The high tech industry is in a state of extreme growth. There are 90 unicorns (a private company valued at $1 billion or more) as of May 2015 versus 10 unicorns at the beginning of 2011, and at least 8 decacorns (a private worth $10 billion or more).
With this rapid growth of high tech startups, it is clear that revenue is king. Those early years are all about how fast the company can increase revenue and gobble up market share, and marketing plays a key role in that growth. Marketing provides the fuel for the sales and revenue engine.
The way we think about traditional marketing is undergoing a transformation. In this fast-paced and digital world everything can be measured in real time. The high growth marketer’s skill set is different than the successful marketing skill set we saw 10, or as short as two years ago.
I’ve worked in tech for more than 20 years – most of that in marketing. Three years ago, I joined Domo, leaving larger, more stable companies like Oracle and SAP to join this enterprise, cloud-based software startup because I believed in the founder’s vision. I have learned a lot over the past three years about what it takes to lead a high growth marketing organization. Here are a few skill sets that are paramount for marketers today:
- Data driven. Gone are the days of Mad Men and the “Don Draper marketer.” Marketers can’t just come up with a good idea and then have three martini lunches, waiting to win their “ad of the year” award for a creative idea. In today’s world, everything can and should be measured. It allows a marketer to know if their campaigns and spend are working immediately, and helps guide companies during key decision-making moments.
- Digitally savvy. 67 percent of the buying journey happens before a prospect even talks to someone within your organization. That means the majority of interactions are happening digitally. If your marketing strategy does not significantly rely on digital, you are missing a significant amount of potential opportunities to educate consumers about your brand.
- Results oriented. With all that big data out there, a high growth marketer needs to understand which metrics really matter by impacting the bottom line. Getting caught up in “vanity measures” like impressions, follows and likes can overshadow the need to focus on the measures that count, like marketing’s contribution to revenue and the ROI of marketing spend.
- Market expert. Marketers need to know their company’s target market better than anyone else – the needs, pain points, likes and objections of their target prospects and customers. If not, the likelihood that campaigns will fail is high. Marketers also need to always have their finger on the pulse of the competition. For example, my team noticed an unknown competitor was heavily bidding against us for Google keywords. We anticipated that we would start to see this competitor in deals and so we were able to perform market intelligence and create sales enablement materials, which aided us when we did start to see this competitor in our sales cycle.
- Product Evangelist. If marketing does not know the ins and outs of the product, how can they educate the marketplace? Additionally, if marketers are not raving fans of your product, how can you expect them to create loyalty among customers?
- Brand Ambassador. In a high growth organization, most of the market is seeing your brand for the first time, and you only get one chance at a first impression. A high growth marketer needs to be maniacal about brand experience and consistency to ensure that every impression is in line with your brand.
In order to perform, a high growth marketing organization needs to be supported. The right technology and talent on board is a must. That, combined with clear goals and the freedom to run will lead to success.