The three sneakiest growth failures

It’s hard to spot ‘em when we’re in the middle of the sh*tstorm. 

The real reasons why the business isn’t growing the way we want it to.

Not the symptoms. 

Not the little stuff everybody likes to obsess over. 

But the underlying issues that prevent a marketing team from getting the most out of its efforts.

The issues that will only become more painful in 2023.

From our own in-house experiences as well as countless conversations with marketing leaders over the years, we see three primary growth failures that most people don’t talk about. 

They’re sneaky. Ready? 

1. Assumptions are getting in the way of a legitimate growth hypothesis

We know how this thing is gonna grow, right? We know marketing. We know the playbooks. Let’s go! 

But wait… have we articulated precisely how we expect the most meaningful business growth to come over the next 12 months? 

Have we narrowed it down to a primary approach? One that the entire company can get aligned around. Is it so crisp that we can call it a hypothesis? 

Most of us aren’t there. 

Despite our best intentions, we just don’t tend to think like this. It’s almost like we know marketing too well. We just know what to do. 

So we start doing before we have articulated a clear hypothesis against which we can execute and analyze meaningfully. 

But when we’re only aligned on things like targets as a company, we don’t execute against the highest impact work.

In the end, marketing can only be successful within a well-defined growth hypothesis. 

2. Our focus on execution prevents us from seeing that we’re scaling hacks

And hacks don’t actually scale. 

We’ve tried though. Because we’re so execution-oriented, we tend to increase activities. After all, we need to do marketing. 

But this idea that it’s all about trying a bunch of stuff and then simply continuing to do what works actually turns into a fallacy before we even know it. 

* The ad that outperformed other ads won’t keep crushing indefinitely.

* The landing page that converted well isn’t changing the game.

* The virtual event we organized can’t just be replicated. 

We don’t always see it, but most of our time is spent adding to the mix – more ads, more content, more people, more everything – in a way that inherently can’t sustain. 

And when things get tough, we get people all up in our business scrutinizing the tactics. Which perpetuates the problem by sending us right back to the stuff we might not fully realize really is hacks. 

3. Being “revenue obsessed” is a pitfall because it focuses on the outcome

What’s wrong with being focused on pipeline and revenue? 

Well, what’s wrong with a quarterback who’s obsessed with how many touchdown passes he throws?

Nothing – as long as he’s at least equally obsessed with figuring out what it takes to throw those passes against each defense he’s up against and then actually throwing them over and over again, season after season. 

Our problem in B2B marketingland is that, despite our best intentions, measuring ourselves on pipeline and revenue leads to more short-sighted efforts than we think. 

Which leads to a bigger problem: 

We don’t actually get to a better position to hit long-term growth goals and we don’t prioritize initiatives based on impact. 

Being revenue obsessed is not the same as being obsessed with sustainable growth. 

In fact, they often end up being at odds with one another. Oh, the irony, right?!

So here’s the deal: 

If you’re looking inside your company right now in Q4 2022 and you see any of this, your team is vulnerable. 

People aren’t really talking about these issues yet though, but our hope is that you can use these insights to establish and drive the internal conversation about how the business should really grow in 2023. 

That’s how you get ahead of these growth failures potentially ending up scapegoating Marketing. 

There’s a massive opportunity to be courageous and honest enough to change the internal conversation about growth towards something that can sustain.