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13 Age-based Local Business Review Preferences You Can Serve



13 Age-based Local Business Review Preferences You Can Serve

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

Image credit: Mitchell Joyce

Today, we’ll be learning more about customer preferences by age group surrounding local business reviews, taking a deeper dive into some of the data from The Impact of Local Business Reviews on Consumer Behavior | SEO Industry Report. In our initial report, we covered the leading characteristics of customers as a whole, but here, we’ll surface some intriguing differences that appeared when we segmented survey responses by age.

I want to preface this by stating that age discrimination of every kind is unacceptable. I’m not a fan of the fight over crumbs that underlies divisive and disrespectful slogans involving “okays” and “boomers” or “millennials” and “avocado toast”. Particularly in the US, these types of groupings only serve to divide and dishonor friends, family, and neighbors. Instead, let’s look with respect at the preferences of local business customers when it comes to reading and writing reviews so that we can operate and market local brands to suit the needs and tastes of lots of people in our communities. Honoring everyone is the best basis for great customer service.

Similar review habits and preferences

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Image credit: Steve Bailey

Breaking down the survey by age groups of 18-29, 30-60, and 61+, we saw more commonalities than differences in behaviors and preferences surrounding reviews. For example:

  • About ⅓ of all three groups say their commonest habit is to read reviews on a weekly basis

  • A little over ½ of all three groups say reviews are somewhat important in the process of deciding whether a business can be trusted

  • About ½ of all three groups visit the business website as their next step after reading enough positive reviews of a brand, about ⅓ of the youngest and eldest groups say their next step is to visit the business in person, with a ¼ of the middle group doing the same.

  • Over ½ of all three groups will definitely seek out a business if its owner responses to reviews resolve stated problems, with the two older groups being slightly more willing to do so than the youngest group.

  • About ½ of all three groups require a minimum 4 star rating to consider doing business with a local brand, with the eldest group having slightly higher expectations than the two younger groups.

  • About ⅓ of all three groups say they will “sometimes” leave a review when asked to do so.

Different review habits and preferences by age group

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Image credit: GT#4

For the purposes of this column, Group A is people aged 18-29, Group B is people aged 30-60, and Group C is people aged 61+.

1. Older Americans write fewer reviews

When asked how often they write reviews, about ¼ of Groups A and B say they only write reviews a few times a year. Most of them are more active review writers than this. However, 43% of Group C falls into the category of only writing reviews a few times a year. Brands may have to work harder to build up their online reputation if their model relies heavily on the patronage of older customers.

2. Older Americans are less tied to Google reviews

A little over 80% of both Groups A and B say they spend the majority of their time reading local business reviews on Google. Interestingly, that number drops to just 62% for Group C, with older Americans having more diverse reading habits that span platforms like the BBB, Yelp, Nextdoor, Facebook and first-party reviews on local business websites. Local brands that rely on the patronage of older customers should be sure to be managing reputation across a wide variety of platforms.

3. Younger Americans trust social media more as a source of local business reputation

When asked which sources, other than local business reviews, respondents rely on to understand local business reputation, a little over 60% of Groups A and B cite friends and family, while an even greater percentage (74%) turn to this resource. 61% of the youngest group relies on social media, a slightly smaller 57% of the middle group does so, but a significantly smaller 43% of the oldest group does so. Meanwhile, an identical 43% of Groups A and B consult the business’ own website as their next choice, but for Group C, 44% turn to the Better Business Bureau. Local brands should note here that younger Americans are skewed more towards social media information, while older Americans still place more trust on established platforms like the BBB.

4. Younger Americans prefer SMS-based review requests over print

About 1/2 of all three groups cite email as their #1 preference for receiving review requests and in-person requests come second for everybody. However, whereas the third choice for Groups A and B is SMS/text-based review asks, Group C prefers to be asked for reviews via receipts, invoices and other print materials. This is an important divide, and while I’ll say that, in my own experience, some of my elders text me more than my nieces and nephews, it’s clear that local brands must diversify their review acquisition methodologies to meet the different expectations of both groups.

5. Younger Americans need extra guidance with the review writing process

Let’s have fun squashing some stereotypes here! It may be a meme to depict young folks as tech-savvy and older folks as behind-the-tech-times, but here’s a lived truth from my own life: my father knows way more about computers than I ever will, and my mother is a much better searcher than I am.

In this data set, we see that the top reason our youngest group doesn’t leave more reviews is because they find the process too confusing and difficult. In other words, they likely require a little extra help and guidance in understanding how to conveniently and efficiently review your local business. Groups B and C already have the review-writing process well in hand, and say that their top blocker to writing more reviews is simply forgetting to do so when they have the free time. For these groups, reminders rather than tutorials are likely to be most effective.

6. The youngest Americans are feeling the burden of bad products

66% of Group B and 76% of Group C say that the top cause of them writing negative reviews is experiencing rude or bad service at a local business. I find it telling and poignant that older Americans have the highest expectations of being treated well by neighborhood companies and are severely let down when owners and staff are unpleasant. Some of us are old enough to remember when nearly all shops were abundantly staffed with well-trained employees who were earning enough of a living wage to have inner funds of contentment and happiness – it’s a far cry from the understaffed warehouses and automated chat bots that too often pass for customer service these days.

However, the data point that interested me most in this set is that our youngest group cites bad products as the top cause of them leaving negative reviews. Your mother-in-law may have had the same washing machine for the last 20 years, but your niece has already had to replace hers twice in the five years since she moved into an apartment with her friends. According to Statista, youngest people are also the poorest, and having to spend what little money they have on shoddy goods is a serious burden, especially when coupled with pandemic-driven supply chain breakages that have made most of us seek out products of indifferent quality because there is no other choice. Local brands should strongly consider overhauling supply chains wherever possible to find higher quality local products to avoid negative reviews and safeguard reputation in the eyes of the rising generation of consumers.

7. Youngest and eldest Americans have more modest expectations of review response times

15% of group B expects to receive an owner response to their review within 2 hours, compared to just 7% of group A and only 1% of group C. 23% of group B expects to hear back with 24 hours, while this figure is at 19% for group A and 18% for group C. 33% of group A expects a response within 24 hours, while 27% is the figure for both B and C. There’s an opportunity here to surpass expectations for all three groups by responding as quickly as possible to reviews, which means paying attention to incoming review alerts and finding time to respond.

8. Older Americans are more forgiving when problems are resolved

67% of group B and 61% of group C will definitely update a negative review and low star rating if an owners response resolves their complaints. This figure drops to just 50% for group A. Perhaps the more lived experience we have, the more aware we become of how easily mistakes happen, and the more readily we recognize and reward efforts to make amends.

9. Younger Americans read a greater number of reviews before deciding a business is worth a try

41% of group A read 10-20 reviews before determining a local business is worth trying, and a similar 37% of group B does the same. But the dominant characteristic of Group C is that 41% of them read just 5-9 reviews before making up their minds. This is open to many interpretations. Perhaps the more experienced we are, the more quickly we can scan a scenario and make a judgment. Or, perhaps the younger we are, the more we count on the process of reading lots of reviews to help us gauge public opinion before making our own decision. In any case, local businesses must be sure that there is plenty of reading material in the form of reviews from both of the younger groups.

10. Eldest Americans place the most trust in the public and the least in brand messaging

A pronounced 74% of group C says it places more trust in what customers say about a local business vs. what that business says about itself. For group A, that figure drops to 61% and group B comes in at 69%. Doubtless, the longer we live, the more experience teaches us the difference between reality and advertising, and it’s important to note that for more than 60% of all three groups, control of brand narrative is now firmly in customers’ hands. This is the best of all arguments for why customer service is the core of the business model – it writes the brand story that the majority of the public believes most.

11. Low stars shed the most trust for eldest Americans

Well over half of group C says that a low star rating compared to local competitors is the top source of lost trust when it comes to local business reviews. Groups A and B put the appearance of a business or its staff self-reviewing as their top cause of lost trust. This dynamic shows how trust can be lost at first glance for our eldest group because stars are immediately visible on review profiles, highlighting how important it is for the cumulative reviews to be speaking well of the business. Meanwhile, groups A and B are more investigative, looking more deeply at reviewers’ profiles for signs of suspicious activity. Brands must be sure to avoid all spammy practices that would rightly give these groups cause to doubt the authenticity of their reputation.

12. Youngest Americans are most put off by argumentative owner responses

When asked which factors of an owner response would make them avoid the business, the top element cited by Group A was the owner arguing with the customer. This highlights the need for deft, accountable responses, even when the business believes the customer is wrong. Meanwhile, about half of Group B cites failure of the owner response to fix a cited problem as the characteristic that would make them avoid a business, and nearly ¾ of Group C say the same. Clearly, the more life experience we have, the more we value brands that are great at solving problems that inevitably arise in the course of normal business operations.

13. Eldest Americans have the most motivation (and justification) for sharing their experience via reviews

They say that wisdom comes with age and I see a confirmation of this in the data that 85% of Group C’s primary motivation for writing reviews is to share their experience with others. For Group B, that number is 72%, and for Group A it is 69%. This puts me in mind of how Civics was a required high school class in my parents’ generation, but I seldom hear it spoken of by people of my age group, and I am not sure what part it plays in current school curriculum. Ideas like valuing the sagacity of elders and freely sharing knowledge for community benefit are excellent standards we should not lose. Local brands are extremely fortunate in having volunteers, both young and old, who are continuously speaking about them in every neighborhood across the country.

In conclusion: be sure everybody is sitting at your table

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Image credit: Shanghai 031

Some local offerings are geared towards specific age groups. For example, a senior community club has a particular audience, as does a pediatrician. If your customers and clients are entirely within a narrow age-range, pay particular attention to the review preference differences we saw in today’s column.

However, what will be more common is that a local business with a general audience will be looking at how to increase the engagement of further segments within their community which aren’t yet frequenting the brand. For example, a clothier might want both elder and younger shoppers to know their shop stocks a wide variety of garments for many ages and tastes. It’s in cases like these that knowledge of specific habits and preferences can get the brand closer to having meaningful interactions with a wider audience.

In the digital age, it turns out that your local business reputation is like a very large dining table, and by considering how each of your guests likes to be served, you’ll be sure there’s a seat for everybody. When it comes to age, diversity, equity, and inclusion make for better conversation and better community.

Eager for more insights? Read: The Impact of Local Business Reviews on Consumer Behavior

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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists



Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.


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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots



A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)



Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

You ask the head of marketing how the team is doing and get a giant thumbs up. 👍

“Our MQLs are up!”

“Website conversion rates are at an all-time high!”

“Email click rates have never been this good!”

But when you ask the head of sales the same question, you get the response that echoes across sales desks worldwide — the leads from marketing suck. 

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. The issue of “leads from marketing suck” is a common situation in most organizations. In a HubSpot survey, only 9.1% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were of very high quality.

Why do sales teams hate marketing-generated leads? And how can marketers help their sales peers fall in love with their leads? 

Let’s dive into the answers to these questions. Then, I’ll give you my secret lead gen kung-fu to ensure your sales team loves their marketing leads. 

Marketers Must Take Ownership

“I’ve hit the lead goal. If sales can’t close them, it’s their problem.”

How many times have you heard one of your marketers say something like this? When your teams are heavily siloed, it’s not hard to see how they get to this mindset — after all, if your marketing metrics look strong, they’ve done their part, right?

Not necessarily. 

The job of a marketer is not to drive traffic or even leads. The job of the marketer is to create messaging and offers that lead to revenue. Marketing is not a 100-meter sprint — it’s a relay race. The marketing team runs the first leg and hands the baton to sales to sprint to the finish.



To make leads valuable beyond the vanity metric of watching your MQLs tick up, you need to segment and nurture them. Screen the leads to see if they meet the parameters of your ideal customer profile. If yes, nurture them to find out how close their intent is to a sale. Only then should you pass the leads to sales. 

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

Tighter quality control might reduce your overall MQLs. Still, it will ensure only the relevant leads go to sales, which is a win for your team and your organization.

This shift will require a mindset shift for your marketing team: instead of living and dying by the sheer number of MQLs, you need to create a collaborative culture between sales and marketing. Reinforce that “strong” marketing metrics that result in poor leads going to sales aren’t really strong at all.  

When you foster this culture of collaboration and accountability, it will be easier for the marketing team to receive feedback from sales about lead quality without getting defensive. 

Remember, the sales team is only holding marketing accountable so the entire organization can achieve the right results. It’s not sales vs marketing — it’s sales and marketing working together to get a great result. Nothing more, nothing less. 

We’ve identified the problem and where we need to go. So, how you do you get there?

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

  • One more blog post for a few more views? 
  • One great review that prospective buyers strongly relate to?

Hopefully, you’ll choose the latter. After all, talking to customers and getting a solid testimonial can help your sales team close leads today.  Current customers talking about their previous issues, the other solutions they tried, why they chose you, and the results you helped them achieve is marketing gold.

On the other hand, even the best blog content will take months to gain enough traction to impact your revenue.

Still, many marketers who say they want to prioritize customer reviews focus all their efforts on blog content and other “top of the funnel” (Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation) efforts. 

The bottom half of the growth marketing funnel (Retention, Reputation, and Revenue) often gets ignored, even though it’s where you’ll find some of the highest ROI activities.

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Most marketers know retaining a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. But knowing this and working with sales on retention and account expansion are two different things. 

When you start focusing on retention, upselling, and expansion, your entire organization will feel it, from sales to customer success. These happier customers will increase your average account value and drive awareness through strong word of mouth, giving you one heck of a win/win.

Winning the Retention, Reputation, and Referral game also helps feed your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities:

  • Increasing customer retention means more dollars stay within your organization to help achieve revenue goals and fund lead gen initiatives.
  • A fully functioning referral system lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC) because these leads are already warm coming in the door.
  • Case studies and reviews are powerful marketing assets for lead gen and nurture activities as they demonstrate how you’ve solved identical issues for other companies.

Remember that the bottom half of your marketing and sales funnel is just as important as the top half. After all, there’s no point pouring leads into a leaky funnel. Instead, you want to build a frictionless, powerful growth engine that brings in the right leads, nurtures them into customers, and then delights those customers to the point that they can’t help but rave about you.

So, build a strong foundation and start from the bottom up. You’ll find a better return on your investment. 

Fix #2: Join Sales Calls to Better Understand Your Target Audience

You can’t market well what you don’t know how to sell.

Your sales team speaks directly to customers, understands their pain points, and knows the language they use to talk about those pains. Your marketing team needs this information to craft the perfect marketing messaging your target audience will identify with.

When marketers join sales calls or speak to existing customers, they get firsthand introductions to these pain points. Often, marketers realize that customers’ pain points and reservations are very different from those they address in their messaging. 

Once you understand your ideal customers’ objections, anxieties, and pressing questions, you can create content and messaging to remove some of these reservations before the sales call. This effort removes a barrier for your sales team, resulting in more SQLs.

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

One-pagers, landing pages, PDFs, decks — sales collateral could be anything that helps increase the chance of closing a deal. Let me share an example from Lean Labs. 

Our webinar page has a CTA form that allows visitors to talk to our team. Instead of a simple “get in touch” form, we created a drop-down segmentation based on the user’s challenge and need. This step helps the reader feel seen, gives them hope that they’ll receive real value from the interaction, and provides unique content to users based on their selection.

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So, if they select I need help with crushing it on HubSpot, they’ll get a landing page with HubSpot-specific content (including a video) and a meeting scheduler. 

Speaking directly to your audience’s needs and pain points through these steps dramatically increases the chances of them booking a call. Why? Because instead of trusting that a generic “expert” will be able to help them with their highly specific problem, they can see through our content and our form design that Lean Labs can solve their most pressing pain point. 

Fix #4: Focus On Reviews and Create an Impact Loop

A lot of people think good marketing is expensive. You know what’s even more expensive? Bad marketing

To get the best ROI on your marketing efforts, you need to create a marketing machine that pays for itself. When you create this machine, you need to think about two loops: the growth loop and the impact loop.

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  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

Most marketers start with their growth loop and then hope that traction feeds into their impact loop. However, the reality is that starting with your impact loop is going to be far more likely to set your marketing engine up for success

Let me share a client story to show you what this looks like in real life.

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

We partnered with a health tech startup looking to grow their website leads. One way to grow website leads is to boost organic traffic, of course, but any organic play is going to take time. If you’re playing the SEO game alone, quadrupling conversions can take up to a year or longer.

But we did it in a single quarter. Here’s how.

We realized that the startup’s demos were converting lower than industry standards. A little more digging showed us why: our client was new enough to the market that the average person didn’t trust them enough yet to want to invest in checking out a demo. So, what did we do?

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

We ran a 5-star reputation campaign to collect reviews. Once we had the reviews we needed, we showcased them at critical parts of the website and then made sure those same reviews were posted and shown on other third-party review platforms. 

Remember that reputation plays are vital, and they’re one of the plays startups often neglect at best and ignore at worst. What others say about your business is ten times more important than what you say about yourself

By providing customer validation at critical points in the buyer journey, we were able to 4X the website leads in a single quarter!

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So, when you talk to customers, always look for opportunities to drive review/referral conversations and use them in marketing collateral throughout the buyer journey. 

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

You may be reading this post thinking, okay, my lead magnets and offers might be way off the mark, but how will I get the budget to create a new one that might not even work?

It’s an age-old issue: marketing teams invest way too much time and resources into creating lead magnets that fail to generate quality leads

One way to improve your chances of success, remain nimble, and stay aligned with your audience without breaking the bank is to create phantom offers, i.e., gauge the audience interest in your lead magnet before you create them.

For example, if you want to create a “World Security Report” for Chief Security Officers, don’t do all the research and complete the report as Step One. Instead, tease the offer to your audience before you spend time making it. Put an offer on your site asking visitors to join the waitlist for this report. Then wait and see how that phantom offer converts. 

This is precisely what we did for a report by Allied Universal that ended up generating 80 conversions before its release.

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The best thing about a phantom offer is that it’s a win/win scenario: 

  • Best case: You get conversions even before you create your lead magnet.
  • Worst case: You save resources by not creating a lead magnet no one wants.  

Remember, You’re On The Same Team 

We’ve talked a lot about the reasons your marketing leads might suck. However, remember that it’s not all on marketers, either. At the end of the day, marketing and sales professionals are on the same team. They are not in competition with each other. They are allies working together toward a common goal. 

Smaller companies — or anyone under $10M in net new revenue — shouldn’t even separate sales and marketing into different departments. These teams need to be so in sync with one another that your best bet is to align them into a single growth team, one cohesive front with a single goal: profitable customer acquisition.

Interested in learning more about the growth marketing mindset? Check out the Lean Labs Growth Playbook that’s helped 25+ B2B SaaS marketing teams plan, budget, and accelerate growth.

Disruptive Design Raising the Bar of Content Marketing with Graphic

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