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Undefinable? - An approach to a growth marketing definition

Growth Marketer? Go home you're drunk

Have you ever wondered what made growth marketing become all the rage? How come everyone suddenly updated their job titles on LinkedIn to Chief of Growth, Growth Marketer, or yes, even Growth Marketing Strategist?

But what’s beneath all the hype that has highlighted in their 2020 marketing trends tracker? That’s the million-dollar question, I guess. And of course, even more importantly, is this all hype, or is there something to it? 

And psst: If you're interested in this topic, stay tuned for more (and subscribe to our Advance Insider newsletter to make sure you won't miss any future posts! )

So, what is growth marketing? 

Let me start off by saying that growth marketing has been around for a while but in a somewhat more dormant, less in-your-face way and that doesn't make it easier to find a growth marketing definition. But what exactly is growth marketing? There are probably as many definitions as newly crowned Growth Marketers out there. But let’s take a moment to look at a definition of growth marketing.

A quick search on the Google machine reveals this definition—and props to the company, newbreedrevenue, who managed to own that snippet:

"Growth Marketing is the process of designing and conducting experiments to optimize and improve the results of a target area. If you have a certain metric you want to increase, growth marketing is a method you can utilize to achieve that." 

So, what differentiates growth marketing from plain ol’ marketing is that you run tests. This is something that I see brought up time and time again. The continuous need for testing or running experiments. But is that all there is to growth marketing? Spoiler alert, there may just be more to it.

At Advance B2B, our definition of growth marketing is like this

Growth marketing is a systematic process that combines strategic brand marketing with tactical performance marketing to acquire good-fit customers and help them become so successful they’ll buy again, buy more, and tell others.

And to dive even further into it: We also think the process follows a cyclical agile model where tactics are prioritized based on their perceived long-term impact. And those are not the only things that are relevant here: we’re not going after sustainable revenue growth through new customer acquisition only, but also through customer activation, retention, and monetization.

And yeah, it also matters who you’re serving. It’s important to figure out who your ideal customers are and focus on them to really make this growth engine work. 🚀

This means growth marketing does certainly include testing things, measuring, and collecting data to see if those tests and experiments bear fruit. And of course, continuing to do the tests and experiments to ensure that things keep working as intended. But it’s important to know that running tests and experiments are not the whole story. 

But, like, why growth marketing? 

You got me. As a marketer, I clearly should have read my Simon Sinek book and started with the why part. So why is there this sudden obsession with growth marketing? 

If we look at the words, we see growth and marketing. Growth marketing. Basically, the term growth marketing builds a bridge from marketing to business growth and revenue. And that is the bridge that has been missing for so long, and I dare say that it’s a crucial element, or maybe even what distinguishes growth marketing from data-driven decision-making.

Growth marketing implies that marketing is becoming a core business value driver. Not, as our dear friends on the finance side so often like to see it, a cost center.

That said, this connects to the second issue marketing has. And no, this is not a “Confessions of a Marketer: Here are all my traumas” blog, you can put those chaise lounges of Siegmund’s petty successors back. What I’m actually saying is that marketing has grossly misunderstood growth as a concept for a long time. 

If you are a marketer, put your hand to your heart—how much of an adrenaline rush does it give you to get a notification of a prospect visiting your website? Your heart's beating pretty fast, isn’t it? 

Now, how about form fills? I know. We’ve all been there, and the psychological aspect of demand generation would warrant a whole separate blog spot. But the point is, marketing has been focusing too much on lead generation when instead marketing should be operating at every step of the buyer's journey. 

Branding - Always important, often misunderstood

Here’s a trick. Forget about marketing, call it communication. Communication is what will help to retain your customers, communication is what activates your customers and yes, communication is also what generates new customers for you. 

Communication also connects to another part of growth marketing that we haven’t yet touched upon and that is brand. Brand, I already hear some boardroom people (is it a board zoom nowadays by the way?) shuffling in their seats and getting nervous about spending a cent on brand building, but my iPhone (that’s right, not smartphone) begs to differ here. 

This is pointing yet to another misconception about the brand. Brand is not all about advertising and all that fun stuff where we can unleash our inner Don Draper. Don Draper had issues, and so does this definition of branding. A brand is so much more than just a shiny advertisement.  

What I mean is that brand in this sense means the whole way you position your company and the values you hold true. It’s what sets you apart from a nameless company in a sea of B2B solution providers that all want to enable their customers to do XYZ. 

Focusing on the brand allows you to shape your position, craft your messages to support this, and build a consistent brand that your ideal customers understand and love.

Growth marketing - The final(ish) verdict?

So, let’s get back to how we do growth marketing at Advance B2B. To us, it’s a solution that attacks your growth bottlenecks head-on and helps you not only win new customers but also keep and grow your existing ones. You can read more in our 101 on growth marketing.

So, how can you implement a growth marketing mindset in your organization and what are the best ways to shift toward growth marketing? Watch this webinar recording to find out.