It’s an interesting time to be a marketing leader. Your prospects want more value, your teams want more clarity, and your boss wants more ROI. Oh, and you need to do this without growing headcount like you used to.
- Find what the market needs
- Winning hearts and minds matters
- How to align priorities
- Marketing is a game
- Building trust
- Take pride in your work
- Work On The Business, Not In The Business
- How To Balance The Two Timeframes of Marketing
- Set the tone
- Helpful content wins
- Self-service matters more than ever
- Self-serve is the future of sales
- How Product-Led and Sales-Led Growth Work Together
- Learning, the ultimate meta skill
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08:08 – Find what the market needs
It’s painful, but necessary, to learn you can’t serve everyone.
“ Look at the market need first. That’s a clear learning. That sounds like a truism to everyone listening and to yourself. But clearly I was dumb enough to not learn it before we, we had to have it by costly experience. That idea of market need and the idea of focusing on market need is important. And that second piece of focus, on that journey as we found a market need. We still found ourselves selling it into multiple elements of a market need, multiple types of companies trying to deliver multiple definitions of value. And the focus we went through was on putting our entire business strategy behind a small set of target accounts, a small market and experiencing the pain of knowing we couldn’t grow to be a massive company in that phase.And experiencing the pain of not doing things or getting revenue from people who sat outside of that market. But then the benefit of being able to serve a market need understand the personas to build a product they wanted.”
09:41 – Winning hearts and minds matters
Things become more complicated as they scale, so ideas must be simpler to align with more teams.
“ The first one is that, as you scale. There’s this awkward sense as a person who loves doing marketing you end up spending more of your time on marketing your marketing rather than the marketing itself. And in every function, as a business scales and becomes more complicated, and even within a function as that has more team members, you have to spend more time on the overhead of communication and collaboration. And at Idio, we could have an idea and we could build it and we could go suddenly in a larger organization, particularly with people I hadn’t worked with before and departments I’d never even met. The testing and the winning of hearts and minds inside the organization around the idea was actually somebody, 70% of the job finding the idea. And building it were simple compared to getting it aligned with every other function. That is one thing that was a big learning for me. Another one that is in contrary to the complexity of scale is that as things scale, things become more complicated and therefore your ideas have to become, And when you start off, often you’re trying to, yes you have to be simple cause you’ve got less funding, less time to do things, less team to execute things.But you end up being able to try some quite complicated ideas. And then suddenly when you’re at a larger organization, in order for it to align multiple teams in order for it to manage to make sense outside of your little, conclave of people who’ve come up with the idea, it’s gotta be simple.”
12:02 – How to align priorities
Restrict how many things your teams work on and connect them to larger goals.
“Firstly with the function at Paddle, I dunno, marketing here is probably 50 people. Not as scaled as HubSpot, although we’ll be chasing you down and happy users of HubSpot. But, one of the things is to try and be clear every quarter what the, I’d bake it down to three priorities for the entire team and try and make sure that everybody on that entire team has a way of laddering up their activity, their initiative to that, that, that set of three priorities. Now that might be a subset or might be slightly different to the overall company priorities, but it should be something that everybody’s work moves towards. And that’s one example of trying to make sure that there’s a simplicity of understanding of where we’re going. Even though everyone’s tasks, the derive from it are complicated.”
12:54 – Marketing is a game
Everyone needs to understand the rules to play their part successfully.
“I’ve been in a bunch of marketing functions, I’ve done a bunch of advisory work with lots of other SaaS companies and of the things I find is important in the marketing function is to teach people the rules of the game they can play it themselves. And in marketing there’s some clear rules around the amount of money we can spend, the customer acquisition cost the type of channels that we can work within, the type of target accounts we’ve gotta go after. Once you set those constraints, then there’s the ability to be incredibly creative. And one of the challenges as you scale a marketing function is that you’ve gotta scale beyond having one or two brilliant people who know all of the rules of the game and can control everything. And you’ve gotta teach everyone the rules of the games they can play at themselves within the, those guard.”
13:50 – Building trust
Trust is the foundation of any high-performing team and enables good conflict resolution, commitment, accountability, and results.
“You might well have, heard of the author Pat Patrick Lee and his books, Five Dysfunctions of the Team and Death By Meetings. And he’s got a whole series of fables that he tells through his books and his his consulting organization, the Table group does some great work with lots of growth stage companies as well. He talks about how the foundations of any high performance team is and you work your way up from trust and he’s got that pyramid that we can link off to from this. But, for people to dig into in, in more depth. But, trust then enables you to have conflict. Cuz when you’ve got no trust, you can’t have good conflict. And when you’ve got good trust, that then enables you to have good conflict, enables you to come to real commitment. And that enables you to have real accountability, which allows you to have real results. But no trust means you can’t have good conflict. You can’t commit to anything. You avoid accountability and then you’re inattentive to results. And that’s a useful framework. But the bedrock of all of that is trust. And it’s a question I ask myself regularly. Do I trust those around me? Do they trust me? And how can we both mutually build those, build that trust? And then the second thing is to layer on top of that is much more, a bit more esoteric. which is, are we genuinely proud of the work we’re doing? Being proud of the work you’re doing is a leading indicator of, the results going in the right way. And I it’s important, to measure the inputs, not measure the outputs, not to see did we create enough demand? Did we close enough deals? But, the proceeding indicators of the leading indicators of that are, knowing all that we know, are we confident? Are we proud of what we’re doing? And that’s another piece that is, perhaps not easily measurable, but something I look for. ”
15:23 – Take pride in your work
Ask if you’re proud of the new content before deciding to publish it.
“First thing I do is we ask each other it, when someone’s producing a new bit of content, a new ebook, a new bit of research are we proud of this? But also do we need to be proud of this? There’s some pieces of what you do that perhaps are more fundamental structural or, or perhaps they’re something you’ve gotta do to fill a gap in between two things you’re doing where maybe, you have to be only five out of 10 proud of it. Cause it’s filling a gap that, is necessary for somebody. But then it’s making sure that the things that you care about, that you are asking that question. we genuinely proud and are we gonna press publish before we’re proud? And, a paddle, my personal challenge is to do, the best work of my career here. And it’s a challenge I have for my team here that we’re gonna do the best work of our careers at this business. And part of that is us being genuinely proud about what we’re delivering.”
16:21 – Work On The Business, Not In The Business
Find ways to level yourself up.
“We’ve talked a little bit already about, the need to, be involved in alignment and involved in marketing of the marketing. That’s one thing that’s important. And being aware and being open and embracing of the fact that, that’s actually often where your leverage comes from. If there’s a great idea, but you’ve not got that alignment with other teams, and there’s not the simplicity of its explanation that can carry across other teams then it’s it’s not gonna get out the door. And that’s one piece of it. We used that phrase earlier, that it’s important to work. On the business, not in the business. And it’s something, I’m constantly asking myself and trying to up level on and, it was my commitment to Jimmy, my, my boss, the coo, president of Paddle and Christian, our coo, the CEO and founder as we did my mid midyear review, that I was gonna walk out and have my first proper holidays since I joined Paddle and then come back in the room and clear my diary. And I told my team that as well. There’s gonna be some one to ones and stuff that I make more, more infrequent because I need to clear more space in my diary to actually spend some time working on the business and working on the team and on the strategy that will help everybody run faster rather than be working in the business. And I’m. I love being proximate to my team. I’m able to cope with many meetings a day and go from back to back, zooms all day long. And that can be a real problem. It can be a real crutch that I like being with people busy, and then I find I’m not getting any of the time. I need to go deeper on things.”
19:50 – How To Balance The Two Timeframes of Marketing
Companies need short- and long-term marketing strategies to succeed.
“In any growth-stage startup, it fundamentally does come down to revenue, right? You’re trying to grow revenue. If you’re in a for-profit business, that’s the fundamental measure that your shareholders are gonna be looking at. There’s lots of other measures around it, and we wanna be good citizens and we want it to be sustainable and we want it to be able to continue for multiple years. But the way about this is I look at it as the two timeframes of marketing, you’ve got the stuff that you’ve gotta do in order to hit this quarter’s demand gen and next quarter’s demand gen to make sure your salespeople can grow revenue. And then you’ve gotta do all the things that have little impact over the course of the next couple of quarters. But if you don’t do them the pool you are fishing out of in a year or two’s time will be too small or be obsolete. And then that comes down to what is our company message and story? How are we positioned and how are we trying to work on that positioning? What is our strategy around branding and community-building and media and building the pool we want to fish out in the future helpful to our target market that there’s some reciprocity and affinity that’s being stored up for the future. And for me, it’s less about trying to have the argument that there’s lots of things we need to do and spend money on that are non-revenue related. It’s about timeframes and making sure people know that it’s not about investing in today. It’s about investing in tomorrow as well.”
21:30 – Set the tone
Focus on short-term goals to succeed long-term.
“ Firstly, especially early stage, you don’t have the, you the right or the luxury of thinking about two or three years out if you’re not doing this quarter, next quarter. And, firstly it’s probably about doing those shorter term things first to, to win the right to think about those longer term things. I do think that it comes from the top. If you’ve got a CEO who doesn’t see that at all and a head of sales that doesn’t see that at all, then you are gonna struggle. And bringing them on that journey is utterly critical. If you think about, analyst relations as an example, tactic within marketing. Every salesperson would love to open up every conversation with the prospect knowing about us, cuz we were in the top right of the last Gartner quadrant or the last forest away. But few salespeople would like you. Sales leaders would like you to take, two days a week for the next six months to build the relationship, spend the money and generate all the work that needs to be done in order for you to get there. And part of that, Making sure you’re delivering what is needed now, and then actually not being too public or showy or constantly updating everyone about all the things you’re doing that are succeeding for the future. And then that comes down to your sense of trust. We talked about trust earlier in your team, that is about the trust you have with you yourself and your head of sales with yourself and your founder. And, letting them know that this is what you’re doing, but is something that actually they’re gonna have to trust you on and that you’re gonna keep ’em updated on to the point where it’s relevant. And I that’s a really key element of this because some people get passionate about talking about the constant updates of what they’re doing and the activity they’re doing won’t bear fruit. And often that’s gonna be a waste of time and their roads trust rather than a build up.”
27:30 – Helpful content wins
Entertain people, add value, and build an audience for the future.
“What we are proud of this year won’t be good enough nix year. We’ve gotta think of something new. And that’s a challenge for the team, but that’s also something that people can get excited over and people can want to dream into. Another great one is Ben Hillman, who’s on our media team, on our creative team. He’s produced a series called Verticals, which is the Sasha of Fame. And it’s him talking to camera with a bunch of animations telling the stories of some SAS triumphs., his first episode was talking about Zoom versus Skype and how Skype had the lead and Zoom took over and it’s short, 10 minute episodes densely packed with information and inside and news about what happened there. And graphs about it all gives loads of context to that marketplace. And he’s got one of these coming out every single week of the next couple of months. Wow. Now again, Does it help us sell subscription management, tax compliance, billing software? No, but it hopefully it helps people. It entertains them when it builds an audience for us for the future.”
29:06 – Self-service matters more than ever
People are less interested in talking to a sales rep and want to do more research themselves.
“Multiple years ago, Paddle had, did do this before. And then for a few reasons retracted from it. And then went again in, I it was February or March, we put it live, our self-serve self-serve funnel again. Let’s talk about the principles here. Yes, we are mostly sales led. Martin, biggest proportion of our volume comes in via our salesperson reaching out or starting our conversation. And our sales, our self service approach was to try and make a process where someone could come to our site, sign up, go through kyc, K y b, our risk checks cause we’ve got a whole bunch, but of fundamental liability we’re taking as a part of that payment stack and get live and start transacting without ever talking to a sales rep. And, we’ve done that. We’ve seen, a lot of volume come through that channel, even though we’ve, all of us internally think it’s been done bad and clunk in a clunky way. We make it possible, but it’s only possible. It feels we’re putting lots of hurdles in the way of the customer to get there. But there’s loads of volume coming through it. We know there’s something working there, and now we need to invest and move that. We can talk about a whole bunch of the the complexity and the challenge that comes with that. But fundamentally, we are in a market where a few things are happening, People are less interested in talking to a sales rep. They wanna do much more of the research journey themselves. Lots of stats from whether it’s CEB or Forester or other people about how you are 80% or 60% or 70% through the buying process before you’ve ever want to actually have that conversation. And this goes back to some, some research that Google did, I always refer back to about, 10, 12 years ago called Zero Moment of Truth. And they they built out this whole theme of research about the Zero Moment of truth where what they were trying to show was that people’s, it used to be the people’s first moment of truth was that moment where they were presented with a proposition. And then the second moment of truth was where they then experienced it after consumption and it either lived up or didn’t live up to expectations. And they were saying that there’s now this pre-buying research phase. Everybody starts a restaurant search on Google. Every, everybody starts a, a car buying search on Google. There’s a zero moment of tr. And that first moment of truth when you’re in the car showroom, you are there to work out whether the brand promise lives up to the research you’ve seen. You go into that car showroom, more knowledgeable about the car than the poor sales rep who’s trying to pitch you. Cause you’ve read every Y Car magazine and every review and every rating. That first big is that people are choosing, they are empowered to do that research.”
31:31 – Self-serve is the future of sales
Enable people to see value from the product before selling to them.
The second thing that’s happening is in most elements of software buying and, infrastructure buying, BP services, buying the purchases are increasingly being made by users of those products, not necessarily by buying committees and by senior decision makers. It’s not true of everything, but often that adoption cycle starts with people using something, trying something, and then upselling later to a team planner or an enterprise plan. Those are two trends that are important to talk about, and that means that what we’re trying to do with self-serve is allow people not to be sold to, is allow people to try. It’s about serving the buyer. I don’t think it’s a, I even think it sometimes we over egg it when we talk about a different go to market motion. At the end of the day, this is a reverse. This is giving people all of the ability to test and try themselves and explore and find templates and build models or whatever your tool does and then work out if it’s right for them. Yes we’ve enabled that self-serve motion. Most of our customers are product led, and we serve product led businesses. We’ve got, 3000 customers live right now who are product led businesses. And it’s fundamentally around removing obstacles from that pathway.”
33:12 – How Product-Led and Sales-Led Growth Work Together
Product-led businesses need salespeople to help them scale revenue by getting into bigger accounts.
“Product-led does not mean no salespeople If we look at all the best product-led businesses, they almost all are hiring salespeople as fast or faster than people who are traditionally sales led. Adam Schoenfeld does some interesting research, and I can’t remember the tipping point, but it was, a couple of tens of millions of ARR that if you are product-led by that point, you are hiring salespeople at least as fast as someone who is sales-led if not faster. And it probably is that in the early days you pick up an audience in a community that of users and trials but as you’re trying to scale revenue, we know that getting into those bigger accounts and those bigger budgets requires a bigger committee, which then requires a salesperson to juggle that conversation. It’s important that we recognize it’s not product-led versus sales-led This is hybrid in almost every circumstance.”
39:32 – Learning, the ultimate meta skill
People need to be constantly exposed to new areas of learning.
“What are the questions I love to ask in interview is how do you learn? Cause learning is, it’s the ultimate meta skill. It’s the skill by which you learn other skills. And one thing is to make sure that I’m always thinking about how I learn. And that can change over seasons of life. It can change in different contexts. And making sure I’m constantly exposed to other areas of learning is important. I also think that this process of growth, often with the people I’ve spoken to recently and certainly in my own life, This tends to be a process of discovering who is the me that I wanna be, rather than going out and chasing a new version of myself that I have to recreate or reform or build into. And often it’s chipping away at myself and the things that I don’t like or don’t want or wanna be better at, that it is about reinventing myself into some new mold. I love what I do. I love my family. I love the companies I work with. I’m fortunate to be in that situation.There’s lots of things about all of those that I want to improve and I’m not satisfied with. But what that leads me to is wanting to be, I’m a pragmatist who’s constantly biased to action, but wanting to build more time into my day to reflect on, how can I be better in that moment? Or how can I do that better? Or what would be my reaction to that, rather than the reaction that I feel is socially conditioned or is based on fear or is based on some other emotion that is not gonna be beneficial in the circumstance. ”