Last updated 31 October, 2021.
All organizations are interested in growth, but instead of just looking at growing the business, we need to invert the problem and look at what’s stopping us from growing so that we can either overcome or avoid these bottlenecks altogether.
Anna Holopainen, Head of Growth at Kide Science, joined Edward on the Growth Hub to discuss some typical growth and marketing-related reasons for not getting results.
Anna also used to work as a Growth Marketing Strategist at Advance B2B, so we’re super stoked to have her on the podcast to share some of her awesome wisdom with us once more. 🙏🏼
Want more? Check this out: From near failure to +15M ARR with
Derek O’Carroll, CEO of Brightpearl
Identify your growth bottlenecks
Anna has a clear view of how to approach the growth problems she faces.
“As a consultant, I talk to a lot of B2B SaaS startups and their founders,” she explains. “There are definitely a couple of patterns I keep seeing regardless of the industry, growth model, or whatnot.”
According to Anna, it’s a good idea to divide these into different layers or “buckets” based on the growth bottleneck at hand.
The first bucket is growth model or strategy-related. It’s a larger bucket that has room for the business model, the product, or alignment between teams. These problems are typically company-wide, more complex, and slightly harder to uncover.
These issues can also often be related to people and their perceptions, or they may result from information being siloed. Some of the most common scenarios Anna mentions include not having market-product fit or a viable growth model in place.
As a marketer, you’re then too early to the party. It’s really painful to try and prove your worth in this situation, and there’s really not much you can do as a marketer.
Sales-led organizations also often struggle a lot with misalignment.
The other bucket is for anything marketing-related.
These have fewer moving parts, so they are, in general, easier to uncover. One common scenario is that your company is using linear tactics that are not scalable. Another common scenario is doing things that technically could scale, but you’re not using the best channels or tactics.
“It’s really important to identify which [category] your growth bottlenecks fall into,” she clarifies.
Why you should never start with a marketing performance audit
Well, everyone knows most marketers want to start with some kind of audit. “It actually makes perfect sense to think so, especially when you’re on the lookout for quick wins or immediate results or are really under pressure to deliver,” Anna says.
But instead of going directly into audits like SEO, website, or content audits, Anna would look at the higher-level big picture first.
“You need some context for your data. Everything you’re getting out of your audit needs context, right? If you don’t know what a viable growth model for your business is, how are you going to tell if those numbers are making sense?”
She clarifies that things aren’t always this black and white, and you can get useful data just by looking into SEO and so forth, but she thinks it rarely makes sense to jump into tactical operations simply because you’re under pressure to deliver immediate results.
When you have that understanding, though, and have identified a viable and scalable growth model for your business, you can give your leadership team context that allows them, as non-marketers, to understand why getting immediate results with your current ways of working is often impossible.
“This is the simple reason why I would never start by conducting marketing audits,” she explains.
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Anna's 4-step process for tackling your growth bottlenecks
“I’ve noticed that following this simple process helps you focus on the right things and identify those blockers,” she shares.
🚀 The first step is identifying your growth model and growth strategy and other viable growth strategies for your business. There’s never just one growth model.
🚀 The second step is getting some audience or user insights. It doesn’t necessarily mean diving very deep into that, but you do need a basic understanding to get started.
🚀 The third step is conducting those marketing audits and a current state analysis. So, these are something that you do need to do—just don’t start with them right off the bat. Look at the things that are relevant for your business.
🚀 The fourth step is coming up with an action plan. And, if needed, getting buy-in from key stakeholders. Tell them a story with the data that you have.
Interested in learning more? We've got you:
Data — the true foundation of growth marketing in B2B SaaS
How do you make sense of disorganized data?
“A lot of times, you have a lot of data because you start from the wrong place,” explains Anna. “You start from the audits, individual channels, and things without context. And it might not even be relevant for your company.”
According to Anna, if you keep doing this, you’ll end up with a lot of data that doesn’t have any context.
Here again, the key is to tell a story with the data. And how can you do that?
“You need to understand the context,” she repeats. “It’s such a key piece of this puzzle. Leave out irrelevant data and only look at what makes sense.”
She also underlines the importance of KPIs and leading and lagging metrics.
“You need to be able to tell a story that forms a chain of metrics,” she continues. “How each individual piece of the puzzle actually affects the next one.”
She goes on: “If your data is disorganized or you don’t have enough of it, I would recommend starting with a quantitative analysis. But if it’s impossible, take what you have and use it as a basis for qualitative analysis.”
This would mean things like listening to sales calls, talking to ideal clients, conducting surveys on high-intent web pages—and if you have no data, don’t worry.
“If you have a growth model and a focus, you’re actually in a good place to start conducting qualitative research. You’ve already focused on your ICP, and you know who you are targeting and what they’re expecting,” she says. “You don’t even need the quantitative data.”
Want to know more about growth marketing? Here ya go:
Undefinable? - An approach to a growth marketing definition
What should you do next?
Listen to the episode in full to know more, and stick around until the end to find out what Anna’s answers to Edward's fast five questions are!
If you liked what you heard and would like to know more, you should subscribe to the Growth Hub Podcast on your preferred podcast platform. ❤️
We at Advance B2B currently offer you a free SaaS marketing assessment.
Links to check out:
Kide Science >> www.kidescience.com/en
SaaS Reads >> saasreads.com
Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella Meadows >> www.goodreads.com/book/show/382890…nking-in-systems
Advance B2B >> www.advanceb2b.com
Follow The Growth Hub on Twitter >> twitter.com/SaaSGrowthHub
Follow Edward on Twitter >> twitter.com/NordicEdward