Illustration Michael Taylor

3 Marketing Moves to Double Your Growth

When I was a kid, my father watched me struggle at my tennis game. one day he said ” If you want to get better at tennis, play people way better than you.” Despite his advice, I continued to excel as a lousy tennis player, but that idea stuck with me throughout my life. If I wanted to improve anything I always sought the best people I could find to learn from.

When I started my marketing agency years ago, I was lucky to find a few fantastic mentors who ran successful 100m-1 billion companies. My dad would have been proud of me as these mentors were stratospherically out of my league. One observation these powerhouse leaders had in common is they seem to be driven by only a few fundamental ideas, you could call these “first principles”. Think Steve Jobs: “I want to make computing a more beautiful experience”, Jeff Bezos “I want to change how people buy”

In the spirit of first principles, I offer the top three marketing moves that have consistently driven breakout growth in our clients and in my own company. 

The first two moves are about clarifying, prioritizing, and publishing exactly who your ideal customers are and what makes them tick. The third is a mental shift for significantly increasing the influence of your communications. It’s important to publish your top customer personas, customer journeys, the voice of the customer research, and anything that makes your ideal customer tangible and easily understood. Then make it easily accessible 24/7 online to all of your team. Storing this intelligence in your heads or just talking about it in a meeting will assure these insights will go the way of your other thoughts, into the ether.

Blasting everything you offer in hopes that something will hit is useless. Customers care about what they need way more than an unfocused laundry list of products or services


Move 1: Pinpoint, segment, and understand

Different customer types want and value different things. Unless you have a somewhat formal understanding of this and a way to tangibly identify who your top “personas” are you are likely using a highly ineffective one size fits all shotgun approach with your marketing. Sales happen when you can articulate something highly personalized and specific to a specific customer type.

Blasting everything you offer in hopes that something will hit is useless. In today’s short attention span chaos, blasting out offerings and product features will fail because your customers care about what they need way more than an unfocused laundry list of products or services.

At our firm, we clarified 3 ideal customer types with specific needs we were perfectly suited to address:

  • C-level owner of revenue at 100-500million company: Big company marketing challenges but no strategic marketing leader
  • CMO>$1 Billion technology company with complex B2B sales: Need marketing specialist to brand and launch new products 
  • CIO Fortune 500 companies: Need to decrease failure rates through poor or minimal communications. This was a specialty we developed through our consulting partner.

Once we had a clear idea of our ideal customers we knew who to hire, how to position our expertise, and where to find these customers because we knew what we were looking for. With customer clarity, our strategy and actions became more clear and we grew 300% in 24 months.

Establish a clear criteria for ranking and prioritizing your customer types, then put 100% of your marketing effort to the top personas


Move 2: Force rank your top clients

Put 100% of your marketing effort to the top 1-3 most ideal customers: I am amazed how much time our clients can spend on unprofitable, energy-sucking clients that keep them trapped in a low-margin business.

When I had my large consultancy we had a system for ranking clients A, B, C, D. We used criteria such as margin, return on effort (high or low maintenance), quality and client satisfaction, and strategic fit. We then crafted our sales and marketing strategy to put 100% of our effort into A clients, and B clients who we felt could be moved to A. We accepted work from C clients (but did not market to them). We also turned down work from D clients who we felt were not a strategic fit.

The hardest part of this system was letting go of D clients who were long-time customers who we loved but were keeping us stuck on a plateau.


Move 3: Convert the instinct to sell to the instinct to help

One of the biggest cultural shifts I’ve seen over the last 15 years in business is an almost complete aversion to being sold to. This aversion is so pervasive I have often suggested our clients convert the mentality of “selling” to the process of helping. This shift sounds overly simplistic, but it can cause a sea change in the level of influence of your marketing content. If you replace the mentality of selling hard with a relentless pursuit of helping you will naturally generate far more interesting marketing content and value propositions.

Instead of blasting out features, functions, services, and product information(yawn, all about you), you provide your customers with valuable information and guidance(all about them) that will build the necessary trust and goodwill required for them to do business with you. I often tell our customers they are more likely to win customers through teaching than selling. It may be productive to think of your marketing content as “trial helpfulness” so your prospects can get a test of what it feels like to be your customer.

Clarifying your top customers can feel vulnerable. You may feel like you’ll exclude a vast world of potential customers waiting to do business with you. The opposite is true, if we try to make everyone our potential customer we’ll not have the situational intimacy and understanding required to let our prospects know we know them and we know how to make them shine. If the world is our oyster and we cast too wide a net we are guaranteed to produce generic forgettable blather aimed at everyone, and speaking to no one in particular.

Do you have a few first principles that drive your success? Do you have a clear picture of your ideal customer? Is it published and available 24/7 to your team? If you are struggling with any of these questions feel free to drop me a note.

Michael Taylor, SimpleMind


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