The new losing mindset in marketing

 Even smart marketers will fall for this one…

There’s a new “story” forming in B2B Marketingland that we’ll all start hearing more about soon. 

It’s so logical. So obvious. And yet so dangerous. 

Born out of the same cluster that brought us “It’s all about efficiency,” this one seems equally innocent on the surface: 

“It’s all about retention.”

That’s right – when we realize just how hard it can be to drive net new revenue, let’s pivot and talk about how important net revenue retention is. Yay!

Listen, of course retention is important. It’s downright critical. But when marketers start saying that’s where it’s at, here’s what they’re really saying: 

Acquiring new customers now is just so hard that we need to focus on something easier that we can get some credit for. 

That’s the truth.

When times get tough, most of us start playing it safe. 

Which is often well intended as we “at least help with something” – but what a slippery slope. 

The job of a marketing leader is to do far more. With courage, determination and ingenuity. Goals will continue to go up, and avoiding the hard challenges now will only delay the inevitable.

In other words, playing it safe is one of the most risky things marketing leaders can do.

In fairness, there are nuances to this retention story you’ll be hearing more and more of. 

For example, 5x demand generation leader Kaylee Edmondson recently posted about the idea of a marketer with a demand gen lens specifically owning an NRR number. That’s interesting.

Again, marketers shouldn’t shy away from helping with retention. It’s core to growth. But the warning here is that we can’t over-rotate like we so often do and go too heavy on retention. 

That would be nothing short of a cop out. 

Resources are already beyond limited for most. Which drives up opportunity cost. 

So you have a choice to make.

Many will choose to: 

  • Try to preserve
  • Get way more efficient
  • “At least help with something”
  • Cut more to show they’re responsible
  • See if they can just wait this whole thing out

But great marketers will find a way to do the hardest thing now. They’ll identify the biggest problem. And deal with the most crucial challenge. 

So what’s the hardest thing?

Godfather of SaaS Jason Lemkin said “the toughest metric is new customers” in a recent post:  

“Existing customers remain happy, and if they are doing well, will buy more. But new business is a lot tougher than 12 months ago, let alone 24.”

Some will throw in the towel.

Others will get to work. 

But let’s not pretend there’s some simple “create demand” approach here. No, customer acquisition really is hard. It takes real work.

But it’s probably your biggest opportunity. 

As we like to say around here: 

You outgrow the competition by acquiring more customers