How to move from checklist marketing to growth marketing How to adopt a growth mindset, based on real-life examples

09/08/19 Marketing

There is nothing wrong with checklists, there are many situations where they work well : groceries, house cleaning, packing your suit case. But for Marketing? Can't be just that!
Based on my experiences in numerous companies, this is what happens: Marketeers start full of excitement and creativity, but after a while they become checklist driven coordinators/campaign managers, ticking off boxes month after month after month. Let’s see how we can help you break this habit and embrace growth marketing.

Introduction: Checklist marketing in real-life

Picture this: You get to work, check your calendar and see that you have an email marketing campaign planned for a product launch.

You know the drill by now because you have been doing similar campaigns every quarter, because… it has always been like this?

Not because it generates leads or a specific ROI, you don’t know and can’t really measure what it generates actually, but because you have budget and everybody is interested in your cool new product, right?

Does this seem far-fetched? Let’s look at a real-life example I experienced at a big telco player:

  • You receive news of the planned product launch in a few months – check
  • You gather all content needed for the email campaign – check
  • You go to your data crunching colleague to get the audience, AKA “everyone” – check
  • You don’t consult with sales to understand what part they play in this campaign (it has no sales KPI anyway) – check
  • After 6 weeks: the Business Intelligence department sends the definitive audience, finally. However only 30% of them are a valid engaged audience with an opt-in – check
  • Then get some HTML from your designer colleague to blast that very long bragging email with no Call-To-Action to everyone – check
  • Maybe get a new non-optimized and wordy landing page full of menus – check
  • Almost there: you take all the pieces to the probably overbooked colleague that squeezes all those in some nerdy looking software to blast that email – check
  • The emails blasted out on due date, you check the low open and click rates – check
  • On to the next one!

Parallel to that, you get trainings, presentations and blog posts on customer centricity and modern marketing. You’re probably wondering, like most marketeers, how does that translate to your day to day job? Often you may not feel empowered & creative, nor customer-centric, you’ve become a constant coordinator putting blocks together every month.

How to adopt a ‘growth marketing’ mindset

I’ve seen similar things happen at a LOT of clients over the years, so how do we flip this? We’ve seen great results by applying a few recipes. Each step is enabled by the right technology, such as marketing automation and agile project management software, and by applying growth marketing principles to create a growth mindset. So don’t get stuck in theories and powerpoints!

First step – start with Why

Here is how we’ve managed to fix it at that big telco client:

This is a classic but we started with the good old WHY? By having a concept meeting before any action or campaign, we could make sure that there always was:

  • a goal that we can measure with 1 metric that matters : number of leads created, satisfaction score, downloads, demos or appointments booked, etc.
  • a flow that includes what will happen before, during but also AFTER the launch of that campaign. It’s not just about send – delivered – end anymore!
    The marketeers submitting their ideas need to think about how they are going to reach the measurable goal and what happens after that: how they edit and improve it
  • This means that you are not doing endless one-off campaigns that you build and throw away, you keep the same campaign, look at the results, and tweak it !

Which technology can support you with this?

  • We used JIRA to centralize all the information of those concept meetings. Then every part was entered in the software with a process of validation/rework.
  • It allowed us to challenge our marketeers so that no campaign would ever be built without having a measurable goal. This also allows to re-work in an efficient way all the moving parts of your campaign : data – content – flow.

For example: NO, your target audience cannot be “everyone that speaks Dutch” and NO, your goal is not to make sure “people know about it”.
Better options would be target audience = “people who have watched the explanation video or visited the price page” and goal = “50 demos booked this month”. As always you should aim to make your objectives/KPIs SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Second step – automate tasks where possible

So, you’ve defined your target audience and objective(s). Continuing with our real-life example the next step was looking at how we could automate & streamline the campaign with a marketing automation platform. What’s important here is that you have to build up your automated campaigns with these objectives in mind:

  • We entered mandatory goals & KPIs for each campaigns that we could track & analyze
  • Automated workflows were implemented for marketeers & sales reps, to ensure everyone knows what they have to do at what time
  • Once it’s activated we monitored the campaign and edited it in real-time! This was a big change for the marketeers: they needed to become more hands-on to build the audience, create/upload the content and edit the campaign flows, on their own
  • This also means that we started building always-on campaigns that we edited, instead of starting from scratch every time
  • There will always be scheduled campaigns but now our marketeers could focus on new types of campaigns such as onboarding new customers, lead nurturing based on hot topics, and so on

Thanks to the automation of operational tasks marketeers have more time to tackle more interesting questions such as ‘who is the right audience?’, ‘which call-to-action will resonate more with our target audience?’, or ‘how can we increase engagement?’.

By starting to ask these questions the marketeer has taken the first steps towards a growth mindset.

Which technology can support you with this?

We implemented and used Oracle Eloqua to automate campaigns. However there are many good options, we have experience using Marketo, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, HubSpot, Ontraport, etc. Here are a few examples of the results the big telco player achieved within 6-12 months:

  • Building a campaign audience only took a few hours instead of 4-6 weeks
  • We could prove ROI on marketing activities because of the mandatory goals
  • Marketeers received new KPIs such as ‘generating 50 new leads/month’
  • Sales and Marketing were aligned & working together towards common goals
  • Content was personalized, A/B tested, and optimized for maximum engagement
  • Segmentation and relevant targeting became mandatory
  • Campaigns with behavior-based targeting were generating up to 40% more engagement than traditional email blasts
  • Marketeers became more data driven and independent

Most importantly we noticed a gradual change of the mindset within the marketing & sales teams.

Third step – adopt a growth mindset

After setting up proper governance & the supporting technology, came the hardest part: evolving towards a growth mindset.  At the big telco player our data was cleaner, the content was A/B tested and optimized, and the campaign flows were improved. Yet the users were still trying to work ‘in the old ways’ with the new tools. 

As I’ve said previously, the marketeer now had to do things he was delegating before: data, content, campaign flows. This all comes down to how that change was welcomed : with fixed or growth mindest.

It was a cultural change for the corporation mentioned and for many others without a doubt. Before implementing these new methodologies and technologies, marketeers basically fell under the fixed mindset. So we had to work hard to manage the following:

  • they didn’t have the required skills to do everything from day 1
  • challenges and efforts were coming our way, KPIs were set and we started from scratch
  • feedback cycles were evoking resistance from the team: everybody sees campaign goals and results in real-time and marketeers were challenged during the concept meetings
  • And of course, we had several setbacks and failures along the way!

Some lessons learned & best practices:

  • A few “champions” were appointed to lead by example, both in Marketing and Sales: By the end of the first year, all marketeers adopted the technology
  • Failures were presented as learning steps, not as a personal fault – there was a policy of ‘no finger pointing’
  • Efforts, challenges, and change that were initially seen as threats – became opportunities to do more meaningful marketing (the champions’ support helped a lot to address these fears)
  • The feedback was gradually accepted with a more open mind, since it translated into better campaign results and was always pointed at measurable actions, not people


As you’ve read above we succeeded in evolving from checklist marketing to a growth marketing mindset within that big corporation, and it took about a year. What are the main take-aways?

  1. It is pretty straightforward to fix the “non-human challenges” by implementing better technologies, processes, and methodologies.
  2. The biggest challenge is the ‘change management’ to address the ‘human factor’ and change people’s mindset and point of reference

Here are our key tips to help your marketing team adopt a growth mindset:

  • Top management has to lead by example with clear roadmaps, expectations management, and addressing concerns
  • Find quick wins for marketeers and sales (“what’s in it for me?”) – enable them to do things faster, easier, better
  • Define clear marketing KPIs and create a new way of thinking about campaign results
  • Gently enforce the new way of working with the right marketing technology
  • Ask & give honest feedback at all stages – create the right environment for this (no finger pointing)
  • Anticipate and embrace failures/setbacks as the best ways to learn and become better
  • Foresee lots of training to close the skill gap

Hit me up on LinkedIn or via email/phone if you’d like to discuss growth marketing, growth mindset, marketing automation & marketing technology.

#data-driven marketing #Growth hacking #marketing #marketingorganisation #sales #Strategy