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The success elements of marketing-driven growth

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The success elements of marketing-driven growth

This is the first part of a three-part series on the success elements of growth.

One of the things I enjoy the most about my job is how much I learn from my clients and colleagues. Over the years, I have had the incredible opportunity to work with some big brands and incredibly smart people and engage with innovative thinkers I am proud to call my clients. 

Much of what I write about is an amalgamation of all of those learnings, thoughts, discussions and experiences which have turned into deliverables for our clients. And, as we engage with more clients, we will continue to think through our approaches and processes for one purpose only, to improve our deliverables and help make our clients and the industry at large better.

I lead with this thought because I am starting a three-part series on the success elements of growth. While many before me have discussed the importance of growth and what companies need to do to grow, I know many still struggle to do so and I also know that it does not have to be that way. 

Organizations can realize sustainable growth, and marketing has to play a significant role in that. The thoughts and approaches I will share in this series are what I and my business partner have learned along the way, what we have applied at organizations and what we use today in our business to help ourselves and our clients realize their full growth potential. 

Marketing chasing the silver tech bullet

Just this week, I was looking through my LinkedIn feed and saw this post from a colleague I have known and respected for quite some time. His post started with these two observations:

“Marketing is long on tech and short on people. Sales is long on people and short on tech”. 

As his post went on, he made this statement in regards to marketing, “They have to look to technology to solve their problems.” Remember that he was not saying marketing should do this. I took his statement to mean that this is what they are doing.

And it is this that makes things so difficult for marketing to contribute to growth. They are looking to technology to solve their problems. While writing for MarTech, I know I need to be careful how I frame the discussion on technology. While I am a big believer in technology, I also firmly believe that marketing is only as good as the strategy that it is there to enable. 

I have seen far too many marketing organizations invest in large tech stacks only to come up short in terms of the value realized. Yet, as seen from my colleague’s post, it still seems to be the approach many in marketing roles take.

Marketing helps drive company growth

Regardless of how you approach technology, the one thing that I believe every marketer can agree with is that the job of marketing is to help a company grow. While this is the objective, anyone in a marketing leadership role understands how challenging meeting this objective can be for many reasons. 

What I have found to be true with virtually every organization I have worked with over my nearly 30 years is that the biggest limitation to growth for most organizations is the lack of a defined framework and process on how to grow. 

Just this week, I was on a call with a prospect. I asked them about their three-year revenue projections, and they admittedly said they did not know. I then asked where they get most of their revenue — again, they did not know.  

They did know last year’s numbers which was a record year, but in terms of how they would replicate it or optimize the areas of their business that led to that growth, they had no clear plan or understanding of how to get there. 

In this series of articles, I hope to get you thinking about how to approach growth purposefully and that you will begin thinking about the success elements you need to build a sustainable growth foundation for your business.

In my article from last month, I shared a visual of a macro customer journey and wrote about moving from value creation to value expansion. Taking that same visual, I have included the six success elements needed to achieve sustainable growth.

This is not to say that these elements are only needed at that specific place in the journey, but it highlights the importance of having a high level of maturity in all these areas to ensure consistent growth. 

Furthermore, this is not just a marketing initiative, this takes a unified approach from marketing, sales and customer success, which all play a role at various stages of the customer journey and all play a significant role in growth.

A way to get started 

In the next two articles in this series, I will break down the six success elements and detail what is needed to achieve peak maturity in each area and look to provide a roadmap that you can follow to begin building the growth foundation for your organization. 

If you do not want to wait to get started, take the first step of aligning with your sales and customer success organizations and begin those discussions by asking these two questions:

  • Who do we think our customers are?
  • What do we think our customers care about?

After you have spent some time answering these questions, go out and speak to your customers and see how closely your internal answers are to theirs. 


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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

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The Future of Content Success Is Social

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The Future of Content Success Is Social

Here’s a challenge: search “SEO RFP” on Google. Click on the results, and tell me how similar they are.

We did the same thing every other SEO does: We asked, “What words are thematically relevant?” Which themes have my competitors missed?” How can I put them in?” AND “How can I do everything just slightly better than they can?”

Then they do the same, and it becomes a cycle of beating mediocre content with slightly less mediocre content.

When I looked at our high-ranking content, I felt uncomfortable. Yes, it ranked, but it wasn’t overly helpful compared to everything else that ranked.

Ranking isn’t the job to be done; it is just a proxy.

Why would a high-ranking keyword make me feel uncomfortable? Isn’t that the whole freaking job to be done? Not for me. The job to be done is to help educate people, and ranking is a byproduct of doing that well.

I looked at our own content, and I put myself in the seat of a searcher, not an SEO; I looked at the top four rankings and decided that our content felt easy, almost ChatGPT-ish. It was predictable, it was repeatable, and it lacked hot takes and spicy punches.

So, I removed 80% of the content and replaced it with the 38 questions I would ask if I was hiring an SEO. I’m a 25-year SME, and I know what I would be looking for in these turbulent times. I wanted to write the questions that didn’t exist on anything ranking in the top ten. This was a risk, why? Because, semantically, I was going against what Google was likely expecting to see on this topic. This is when Mike King told me about information gain. Google will give you a boost in ranking signals if you bring it new info. Maybe breaking out of the sea of sameness + some social signals could be a key factor in improving rankings on top of doing the traditional SEO work.

What’s worth more?

Ten visits to my SEO RFP post from people to my content via a private procurement WhatsApp group or LinkedIn group?

One hundred people to the same content from search?

I had to make a call, and I was willing to lose rankings (that were getting low traffic but highly valued traffic) to write something that when people read it, they thought enough about it to share it in emails, groups, etc.

SME as the unlock to standout content?

I literally just asked myself, “Wil, what would you ask yourself if you were hiring an SEO company? Then I riffed for 6—8 hours and had tons of chats with ChatGPT. I was asking ChatGPT to get me thinking differently. Things like, “what would create the most value?” I never constrained myself to “what is the search volume,” I started with the riffs.

If I was going to lose my rankings, I had to socially promote it so people knew it existed. That was an unlock, too, if you go this route. It’s work, you are now going to rely on spikes from social, so having a reason to update it and put it back in social is very important.

Most of my “followers” aren’t looking for SEO services as they are digital marketers themselves. So I didn’t expect this post to take off HUGLEY, but given the content, I was shocked at how well it did and how much engagement it got from real actual people.

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7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book

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7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book

Writing a book is a gargantuan task, and reaching the finish line is a feat equal to summiting a mountain.

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Being position-less secures a marketer’s position for a lifetime

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Optimove Positionless Marketer Optimove

On March 20, 2024, the Position-less Marketer was introduced on MarTech.org and my keynote address at Optimove’s user conference.

Since that initial announcement, we have introduced the term “Position-less Marketer” to hundreds of leading marketing executives and learned that readers and the audience interpreted it in several ways. This article will document a few of those interpretations and clarify what “position-less” means regarding marketing prowess.

As a reminder, data analytics and AI, integrated marketing platforms, automation and more make the Position-less Marketer possible. Plus, new generative AI tools like ChatGPT, Canna-GPT, Github, Copilot and DALL-E offer human access to powerful new capabilities that generate computer code, images, songs and videos, respectively, with human guidance.

Position-less Marketer does not mean a marketer without a role; quite the opposite

Speaking with a senior-level marketer at a global retailer, their first interpretation may be a marketer without a role/position. This was a first-glance definition from more than 60% of the marketers who first heard the term. But on hearing the story and relating it to “be position-less” in other professions, including music and sports, most understood it as a multidimensional marketer — or, as we noted, realizing your multipotentiality. 

One executive said, phrasing position-less in a way that clarified it for me was “unlocking your multidimensionality.” She said, “I like this phrase immensely.” In reality, the word we used was “multipotentiality,” and the fact that she landed on multidimensionality is correct. As we noted, you can do more than one thing.

The other 40% of marketing executives did think of the “Position-less Marketer” as a marketing professional who is not confined or defined by traditional marketing roles or boundaries. In that sense, they are not focused only on branding or digital marketing; instead, they are versatile and agile enough to adjust to the new conditions created by the tools that new technology has to offer. As a result, the Position-less Marketer should be comfortable working across channels, platforms and strategies, integrating different approaches to achieve marketing goals effectively.

Navigating the spectrum: Balancing specialization and Position-less Marketing

Some of the most in-depth feedback came from data analytic experts from consulting firms and Chief Marketing Officers who took a more holistic view.

Most discussions of the “Position-less Marketer” concept began with a nuanced perspective on the dichotomy between entrepreneurial companies and large enterprises.

They noted that entrepreneurial companies are agile and innovative, but lack scalability and efficiency. Conversely, large enterprises excel at execution but struggle with innovation due to rigid processes.

Drawing parallels, many related this to marketing functionality, with specialists excelling in their domain, but needing a more holistic perspective and Position-less Marketers having a broader understanding but needing deep expertise.

Some argued that neither extreme is ideal and emphasized the importance of balancing specialization and generalization based on the company’s growth stage and competitive landscape.

They highlight the need for leaders to protect processes while fostering innovation, citing Steve Jobs’ approach of creating separate teams to drive innovation within Apple. They stress the significance of breaking down silos and encouraging collaboration across functions, even if it means challenging existing paradigms.

Ultimately, these experts recommended adopting a Position-less Marketing approach as a competitive advantage in today’s landscape, where tight specialization is common. They suggest that by connecting dots across different functions, companies can offer unique value to customers. However, they caution against viewing generalization as an absolute solution, emphasizing the importance of context and competitive positioning.

These marketing leaders advocate for a balanced marketing approach that leverages specialization and generalization to drive innovation and competitive advantage while acknowledging the need to adapt strategies based on industry dynamics and competitive positioning.

Be position-less, but not too position-less — realize your multipotentiality

This supports what was noted in the March 20th article: to be position-less, but not too position-less. When we realize our multipotentiality and multidimensionality, we excel as humans. AI becomes an augmentation.

But just because you can individually execute on all cylinders in marketing and perform data analytics, writing, graphics and more from your desktop does not mean you should.

Learn when being position-less is best for the organization and when it isn’t. Just because you can write copy with ChatGPT does not mean you will write with the same skill and finesse as a professional copywriter. So be position-less, but not too position-less.

Position-less vs. being pigeonholed

At the same time, if you are a manager, do not pigeonhole people. Let them spread their wings using today’s latest AI tools for human augmentation.

For managers, finding the right balance between guiding marketing pros to be position-less and, at other times, holding their position as specialists and bringing in specialists from different marketing disciplines will take a lot of work. We are at the beginning of this new era. However, working toward the right balance is a step forward in a new world where humans and AI work hand-in-hand to optimize marketing teams.

We are at a pivot point for the marketing profession. Those who can be position-less and managers who can optimize teams with flawless position-less execution will secure their position for a lifetime.

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