Rich Clark Marketing

Opinions from Rich Clark one of the UK's leading Marketing Professionals


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Growth Marketing Vs Performance Marketing

With the news that Google ad revenue is likely to drop for the first time in 2020 (5.3% according to WSJ), largely due to the pandemic that has engulfed the globe and the current boycott for Facebook ad spend, the world or advertising and marketing feels a little different.

This also raises the question of businesses that succeed and their approach to marketing. There is an argument that the linear measurability of acquisition marketing channels such as paid search and paid social are short term, return based approaches. Whereas modern, successful and high-growth brands look at a growth marketing approach.

What is Growth Marketing?

Growth Marketing has a number of definitions, that do in theory conflict or contradict each other in parts.

There’s Camp A, who were brought up on adwords and MVT that feel Growth Marketing is more in this camp. For example they take a look at the whole funnel of marketing and how the “traffic” navigates its way through the experience you provide and suggests that experiments should be made on steps within the process. This is still done in a relatively scientific or statistical way. A great option when the data is consistent, the sources are all reliable and attribution is 100% accurate and understood. This is compelling as the growth areas are targeted and controlled in a scientific way, with results analysed and then developed.

In my opinion there are two potential issues with this approach.

  1. How many organisations and teams have that data structured in a way that they can 100% rely on it, trust its integrity and have people that understand it
  2. If this isn’t implemented with military precision, it could actually slow you down rather than speed you up

Matt Cunliffe adds “It is vital that core journeys for core audiences are identified at the outset along with painpoints – these painpoints should relate to significant dips or low-performing metrics in the funnel that affect conversion, onboarding, retention volumes etc. It may sound obvious but I have seen distracting approaches on MVT where lots of micro-tests are identified that actually don’t have scale or impact upon roll-out. Whilst a rolling program of these smaller improvements could combine to uptick metrics, one often has bigger strategic challenges (e.g. what should our new commercial model be?) and you need to ‘clear the decks’ and get everyone (i.e. CRO, Product, UX, Dev etc) united behind solving and supporting that big issue. It relies on clear OKRs or strategic goals that filter down to teams so they are all laser-focused and don’t get diverted into baby-step, nice to have changes”

Camp B

Whilst the science behind Camp A is completely entrenched in Camp B. Camp B is more pragmatic. They are likely to be more entrepreneurial and potentially take risks. Camp B Growth Marketing can be a nervous position for many traditional brands as they act without all the data. Their pragmatism allows for risks to be taken, either through personal experience, whats happened in their sector or more likely in a different sector.  They will do tests and genuinely see the results, but they also appreciate the data stack is unlikely to be 100% accurate and as a consequence make allowances and accept the unknown.

Camp B are not reckless though. They will have as much of an eye on impact as Camp A. Neither camp of Growth Marketeers take non-success personally. They are part of the fail fast camp, take the risk, review and move on (either to build on success or stop an activity).

With both approaches however, they do look at the entire customer and impact on growing the business. Depending on your understanding of your customer and data, this is generally used for sustained growth as opposed to just gaining the immediate pound and then potentially having to reinvest to acquire a new customer or in theory the same customer again.

To make a Growth Marketing approach work, you will need to consider all of the following (sometimes referred to as pirate metrics):

Awareness

Acquisition

Activation

Revenue

Retention

Recommendation

One could argue, a Performance Marketing approach does consider the four four components, but in practice most performance marketing strategies at best look at steps 2, 3 and 4.

What are the biggest differences between a Growth Marketing led approach and a Performance Marketing led approach?

Remember all of the below are generalisations and most companies behave differently in both approaches to what the text books say, however here are the key differences as I see it

Performance Marketing v Growth Marketing

Main aspects of a Performance Led Vs a Growth Marketing Led approach

So everybody should drop what they are doing and move to growth marketing right?

Well all of the Growth Marketing experts would suggest this is the case, but it isn’t as simple as that.  Some brands would require a massive change both short term and others more long-term and culturally. Many businesses have 1, 3, or even 5 year plans that will be difficult to deviate from. Particularly if outside investment or equity plays for the management team are in play

Even on a slightly less investment based backdrop, to turn a marketing plan on its head and suggest some elements of a marketing budget has no discernible and immediate tracked pay back is uncomfortable. Even some Growth Marketeers would have kittens if you suggested an activity that had little in terms of data to back it up and no data-based evidence to suggest it would work.

Also, in my opinion it isn’t really a choice.  Good performance marketing people are good performance marketing people. They will be able to operate on any metrics you give them, they just need clarity and something that they can measure performance against to make good optimisation decisions.

The key factor for me that separates a performance led business, potentially somebody like The Hut Group and a good growth led business, somebody like boohoo Group, is fundamentally their willingness to take risks, build brands and not be tied rigidly to a plan.  I know people in the Hut Group will be up in arms at that statement and its no reflection on them, they dominate relevant paid search terms and drive strong growth through paid channels.  They will undoubtedly believe they are growth marketing people, however when you look at what we did at boohoo Group in my time there and what they continue to do. They first and foremost consider the customer, beyond that initial purchase. They build robust brands and communications that resonate with their customers. They build loyalty, advocacy and an army of customer based ambassadors that drive repeat purchase and behaviour.

The Data Issues

Whatever your views on Performance Marketing led or Growth Marketing Led, there are always going to be intrinsic data issues. Big Data, Data Scientists, Cloud Based insights, Econometrics, Attribution modelling etc etc can only answer some of the questions with 100% accuracy. Its down to the business to determine what investment it is happy to invest its in data and where it sees value. Its then the intelligence built around that data that matters. Which is a whole different topic.

Add to that the new EU regulations, which according to my sources has seen sites receive a large drop in traffic (most likely recorded traffic) but increase in the other metrics and you have another area of data confidence erosion. Added to the known ones of channel hopping, cookie expiration etc

Each business has to have its own strategy when it comes to data and do what’s right for them. This could in theory effect how it deals with its approaches.

Growth Marketing in action

Going back to really traditional terms. boohoo have built destination brand, where their target customer wants to shop. They have a strategy that ensures customers feel part of the brand pre, during and post purchase to encourage repeat purchase and layer in effective performance marketing, to ensure the brand is seen at the moment when purchase intent is there.

One cannot argue with that as an approach. The offer, matches the marketing and with a crowd-sourced ranging approach, they epitomise Growth Marketing, whether intentionally or not.

For me no matter what you call it, your marketing and business can thrive if you think customer first. Consider who they really are, or who they should be, not who you want them to be. Don’t deviate from that and serve them. Don’t just think about equity return or shareholder value, those things will come, if you build a brand and serve your customer effectively through each touchpoint.

I would really love to hear your views. Drop me a line or feel free to add a comment below.

 


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My Top Tips For New Marketeers

Top Tips

Top Tips For New Marketeers

It is after much deliberation and even consulting with colleagues, that I have decided to write a few of my top tips for people starting out in a career in Marketing. Marketing can be quite daunting to outsiders or those about to embark in a career in the discipline, so help is always needed.  I was worried that younger people setting out on their journey might look at something from an old fart like me and think, how is that relevant. But people did say, “your experience is amazing and to have advice from a well respected professional would be valuable” to quote one person.

So here I am, with a feeling of endorsement for the post in hand, I bring you my top tips. If you want text book, intellectual, corporatisms you can quote to show everybody how smart you are, look elsewhere. This is real and personal advice from the heart and just playing to my experience.

Feel free to comment. Add your own. Or even just criticise this, I have a thick skin.

1.Don’t chase money or titles

It can be really tempting to chase a job with a great title or the most money.  That is sometimes the case even later in your career, but its not the best thing.  Your first job is critical, but ever move you make throughout your career should be for a reason. Pick a first job you believe you will be passionate about. Good employers will forgive a lack of experience or naivety for somebody that is passionate about their role and their company.  The next step is one that is critical. I have seen many people early in their career demand more money or a promotion so early on, often before they have really proven themselves. Early on, sacrifice money and titles for the space to learn. If you aren’t developing or improving thats the time to think about a new role either within the company or elsewhere. But as with that first role, pick something that is right for you and plays strategically in to where you want you career to go.

2. When negotiating with third parties never accept the first offer

Salespeople, agencies and pretty much anybody in a commercial role will be trying to maximise the return for their employer and often for themselves. Us Brits aren’t great at negotiating or bartering.  But this is key. Create value for your employer by never accepting the first offer and rarely accepting the second. If you can’t move on price, try to negotiate something extra. Its not cheeky. Its nor insulting, its business.  The place I most learned what is possible was at boohoo, where every penny was counted as if it was our own, and possibly the best (and cheekiest) negotiator I have ever encountered was the then CEO Mahmud Kamani. I would sometimes cringe at his approach and think demands were unbelievable, but it nearly always got results.

3. Don’t compromise yourself

In any situation, never forget who you are. Yes it can be difficult climbing that corporate ladder. You will see people creating fake friendships to help them get on. The corporate laugh is penetrable when the boss makes a laugh. The tell tale brown nosing is visible from a mile off. It might help you, but you need to feel you have earned what you get and on merit. You need to feel comfortable that you have been true to yourself. If you can’t be, maybe the place isn’t right for you.

4. Build your network

As you progress in your career, a network is really important. I don’t just mean loads of connections on LinkedIn, take the time to speak to people, learn and show a willingness to listen.  Your contacts will help you in future career moves, but more importantly a network of relevant people you can trust and know will do a good job, is priceless as you move onwards and upwards in your career.

5. Lose any arrogance

Arrogance and thinking that because you have an amazing degree or some experience, is one of the worse traits. Have confidence in what you know, demonstrate your ability and knowledge but don’t push it further than is necessary, which links in to

6. Always learning

Accept you are never the finished article. I have been doing this for years, across various roles, business and industries.  Even at a Director or CMO level I am still learning. Never refuse opportunities to develop, even if you feel it is outside your immediate discipline always learn. It could be from your colleagues in finance that can shape your commercial acumen. It could be colleagues in the HR department that help you understand have people behave. It could even be as simple as the receptionist who has a different view of the world to you, which helps you have a more rounded perspective.

7. Understand your offer and your customer

The text book definition of marketing, effectively focuses on identifying customer needs and responding to that need with that they want.  So to play true to this, take time to learn about the company and products or services you are marketing. Go above and be the most informed person you can be. Ask the stupid questions, that everybody else won’t ask.  Really live who your customer is, learn what makes them tick and understand what is relevant to them. You can do this without masses of research as long as you understand who they are.

And finally

8. Be results focussed

When I mentioned this to most people, they immediately think about the trackable, e.g. what sales can be achieved or what ROI is acceptable. With any spend quantifiable objectives or targets should be set. But this is equally show you are somebody that can deliver. Find out the pains of your team, your manager or the organisation and see if you can influence solutions to those.  Or simply show a great can-do attitude, rather than being that one that finds a million excuses or reasons why something can’t be done.

There are two types of people. Radiators and drains. Don’t be a drain

If you got this far, well done, thats quite a lot of commitment. I hope you found it useful, interesting or at the very least allowed you to lose some time.  Please let me know what you think and share with anybody you think might benefit.