Creating Predictable Growth With Kieran Flanagan From HubSpot

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Creating Predictable Growth Is Not A Hack With Kieran Flanagan From HubSpot [AMP 126}

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Creating Predictable Growth is Not a Hack With Kieran Flanagan from Hubspot

Do you suffer from shiny object syndrome? It’s difficult to not become enamored with the latest marketing tactics, trends, and technologies. We are distracted by them because they may offer hope or promise 10X-ing marketing results. Instead, stay focused on helping your business grow to generate revenue!

Today, my guest is Kieran Flanagan, vice president of marketing and growth at HubSpot. Kieran uses traditional marketing methods to help HubSpot and other brands generate additional traffic and revenue. We discuss how to create predictable and product-driven growth.

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AMP126: Creating Predictable Growth Is Not A Hack With Kieran Flanagan From Hubspot
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Some of the highlights of the show include:

  • Challenge to sustain growth is more difficult as a business gets bigger
  • Find new ways from existing channels or brand new channels to grow from
  • People, products, and businesses change; adapt marketing sales plans
  • Strategic Growth: Think logically about how to grow into being a big company by providing good products and customer experience
  • Develop scalable distribution plan and use search engines to find right product fit
  • 3 Stages of Fit: Product market, product channel, and ROI
  • Growth Power Law: 60-70% of growth comes from one or two channels
  • Build out next 12 months of growth, and predict where it’ll come from
  • Keyword Search: What product does and solves
  • How to choose best acquisition channel and strategy for scalability
  • Establish and measure goals and expectations for different channels
  • Develop work culture that embraces failure; experiment by taking small risks
  • Keep remote team engaged, focused, and motivated by being clear on goals and proactive with communication

If you liked today’s show, please subscribe on iTunes to The Actionable Content Marketing Podcast! The podcast is also available on SoundCloud, Stitcher, and Google Play.

Quotes by Kieran Flanagan:

  • “You always have to grow each and every year, regardless of how well you’re doing.”
  • “Think logically about how you are going to grow into being a big company.”
  • “Build out the next 12 months of your growth, and predict where that growth is actually going to come from.”
  • “People would want good clarity around the goals and the most important goals over the course of what we try to do in a quarter.”

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Transcript:

Eric: Marketers, if we’re being really honest with ourselves, it is so hard to not get enamored with some of the latest marketing tactics, trends, and technologies. I mean, sure because I’ve done podcast episodes that are dedicated to those very things. Then there’s shiny objects that we run after because maybe they hold the promise or the hope of 10X-ing our marketing results, some magical hack that we just haven’t tapped into yet.

At my last job, we used to have a saying where we would get distracted by those such things. We would yell at each other, “Squirrel,” and that would be our gut check like, “Hey, we’re getting lured away. Let’s stay focused because we have to remember, as marketers, our sole purpose is to help our organization grow, to generate revenue.

How do we create predictable growth, yet assuming not a hack? To discuss all of this, I brought on Kieran Flanagan. He is the VP of Marketing and Growth at HubSpot. Obviously, Kieran has a track record of helping HubSpot and other brands generate millions of additional traffic, leads, users, and even revenue, He’s done it primarily through traditional methods: inbound marketing, SEO, paid marketing, and really helping to create product-driven growth.

We attack this issue head-on. How do you balance finding your wheelhouse or your juggernauts of your marketing efforts versus experimenting with new channels and creating some minimum viable tests? We talk about how do you find your product channel fit, how do you prioritize, and how do you measure. And lastly, just choosing the right acquisition channels and the right strategies. It’s very different for every marketer but there’s a lot of good key points that transcend everyone’s marketing efforts. It’s a really good conversation with a wicked smart marketer. My name is Eric Piela. I’m the Brand and Buzz Manager here at CoSchedule and the host of the Actionable Marketing Podcast. Thanks for tuning in, buckle up because it’s time to get AMPed.

All right, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to another episode of the Actionable Marketing Podcast. I am ecstatic about our next guest, Kieran Flanagan. Kieran, welcome to the show.

Kieran: Thanks for having me, Eric. Excited to be here.

Eric: I’m excited to have you on the show. We’re a world apart it would seem, but I’m glad you’re on the show. I’m a big fan of HubSpot. CoSchedule has been to two Inbounds now out there in Boston. We were there in 2017 and in 2018, and just had a fantastic. You guys know how to put on a marketing conference. I’ll just leave it at that.

Kieran: Yeah, it’s grown. It’s a pretty big party for everyone who wants to grow their business. It’s a good time right there.

Eric: Yeah, it is and we’re excited to be a part of it. We’re an integration partner with you guys and I’ve always been keeping a personal eye even before I was at CoSchedule and HubSpot. It’s just fantastic to see really where your organization has come from and where it’s at.

You have been an integral part of that growth and that’s obviously why I’ve got you on the show here. Kieran, as the VP in Marketing and Growth at HubSpot there, with the title, I think we get a little bit of an inclination of what you do. But I would just love for our listeners to understand what does that look like, maybe a little bit about how you ended up VP there, what is you personal marketing journey look like, and if you could just talk briefly about what are some of the day-to-day things that you think about as the VP of Marketing and Growth there?

Kieran: I’ve got three roles during my time at HubSpot. When I joined HubSpot, we were a lot smaller company. That was back in 2013. I think the whole company may have been three foreigner people. I’m not quite sure of the numbers now but I joined in a small group. We’re the first group to join outside of our Cambridge office. We all joined in what was our European headquarters in Dublin. There’s about 12-15 of us and we had the mission to grow HubSpot internationally. That went really well.

I’ve done that for 2½ years and I was fortunate enough at the time to be asked to join another small group of people, who had the new mission to create a new type of go-to market for HubSpot. We did that through this freemium go-to market. At that time, we had a free CRM and since added three marketing sales and customer service tools.

I did that for 2½ years and you can notice a trend. I always change roles in my life every 2½ years. Recently, what I’ve taken on as really all of our global demand team. We generate a lot of leads with all the users, a lot of different demand across the globe for HubSpot, and that’s the group I manage today, all of those different teams.

Day-to-day what do I think about? Honestly, I think a lot about growth—not surprising there—like how do we keep sustaining the growth we have and that is challenging the bigger you get. You always have to grow each and every year, regardless of how well you’re doing, so you’re constantly finding either new ways to grow from existing channels or you try to find brand new channels to grow from.

I think about how do I just be a better manager for my different teams. I have a group of about 50 people. What’s interesting about my role is only four of those people are based in Dublin with me. The rest of them are all based in Cambridge and different places within the US. We have a lot of remote-first employees and I try to think about how I can be a better manager to all of those folks, and then just how I can be a better colleague in HubSpot and try to ensure that HubSpot are continuing on the upper trend that we have been on ever since I joined, which has been a lot of fun.

Eric: I can imagine what a ride that has been for you. I’m sure not all fun and games. A lot of hard work and grit and, like you said, how do you continue to grow when you already become such a juggernaut in that industry, like how do you find new ways to continue to grow. Maybe we’re all not suffering from that exact same issue, those that are listening right now, but we’re all trying to figure out our own growth story.

I know you’ve done it primarily through your event Inbound Marketing, SEO, paid marketing, and really helping creating that product-driven growth. I have so many questions. There’s so much stuff I love to dig into your brain and ask, but where I’ll start maybe, is I think we all know that we need to adapt. Things are changing, our company’s changing, maybe our products are changing, certainly the landscape is changing, and our people are evaluating products. So we have to adapt our marketing sales plans to change and correspond with how people are changing in the way in which they communicate.

If we start thinking about the landscape there, what are some of those shifts we should keep in mind? How do we grow an audience? It’s super challenging now, there’s such noise out there. How do we start to think though? I know you’ve put some thought around creating predictable growth. It’s obviously not just a hack. There’s some really strong processes. As much as we love hacks, there’s obviously some process around this. I would love just to pull your ear on. For our listeners, what are some of the things they can start thinking about when it comes to strategic growth?

Kieran: One thing you can start to do is think logically about how you’re going to grow on to be a big company. If you think about what that starts with, obviously that starts with having a great product and making sure that your customer experience is exceptional. I think in the world we live in today, anyone working in tech pretty agrees that in some way, tech is being commoditized or product being commoditized. Everyone who launches a product has about 50, 100, even more competitors. What wins there is not only you having a really great product but a really great customer experience. I think the better the experience you create for the customers, the more successful you are going to be.

But if you actually think about then, what are other things that are very crucial to you actually means successful, I’ve always thought that the company who can figure out distribution and a scalable distribution plan are the company who’s going to win within their space.

If you think about, “Okay, how do I actually build or scale a distribution plan?” there’s not actually many things you can actually do to do that. Where are all of the people that you can actually reach? Google is an obvious platform that has a lot of reach. So, how do you create a scalable platform from search? We can go into that, maybe in an additional question, but a lot of that is actually dependent upon, is your product a really good fit for search? Facebook has a lot of people but tends to suit B2C type of companies. Maybe some B2B companies can make it work from Facebook, but again, does your product fit with Facebook? Can you attract growth in there?

And then you have virality. Virality is engineered where you can create some sort of mechanisms where your product exposes itself to other people and some of those people will sign-up, but actually the more powerful means of virality is actually word-of-mouth. I think word-of-mouth ties back to the thing I’ve started with. What you find today is word-of-mouth is very, very powerful when B2B and a lot of those people are going to share that experience with their network.

You really have to think about something that Bryan Balfour, who’s the CEO of Reforge—just want to read a great article around, which I’m a true believer—is what’s my product channel fit? I’m trying to think about that, at a very early stage to try and think about, “How do I create a product that’s going to extract value from these different platforms or from these different audiences?” I think that’s one of the things that can help you create that scalable, predictable growth.

Eric: I love that. As one of those frameworks that I think I’ve really found interesting when I was doing some research for our conversation here, you talk about maybe the three stages of fit. I think as marketers, we’re always figuring out what is the right channel to tell my story? To find out where are my audience and my prospects are. You’re have this three stages of fit. You talk about around finding, prioritizing, and tracking. Would you mind just elaborating a little bit about that and maybe talk through that framework briefly for our listeners?

Kieran: Yeah. I think there are three stages of fit which is product market fit. Product market fit is I have released a product and a certain portion of those people who are using the product stick around and actually keep on using that product, which means I have some sort of retention curve that starts to flatten out, because if your retention curve just goes to zero, then you don’t really have a business because not enough people are actually using your product or not going bases. You start to look at product market fit and that tends to be what we all see a lot of articles wrote about and that’s the stage entrepreneurs are trying to get to.

The next stage after that is really product channel fit, which is how do I find one or even, if I’m lucky, two channels that I can create sustainable growth true? What we mean by that is I can acquire users from our product in a scalable way, which means I’m making more money that I’m spending and that there’s just not a ceiling that I’m going to reach in a very short amount of time. I can see that I can actually continue to scale this for a long time and actually grow users for my product.

The third phase is when you actually find market fit, product fit, product channel fit, it’s really just a case of how aggressive can you be. You see a lot of SaaS companies, that’s why they have a lot of easy money, but because it’s really just a land grab. I figure that those economics, I figured out how to actually scale this in a meaningful way. Now I really just want to be as aggressive as I can. I want to make sure I can make a good return on the money that I’m spending, and I want to make sure that I have a really great MPS, again focusing on the product experience and the customer experience, because that, in the long-term, is what’s going to make you really successful and recognizable brand.

Eric: Those are interesting. I think I really gravitate towards that channel fit and one of the things you talked was this concept of growth power law where it’s something around 60%-70% of growth comes from one or two channels. I think everyone needs to look at where those growth opportunities for my company. You mentioned it previously. Is it search? Is it this virality? Maybe Kieran talk about how do you discover what those are and how do you start to double down on those channels?

Kieran: I think it’s okay to work on unscalable things when you’re in that initial stage of growth, but at some point you have to find a sustainable channel. You can start to do things to predict at where your growth is going to come from. I’ll give you some examples. This is one thing, as marketers, is a really useful tactic or we use for exercise. It’s actually to build out the next 12 months of your growth and predicting out where that growth is actually going to come from.

Let’s assume that I’m a marketer and I find some sort of unscalable tactic that has got me to a certain point of growth but I need to figure out where that sustainable channel is going to come for me. If I’m just looking at search, I can think about what’s all the keyword volume for the things that my product does? There’s two ways to look at search and it’s really, what is the thing that my product does and what are the things that my product solves? What I mean by that distinction is the thing that your product does is the very transactional type searches.

Let’s say that for HubSpot, it’s people who are searching for market elimination tools, or are searching for a free CRM, or they try to searching for the thing that our product actually does, and you want to see how much keyword volume there is for those kind of searches.

The other space is what does your product solves? Your product can solve many, many problems. Now you can write great content about before you ever have to induce that person to that product. That’s actually one of the ways that HubSpot manage to grow our marketing hub which is our marketing product. We really monetize what our product solves for people by creating educational content, helping marketers solve their problem, and then introduce them to, “Hey, we also have this platform that may help you do those things.

Me as a marketer, I can sit down and go, “Okay, well how much keyword volume is there for the things that my product does? How much keyword volume is there for the things that my product solves? Is that a scalable channel for me in the long term?” For a ton of traffic is a ton of opportunity, I should just invest all of my resources into this one channel. I shouldn’t try and peanut butter all of my resources across everything because if I’m successful in this one channel, I know that’s going to create enough growth for me to be successful in the next one.

Same thing with virality. If you have a product and you hear today, people are like, “Yeah, what we’ll do is make this product viral.” The product’s already been established for three or four years. The mechanics of that hasn’t been built into the product itself. When you think about engineered virality—I’m not talking about word-of-mouth virality—your product has to have a certain criteria. It has a need for that to actually work, which means that your product has to expose itself externally to other people who are not already customers.

The customers who are using your product needs to expose it to their network, to some sort of usage. They actually have to have people in their network who are going to be interested in that product. You actually have to have people in your network who has some use for that product, and I think that’s a mistake that a lot of companies make when you have a niche product, that people using your product may have no analysis that does the thing that they do within their networks, so that virality’s not going to really work.

Then you have to be able to get to the value of the product in a very short amount of time. For virality to work, that cycle of someone using the product, exposing it to someone else, someone else signing up, then using the product and getting to the value in it, and again exposing it to someone else, that cycle has to be quite short, few to have real scale in terms of actually acquiring people through actual virality.

Again, you could think about that when you’re actually developing your product versus it being an afterthought and trying to bake it into afterwards. Things like word-of-mouth, they’re way harder to predict. I do get that some of this is just not easy to predict out, so how do I know that this number of people are going to use my product and I’m going just start to see lots of people come in because people find that product valuable? Very hard to predict that but the things you can work on are coming back, too, like the customer experience. They can show you have a great product experience.

Eric: Do you have any tangible examples? I think the next step is you have to choose the right acquisition channel and you have to choose the right acquisition strategy. Maybe thinking through your process at HubSpot, I love to hear any more stories you have about the experimenting of different channels, you create your minimum viable test and it flops, and then you try the next one.

If your goal is to have the predictable growth, at some point you have to take risk and try certain things, and then you find your engines, the things that are going to help you propel your growth. But before you get there, your having to choose channels, you having to choose strategies. I’m just fascinated. I imagine everything that HubSpot touches is gold. I know that’s probably not the truth, but if you’re able to share, what are some of the things where you have to fine tune what channels work for you, personally?

Kieran: We run a lot of viable tests and channels. The thing we’re looking for is, is there an opportunity there? The other thing we’re looking for is, is it actually scalable? We definitely try different things that have managed to generate some amount of either users from or leads from, but they’re not just that scalable right there. It’s very low sale in terms of scale.

A good example of something that we’ve invested and that has worked, started to work, and took us a while to get there is actually engineered virality, because we have a premium platform. A lot of our actual platform is free so people can use different free tools. Definitely the product team have worked a lot to figure out how they can bake virality and some of the features that actually are used to external audiences. We have a meetings app and all these different apps that you can use, and other people are exposed to that app, a free forms tool, anything’s that exposed externally. That took us a while to really get going but we’re starting to see some sort of growth from it now.

Generally when we try something new, we got something back from it, but the reason it’s flopped is because there’s just no real scale. That’s the really hard thing to find is something that’s interesting enough to actually go all in, has to have some sort of high ceiling for us. We have to be able to extract some amount of growth that’s worth our time. That tends to be where we struggled with certain channels, certain platforms, where there just hasn’t been that kind of opportunity that’s big enough when we really dug into it and spend some time in it, to really go all in and be very, very aggressive at trying to grow our users, our leads through a different channel.

Eric: Yeah and that’s a perfect transition because one of the things obviously that we want to be doing is tracking, how are our acquisition efforts are actually impacting our goals. There’s two things I see. One, how long do you try these experiments, these tests? You got to understand is this going to scale? You said for example, your freemium model, how long do you like, “Let’s give this a try,” and at some point you’re figuring out, “Is this going to work for us? Is this not going to work for us?” I think everyone, as marketers, are saying, “Okay, let’s try this channel. Let’s try this platform. How much we go all in?” It comes down to what are your goals, what are your expectations, and how are you measuring them?

I love some insight, Kieran, on what’s the best way to track some of those effort scenario. There are certain processes and measurables or KPIs that you put in place to figure out if this channel’s going to work for me or not?

Kieran: That’s a really good question and I want to give you the answer I gave on a stage presentation on the kind of dream case of how this works. Me being completely honest is, that’s something that we’ve actually struggle with a little bit is how long should we invest in something before we either pull the plug or you go in and you’re like, “If we just keep going for the next week or two, then maybe just this inflection point.” I think the reason for that is the conclusion I came to in running all of these different experiments and trying to figure out what is the minimum viable version of this and how long do we need to run this before we can say that this is a go or it’s just not worth our time?

I think the thing that is the hardest part is the minimum viable version. The minimum viable version is like, “How do I reduce the scope of this to such a small amount of work, that I derisk the fact that this may actually fail? I don’t invest too much in it because I don’t know if this is going to be successful or not.” You can really reduce the scope of those minimum viable things. You just reduce the amount of risk you’re taking on.

However, the challenge to that is for some things, you can derisk it to such a certain extent and create such a minimum viable version, that when that thing fail, you will notice that you are in a room as a group and you’re talking through the thing that you’ve done, and everyone starting to ask, “Well, if we had just added this, or just made the experience much better, maybe that would have actually worked.”

I think when you are in a room, you have done something, and there’s those kind of questions, like when you question around the experience and should you invest a little bit more? If you invest a little bit more, maybe that would have change the result? I think that’s when you know that you have not hit the threshold of what minimum viable is. I think to hit that minimum viable threshold, you have to be very confident when you have seen the results and it’s not being successful but you can just say, “That’s it, we’re done,” feel very good about walking away, “we’ve done our best version of that and it’s not the thing we should actually invest in.”

That’s what I found. I don’t know there’s a right or wrong answer on how long it should take but I do think that getting the minimum viable version of that experience correct, is what’s going to help you to better know if that thing is going to be successful or if it’s not worth investing your time in. Does that makes sense?

Eric: Yeah, it absolutely does. It actually hits really close to home. I remember I had my 90-day review with our CEO, Garrett Moon. I went in there thinking I just crushed my first 90 days. The first thing he says, “Eric, you’re not failing enough.” I was like, “Woah, what?” The idea is to create a culture in an organization where we are making leaps and bounds because of the chances and testing.

I’m trying to experiment something every week. I’m creating those minimum viable test and I think having a culture that embraces failure and those minimum viable tests is the foundation framework for all of that. There may be a lot of marketers who don’t have that luxury of, “Boy, you create this giant marketing plan, you’ve got to execute it to the tee, and if it fails your job could be on the line.”

I think there’s the reality of working in an environment where you’re able to take small risks and to see if they pay off or not. I think that it’s great to hear that HubSpot has embraced that and doing that because one of those is going to hit. I’m talking about CoSchedule 10% projects versus 10X projects. One of the stuff you’re working on could be a potential 10X-er for your business and I think if you’re not doing those minimum viable tests, you’re putting too much potentially into something that might not hit and that’s where I think we have some of those larger failures, right?

Kieran: Right. The one thing to make sure people who listen to this, I think it is also okay to not be running any experiments at certain points in time. I have actually worked on this with my team at certain points where you just know the things that are going to be the most impactful things for the next six months. That’s what I was coming back to on the very first thing that we talked about. It’s okay to just double-down on that thing that’s going to make you very successful. It’s like finding out how you start to distribute your time into other experiments and trying to figure other avenues of growth.

I think there’s different ways you do that across your funnel. The way in onboarding you would do that based upon your activation on monetization. You’re looking at your upgrade rates and if they’re not to where the standards you want, you probably want to run more experiments to figure out how you can improve them. Acquisition is harder to know when you just start to experiment, when new thing versus continue to invest in other things that are already working.

What we try to do is look at some saturation chart and we try to figure out where the challenge are in some sort of saturation danger point. At some point we’re going to hit a ceiling because the truth of any distribution plan you have, there’s things within that plan that all have ceilings in it, just like how fast you want to reach them, and start to distribute some of your team’s time into trying to find new avenues of growth when you start to see there’s danger signs in terms of your saturation.

In Google, you can do that because you just know how much keyword search volume there as for the keywords that are applicable to your business, and you are already owning about 50% of the traffic or whatever that may be for pay. That’s like, “Well, I keep on spending the way I’m spending. I drive that forward and at some point I have diminishing returns.” You can actually run these things called burst tests, where you just overload your budget for a short period of time and figure out where you actually see the ceiling is since you can get a good handle in that.

I speak a lot of conferences and I think I scare people because I’m like, “Yeah, experiment’s been divided…” and everyone comes out to me like, “Oh, I haven’t run a single experiment in the last month.” I said, “Do you know how you’re going to to grow in the next six months?” “Yeah, through this thing.” “Oh, that’s cool. You should just do that, you should refocus on that, and find the right time to start to play with other things when it’s the right time for you and your team.”

Eric: Yeah, that’s great advice. I think it’s smart advice. I think as well when I look at us, we have some things that we know are tried and true that I think will be our growth, inbound, even some paid. Those are the things that are fueling our growth right now. I think we’re also aware of like, “Hey, we’re getting to the point where what is our diminishing return with some of these avenues? That’s where, for example, we’ve experiment, what does outbound look like for at CoSchedule?” We do a minimum viable test with outbound, we figure that’s going to work with us.

I think fantastic advice and I think all of those things are important to find that predictable growth. Maybe if I could take a swipe pivot, I think I was lucky hearing you talking about your team of 50. You talk about the things that you think about and one of them is how do you keep your team engaged, focused, and happy, keep them excited about what they’re doing.

One of the things we talk about here, a lot is around Agile marketing process and understanding how your team can work, like you said, remotely. You only got a couple that are actually on premise. You’re managing this large team. I would love just to hear your thoughts on how you keep a team of that size in different places, disparate locations organized? How do you keep them motivated and goal-focused?

Kieran: That’s one of the things that’s been interesting. When I checked on the freemium roll in 2016, I was originally going to be the boss and then for personal reasons since. So I got the opportunity, was very fortunate that HubSpot leadership team gave me the opportunity to do that from Dublin and build that and it’s worked pretty well. Over the course of that time, we’ve actually noticed a trend from more people wanting to be remote, either existing HubSpotters or people we wanted to hire. It’s also helped us to better hire and maintain talent.

Some of the things I’ve learned about doing remote management and building a team remotely, you definitely need to be very diligent on how people work together. You have to have good clarity. People would want good clarity around the goals and the most important goals over the course of what we try to do in a quarter.

We actually build an annual plan, how do we hit on our numbers for the year, but we try to distill things down, too, like a monthly roundup. So we all get together every month and look at the lowlights and highlights. Then over the course of that month, we have this growth dashboard where we pull out multiple things happen across all those seams. But we pull out the things that if we are successful in these things, we definitely hit our number. Then if we’re successful on all the other stuff, it’s all upside. So, what are the things that are just going to make sure that we hit the number that we’re accountable for.

The cool thing about HubSpot and why I like HubSpot is 100% of our revenue comes from the demand my teams create. We don’t do outbound and any of that stuff. I’ve been diligent about the goals, making sure people have very good clarity in the goals. You have to be very proactive when you are remote. That makes a remote employee good is that you communicate. You have to be a lot more proactive about your communication.

When you’re working in an office, it’s easier to just see someone getting coffee and all of these different things that tech companies have, bouncy balls or ping-pong tables, whatever the latest trend is. You can just see them, talk to them, and hear about their day. You can’t do that easily when you’re on remote, so a lot more proactive. You have to be very good about communication.

There’s a lot of people in our team now who have replaced a lot of their written communication. We create small videos for other people. We’d use a tool like Loom, you may have heard of it, and Wistia Soapbox. They’ve been really good to us.

We’re constantly learning, actually. It’s interesting you mentioned that because I’m just about to write up a doc for anyone who’s a manager remotely and start to build what we expect of our remote managers. I just think there’s some nuances at being a remote manager that you need to be very, very good at and excel at that we have to at all times be diligent about getting better at.

Eric: That’s great. Thanks for sharing that. I know there are listeners right now that are probably dealing with the same challenges and I think there’s some great advice in there to unpack, so I appreciate you sharing. That all a bit, maybe. As our time winds down, it feels like, Kieran, you’ve maybe seen and done it all. Our listeners come to the Actionable Marketing Podcast listening to something and go and implement something right away. If there is maybe one piece of advice you could give them, that they could go and start to maybe implement with their marketing efforts or their strategy, what would that one piece of advice be for them?

Kieran: Maybe people are doing this already, but I really like the exercise of building out how you’re going to grow over the next 12 months. We actually stretch that out. Recently, we did that for two years and that means actually building that every single channel, the month-by-month numbers of users, leads, and all the other demand that we create, how that monetizes, and dragged it out.

So you have the base case, which is things that just keep on growing like their growing, where do we end up with in the next 12-24 months, then you have the growth case which is like, “What are the things we can do to accelerate this growth?” It’s actually a great team exercise because sometimes if you’re a marketing practitioner, you don’t get a lot of opportunity. You’re in the weeds, you’re working really hard, you’re looking month and month how to hit these numbers, and sometimes lifting your head out of that and starting to think strategically about how I do this over the next 24 months.

In month 11 we start actually on the base case. We start to look really bad against our goals, so what are the investments we’re making today that are going to drive new avenues of growth so that doesn’t actually happen? What I found is some really great thing for marketing and practitioners to get more in tune with the strategy and help them to see why certain decisions are being made, gives us some visibility on why managers, directors, VPs, and all of these people are making certain decisions. It’s also a really great team exercise. I find that it’s really great bonding exercise because you can all rally around a problem, start to get creative, and how you think about the solutions. I really like that one from a strategic point of view.

Eric: That’s a solid piece of advice, one that I think is great. It’s so easy to get into the weeds and you look at your measurables month-to-month, but to lift the head up, as you said, and think strategically over the next year or even beyond, and what are you goals, how are you going to achieve them, and then track your progress towards that. And I think pivot if you need to. Have a strategy but don’t feel like you’re necessarily locked in that.

Anyway, I love it. I love the conversation. Kieran, thank you so much for your time. I’m excited to see what Inbound 2019 has in store. Hopefully, I’ll have a chance to catch you there if you’ll attend and get to Boston. Love your time, thanks for coming on the show.

Kieran: Thanks, Eric. I will be at Boston. We should definitely grab a drink whatever your favorite drink is.

Eric: Guiness, maybe.

Kieran: That suits me.

Eric: I thought it may. Thanks so much, Kieran, appreciate your time. Take care.

Kieran: Thanks, Eric.

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