Do you know what you’re doing with your marketing?

Do you know the “How” and “When” of implementing growth marketing strategies and tactics?

If your work revolves around increasing leads and sales, the struggle is not about “If” you should use high-growth marketing, but more about “When” you should.

For many, the challenge facing anyone responsible for achieving growth via marketing is understanding where you are right this moment – and acting accordingly.

As a CMO, VP of Marketing, or anyone in Marketing, it’s not a question of “If” or “How” anymore, it’s a question of “When”.

You have the Resources (knowledge, how-to, team members, talent, experience, campaigns, etc.)

But your question is: “When do we build a growth team?”

I spoke briefly about whether you should use a dedicated team-within-your-team, or roll out team-wide changes of rededicating your focus to growth process here

…But the most common struggle is see with clients is a little bit about “How” but even more about “When”.

The “When” of Growth Depends On Your Business State – Do You Know Yours?

The concepts of “Business Lifecycle Stages” and “Stages of Growth” models were the most frequently used mental model for understanding your business from around 1962 to 2006.

However, there’s been a lack of consensus or empirical confirmations of these theories.

They look and sound true, so they must be, right?

You’ll find fascinating research that goes against these models and instead proposes a more “dynamic” approach for explanatory models.

I agree with a dynamic state framework and model.

Whether they are 100% accurate is besides the point: they’re mental models, and so only exist to make reality legible and understandable enough to guide decision-making.

For a business owner or someone in charge of marketing, this basic idea that your business finds itself in a general stage or phase of growth, is tremendously valuable for plotting your next marketing move.

Where your business is, and where it intends to go, dictates not only your strategies, but your timing as well.

For example, it makes no sense for small Startup (without, say, funding) to engage in Corporate Marketing (most often only about Brand Marketing).

As a Startup, above all, you need Traction and finding Product/Market Fit.

You don’t need ads on TV.

AirBnB is now doing TV ads, but they’re way past the Startup, Traction, and Growth phase. They’re established.

You most likely don’t need t-shirts and pens with your logo on it.

And yet, you find plenty of Founders or their newly hired Marketing person who do just that.

Stop. Just stop.

Before you go any further, do you even know what and where you are?

The Model To Help You Map Where You Are & What To Do Next

A quick search will yield a virtual cornucopia of graphs, tables, and models for a “business lifecycle”.

Lots of chefs in the kitchen, and it’s a messy soup because of it.

It’s easy to get confused.

I’m going to make this easy for you: I’ve distilled over 50+ graphs into 1 simple and applicable model.

This applies to both a B2B and B2C business, and takes into account your product type (product and/or service).

If you’re in the B2B software and tech industry especially, stop what you’re doing and look at this.

Here’s a key to understanding all this: I’m convinced the “stages” and “phases” of a business are dynamic and fluid.

Business MBA’s and theories will protest, but after years of experience with marketing, you will not persuade me that a business goes, in a clean and straight manner, from Startup to Build, Established, Maintain, Maturity, and so on.

Your business, and mainly your products, will be shifting in and out of these “states” throughout the “lifetime” of your business.

Your business, organization, and team needs to be Agile and be able to manage dynamic state changes.

No, you will not forever be in the Product/Market Fit state, or be thrown around and out of control…

…But, say you have an established product, but you’re launching a new one – now what?

You enter a state of Traction and the search for Product/Market Fit – and use marketing strategies accordingly.

For you, this means that each “state” represents your attempts to most effectively match internal capacity and process with external customer or market demand.

So, what then is the 80/20, the simple list, of what you should be doing in each state?

Glad you asked:

What Marketing You Should Be Doing In Each State Of Your Business

I’m going to answer this via these 2 questions that I run into most frequently:

“What marketing should I do in each state?”

“When should I build and use a Growth Team?”

Here’s the short answer:

  • When you’re in the Seed and Startup phase, you need Traction Marketing (A Growth Team often consisting of 1 or a few more + Growth Marketing strategies and tactics).
  • When you’ve found Product/Market fit, you’re in the Growth / Build phase, and you need a full Growth Team + Marketing, while including more “traditional” marketing as you go; documentation of process, setting up systems, etc. is imperative here.
  • Which will bleed into the Build / Established phase, for which you need Brand Response Marketing. This is where you combine “traditional” marketing with a dedicated Growth Team for continuous experimentation and testing.
  • When you move into Expansion, you need another cycle of Growth Team + Marketing for the particular expansion.
  • When you reach the Maintain / Maturity phase, you need Brand Corporate Marketing.
  • Next depends on where the company is going; you’ll either decline, divest, diversify, or exit.

If you’re a Startup who’s not yet reached sustainable Product/Market Fit, you need to executive on Growth Marketing strategies and find Traction. If you find and use a “growth hacker”, this person is often your team, along with any creative or data support.

If you’re reached Product/Market Fit, with Traction, you now focus on building a Team and Process. This is often with the “growth hacker” as the team lead, and you hire for responsibilities and positions.

That’s the 80/20 version of the answer. There’s more to it, such as, what exactly, do you actually do when you’re in the Traction, or Growth, or Build, or Expansion state.

The Next Marketing Step For Your Business

You and I will get to those details later, but I want to finish this with a few observations:

  • The focal point and key to P/M Fit, Traction, and marketing throughout different states is your Buyer. Your Buyer is the thread and anchor in a sea of change. Everything you do revolves around aligning with your Buyer.
  • As much as you’re managing internal state changes, once you realize that you’re also managing and influencing state changes with your Buyer, new possibilities for creativity, ideas, and execution opens up.
  • Your ability to beat competition is relate to how well you stay agile and adjust to change.

You and I will dig a little deeper into actual Growth Marketing strategies and Growth Team configurations later.

For now, take inventory of your state and marketing – where are you, and where do you want to go?

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