In general, Buzzwords suck. They suck because they’re a cop-out. Just another slick way to try to stand out or differentiate yourself without actually providing value.
But, there is one buzzword I feel very differently about. I feel different because the meat behind this word is amazingly valuable. The word is growth marketing (AKA Marketing 2.0). Growth marketing brings true accountability to marketing since it requires you to support your decisions with data, analytics, and testing.
Leah Pope, from Datorama, wrote an insightful Forbes article that speaks to the evolution of the marketer and the growth marketer. Leah comes from the social listening world, so it makes sense that she focuses more on vanity metrics (i.e. sentiment, volume, etc). Those are valuable, but only when they are tied to goals and action - like sales or revenue or profit. In the article, Leah calls out how the marketers of the past had more of a set it and forget it mentality.
This comes up all the time in our work supporting retailers. We’ve seen marketers who have an antiquated set it and forget it mentality (marketers), while others are truly cut from a new cloth (growth marketers). They lean on data and testing to drive short term tactical decisions that position their company for success in the long-term. What does it take to shift your own mindset from traditional marketer to growth marketer?
The three keys to adopting a growth marketing mindset
The shifting role of today’s marketer has gone hand in hand with an evolution in the way they measure performance. Marketers have always been interested in spurring growth, but they didn’t always have the tools to execute on that goal. - Leah Pope, Datorama
1. Learn to balance marketing with business
The most successful “growth marketers” I’ve seen bring the fundamentals of marketing, finance, and business intelligence (BI) together to propel their business forward.
From a marketing perspective, they shifted away from the siloed product or marketing campaign strategy and made customers the focal point; with product and campaigns being an event along their customer’s brand journey. That is key, so I will say it again. They focus on the customer and their interactions and behaviors with the brand.
This allows them to keep pace with consumers as they evolve and create experiences that are more relevant and personal at every touchpoint. It also translates into how they forecast their business. Instead of using YoY product/campaign metrics, they use customer migration and health metrics. This results in a more accurate representation of how their business, products, media, etc. will perform.
2. Quantify your marketing investment returns in dollars and cents
Looking at your marketing from a financial perspective is simply the ability to quantify investments with returns and to back up decisions with data and math.
Taking this concept one step further, growth marketers overlay this financial piece with customer lifecycles or strategic corporate initiatives. For example, when company XYZ is looking to acquire more customers, this growth marketer turns to data to understand which channels, products, investment thresholds (based on customer lifetime value) they should focus on.
3. Base answers on BI (Business Intelligence)
Lastly, business intelligence needs to be part of the marketing equation. By definition, BI is rooted in the collection, integration, analysis, and presentation of business information. Growth marketers embrace this process and their decisions are guided by holistic data and enriched with analytics.
The growth marketer avoids the traditional marketers song and dance: “If only we had a new database, our next best action would be obvious.” This mentality will only suffocate your business and make you miss every expectation you’ve set in front of your board for the next two years. The growth marketer is focused on starting with the data they have, but planning to put a flexible and sustainable framework or technology in place. The goal is empowering them to quickly ask and answer questions with their data. Whether you choose to build or buy, you have to balance the speed to execution against your resources limitations and organizational experience in building such systems.
Growth marketers apply BI in multiple ways across the business. Here are a few common uses for it:
- What our customer acquisition cost (CAC) for each marketing channel?
- What is the customer lifetime value of customers acquired and does it change by acquisition channel?
- What marketing channel is most successful at acquiring customers?
- What marketing and product mix was most successful at converting a 1x buyer to 2x?
Their BI savviness also gives them a testing and measurement mindset. Testing creative materials, testing which products convert online vs. in-store, testing which Facebook ad works, testing upsell or cross-sell ideas, etc. Growth marketers know that if they aren’t testing, then their competitors will, and that will lead to lost market share.
Don’t lose your seat at the grownups tables
Remember, the “growth marketer” is rooted in the customer, data, and testing and measurement. This cartoon couldn’t sum it up better:
Marketers deserve a seat at the table, but to earn it we need to embrace data and the scientific method more than we ever have before. Start taking steps in the right direction. Like anything there is a maturity curve to becoming a growth marketer, make sure you’re moving forward on that curve.
Although I don’t think every company is going to terminate the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) role like McDonald’s did, it is clear that marketing is evolving. To learn how Clario supports growth marketers in the retail space, you can schedule a time with me.