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The 3 Most Influential Levers of Growth

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Over the past few years I have made a significant investment in time (and some money) into evaluating the biggest levers for growth. Basically, I have tried to figure out how to get a predictable output that is more than what you put into it (i.e. scale). Whether you are looking at a startup or a 400M+ company looking to scale for bigger growth, these three items prove to be the deciding factors most influential to a company’s ability to grow at scale…regardless of product.
  • Positioning – your story behind the product.
  • Process – how you get things done.
  • People – those on your team and around your team.
     

Why isn’t product in there? Am I saying product can’t drive growth? Quite the contrary, I definitely think it can, but I try to view it as an output of the following items instead of an input.

POSITIONING

This is one of the most impactful areas of any business, yet almost always overlooked or under-invested. Let’s start with a definition of positioning: Your positioning is your story.

  • The WHO you help…
  • The WHAT you do…
  • The WHY you do it…
  • The HOW you do it differently…
     

This is not just a Marketing ploy to get you to write down some “fluff” on a brochure. Think about each of these activities that drive scale… your story is a part of each and every one of them.

  • Raise funding – If investors don’t get it… you don’t get their money.
  • Develop product – If the team working on your product doesn’t know the big picture on what they are developing, how can you expect it to be developed right? I include the decision to pivot under this umbrella. If you decide to change what you are doing (i.e. your story), you will need to change your product.
  • Sell product – Every conversation is a potential sale. If your employees or  customers can’t describe what you do, why you do it, and how you are different – then do not expect many sales to happen.
  • Form partnerships – Partners must have a quick understanding of where you fit into their ecosystem, so if that is not easy for them to figure out, then you are probably not going to achieve much from your partner network.
  • Expand networks – When you can get people outside of your network to understand what you do, it is much easier for them to share with their network, and so on…
     

This is an amazing video from Google Ventures that speaks to the essence of getting your story right. Beware – it is an actual 1hr lecture for a class, but absolutely chock full of information that will make you think twice about how you are going to market. Grab a comfy seat and take a look.

So what do you about your positioning? Here is an article written that gives a great summary on positioning by someone who really, really knows her stuff:

PROCESS

This is the biggest pain point that I have seen for any marketing organization is the process behind GSD (getting stuff done). What is interesting is the dynamic of the first two items (people and positioning) that often cause issues with the process of getting things done.

Regardless of your product, the ability to create marketing items to increase brand awareness and drive demand is absolutely fundamental to scale. If you are not working to become more agile in your approach to marketing, then you are already at a disadvantage.

So if you are not getting what you expect from Marketing, there is a great read here from Scott Brinker’s ChiefMarTec blog about Agile Marketing:

PEOPLE

This should not be earth shattering… having the right people in the right place is well known. What I am challenging is the focus on what you specifically want them to do in order to drive scale throughout the team. Depending on what you need at a certain stage of growth, you need to consider what is the most important type of person to bring into the mix. Sometimes being too conservative on your PEOPLE approach can significantly hinder your growth.

Who do you have on your team that is not only good at what they do, but adds successful and sustainable value to the business? The people on your team impact your ability to:

  • Raise funding – Having the right people allows you to attract and raise more money. More money = more options… it is that simple.
  • Develop product – The product is a result of the people developing it, so getting product people to ask the right questions is critical to growth.
  • Sell product – Just getting people to be passionate about your idea significantly helps to sell the product. Finding people that believe in the vision more than the actual widgets will pay for itself over and over.
  • Form partnerships – Getting others to sell for you or integrate with you extends your product beyond what only you (and your team) can produce.
  • Expand networks – I am a firm believer in the network effect and 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon… It’s all about who you know… and who they know… and so on.

PRODUCT

So now that you see what positioning, process, and people can do as an input, it should make more sense to see product as the output of it. If you want to dig into how to do more with your product, then there is no better source than the Lean Startup.

 

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