, “Today’s the day I want to buy a quantum computer.” We will get there, but we’re not there yet. So I think our level of sophistication is, as a metric space, is different. But one thing we do is we track participation. And so we know that as an early adopter audience, it is going to be watching for others who have a similar look and feel that feels safe to take that step and jump in.
And so we have a user conference every year. And so one of my key metrics is how many of our customers can we get to stand up and tell their stories about their experiences to the market. And last year we had 4,000 people join us around the world to hear those customers. So imagine the impact of that participation.
It’s not me talking about what we’re doing well, it’s about my customers and enabling them to tell their stories. And that’s really our platform. We don’t have all the, the deep dive, fabulous stuff that Katherine and Gary have built up yet. But we’ll get there. But for now, it’s really about getting people engaged.
Drew: And it’s interesting. So when I think about organizations and organizations that go off the rails, they go off the rail because of the way they reward employees. The way you pay is in bonus structures and all those things will determine behavior. There’s no doubt about that. What I want to go back to—we bought now said revenue is more important than is a better measure.
But we know revenue is a lagging measure when it comes to marketing, right? It’s a problematic measure cause it’s a lagging measure. So I’m wondering when you’re going and I’ll throw this one at Gary first, you’re going to your CEO and it’s time for a bonus. Do you just go with a sales CRO and say, “Hey, we both contributed, we could both get the same bonus”?
How are incentives aligned with—not that you have a problem with 500% growth. It’s a different world, but you hear what I’m saying? We’ve got to make sure that we reward the right behaviour.
Gary: Yeah, absolutely. It’s pretty straightforward. In every marketing CMO opportunity, I look at a partnership with CRO or a VP of Sales is the number one partnership, and I’ve been blessed and lucky to have really good partners in the last three companies.
In this company, we’re very much in lockstep. I call him like my brother. We have a very clear understanding who generates what, right? In this case, for example, we agreed that the pipeline necessary for revenue, which we have metrics on every step of conversion that needs to be a number X number.
We also agreed that marketing is going to provide a certain percentage of coverage. We also agreed with that coverage means, right? For example, a third of the pipeline will be sourced by marketing. A third will be, you know, influenced accelerated by marketing as an example. So that gives very specific metric. And then we broke it down by, as I mentioned, it’s coming from where, right? Is it coming from which products? Is it coming from prospects, customers, partners? So we have specific numbers that we agreed upon per quarter for the next eight quarters. And then we build that into our OKR. Like my OKRs are very specific.
My team knows exactly what is the number we’re gonna hit as a company, what is the number we got to hit as sourced as influenced and per product line customer versus partner versus direct. Those are in our OKRs. So there is really not a lot of great territory there. We either perform, or we don’t perform. As an example, last quarter, we hit like 200% of our pipeline quota, which again, a lot has to do with our company with the innovation technology we have, the market, but again, that was a tremendous milestone in the company’s history.
When it comes time for a bonus, you know, we look at the OKR and there is like almost no ambiguity there.
Drew: And just in case listeners, not sure what an OKR is, it is a system of sort of metrics that everybody has and goals, and it’s different version, more sophisticated version of, say, the entrepreneur’s operating system, iOS, Google it, or we’ll include it in the show notes.
Gary: Objectives and key results.
Drew: Objectives and key results. Thank you for that. Okay, Katherine, anything to add on that thread?
Katherine: Yes. I know. I thought Gary, I thought I was, felt a kindred spirit. I think, especially in the B2B world, there just can’t be any daylight between the CFO and the CRO. And so starting with the relationship and then making it as measurable and agreeing on how you define those measures at the outset with your head of sales, that’s made all the ducks.
Drew: There you go. Okay. Well, this is the moment in the show where I usually ask the question: What would Ben Franklin say? Now, some people might wonder why do I always go back to Ben Franklin. First of all, I consider him America’s first chief marketing officer because he marketed a revolution to a king, got all the money and everything worked out as the French financed our entire revolution.
Anyway, one of the things that he would say about this is when we’re talking about growth marketing, we are talking about landing customers and keeping them so therefore his expression: “A bird in hand is worth two in the bush” felt perfect.
We are going to talk about how we look at changing mindsets. I’m going to, I have to go back to my question here. Part of the decision to allow marketing to be measured on more than acquisition rest with the executive team board and investors. Can a CMO change the mindset of these folks? And if so, what does that process look like?
Jennifer: I think absolutely the CMO can change the mindset. That’s our job, especially to Gary’s point earlier, things are changing all the time and we are not only the leading indicator of the health of the business, but we’re also, we need to be the leading indicator of the trends and the things that we need to be looking at and putting our attention to.
And so I think if you are not viewed by your board, by your executive team as the truth teller, then you’re not doing your job. And so I think for me, it’s earning trust. It’s using metrics even though ours may be not as sophisticated as my colleagues here—it’s about sharing the responsibility and it’s about educating.
And those are not things that are done overnight, right? Those are things that are done—it’s a trust, it’s a drip of trust. And so my experience is that you come in with zero or you have a negative balance because often marketing, the reason why you’re there is because what was happening before wasn’t working, and you have the responsibility to put some stakes in the ground on the things that you’re going to do short-term, mid-term, and long-term. But it’s your job to bring people along with you, right? Whether it’s an audience that you’re trying to sell to, or they are the teams that you’re asking to support you. So I absolutely think that’s one of the key jobs of a CMO is to be the truth teller and the person who brings the company.
Drew: The truth now. Okay. So speaking of key jobs, one of the things, I found this chart on growth marketing versus traditional marketing. Traditional marketing looked at awareness and acquisition. And on this other one under growth, it said awareness, acquisition, activation, retention, revenue, and referrals. That’s like six things. So Gary, when you look at your portfolio of activities, are you covering, is your team covering all six of those?
Gary: Yeah, absolutely. Each one of them is almost a motion of their own. One key point I want to add to this, and the previous comment is that one big area marketing can make in growth marketing is strategic view of things. Oftentimes the CMO’s job and opportunity is to look and understand are we positioned correctly in the right the market. The market may be right. We may not be positioned or have the right product. So it’s the critical value there to bring that feedback.
Sometimes it’s just repositioning, up-leveling the message, and then the whole pipeline building demand, generation growth, marketing changes along with that. And I’ve been in a situation where I started with negative growth and repositioned the company and the redesigned the pipeline building and growth marketing, and within a year and a half, we were enjoying over a hundred percent growth annually.
Drew: Love it. We’re at the point of the show where each of you will get a chance to sort of final words of wisdom for CMOs who want to become growth marketers. And couple of thoughts, Katherine, maybe you could start with your words of wisdom for your fellow CMOs.
Katherine: Well, I wanted to get the Ben Franklin quote on the fly. There are so many good ones. He had one about what was it, love your enemies for they tell you your faults. A simpler way for me is when I think about the evolution of our profession, a B2B marketer has gotta be thinking about creating, accelerating, and retaining. That’s what we do. And that’s why I love the B2B side of things because it is so measurable.
I don’t have to get too wild and crazy. It’s knowable. I know what the market is and I can see who’s there. And then once I’ve got those customers, it doesn’t stop once they’re in the door, right? This is about the journey, not just the destination.
That’s my shorthand for, if you stop at the transaction, you’re forgetting the rest of your opportunity to continue to grow that customer and increase the lifetime value. So don’t forget the journey when you get to the destination.
Drew: I love it. And I think that’s such an important part and that it really is helpful to think about growth marketing as… If you’re stopping at the transaction, you are not a growth marketer. Jen Houston, what’s your words of wisdom?
Jennifer: We’ve talked a bunch about systems and processes and things that we measure. But I think to me, what is so thrilling about being a marketer is that it is an opportunity, especially as a B2B marketer, to have a love affair with your customers.
And I think that love affair with the customers drives and guides the way growth marketing things. If I don’t think of you as a moment in time that moves through—the rat that moves snake. If I instead think of you as that person that wants that next promotion or that person who is going to break new ground in a space that no one’s ever thought of before, or that person that is going to change the dynamics or create a whole new market to themselves.
If I enter into that relationship, whether it be at the beginning, the middle, the long-term relationship, if I am in love with what is possible, then that is what I give to that customer. And that I think, yes, we need all the processes and we need all the, of course, ultimately, the goal is revenue.
But to me, the goal is that extension of that love affair. And can you keep that going for years and years and years? And how did those people then keep the rest of your business going again and again and again. And so to me, that’s really, if I had one word of wisdom it’s to be obsessed, but more important to have a love affair with your customer base.
Drew: I love that. Okay, Gary, one quick thought.
Gary: I would say that there are leadership principles that we use at Socure. I want to leave with this . Number one, a result is more than an effort. Number two: Details matter. Number three: Be the owner you are. Those are the three principles I believe will separate a successful growth marketer from the one that tries to be.
Drew: Great stuff. A lot of us have spent a lot of time being very active in getting not a lot done. And so we could just stop there, but details do matter and of course, be the owner that you can be. I love it. I want to thank the three of you, Jennifer, Gary, Katherine, you’re all amazing at what you do. And thank you audience for staying with us.
To hear more conversations like this one and submit your own questions while we’re live, join us on the next Renegade Marketers Live. We stream to my LinkedIn, that’s Drew Neisser, every other week.
Renegade Marketers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser. Hey, that’s me. Audio production is by Sam Beck. Show notes are written by Melissa Caffrey. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins and intro voiceover is Linda Cornelius. To find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about my new book and the savvy is B2B marketing boutique in New York City.
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