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My growth and marketing manifesto

Updated: Dec 3, 2023

No one dreams that they will become a marketer when they grow up.


You could be a scientist pushing humanity forward. A surgeon saving lives. Or even a founder solving problems.


Marketers? We're most commonly know to spam.


Growth practitioners? We're most commonly know to suck the life out of a good product.


Clearly, everyone hates marketers. It's not a secret.


So, why on earth would I knowingly choose this profession?



Re: "I love you"


I once sent a newsletter.


The response I got was "I love you" from one of our users.



In a world where marketers spam, this is my KPI. Where people actually want to hear from you.


Look, I know.


Marketers don't build a product.


All we do is amplify.


We help good products reach more people. Like journalists, we amplify stories.


Too often, good products die out because no one thought how to bring it to market. And build a real business around it.



It's not this black and white with "good" and "bad".


Amongst all of this, my aim is simple.


Great products deserve to win, and then some more.

And I do that in four ways: acquisition, activation, monetization, and retention.



I almost never touch the core product but strongly influence the product depending on what the market wants and what we can win against.



If your goal is entrepreneurship...


Then solving marketing & growth is a great skillset to have.


Consumer behavior is notoriously hard. People don't act the way they think. They don't think the way they act. It's as much of an art as its a science.



Your company depends on you...


Who do you think gets fired if the company fails to make money?


Company doesn't perform well? They say "oh, our marketing isn't great".


CMOs have the shortest tenure. Driving income is a huge responsibility that marketing and growth team shoulder together.


The life of the company depends on how many people resonate with you and draw money out of their pockets.


Marketing teams can no longer be siloed into these awareness-only buckets as they have been historically.

You have to influence the product. You have to be on top of bugs, monetization model iterations, algorithm changes etc.


You can't be accountable for revenue or poor performance if you don't have influence over every part of the company.


* By influence, I don't mean ownership.



Failure and feedback loops


Marketing and growth teams are close to the customers in two ways.

  1. Failure is real. It cannot be sugarcoated by user count or qualitative feedback. Instead, if you're not making money, you're responsible.

  2. We have the shortest feedback loops.


Product takes months to build. Design iterations take longer. Engineering has to get through several sprints to ship.


We can ship an experiment and train our intuition almost immediately. It's as real as it gets. Customer support is close to customers but doesn't have revenue accountability (except for mature companies).


We talk to customers to map out their buyer journey and trigger points. We know how we compare to our competition and what changes are they making in their product in real-time. Having short feedback loops and being close to customers gives us so much more insight into what works and doesn't.

Given all that context, here are some founding principles of how I think about marketing and growth.



My growth and marketing manifesto



1. No traffic for the sake of traffic


Target people that will get value out of your product.


It's easy to believe every channel can work for you. If you're a B2B brand selling solar home installations that cost tens of thousands of dollars, posting generic drowsy content on IG is never going to work. Be honest to yourself and look for early signals to lean into it or pivot away.


Essentially, there are two types of users we want:

1) People who can get real value out of our product

2) People who offer us feedback to improve



2. Ship with intensity and urgency


Focus on things that matter. And then execute best you can.


I've made mistakes of hiring people that simply cannot get things done. Or they need a hundred feedback rounds to ship even the little things.


It's hard to find people who love what they do so much so that intensity and urgency is a by-product. They don't count the hours they spend. And they *want* to spend their weekends advancing in their field.


If you don't love what you do, you'll just get burnt out. To win, you need four things.



Mediocrity is competitive. But there's always room at the top. And that's where you should want to go to. Here's a tweet by the founder of Runaway to better explain what I mean:




3. Never market alone


Find a horse to ride and piggyback on anything.


You're a small boat in an ocean. You cannot make big waves by doing it yourself. Let the wave carry you.



5. Find out what is working


So you can double down on what is working and what isn't. Very hard to execute in real life though because buyer journeys aren't simple.


I used a lot of stuff at Streamline to get clarity (qualitative interviews, post-purchase surveys, product marketing analytics data, marketing mix models). Start with the easy stuff. Then layer on.



6. Chase insights, not revenue


Revenue is an outcome and focusing too much over it just leads to stress. I hardly check Stripe to see how much money we make every week. Instead, I mine insights. And use those to form winning strategies. And eventually, you'll see you've come pretty far. See how one insight helped us reach 60 million users.



7. No fluff


If something's not working, we have to be honest about it. Cut down fluff from everywhere. I don't like to spend time working on stuff that truly doesn't matter. And hate it when copy is unnecessarily wordy or stuffed with adjectives.



8. Play with sportsmanship


No belittling competitors. At Streamline, our competitors often promote us. Vincent promotes our competitor launches. It's kind of weirdly healthy. It won't apply to every industry but we don't throw shade.



9. Be honest with your audience, no clickbait-y content or dark patterns


I don't like to receive click-baity zero value content. And I don't want users to receive content like this either. It's simple. Treat your users like they're already customers.



10. Be curious and invite feedback


Feedback is a gift. I often publish my work in Slack inviting feedback from whoever is willing to give it. Earlier in my career, I would feel bad when I received harsh feedback. But now, I actively seek out feedback. And it really helped me improve.



11. Optimize for happiness


I took a class at Essec called the Science of Happiness and it taught me more about psychology than anything ever could. Many people aren't truly happy. We are in a loneliness pandemic. 😶‍🌫️


It honestly doesn't cost much to put a smile on people's faces. It's free to do. At least, most of the times.


An example of this is when I had to send a discount code to a guy named Marq. The coupon code I sent to him was called "MarqMyWords," and he was surprised I took that time out to be unnecessarily creative.



When I provide harsh feedback to someone on my team, I now try to do it in a way that brings them joy. It's challenging, and I admit that I fail at times.



12. Aim for inbounds, over outbounds


Over the years, I've tried outbound multiple times and realized that the ROI never works out. Maybe they churn faster or the conversion rate is lower or you're terribly impacting your brand equity.


Inbounds are the way to go. Here's an example.


I received an inbound message from Shaan Puri back in 2021 that said something along the lines of if I was consulting for growth marketing or had an agency. Shaan Puri is pretty well known! There was no way I could reach him via outbounds.



Even though it didn't work out, it made me really happy to wake up to this message.


You might argue, "Hey Khushi, it's probably because you're bad at outbound".


Well, maybe I am.


But I do know that I don't like to be on the receiving end of outbound sales messages.


Asking for feedback via outbounds is great though but direct sales wasn't something I could ever see work.

And the only time outbound sales sort of worked for me was when Stefan Bader from cello.so reached out. It was mostly because I was already interested in his work and I sent him a connection request first.



 


Thank you for reading my rather long manifesto. I'll make it shorter in the future.


It is essentially a guideline about how I think about marketing and growth. And why I am still excited by a field that nearly everyone hates.


I'm trying to better understand who my audience is. If you've got ten minutes, I would love to do a user research call: toption.org/10-minute


Best,

Khushi

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