After talking to marketing leaders for a year, here’s my advice for CEOs – TechCrunch

Marketing makes or breaks company. When I am asked what the first thing I would do to help a company on a large scale is to focus on marketing. a period.

I learned a long time ago that the best product doesn’t always win. It’s often a “good enough” product paired with killer marketing backed by unique customer insights. As a VC, I’ve seen this play out over and over again. Many companies get stuck in marketing “features and functionality,” which means they miss the opportunity to create lasting brands. This happens when you raise the level of messages to higher level needs that solve the pain point of the end consumer and delight them on an emotional level.

I’m passionate about helping companies unveil new channels or reinvent old ones the way the needles move. Finding a new way to create existing channels such as TV, direct mail and radio to generate brand awareness can be a huge competitive moat and drive a company to exponential growth.

I am not saying it is easy. The job of a marketer becomes more complex with each channel that appears. Among the latest challenging trend lines:

  1. It’s noisier than ever. Next year, marketers expect a 40% year-over-year increase in the number of data sources they use, according to Salesforce’s seventh edition of its annual State of Marketing Report, which they spoke to more than 8,200 global marketers for.
  2. conservative tighten. According to Gartner, marketing budgets as a percentage of the company’s revenue fell to 6.4% in 2021 from 11%. The company reports that “this is the lowest percentage earmarked for marketing in the history of Gartner’s annual CMO spending survey.”
  3. Ponds are overfished. A decade ago, only 17% of global ad spending went to the five largest ad sellers (Google; Viacom and CBS; News Corp. and Fox; Comcast and Disney). Today, ad networks are becoming more crowded, with 46% of global ad spend being carried out on the five largest networks (Google, Facebook, Amazon, Alibaba and ByteDance).

With this downward pressure on efficient marketing dollars, it’s important to listen to customers, stay curious, and stay open to the wild ideas that have the potential to break through. Over the past year, I’ve had dozens of conversations with top marketers asking them what really works for them, and what crazy idea they’ve tried that seemed so absurd at the time.


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Here are some highlights from what I’ve heard, and what I’m now sharing with all of the CEOs and marketing leadership of our portfolio companies:

With developers, marketers need to solve problems, not sellers

“Developers are very quick at figuring out any kind of marketing rhetoric or BS. They are looking to get an answer to a problem they have and then move on. How do you get them to the right documentation as quickly as possible? How can you quickly keep up with those products that exist today, and not Which products will survive two years from now?

Your job is to help them get the code as fast as they can. Give them direct access to other developers in the community who think the same way and can help solve some of their problems in real time.” — Sarah Varney, Chief Marketing Officer at Twilio.

Avoid free trials at all costs

“Early at Curology, we had a hypothesis that by not charging anything at all to try the product, it was very easy for people to get it without any kind of mental commitment. We started experimenting with getting people to pay for shipping, $4.95 . [That price] It was still a very low barrier to people, but we learned that it dramatically changed the mentality of value and commitment in the eyes of our customers.

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