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4 Impact over activity

Article originally published in March 2024 by Stuart Brameld. Most recent update in March 2024.

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A growth marketing strategy should prioritise impact over activity, which typically means being aligned to business revenue.

  • Impact over activity
  • Outcomes of outputs
  • Results oriented

At Growth Method we believe every marketing function should contribute to revenue and should should be part of the core revenue engine, alongside sales.

“Position marketing as a strategic growth lever for the company. Know the math for how $1 invested in marketing yields a multiplier for the company in revenue.

Sarah Franklin, CMO at Salesforce

Failure to do this dilutes the value marketing contributes to the organisation, erodes trust with the marketing org, and creates misalignment between marketing leadership and other C-level executives.

Choose impact-focused goals

This is done by ensuring your growth marketing strategy includes goals that prioritise impact and outcomes over activity and outputs.

Poor vanity marketing goals:

  • Keyword rankings
  • Traffic
  • New blog posts
  • Form submissions
  • Campaigns launched

Good business relevant marketing goals:

  • Leads
  • Demos
  • Trial signups
  • Opportunities
  • Sales pipeline
  • Closed won sales

Marketing goals should be both quantitative and aligned to revenue. For example “Generate 500 marketing qualified leads per month that convert to sales qualified at 25% or more”. Conversely “do activity X” or “launch feature Y” should not be marketing goals.

This doesn’t mean that it’s not important to monitor other outputs, such as experiment velocity, but your primary goal should be focused on business outcomes.

Prioritise impact-focused work

Focusing on impact requires using some kind of prioritisation framework to ensure resources are directed towards the ideas and activities that are likely to have the biggest impact on the teams objectives and KPIs.

“Your primary job is to execute your strategy to the fullest, spending the most-possible time on the most-impactful thing. If an idea is less impactful, yet also quicker to achieve, that is not the right choice. When things go worse than planned, that “less impact” turns into “incremental impact,” and you cannot spend half a year on something so trivial.”

Jason Cohen

The key here is to avoid the appearance of productivity – shipping blog posts, updating designs, running campaigns – as well as the low-effort, low-impact work (aka snacking).

The well-used phrase “work smarter, no harder” is particularly pertinent here. But be aware, maximising impact is harder than you think.

Avoid waste

From a systems theory perspective a marketing organisation is designed to take transform inputs (people, technology and assets) into outputs (leads and revenue) with as little waste as possible.

Image source

In a factory, waste includes defective units and wasted materials. In a marketing organisation, these are designs that never get used, website updates that don’t deliver results, blog posts that don’t generate views or leads.

Completing every marketing request and every new idea leads to incremental improvement at best, but more commonly little improvement at all. Your team should determine the best way to drive growth and win (your growth marketing strategy), set goals to aligned to that strategy, educate the company on your priorities, and then execute on your plans. A scattergun approach to marketing (aka random acts of marketing) is the best way to kill a marketing team.

The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything

Warren Buffett

Build the discipline to avoid shiny objects – the thing the exec heard on a podcast, the new product your friend started using, the functionality your competitors just launched, the Slack request you got at midnight.

To summarise

Growth marketing teams should have clear and measurable goals focused on business and revenue outcomes. Everyone on the team should be able to clearly articulate what the goal is, which stage of the funnel the focus is currently on and why, and how success is measured.

Growth team members should take pride in, and be able to article their business impact when required, for example “I shipped 12 experiments last quarter, 6 of them were winners resulting in an estimated incremental $2M in revenue”.

Tip: As a growth team you should broadcast growth and experiment news to your entire company on a constant basis. Share learnings, wins, opportunities, what’s in progress. Do whatever you can to generate awareness, excitement, interest and buy-in.

Growth marketing strategy principles

  • 1 Focus over diversification

    “Our 2023 marketing strategy is to invest in Twitter organic, Linkedin paid ads, content marketing, SEO and email”. Some practitioners call this spray and pray marketing, Emily Kramer calls it random acts of marketing. Whatever you call it, this isn’t a growth marketing strategy, this is a list of random tactics and channels. The worst… Read more

  • 2 Process over tactics

    “Growth has nothing to do with tactics and has everything to do with process. Silver bullets don’t exist, you need a growth machine.” Brian Balfour Look inside many functions within a business – sales, finance, research & development, IT – there is often a process discipline that doesn’t exist in traditional marketing teams. Conversely, look… Read more

  • 3 Always-on assets over one-off campaigns

    Let’s run a campaign? No. Your growth marketing strategy should focus on building assets that can deliver compound growth over time. One-off marketing programs, initiatives and campaigns should be avoided at all costs. One-off marketing campaigns If you or your team do one-off activities, such as any of the following, stop now: No successful company has been… Read more

  • 4 Impact over activity

    A growth marketing strategy should prioritise impact over activity, which typically means being aligned to business revenue. At Growth Method we believe every marketing function should contribute to revenue and should should be part of the core revenue engine, alongside sales. “Position marketing as a strategic growth lever for the company. Know the math for… Read more

  • 5 Data over opinions

    A good growth marketing strategy uses data to guard against opinions, feelings, emotions and bias. With a combination of both quantitative and qualitative data growth teams can bring together the what and the why in order to make more informed decisions. Data should inform all aspects of your growth marketing programme including: Data-informed, not data-driven… Read more

  • 6 Speed over perfection

    A big part of marketing is getting something live, noticing how the market reacts, and then iterating to make it better based on what worked well (this process is the core tenant of the scientific method). That’s why following a regular cadence of launching new experiments is a critical step in improving everything about your… Read more

  • 7 Outside in v inside out

    A growth marketing strategy is a customer centric strategy Understanding customers and representing their voice within your organisation is perhaps the most important job of a marketing team. The antithesis to the HiPPO marketing approach of “just listen to your manager” is customer development and “just listen to the customer.” Deeply understanding your customer and… Read more