What growth is not

Sure, Marketing should drive growth. Of course. It must!

But that doesn’t mean Marketing is responsible for the company’s growth. 

Those are two very different thoughts. But they keep getting mixed up. Let’s untangle this. 

If you started a company a couple of decades ago, you’d probably write a business plan. And you’d likely challenge yourself to think about how the business will actually grow. 

Fast forward to 2010 and the phrase growth hacking was coined. 

Now, growth hacking didn’t ruin it all and it’s not like everything was better in the good old days. 

But something started happening in B2B about a decade ago. 

All of a sudden CEOs started looking to Marketing for how the business was going to grow. After they had hired a few people into Sales. 

Even as companies grew, you started hearing things like: 

“Marketing, we need growth now.”

“We need to hold Marketing accountable.”

“Our last CMO couldn’t drive the growth we needed.”

“Marketing is responsible for growth. Together with Sales.”

“We need to get back to growth – Marketing, what’s the problem?”

The problem? 

Companies want growth without understanding what it takes to get it. 

Companies want growth based on a complete misunderstanding of what growth actually is.

To be clear, growth is not simply the result of activities from Marketing and Sales. 

Growth is what you learn to attract. When you start with a clear growth hypothesis. When Leadership is aligned on how to approach it. And when Marketing is executing within a process that is designed to learn about high-impact efforts for growth. 

And to be really clear, a growth hypothesis is not a set of projections in a spreadsheet. 

A growth hypothesis is your take on the primary way your company will drive growth over the next 12+ months. It includes your growth model (sales-led, content-led, etc.), how buyers will experience your value pre purchase, what channels they prefer and what metrics map to this growth scenario.

So what happens when you don’t have a growth hypothesis? 

Exactly what you see in most companies: 

- Incomplete experimentation

- Leaders critiquing the tactics

- Accepting diminishing returns

- Scrambling to make the quarter

- Slipping into tactics we don’t love

All in the name of driving growth. Except it isn’t real growth. Certainly not sustainable growth. 

Because simply executing marketing tactics isn’t how growth happens. 

It’s what we’ve somehow been tricked into believing. 

Companies are basically trying to hack their way to growth without fully admitting it. 

And here’s the punchline: 

Until the company has a well-defined growth hypothesis, Marketing will not be reaching its potential. Because the team won’t be working on the highest value initiatives. 

But Marketing gets blamed for not driving enough growth and CMOs get replaced. 

Marketing is actually set up for failure in most cases because of this. 

But let’s not accept some kind of victim role here. It’s just time to break this cycle. 

It’s time to get out of the tactical, lower value work and instead pursue higher impact from bigger bets within a well-defined growth hypothesis. One we facilitate the development of together with Leadership. So that we change the belief that Marketing somehow equals growth. 

- Your partners in growth at Elevate Demand