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6 Speed over perfection

Article originally published in October 2023 by Stuart Brameld. Most recent update in March 2024.

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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 marketing: from messaging to conversion rates.

Optimise for speed

Inherent in an experiment-driven approach to marketing and growth is optimising for speed. Growth marketing teams need to be shipping work and launching new programmes in days, not months. Nobody wants to wait 3 month to see the results of a campaign. Change happens when people see action.

“A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week”

George S. Patton

Monitoring your experiment velocity is a foundational part of any good growth marketing strategy because an increase in velocity direct correlates with an increase in learning,

Focus

An immutable law of speed in execution is focus (another of our growth principles). The only way to achieve fast execution is to focus. I can’t divide my attention. You can’t either, Mr. Proud Multitasker. And the less concentrated your energies, the more total time a task or project will require.

For one, context switching slows everything down. The more times you have to circle back to something, the more time you’ll spend figuring out where you left off. Ruthless prioritisation and saying no to as much as possible, is the greatest obstacle to progress in any single project.

Having a clear goal and a prioritised list of activities is what gives you the freedom to focus on what’s most important and to respond with “sorry, not right now” to everything else.

You ship your calendar, so your calendar should reflect your goal. Guard your time carefully in order to remain continually focused on your goal.

The theory of constraints

The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt first popularised the theory of constraints, and it remains one of the most widely read business books of all time. The theory states that there is, and will always be, a constraining or limiting factor in any process or system and that output is always determined by this one constraint.

Typically there are 2 options here:

  1. Reduce the scope – focus on fixed time rather than fixed scope experimentation
  2. Reduce interdependencies – reduce or eliminate your reliance on other teams, including agencies, where possible

Constrain your experiment cycles to 4-weeks, or 28 days, to force creativity. This can come under the guise of lean, or agile, or growth marketing, but the core principle is the same.

“The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.”

Orson Welles

For more information read our article on growth marketing and the theory of constraints.

Keep it simple stupid

The principle of KISS, which stands for “Keep It Simple, Stupid”, is a guiding philosophy in many areas, including business growth and the design of experiments. The essence of KISS is to favour simplicity over complexity, making it easier to understand, manage, and predict outcomes.

Big bets based based on big assumptions is a terrible way to run a modern marketing team. Modern teams and growth strategies are built on the idea of being able to validation or invalidate ideas over a short period of time. There are no prizes for the most complicated or elaborate experiments, instead your goal should be to prove or disprove your hypothesis in the most efficient way possible.

Avoid a “complexity is beautiful” culture and work iteratively. Avoid overdeveloping projects early on.

Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.

Steve Jobs

Applying the KISS principle doesn’t mean avoiding innovation or not tackling complex problems. Instead, it’s about breaking down these complex issues into simpler, more manageable parts. By doing so, you ensure that growth strategies and experiments are grounded in clear, straightforward approaches that are easier to execute, measure, and refine.

To summarise

As a growth marketer, speed of execution is your biggest advantage. This is particularly true for smaller teams – you likely cannot out-work or outspend more established brands, but you can outmanouvre them. This has never been more true that it is in today’s AI era where traditional marketing capabilities are being commoditised faster than ever.

Your goal is to ship fast, learn fast and to find the channels, tactics and technology that enables you to outperform the status quo.

“Turn speed and focus into a competitive advantage: only do things which will move the goals you are after and do them with speed. Embracing speed allows you to try things at a faster pace – shipping campaigns, testing marketing channels, testing messaging variations, designs etc. The faster you can get to answers, even when the answer is failure, the closer you are to finding success and the big opportunities for the business.”

Adam Goyette

The faster the feedback loop between idea and learning, the quicker the path to success. For traditional marketers, this requires a mindset shift from slow perfectionism to fast and good enough. The quality bar for growth teams should be high, not pixel perfect. Growth teams should embody the characteristics of a small, scrappy startup and individuals must develop a strong intuition for things that can be skipped, or hard-coded, or made more robust later on.

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