B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast
B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast

Episode 1742 · 4 months ago

How to Establish a Growth Marketing Team, with Marc Bitanga

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this replay episode, we talk to Marc Bitanga, Founder and CEO of Agencio.

We discuss: 

- The differences between traditional marketing strategy vs growth marketing strategy

- Applying the sprint planning process to marketing

- Turning everything into a funnel to identify growth marketing priorities

- Making the best decisions with murky data

- Is AI & automation the answer?

- What to look for when hiring growth marketing team members

Conversations from the front lines of marketing. This is B two B growth. Welcome back to the B two B growth show. I'm your host for today's episode, Sean Blackburn, with sweet fish media, joined today by Mark Batanga. He is a CEO over at agent. CEO, Mark, how are you doing today? I'm doing fantastic. Thanks for having me today, Sean. Absolutely great to have you on the show. Excited about our topic today. We're going to be discussing how to establish a growth marketing team. But before we begin, if you can just tell our listeners a little bit about you, your background and what it is that you guys over at a Gen c o are up to these days? Absolutely so. I've had over twenty years of digital marketing experience, working for really great companies like Sap Electronic Arts, as well as hut sweet and at Hutsos Director of growth channels, whereas responsible for global custom acquisition with basically a team members in Vancouver, London and Singapore. Uh. Now I'm the CO founder and CEO of Agenco Growth Marketing Agency based in Canada and uh we specialized in customer acquisition and Legend via paid media, Seo and conversion optensation fantastic. So overall, you know, our topic today how to establish our growth marketing team. Maybe if you could define what it is you guys at Agenco see as the term, you know, growth marketing. It's a hot one, but what do you think that is defined as well? Having been, you know, working in Sass and working with tech companies and working on the agency's side as well, you know growth marketing has, you know, different connotations when when someone brings it up, but I would probably break it down in kind of three phases right. So, for example, traditional marketing was really all about branding and awareness. And, Um, you know, when I'm saying traditional marketing, you know Harken back to you know, as as as early as the late eighties, right where it was all about advertising and commercials and getting awareness and getting people to talk about your brand. Then came the Donna digital marketing over the last you know, Fifteen, twenty years, where it was not just about brand awareness but it's all around, you know, bringing traffic and engagement in sign ups. Growth Marketing is just now an extension of that, where essentially it is the full cycle of awareness, acquisition, revenue, retention referral. Basically what we know as the industry as pirate metrics right, and in some cases the scope extends itself into influencing product features or influencing sales decisions or influencing customer support and customer service. Really I would almost see growth marketing as what most, you know, savvy organizations are doing it as far as it's modern marketing in a point sense. What are some of the ways that that you see these iterations of you know, things that we're doing on the growth marketing side of things that are improvements upon that traditional model? I think one way we think about it is really around compartmentalization, and what I mean by that is essentially, when you're thinking about it from a growth marketing perspective, you're turning everything into a funnel. So, for example, let's take you know, those metrics again, awareness, acquisition, revenue, retention, referral, each of those are stages within you know, the customer life cycle, if you would, and essentially, as a growth marketer you're trying to move the person or the company from one stage to another, and so that's just one unique angle as as as a growth marketer would take it to say, okay, great, you know what we've acquired a bunch of people. Now how do we get them to pay? Like, what's the conversion rate from the acquisition stage of the revenue stage? Okay, great, we've got a bunch of paying people. Um, however, we've got, you know, a massive turn issue. How do we make sure we get people to retain, you know, retain those users, etcetera, etcetera. And so that's one way of looking at it. Another difference, I think, from a growth marketing perspective, is really around velocity. Right. So, as a growth marketer, you're really biased towards the short and mid term as opposed to the long term. Now, before I get into an ideological discussion between growth marketing and brand I want to put it out there I'm a huge fan of brand marketing. I think it's, you know, an absolute essential for any busines this at...

...any stage. However, as a growth marketer, you really biased towards what is the short midterm goal and in essence, Um, it's anything that's, you know, measurable and attributable to contributing to revenue. So one way to think about that is if your KPI, for example, is I just need x amount of demo requests, it's a matter of what are the tactics that will get us those demo requests? So one way to think about it is from a process perspective, is succeeding through velocity, and what I mean by that is, rather than coming up with an annual plan and saying this is what we're gonna do in q two and this is we're gonna do in q three, growth marketers don't really think about it that way. They break that down into what are we going to do in the next two weeks, not what we're going to do in the next quarter? Right, and the way that I've been able to run my teams and programs in the past has been really to adopt an agile methodology and, borrowing from developers and software development and Um using essentially sprint planning. And let's say, for example, if you have a particular goal in a quarter, we break that down into the smallest chunks possible that we can achieve in two week chunks. And so visualize this. Imagine you have a massive table or spread beat on the wall and each column is a representation of two weeks sprints. Each row is, in essence, awareness, acquisition, revenue, retention, referral as a growth market or what I would do is essentially planned for those two weeks sprints and uh, you know, I wouldn't plan eight weeks ahead. I'd probably plan four to six weeks ahead maximum. But using that methodology you get a number of things. First and foremost, you get uh movement, meaning it's not this far off project that has um the ability to to have scope creep. It's a matter of within two weeks we're gonna do x and this is going to be the result and after that we're going to talk about what happened with it and why we six eat it or why we fail. So velocity is number one. Number two, whenever you plan in that methodology, you actually get to visually see where your priorities as a marketing group are, and you know if you can visualize it on a wall and you see, wow, we have a lot of activities or initiatives around let's say the awareness area, but our biggest issue right now is churn, which is retention. Hey, let's let's kind of rejig this. So growth marketing is a lot more methodical, a lot more short term biased and, in essence, really working towards things that are priorities for the moment as opposed to priorities from a year from now. I like that a lot and it seems like with growth marketing there's there's kind of a better feedback loop, there's better communication because you're seeing these things that are that are more short term goals, like you said, instead of really knowing or not knowing where you're not hitting the market, you're really reviewing these things, you know, a lot more often, it seems like, because that accurate. What do you say? I would say so. So, for example, let's say, for example, you are working with the team and the team says, Hey, we should work on uh, you know, we should consider these eight projects. The First Lens you would look at as a growth marketer is, first of all, which of those eight projects lead up to the most urgent issues that you're experiencing at the moment? Last number one, number two is out of you know, once you pass that filter, the next question is which one of these will have the highest impact, but also balance that with the ones that we can achieve, you know, within a two weeks sprint, and generally speaking, you typically biased towards the two weeks sprint because that's the one that will. You know, it's basically always working towards the lowest hanging fruit and eventually you'll you'll you'll kind of stack up and layer the winds. I like that a lot. So have you worked with clients who maybe have never really thought through their goals that way? And I guess my question would be how does one shift into that sort of growth marketing mindset as opposed to more of the traditional quarterly by east of...

...mindset? Now it's interesting that you that you say that because there's definitely an educational component to it. First and foremost, not every business runs, not every business, not even company you know, thinks of of marketing in this way. That's number one, and number two, you know, whether if you're an in house or whether you're on agency side, there's definitely an influence component to it where it's not like you're just gonna flip the switch overnight. A lot of it has to do with education. To say this is probably the way that we would look at things and here's the reasons why, here the here are the benefits, and incrementally try to infuse that into the marketing planning, if you would. A lot of it is really around framework, and framework is the way that I like to think about framework is it's a way of thinking. It's a way of decision making where you put any challenge using that framework and you you get a certain outcome out of it based on the framework that you just built. So it's not necessarily the flavor that they hactic. It's really a way of operationally thinking, operationally, making a very decisive decisions and making sure you're biasing towards the things that matter most for your program makes sense. Yeah, and you mentioned, you know, kind of growth marketers turn everything into a funnel and uh, and you know doing that in order to identify priorities. What about that thinking helps bring those things to the top? I think first and foremost, it brings up the things that, well, let me take a step back. One of my you know, one one thesis I have is always thinking about, you know, what is your earth killer, and what I mean by that is I think of the Bruce Willis movie aren't getting right and, uh, you know what, there's this there's this massive media that's about to to to smash Earth. Every business and every marketing team has that. You just have to look for it. And what I'm mean by that is every business and every team has at least one, you know, biggest issue they need to address, and it's really around focus and focusing on everything that you can on that one issue at a time. And if with that focus, then once you address that, move that out of the way, then you work towards the next one. So when you're thinking about a funnel in that perspective, so let's think about it from two perspectives. Not every marketer out there or every growth marketer out there owns the whole funnel right. Some of sometimes your job is just retention. Sometimes your job is just a round awareness. It's really around breaking down whatever challenge you have into the smallest chunk possible that you can move. So let me give you a practical example of that. There was one time I was working on with the team and turn was a major issue for us and rather than looking at it in the traditional way of saying, wow, this you know we have an issue with turn, let's perform research, figure out everybody's challenges with turn and address every single one. That's not the way that we pursued it at the time. The way we pursued at the time was, while we have a massive amount of turn. Let's perform some research and find out what are the key reasons why? and rather than saying, Hey, let's address these eight key reasons why, we just chose one and we just chose one to work on, and at that particular time I think it was billing, for example. Let's just use that as an example. Once we addressed the billing issue, whether it was just messaging or because it was just difficult to get through, once we moved out of that other way, then we asked ourselves, okay, did we make a meaningful enough change that we can address the seventh issue, or do we work on something else upwards in the funnel? Right? And so that's that's the way of thinking of it and turning it from a funnel perspective. It's it's not just a matter of moving it from one stage or another, it's also breaking down the challenges...

...you have in the smallest bite sized chunks that you can work on, as opposed to being overwhelmed by by all the potential things that you could work on. It's story time again, and we're talking about search engine marketing. Today. I'm going to tell you about a challenge within Pelican cases B two B division. Pelican needed a partner with deep B two B expertise that could get them a massive bumping leads from their paper clip campaigns without increasing spin. After vetting a handful of agencies, they decided to go with directive consulting, a B Two B search marketing agency located in southern California. Directive took on this challenge by refining their targeting and building custom landing pages for their advertising efforts. Once implemented, they saw a two hundred and eight percent increase in conversion rate. Needless to say, Pelican cases met their initiative. I have a hunch that directive can get these kind of results for you to so head over to directive consulting DOT COM and request a totally free customer proposal. That's directive consulting DOT COM. All right, let's get back to this interview. Yeah, you can build momentum as you're starting to get going and and, like you said earlier, even the lower hanging fruit getting those quicker winds. So that makes a lot of sense. Here in the twenty one century, as marketers, we are inundated with just a tons and tons of data and it does make those priorities sometimes tough to look at. How have you approached, as a growth marketer, how to make the best decisions with maybe unclear or or a lack of data? Sure it's it's probably best illustrated through a couple of examples. So let's take brand awareness, for example. Brand awareness is, uh, you know, one of those things that is very difficult to measure or really expensive to measure. So, in a traditional sense, when you're trying to measure a brand awareness as a brand, typically it's done through surveys, where it's aided and UN aided brand recall surveys, which requires a lot of money, a lot of time, a lot of resources right which many need businesses elth there either don't have the time or money or patients to do. But rather than saying hey, you know what, we're not going to measure brand awareness, there's always proxy data they use. So, as an example, for as a proxy data point for Brand Awares, you can use things such as website visits, such as social media mentions. These are the proxies that we would use for brand awareness. So an example of a practical application of that was, at one point in time, working with a particular brand we were seeing plateauing results and, you know, we were we were unsure why, and so we performed, you know, about a month's worth of analysis of every potential angle we could look at, and one of the things that we saw was we had plateau Ng brand awareness using the proxy metric of website visits through every single country that we were looking at. And so it in essence, it gave us enough ammunition, if if you would, or enough evidence, if you would, to pursue that even further. So that's one example of using proxy metrics to to to measure initiatives. Another example as media attribution. Media Attribution or multi touch attribution is one of those things that every single executive wants, uh wants to find out about, meaning you're spending, you know, hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars on on your media plan. They want to know what works and UH, and if you've worked with any executives like I have, they want to know that one thing that works out of the twenty things that you're doing right, which is almost impossible to do, where's the silver bullet? Right, yeah, where's the celebrate? What's you know, hey mark or Hay marketing team. Um, I don't want you doing you know, we're spending millions doll owners on those twenty things. I just want you to spend it on one thing, right, right, which which anyone who's who's been in that, in that position, probably you know they're they're probably thinking themselves, oh my God, that's that's that's that's such a hard, you know, question answer. Well, in one particular program rather than saying, Hey, we're gonna take a look at multi touch attribution, we purposely said to ourselves we're going to...

...only look at last click attribution. And I know many of you are saying mark, last click attribution doesn't take a look at the full funnel. No, it doesn't, and I'm not saying it does. All I'm saying is we're going to maximize last click attribution until we plateau, and then it gives us an excuse to look further from that. Because guess what, using that in particular measurement method helped hoot sweet grow forty year on year just using that one metric, right, and only when we started seeing slowing of growth then we started expanding into multi touch attribution to say, well, let's look beyond the last click so in that particular example, you let's rewind back. Let's say, for example, you know, we're in that situation again, to say, Um Ay marketing team, you know, justify your media spand or marketing their activities. And well, scenario a says we should be spending on this, scenarios B says we should spending be spending on this. You know, when you're taking a look at different different revision methods, it tends to cloud or fog your decision making. In a sense, you have to almost put your blinders on and be decisive and saying we're going to measure it this way until it stops working right. And so really that's what you mean by making the best decisions with murky data. I'm not saying whenever there's analytics involved, there's always going to be a Gottcha. Right. There's always gonna be a Gotcha, meaning like hey, you know what, that was collected using Um, this particular methodology. And here's the issue why you wouldn't want to ticulate. No, it really kind of just clears the table and says we're measuring it this one way and until we stop seeing growth, we're gonna keep measuring it this way right. Yeah, absolutely, it's and almost too simple, but it's in a way it's not, because it's it's getting results and focusing on what's working and then if it's not working, then you move to the next thing. Like yeah, it's really it's really, in essence, the solution to analysis paralysis, because time and time again I've been in marketing meetings and marketing strategy meetings where, you know, there's always this well, if you looked at it this way, it's you can, you know, theory. Really, it's theory. You can really kill a lot of productive cycles by continuing to explore the what is. It's a matter of just being decisive and saying we're going to look at it through this Lens. I know you disagree, but we're getting growth out of it and then until that starts to waiver, starts to no longer hold water, then we'll expand from that. Sure, I like that a lot. I really think that's a powerful mind shift for for marketers because, like you said, uh, the the amount of options that are available to us these days is somewhat overwhelming. So, on that note, one of the things that's kind of hot right now, and I think only going to continue to grow. Is Ai? You know what's what's a growth marketers, you know perspective on Ai and automation and you know how to use it. And is it the answer for scaling teams? That's a that's a very difficult question with with not necessarily the clearest of answers right now. Right, let me throw up a few, a few points for you. Artificial intelligence is here and it will only get more ubiquitous as it goes number right, as marketers, we will be pressured to make the best decisions as possible and if it's aided by, let's say, a much more valid method, using automated means than great. You know, use it as a tool. But here's a few things to think about. Right. For many reasons, many businesses can't rely on AI. Ai requires a massive amount of data. Right, Um, let me let me paint you a little bit of a picture. There was this project that I was working on. It, who see, where we were exploring data driven attribution for and we were leaning on a company called Adometry, at the time, a dormitory, as a predecessor to Um, the multi touch attribution that's with and...

Google. Google acquired them about a year after we start working with them and we were pumping millions and millions of dollars into our media spend and going through this perfect concept with a dormitory, and at the end of it, after a year's worth of work, they came back to us and said, mark, you don't have enough data to make this model valid. Nothing of that. Millions of dollars to spend was going through not only our media plan but the data is flowing through their systems and they still could not make a valid decision. And that was a global business. Imagine if you're just a small startup. You do not have enough data for data driven attribution, as an example, so many platforms you may not have enough data, number one. Number two, for ai to work you have to have clean data. Not many businesses out there can say all of my systems are integrated well and that it's valid data. That's number two. So those are things that you have to think about, meaning like it's a hot topic, is the flavor of the day. It does have a future, but it's not, you know, the the the solution per se, when when you mean by solution is just because you're gonna buy this technology, whether it's you know, in your analytics or whether it's your media management platform, doesn't mean it's going to solve all the world's problems, right, and you have to really assess for yourself whether you even have enough data to pump through it. Another example of Um Ai Um kind of going astray a little bit is, for example, in Google today, there, and in many platforms, there's cost per acquisition bidding. In essence, it's saying, you know what we're we're not going to mess around with testing, we're not gonna mess around with hypotheses. I'm just gonna Plug in a nice neat number that says I only want a total of a hundred dollars, let's say, for every lead that I get. And whether it's facebook or Google or any other platform, you guys figure it out. A couple of things that are challenging there. Number one is, again you're still going to need a lot of data to pump through that. So it's either going to be a lot of money pumping through that or a lot of time, right, something lots of right. Yeah, exactly. You. You. You either have a lot of money or a lot of time, right, and so that's that's one thing. It's it's not. You know, if, if you are fortunate to work in a high volume business, then great, you're you're not gonna have these challenges. But here's the second you may get the result, but you may not know why how you got there right. So, for example, one of the things that that kind of makes me cringe is when I work with my team and we, let's say, perform an audit and, uh, we have a particular campaign that has, I'm just gonna throw a nice round number out there, six ads for a particular ad group. Six right, and you know they're just letting the system figure out which one of these ads work. Well, you're not really learning. All it is is just saying, okay, this one seems to be working, therefore we're gonna pump it. But it doesn't tell you why, because you didn't really structure it in a certain way. You didn't structure it like an a B test. So you're getting the short term win of the result, but you're missing out on the long term win of the learning that you could potentially apply in other ways considerate better than that. So back again to your question of you know, is Ai the answer? I wouldn't even say AI is the answer. Ai Is the tool, but you just need to know how to wield that tool. It seems like you guys at Agen CEO obviously have a lot of you know, the growth marketing perspective figured out. You know, when you're looking to bring someone, say, on your team, or even if you know you're advising clients of who to put onto their teams, what's some of the things that you're looking at from a mindset standpoint when you're looking to hire a growth marketing team member? In essence, Um, really an analytical background. You know, being analytical is is very, very hard to teach right and it's kind of a characteristic of it's it's really a characteristic of curiosity that just needs to be satisfied right,...

...creative curiosity at that right. And so Um, the one way that I've found that that really works, Um, in terms of trying to find the best team members with a growth marketing mentality is having an analytical background. And it even goes right down to the interview process. And hat tip to Dean Brookstone, who was one of my first team members, that he would see he was actually one of the folks that developed this methodology. But we had this method of this interview methodology we'd like to call happy scoops, and happy scoops was essentially a live case study that we would bring people in to interview for our growth team. And it was a case study, Um, that you couldn't study. It wasn't a take home exam. It was live scenarios that would it would literally be here's a chart of metrics of all these different marketing channels. Tell us which one is under performing in why? Or you know, hey, you need to drive down your cost back position by this much. Here's what the funnel looks like from multiple channels. What we you do, and one of the reasons why we called it happy scoops was because it put a really nice, happy veneer over a very brutal analytical industry process where the case study was actually, at the time, it was really funny. The case study was at the time was you're running a global screen distribution e commerce company, and so we would put people through this ringer of of an interview process and and and keep in mind this is not being mean spear or anything. It's really to really assess your analytical capabilities and it really told us a lot about the person going through that interview process because, number one, we weren't looking for right answers, like, don't get me wrong, and you give us the right answer would be, you know, ecstatic, but it was really around. How did you get to that answer, even if it's wrong, it was what is the thought process? And so the reason why that's so important is because I'm finding in today's Day and age, and I would put myself in this category once in a while, all marketers have a sense of bias. Right, this is the best practice to do something well. Best Practices in marketing tend to really fade really, really quickly because of cycles of marketing, right. And so when you remove those best practices, what you really really need to have is creative curiosity and analytical capability and, almost like a childlike wonder to say, well, I know this is counterintuitive, but I think we should test this. Right. And so having that analytical background, with that creative curiosity and without, you know, in essence, those those marketing biases, though, that's really the elements or the ingredients to look for in any growth marketing team member. And you'd be surprised, you know, the backgrounds that they come from. I've had people that have worked for me that have, you know, have been part of my team where one person had a journalism background, one person was a data analyst, another person was, you know, a copywriter, but they were just, you know, into electually, very curious and really wanted to figure out the answers interesting. I love that and you know I love that. You guys are practitioners Um at a Gen CEO and I really appreciate your perspective, you know, on how to establish a growth marketing team. You know if someone's listening and if they really want to connect with you or or Agentio, what's the best way for them to find you? In connect you can find a Genteo at a Gen CEO dot C A. That's a G E N C I o Dot c a, or you can check out the growing pains podcast.

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