I have a quick anecdote for anyone interested in growth or product marketing:
Before I became fascinated with growth marketing, during college, I held a few sale roles with traditional outbound-oriented companies. And I was pretty good. What made me so good at sales was not focusing on or being good at ‘selling.’ In fact, I was an awful salesman. I rarely did anything according to the sales manual, or in-line with what the top salespeople in the organization had done to get to the top. In my mind, there was always a faster, better strategy to deploy.
With each new product I sold, my first step was to find an inbound approach to bring attention to my collateral and inbound requests. Then, find a way to reposition our services to show more value to one market segment in particular. And finally, begin outreach. This approach flew right in the face of the company’s sales credo’s of ‘selling is a numbers game.’ I would spend days writing and organizing without making a single call while the other sales people were trying to hit their 100 calls a day. I didn’t know this at the time, but I was in effect a one-man internal marketing department.
I will give you an example. I use to sell 5-digit print and TV campaigns to car dealerships. This was done by phone, without ever meeting the client in person. And those clients were the sleaziest salespeople around; owners and GM’s of car dealerships. But despite the uphill battle, I replaced the former top salesman of 3 straight years by my 3rd month. How? By deploying positioning and strategy, not smiling and dialing.
First, I discovered the military reimburses privates for a good chunk of their car loans. This meant car dealers were able to offer car loans to new soldiers with no credit because they were more secure. So I took one cheap insignificant piece of our product line, the $10 vanity ‘1-800-….’ number, and found every available number we could sell that spelled a phrase relating to the military. Then I spent a few days not calling a single dealer. Instead, I scraped contacts where ever I could find them online and sent out cold emails with an offer to buy the coolest sounding numbers (i.e. 1-800-ARMY-CAR) to every car dealership within 200 miles of a military base. (They would, of course, have to run a campaign just to get the number, but the hard part was done.) I created a new inbound process and set a sales record that month. No need to perfect my pitch or ‘smile and dial.’ I just found a much more efficient way to attract one audience.
After I became faster and more efficient at finding those sales growth strategies, I realised I was no longer ‘selling’ a product, I was marketing it.
I tell this story not only because it explains how I honed my entire approach to growth and product marketing, but because I am sure almost every good product and growth marketer out there found themselves optimizing some other routine in their life before they started marketing their first product. And that’s why they became marketers in the first place.
With my clients and employers, we start day one on solving for (1) inbound organic and (2) scale. We don’t find a way to get the users or clients we need that week or month. We work tirelessly to create a strategy that can get us to the finish line as quick as possible.
I love being a marketer. I love a growth dilemma. The more challenging and nuanced, the more fun.
I have recently discovered a very challenging problem a great founder, small team and I are currently solving. The basis is the infamous Chicken and Egg dilemma for online marketplaces. We have the task of finding two user types simultaneously and attracting them to a new platform for a trust-centric exchange. We have to get them both here, at the same time, then repeat that process millions of times. Chickens can’t come before the eggs, and eggs can’t exist without the chicken. Achieving positive unit economics with platforms like these is nothing short of difficult AF. Anyways, that’s my story. I hope this helped inspire you to become more strategic and optimize whatever KPIs you are focused on in your career.
If it itches… scratch it.
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