“Good idea. This will really help introduce our service to a new audience/demographic. What team budget is this?”
“These new in-situ product images really showcase our product in a cutting-edge light, but they don’t follow our historical paid social best practices.”
“We spend the majority of our marketing budget on growth marketing, but the majority of creative investments and resources are spent on ‘non-performing’ assets.
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been an active participant or at the very least a fly on the wall in some of these conversations. As someone involved in many cases, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to avoid them in the future.
From: Neil Heckman
In most brands I’ve worked with throughout my career, and particularly more recently in my 5+ years with hyper growth start-ups and disruptive brands, marketing organizations are typically comprised of of 3 components – brand, growth and creation.
The brand team is responsible for leading the direction of the ship and coming up with meaningful new ways to introduce the brand to new people. The growth team is most often comprised of new customer acquisition and existing customer retention efforts, and is the marketing group responsible for attributable revenue and marketing-driven business effectiveness. And the creative team brings all of the above to life with visual and copy-driven campaigns based on each group’s known and tested best practices.
The siloing of marketing practices is essential for the skills of each member of the team to flourish. A brand marketer may not find paid search execution interesting, and a performance marketer may cringe at the idea of concept and strategy brainstorming sessions. But that doesn’t mean marketing OBJECTIVES should be siled at the team level. In fact, this is actually detrimental to the brand’s overall future prospects.
The current structuring and siloing of goals and objectives leads to internal friction, a lack of innovation, and a prolonged time to achieve enterprise-wide goals. Marketing leaders, in the current structure, are regularly pitted against each other in the fight for budget and resources, and more often than not there is a “bad guy” (and, having been the bad guy who needed to focus groups on revenue generation and efficiency (rather than deploying a budget for an amazing creative idea that may not generate immediate revenue). This all comes down to the aforementioned inefficient silos.
It’s all growth marketing and it’s all brand marketing. The two are not in competition, and the two must work in tandem at all times to ensure the brand voice is true and there is consistency in brand perception across every touchpoint. , but that all of the team’s goals are achieved through a majority of effort.
If you ask most brand marketers if they think revenue generation is important, they’ll say yes. And if you ask most growth marketers if they think traditional advertising with a non-revenue-generating goal is important, I think they would also say yes. So let’s get back to the heart of the matter – when revenue is solely the responsibility of the growth team and impression delivery or press successes or another brand team, the KPI is solely the responsibility of the brand team, and both historically know what works, leaving the creative team little room for innovation – the whole engine stalls.
Having worked with dozens of seed/series brands at this point, an alternative structure might be as follows. I’m by no means saying that all creative marketers are suddenly responsible for revenue, or that all growth marketers have to be InDesign or Canva experts – but shared ownership and responsibility is the first step. decompartmentalization:
1) Marketing leadership must align on the 3 MARKETING priorities (not specific to brand, growth or creation) for the next 6 months. Examples include:
- Increase brand awareness 4%
- Meet the company’s revenue plan with a marketing investment of no more than 25% of all revenue generated
- Limit performance marketing spend and focus more on influencer efforts and increasing existing customer LTV
- Spend 5% of total marketing budget on huge cultural activation and get 100 press mentions from brand awareness and SEO improvement effort
2) All marketing resources must accomplish 2 of 3 priorities, which ALL teams must work against
3) Shareholding for all KPIs – growth teams should report impressions, brand teams should make an effort (with the help of the growth team) to find influencers based on past successes most likely to generate impressions revenue or hitting a growth KPI, and creative teams to define assumptions to put into their campaign proposals and how each supports the goals
This will increase cross-team collaboration, partnership, and might even eliminate some aggressive passive slacks or meeting invites.
Need a proof point? When I was at Casper, we almost had to cancel our Subway ads due to cost and our inability to gauge revenue or track interest. The brand, growth, and creative teams came together with the sole purpose of saving subway ads, and the only way to do that was to introduce something buzzworthy, something innovative, and something attributable. And from there, Casper puzzle were born. Each group felt that this campaign met their KPIs, and the partnership of working together toward a collective goal (while accomplishing each team’s individual tasks), led to an unparalleled level of collaboration and production.
This is a fundamental and seismic change. Some people/brands may be opposed, and that’s okay – but I think the most successful brands over the next 3-5 years will stop thinking in terms of siloed, short-term goals and think about how/ when/where they can appear most significantly in relation to total marketing and broader business goals…and how, when done correctly, achieving a brand team’s goals will benefit the company’s growth and capabilities. creative team to achieve its goals, and vice versa.
Neil Heckman hailed from some of the biggest internationally renowned D2C startups – Away and Casper – and founded his New York-based agency Breakfast advice just 1 year ago. At a fraction of the cost of a CMO, breakfast consulting can define a strategy, execute it, and optimize it.