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How The Role of Effective Marketing Ensures Startup Growth

Written by:

Howard Tillerman is the Chief Marketing Officer for Making That Sale and an award-winning marketing professional.

Edited by:

Sallie, holding a Ph.D. from Walden University, is an experienced writing coach and editor with a background in marketing. She has served roles in corporate communications and taught at institutions like the University of Florida.

How The Role of Effective Marketing Ensures Startup Growth

How The Role of Effective Marketing Ensures Startup Growth

Samuel Getty is a skilled marketer with a rich background in product development, and in this interview, we explore the relationship between marketing strategies and the growth trajectories of small businesses and startups. Getty’s comprehensive experience allows him to share insights on all things marketing, from effective growth strategies to brand-new trends. There’s also valuable knowledge for all marketers looking to make a significant impact. Without further ado, we invite you to keep reading!

Career Path

MTS – Can you describe your experience in marketing and how your background in product development has influenced your methods?

Samuel – My marketing experience range has mainly been in small businesses, from traditional marketing roles to being a founder and leveraging my marketing skills. When working in a small business environment, oftentimes, saying you are a marketer can be like saying you are a scientist or a doctor — it’s a broad description that could include many different skill sets and specialties.

Marketing in small businesses includes a wide variety of skill sets, from copywriting and managing ads to website development, graphic design, and conversion optimization. I often find myself in roles where I am among the first marketing hires within a company and am tasked with helping identify and scale marketing efforts. Working with small businesses has been very enjoyable, and I am grateful to have had these opportunities.

My experience as a founder, having built consumer and B2B software, has also given me a unique view as a marketer, often going beyond traditional marketing, and allows me to have an idea of a full customer lifecycle from acquisition to conversion to retention through product experience.

Growth Strategies

MTS – What key growth strategies have you found most effective in startups and how do they differ from those in established companies?

Samuel – Each stage of a company requires a different approach to growth — especially with startups. One company may be trying to acquire its first set of customers, while another is experiencing a more rapid growth trajectory. These stages all blend, and in my experience, the key to an early-stage company is knowing where to spend your time. There is so much opportunity and untapped potential in a startup, and it can be very easy to want to leave no rock unturned.

When looking at a company and its customer acquisition process, I like to focus on what I can 10x. Going from 0 to 1 is much less impactful and much more risky than going from 1 to 10 or 10 to 100.

A practical example can be if a company has successfully acquired a new customer through Facebook ads. One may be inclined to try to replicate this success across other verticals, such as TikTok or YouTube. I would suggest doubling down on Facebook ads instead and trying to acquire 10 customers, then 100, and then 1,000 through this process. Staying hyper-focused is important to success and having clear ROIs to stay accountable.

ROI Mapping

MTS – Can you explain your process for mapping out key ROI along customer cycles and how this impacts your marketing plans?

Samuel – My marketing efforts revolve around my ROIs — this allows for accountability and a clear way to explain to other departments the value and importance of specific marketing efforts. With accountability, having clear ROIs helps to vet new and existing ideas.

For example, there may be a lot of interest in attending conferences, but if the intent of conference attendance is to get new leads. Afterward, there is no ROI that changes the discussion for future events. Conferences can also be helpful for other aspects, such as brand development, but that would be a different ROI and a different lens to view success.

The whole idea is to have clear ROIs that align with your customer acquisition process and stick with them to make decisions on how to scale your marketing efforts.

I find it important for small businesses to have a small but highly impactful set of ROIs to track, which makes it sustainable to measure over time. If a marketer has to spend hours updating ROI trackers and exploring and growing new verticals, this will create difficulties. In early-stage companies, a marketer does both strategic and technical execution, and there has to be a balance.

Measurement and Improvement

MTS – What metrics do you prioritize in your marketing campaigns, and how do you continuously measure and improve these?

Samuel – The metrics I prioritize in my current marketing campaigns at Impiricus revolve around the B2B sales process. For lead generation campaigns, my role as a marketer is to help identify and qualify marketing leads, which results in meetings booked. I focus on a clear funnel that consists of contacts outreached, contacts engaged, contacts passed along to the sales team, and meetings booked.

Depending on the campaign, each of these areas may include different sub-components — paid media will have a different way prospective customers engage compared to outbound campaigns. Still, in the end, they should all flow towards marketing qualified leads that result in meetings booked. We also have a separate set of metrics for brand awareness.

Leadership in Marketing

MTS – How has your experience in leadership roles influenced your marketing strategies?

Samuel – My background is in marketing, but I also have a minor in cognitive science. This is combined with my experiences as a founder and working in the personality assessment and coaching space. I found my set of experiences has given me a unique perspective on being a leader. While there are many who are much more educated on leadership and can surely provide deeper insights, I will say that I find knowing when to lead and when to let others lead is essential and applies well to marketing. 

A marketer cannot do everything, and one needs to know when to be Batman and when to be Robin. This is what I call Superhero Synergy and was a value that we held at one of my previous companies, Prattle. 

Startup Challenges

MTS – What are the most common marketing challenges you’ve faced in startups, and how have you overcome them?

Samuel – Common challenges in marketing often revolve around having too many ideas and not enough time to work on everything. Learning how to prioritize is key, but this also goes into the ROIs and finding things to 10x, as mentioned above. Bringing in ROIs and staying focused helps one identify what is the most important thing to focus on. 

Entrepreneurial Mindset

MTS – How important is an entrepreneurial mindset in marketing, and how do you cultivate this within your team?

Samuel – As a marketer, you need to be open to new things and willing to let go when something isn’t working. This aligns well with entrepreneurship, which is all about paving a new path forward to bring a product or service into the world.

I find that part of an entrepreneurial mindset is being grateful for the opportunities in front of you and knowing when to let go when something isn’t working. Gratitude helps remove ego from the conversation and can allow one to separate their sense of identity from the success of what they are working on. Just like launching a new product or service, marketing does not always work out, and that’s okay — it’s a part of the process. Focusing on learning from the past and applying it to the future is an important takeaway.

Emerging Trends

MTS – What emerging trends in marketing are you most excited about, and how are you preparing to leverage them?

Samuel – It’s hard not to talk about emerging trends without mentioning the meteoric rise of AI in business, including marketing. AI has hit the ground running — from content copy to graphics to even building out entire websites or explainer videos. With the rise of AI, there have also been unintended consequences, which include an increase in the lack of trust.

In the past, we had to deal with fake news; now, we have to deal with fake people writing fake news.

I am excited to be doubling down on building trust through brand voices and looking out for tools that help measure, identify, or showcase paths towards increasing trust among consumers in today’s business world.

Innovative Campaigns

MTS – Could you share an example of an innovative marketing campaign you’ve led and the results it achieved?

Samuel – During COVID, there was a drastic shift where all marketing went almost exclusively virtual. This, combined with the shift in the workplace towards entirely virtual and major digital burnout among customers. With so many people’s lives on screens, it was hard to capture their attention.

The company I worked at was looking for ways to get in front of HR leaders and propose solutions to help them navigate during this difficult time. We came up with the idea to create a physical Culture Box that included custom messaging based on the client’s needs and resources the client could immediately use to impact their businesses. It was a great way to immediately cut through the noise and delight our prospective clients, and it led to new enterprise deals.

Customer Engagement

MTS – How do you approach customer engagement differently in a startup compared to a larger organization?

Samuel – Oftentimes, at a smaller company, the founders are the face of the company, from sales to customer retention. This is an essential component of any business, but at some point, there needs to be a transition away from founder-led departments. This transition is essential for unlocking growth within companies but can often be difficult.

In my experience, a big difference between the two is with startups, customer engagement is often about the people, but with larger companies, it’s about the process. This shift towards creating structure and standard operating procedures that scale creates a difference in approach.

Advice for Aspiring Marketers

MTS – Lastly, what advice would you give to aspiring marketers who want to make a significant impact in their roles?

Samuel – Having an attitude of gratitude has been essential for my career growth, and I would encourage people to assess where they are holding in this part of their life. Increasing gratitude allows someone to appreciate what is in front of them and stay more present. This has led me to focus less on the future and instead dedicate myself to delivering my impact with the task in front of me.

Marketers don’t always do the most flashy tasks, but my mindset has been simple. It doesn’t matter if I’m launching a national campaign or fixing a blurred graphic on a website. I want to put my best foot forward with what’s in front of me. I’ve found this has helped me let go of my ego and led me to put forth better work, which I am thankful has propelled me forward.