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Inbound Success Podcast

What do the most successful inbound marketers do to get great results?

You’ve heard the stories about companies using inbound marketing to dramatically increase sales, grow their business, and transform their customer relationships, but not everyone who practices inbound marketing knocks it out of the park.

If you want to know what goes into building a world class inbound marketing campaign that gets real, measurable results, check out the Inbound Success podcast. Every week, host Kathleen Booth interviews marketing folks who are rolling up their sleeves, doing the work, and getting the kinds of results we all hope to achieve.

The goal is to “peel back the onion” and learn what works, what doesn’t and what you need to do to really move the needle with your inbound marketing efforts. This isn’t just about big picture strategy – it’s about getting actionable tips and insights that you can use immediately in your own marketing.

Feb 10, 2020

What's the secret sauce that top growth marketers use to predict performance and develop their marketing plans and budgets?

This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, Onna Head of Growth Peter Schroeder shares his process for building growth models, and how he uses them to predict future marketing and sales headcount needs, allocate budget, and more.

Peter's approach to growth modeling can work for any type of company, from an early stage startup without a lot of marketing performance data, to a well established high growth company looking to take its performance to the next level. 

Highlights from my conversation with Peter include:

  • As head of growth for Onna, Peter focuses on the demand gen side of marketing (as opposed to the brand building side).
  • Peter says that a focus on growth is particularly important at early stage companies where very often investors have high expectations regarding growth milestones.
  • Onna is just this type of company. It is early stage, having just closed a Series A round of investment with funding from companies like Slack and Dropbox, and the growth goals are ambitious.
  • When Peter thinks about growth modeling, he begins with the revenue number that the company is trying to hit, and then reverse engineers the funnel so that he can determine things like required budget and headcount.
  • Peter's growth models are built as spreadsheets that reflect patterns in historical marketing data with regarding to channel performance, conversion rates and more.
  • He says that while many startups say that they don't have enough data to build a growth model, he believes this is just an excuse and the small amount of data you do have coupled with anecdotal feedback from your sales team are enough to get started.
  • Peter encourages marketers not to get too wrapped up in making the model perfect. He says to follow the 80/20 rule and spend no more than 20 percent of your time building the model and at least 80 percent of your time working on growth-oriented activities.
  • Using his spreadsheet, Peter identifies the cost to acquire a customer by channel, and then he models out what the cost is at each stage of his funnel, by channel.
  • While most marketers think that CAC will get lower over time, Peter says it is just the opposite and CAC will increase as your efforts saturate a particular channel.
  • Peter says that the ket metric marketing should be measured on is marketing contributed revenue. He uses his growth model to report on that, and says that the model is a helpful tool to incorporate into leadership meetings and regular marketing checkins.
  • Another way that Peter communicates about marketing success is by sharing his team's work internally.

Resources from this episode:

Listen to the podcast to learn more about Peter's approach to growth modeling, and how to build a growth model of your own.


Kathleen Booth (Host): Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast.

I'm your host, Kathleen Booth, and today my guest is Peter Schroeder, who is the head of growth at Onna. Welcome, Peter.

Peter Schroeder (Guest): Thank you so much for having me. Happy to be here.

Kathleen: Yeah. I am excited to talk to you, because I speak with a lot of marketers, and your title is head of growth. So maybe you could start out by talking a little bit about yourself and kind of your background and what led you to where you are today, as well as what Onna is, and then we can talk a little bit about what it means to be a head of growth.

About Peter and Onna

Peter: Yeah, absolutely. So what head of growth really means is, it focuses on the demand gen side of marketing. It's not as involved in brand-building and any of those other activities that don't directly result in pipeline generation for a business.

So what the head of growth really does is, like I said, just focuses on all areas that would drive the business forward from a revenue perspective. So that's like a little bit of the differentiator.

And I think that we're starting to see it more and more at early stage companies where you really need to focus on that revenue growth as opposed to like brand-building.

Kathleen: Yeah, definitely. Those results are kind of where the rubber meets the road.

Peter: Yeah, exactly.

Kathleen: What has your career path been? How did you become a head of growth?

Peter: Yeah, absolutely. So I've been in the software world for about eight years. I was in marketing roles and digital marketing roles. And I think that ever since I started early on in my career, it's always been demand gen focus. Whether it's paid media events, webinars, it's always been about things that directly impact the revenue side of the business.

I think that brand is very much so a luxury that early stage companies just can't afford to focus on exclusively. I think a lot of our demand gen activities residually affect that brand. Making sure that we're going to market with a unified message, consistent branding, that's something we want to do on the demand gen side.

So I think that branding will come, but it's just not a luxury that most companies have. Most early stage SaaS companies have that runway. They have those numbers that they need to be held accountable for. So that's really focusing on the demand gen side.

So being a marketer at early stage software companies, I feel like it's just kind of comes with the territory.

Kathleen: Yeah. I would say amen to all of that, but especially if it's a company that's venture-backed or that's looking for investment, those numbers are critical, and usually investors are watching them really closely, so I can see where your kind of role would be important.

What does it mean to be a growth marketer?

Kathleen: Now, when you come into a role such as head of growth, how do you approach that? I know we were going to talk about growth modeling, and I love this concept, because especially at early stage companies, I've been at some, and the question is always like, what can we expect in terms of growth? And what's it going to take to get like if we want to grow by 2X?

And a lot of times, I think, marketers come into these roles and they sort of feel like it's like putting their finger up in the air and measuring where the wind is blowing, and they pull a number out of the blue and sometimes feel nervous about it. But you've really dug into a little bit more of a scientific approach to figuring out growth.

Peter: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So I can give you an example of where I'm at right now. So I'm at a company called Onna, which is a platform that centralizes data from your favorite apps, so think Slack, G Suite, anywhere where you get work done, to deliver a connected enterprise. So we're gathering all that data and we're supercharging it with machine learning and unified search to give you all that data in one place.

This last year, to give you like a stage for the size of our company, we closed our series A with investments from Slack and Dropbox. And with that investment, we have really aggressive growth goals on the sales and marketing end.

When you're getting funding from companies at that level, we have really big goals for 2020. So what that means for me is coming into the business and thinking, how can we hit those aggressive growth goals? And starting at the revenue number, what's the revenue number we have to hit? And then sort of reverse engineering that funnel to make sure that we have the funnel covered at all stages from a budget perspective, from a headcount perspective, just overall coverage on all ends.

And what that means, for example, is we don't want to generate more pipeline than we have the headcount to be able to close from a sales perspective.

So this is where a sales and marketing alignment gets really close, so working with sales to make sure we know when they're hiring people. For the marketing side, we know when we need to bring in what amount of pipeline to make sure we're able to close at an effective rate. Otherwise, from a marketing perspective, if we're under-generating pipeline, that's going to impact the sales department.

On the flip side, if we're over-generating pipeline, things are going to slip through the cracks, because we don't have enough coverage from a headcount perspective to be able to sort of reign all that pipeline in. So when we think for like planning for a whole year.

So for example, we want to grow 2 to 3X next year, which is really aggressive growth goals. That comes with a lot of hiring, a lot of pipeline generating. So we just want to make sure that we're scaling in unison to be able to support each other effectively.

Kathleen: I am loving this topic, because I think this is something that so many marketers have had to grapple with. And I love that you talked about almost starting with the end in mind. The investors want you to reach X amount of revenue, and how do you back out what's needed to get there? Right? And especially that you talked about sales and marketing alignment, because obviously those are both really important parts of the puzzle.

So knowing that that's what you have to do, where do you start? How do you break this up into manageable pieces?

How to get started with growth modeling

Peter: Yeah, definitely. So I don't know if you can start with somewhere manageable, but you kind of have to think about all stages of growth modeling to make sure you have all your bases covered.

A lot of people just want to say, "Okay, we're going to do everything in everything." And that's just not possible, especially when you're smaller stage.

You need to focus. You need to understand where you have the biggest opportunity to have an impact. You have to understand historical trends. Where did your early customers come from?

Recognize those patterns. Try to map out, if you invest more money to try to amplify those channels, how does that impact it? So it's really like a full scope sort of understanding of how you want to grow your business.

And I know that people will hate to hear this answer, but it starts in the spreadsheets. You have to get into the spreadsheets. You have to start mapping out your numbers.

I know that early stage companies like to say, "We don't have enough data to back that." But I think that early data is really good early indicators.

And like I said, I think just as a really good place to start is to start with that revenue number. Then based on historical trends, you can reverse it up from closed won. Then you can go up to opportunities. Then you can go up to SQLs, MQLs, leads, traffic, and you can understand the whole funnel. And then that at least gives you a sense of what you need to bring in from a lead perspective, and that gives you a place to start.

Then once you have that lead number, you can break it up by channel based on what you've seen by channel. How much does it cost for you to acquire a lead at each channel?

And then you just start laying out the whole framework, and it shows you how much you need to invest in each channel, what headcount you need to support that investment. And it helps you go back down that funnel and give you that coverage.

Kathleen: Okay, so there's a lot there.

Peter: Yeah, there's a lot there. I have a slide that I can give to you that you can put it in the show notes, but it kind of articulates from a funnel perspective what you have to look at and where you have to identify conversion rates to get those numbers to be able to map out your channels.

Kathleen: Now, you said something that really caught my ear, which is that a lot of people in startups are going to say, "We don't have enough data." And that was running through my head as you said it.

So you talked about even the early numbers are good and kind of interesting numbers, but there is a certain amount of data that's needed because when you talk about things like looking at performance by channel, et cetera, some early stage companies coming out of stealth are going to have really basically nothing, or they might have a pipeline but it's entirely from having an SDR on the team and dialing for dollars and not any inbound.

And so how much data do you really need in order to do this? Like do you have to have a basic inbound pipeline up and running?

Peter: I mean, it's a good question. I guess it depends on where your company has seen growth and if it has seen growth yet. Like you said, if it's coming right out of stealth mode, that's when you lean on your early employees, their experience, historical trends, market research, and you put together some baseline numbers to at least have something to measure against.

If you're early-stage, you pull together the data that you have, and you start mapping out against it. But everyone should be able to at least pull something together.

And I think that the use of this data, I also don't want to over-advocate for it, because I think that we can get stuck in analysis paralysis too. And our primary function as marketers are people who create, people who drive demand.

So I think that when we think about the balance between this growth modeling and actually acting upon it, I like to use a simple 80-20 rule. We shouldn't spend more than like 20% of our time planning and building out these frameworks and building these models.

It's like, at a certain stage, especially when you're early, do the best that you can. Have something to model against. Have something to show that you have actually thought about your growth goals and you're not just spending money to spend money.

But at the end of the day, like you said, you could only have so much data. We all only have access to so much data. And at the end of the day, we need to execute on it. We need to be able to put our plan into action and put our plan into motion, so at the end of the year we're not pointing back to our growth model and being like, "Well, we didn't do any of that." We need to actually execute on these things that we put together.

Kathleen: So I want to make sure I'm understanding you correctly. You come in and you're looking at historical information around conversion rates and volume at each level from traffic to lead all the way through to closing a deal.

And I assume you're also looking at the growth of those numbers over time, in other words, how the conversion rate has changed over time?

Peter: Yep. So conversion rates also paired with like unit economics. So by channel, how much are we acquiring customers for? What's the lifetime value of those customers? What's our payback period? So being also very conscious of the economics by channel.

How to build a growth model

Kathleen: Okay. And so let's say your revenue is at $5 million a year, and your investors come in and they say, "We want you at 50 million by the end of next year." Walk me through. How do you take that model and use it to answer that question?

Peter: Yeah, that's a really good question. So that'd be 10X in growth, so ---

Kathleen: We can make it 2X, if that's easier for the purpose of this.

Peter: Sure. Let's go five to 10. That might be easier.

So what you have to do is, you have to sort of dissect the pipeline from this last year. So how much revenue in the last year have you gained? Based on that revenue, what was your closed won percentage? Where was the pipeline coming from?

And you'd have to identify where's the best opportunity to amplify that pipeline. Like, do we dissect our pipe and dissect our deal flow and find out that like 90% of our deals came through channel partnerships? Well, that means that we might have the biggest opportunity to go into those channel partnerships and amplify it with resources and money and going to events.

So it's really identifying historic trends and pattern recognizing, and then coming up with hypotheses by channel that support our growth goals, and then kind of filling in the numbers to help support that so you have something to measure against.

Kathleen: Okay. So let's use the example you came up with, like channel for example. Let's say we decide channel is the biggest opportunity because we see that a large volume of our customers are closing from there.

If the hypothesis is that that's where we need to put our resources... You talked a little bit about using growth modeling to determine plans and budgets and that sort of thing. How do you translate that hypothesis into a concrete plan and a budget?

Turning growth models into marketing plans and budgets

Peter: Yeah, definitely. So I think at a high level, it starts with your revenue number and what you need to get there. So you need that.

You need your cost to acquire customer by that channel. And then you can basically, based on what you need to do from that channel, based on your projections, you can divide it by your cost to acquire a customer, and you can basically fill out your funnel and recognize the cost at every stage of the funnel.

You can associate a dollar amount to an MQL, an SQL, an opportunity, and a closed one. And it helps you understand at each stage of the funnel what you need to acquire a customer for.

So let's say in that example, you do your math, you look at your cost to acquire a customer, you look at the number you need to get to, and you recognize that you need to acquire an MQL at a price of $1,500.

Well, it helps you know when you go to that channel partnership event... Let's say you spend $100,000 to promote that event. You need to be able to acquire X amount of MQLs at $1,500 to have that event back out and to continue to support your growth goals.

Kathleen: Okay. So it's more about the cost of acquisition than setting an arbitrary budget, for example.

Peter: Yeah, exactly. It all comes back to, what is that cost to acquire a customer? And then you can compare it to your funnel metrics to identify dollar amounts at every stage of the funnel.

Kathleen: And to what degree, when you build this model, are you baking in assumptions about becoming more efficient over time? In other words, especially with earlier startups, they might be spending a lot to acquire leads and customers. But presumably that number should come down over time with the volume, with efficiencies, with lots of lessons learned. How do you account for that?

Peter: Well, it's interesting, because I think the classic assumption is that you do get more efficient by channels as you kind of do it longer. But it's kind of my mindset and philosophy to assume that channels get worse as we grow, because we saturate them more.

Kathleen: Oh really?

Peter: Yeah. Our goals get bigger. We have to assume that we will run out of runway in certain channels. At a certain point, we will sort of maximize them.

So I think it's really important to think about as we scale and as we grow, as we throw more resources at different channels, as we have to ramp people, there's a lot of factors that come into...

Like we talked about in our example, going from like five to 10 million, there's a lot of factors that go into building a growth team during that period and doing it in such an aggressive time period that we have to assume that we won't figure out things as quickly as we want to.

And what that helps us do is it helps us sort of like protect ourselves. We'd rather over-plan and plan for the worst and then outperform and then go from five to 10 million in eight months instead of 12 months. We would rather do that if best case scenario comes to fruition than actually plan for best case scenario.

Kathleen: So do you pair your... Call it your analysis of the conversion rates, of volume, et cetera. Do you pair that with a demand waterfall, then, where you kind of lay out where those new leads are going to come from by channel, by event, et cetera? How does that work together?

Peter: Yep. So ideally you would pair up and have... I know I keep going back to spreadsheets, but at early-stage companies you just have these big, ugly spreadsheets-

Kathleen: I mean, every good marketing nerd worth their salt loves the spreadsheets, so you're preaching to the choir here.

Peter: True. These big, ugly spreadsheets that all just feed into your number. And it helps you lay out month by month, and add it up to quarter by quarter, and then total into a year where every single lead is coming from by channel and how that lead ultimately impacts revenue.

So you have this big spreadsheet all the way month by month, from lead all the way to revenue, that is marketing-contributed and pairs up as well with sales headcount to make sure that there's enough salespeople to support that pipeline and that revenue that you're bringing in. So I don't have a really pretty way to scrape that together.

Based on your business, if you're doing more outbound, if you're doing more inbound, it's something you kind of just hack together in the spreadsheets.

But that's the way that I've always done it, and it seems to work to a certain extent. Eventually you have to automate that, but early on it's definitely a good way to build this out.

What role does sales play in growth modeling?

Kathleen: What part of this are you leaning on the head of sales for? Because obviously a lot of this data has to come from them, correct?

Peter: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. So they're responsible for that revenue number, and I would say that revenue number alone. Marketing should own the funnel all the way to the pipeline.

And then once it gets to the pipeline, there's that sales and marketing handoff. And then sales is responsible for winning that business that we put in the pipe for them.

So what they're really doing is, they're letting us know what's that conversion rate from pipeline to closed won, and what do they need to like support their sales goals based on the reps that they're bringing on, the quotas that they're putting in place.

And those are probably the big things.

Kathleen: It sounds like this really would form a great basis for a service-level agreement between marketing and sales, because it gives you some pretty concrete numbers and expectations. Have you used it for that before?

Peter: Yeah. Yeah, so for our SLA, we don't think like too concrete in place from these numbers perspective. It's more so like, we think of sales and marketing as like almost one department. So it's not like we're going to hold a gun to your head for this.

Based on this, it's like we're one department working this together, like we are generating leads for you to close. So I've never found SLAs too crucial, unless there's like a war between sales and marketing, which thankfully I've never had to deal with. It's always been really close, viewed as one department.

Using growth modeling to determine headcount

Kathleen: Yeah. So you talked about how you can use this to model out sales headcount, but how do you use it, or can you use it, to model out marketing headcount?

Peter: Yeah, that's a good question. It's a lot harder, because it's not one-to-one. What you need to do, though, is you need to recognize based on your strategy that you have in place...

Let's use the channel partnership example for one. If 90% of our pipeline is coming from those channel partnerships and we don't have anyone on marketing dedicated to that channel, someone needs to own that. If there's that much of our business relying on it, we can't just leave it up in the air.

So then we have to look at our org chart, and we have to understand who contributes to that channel, who owns that channel, where can marketing contribute. And it helps paint a more clear picture than kind of just arbitrarily structuring your marketing department. It helps you align your headcount to the numbers a lot better.

Another example is like early on when people put a lot of money into paid. No one really owns paid. It's just a lot of sort of cooks in the kitchen.

You can look at that paid number and you can say, "We're spending X amount of money. Definitely warrants someone." And that helps you go to your leadership team, helps you really advocate for that internally, to get someone to manage that budget.

I think whenever you see a significant part of your budget going in this growth modeling, it helps you really paint a clear picture that you need people there to support that and you need to grow your headcount.

Kathleen: Yeah, it's funny. I've never met anybody who has a really good formula for figuring out marketing headcount increases over time. It's definitely more of a black box than sales headcount is for sure.

Peter: Yeah, absolutely. And I think based on this growth modeling, if any of your numbers are falling behind from the growth modeling perspective, it's also something you can point back to if no one's owning it and say like, "I have an assumption that we can be X more effective or X more efficient if we bring in someone to to manage this budget. Right now it feels like we're kind of just burning money to put it in this channel."

So it helps you build those arguments a little bit more. But it's definitely not as like one-to-one to sales. Like if we spend X on this person, we should get X out.

Growth modeling in action

Kathleen: Yeah. Now let's talk about once you've built your growth model, because you... Like all these great spreadsheets, you build it, and then what?

So what does your cadence look like in terms of how frequently you're going back to that model over time, adjusting it, checking assumptions, et cetera?

Peter: Yeah, so this growth model should feed into your overall overall marketing strategy, and it should be something that your team is measured against as a marketing department as a whole.

Like where do you kind of stick your pin in the map, and what do you point out and say, "This is what marketing is going to do. This is what we're going to be held accountable towards"?

So for me it's always been marketing contributed revenue. Like what do we actually drive at the end of the day? And I know that some people don't like doing that, because there's multi-touch attribution and all these other things with actually tracking and stuff.

But I think it's so important, and I think it gives marketing a seat at the table, per se, from a revenue perspective, where we're saying we're actually driving revenue at the end of the day through marketing activities that we do.

So I think it's something that at least I've always measured against monthly, quarterly, even weekly sometimes once you're getting close to the end of the quarter and really needing to push your marketing team to be like, "Where are we at? What did we say that we're going to do? Are we falling short? Are we on target? Are we running ahead?"

But at the end of the day, the whole marketing team should be aligned to to those numbers as well to make sure that we're all on the same page and to make sure that we're supporting revenue-driving activities.

Kathleen: Yeah. It seems like it would be a really good management tool for a marketing leader to just pull out in team meetings and use as a pulse check.

Peter: Yeah, yeah. It's brought out at marketing check-ins, and it's also brought out at leadership meetings too. Like what does leadership care about? What do they want to hear about when you sit down for your weekly or biweekly or monthly or whatever your leadership team does?

Those are the numbers that they care about. They don't want to hear about like, "Oh, we held a webinar, and it was fun." They want to see like, okay, how many leads did we bring in? How many of them came to the pipeline? What did that mean from a revenue perspective?

They care about those really hard numbers that marketing in 2020 needs to be ready to talk about, like the actual revenue driving impact that we have.

Building a growth-oriented marketing tech stack

Kathleen: You talked about multi-touch attribution and being able to say what marketing's contribution was towards top-line revenue. What kind of a tech stack do you think you need to have in place in order to enable that?

Peter: Yeah, I think it really depends on the size of your organization, because at Onna, we're selling enterprise deals, so we're very much at the stage where we can just go in, dissect the deal, manage it in a spreadsheet, and it's really low-touch, minimal effort.

As opposed to if you're selling SMB and you're selling annual contracts of $50, and it's very self-serve, you need to have a robust attribution system in place to be able to measure that.

So it's not something that I've had a ton of experience with, but from the people that I've talked to that do have to build out that attribution system, people have recommended Bizible, that it's a really good multi-touch attribution tool for them to use.

But again, I just haven't had to get into that too much thankfully, which I'm happy about.

Kathleen: Now can I ask what kind of tech stack you guys have that you're using?

Peter: Yeah, so we use Pardot and Salesforce, and we also have a sales ops person on our team already, so they're able to... Like I said, sales and marketing is kind of the same for us, so our sales ops person's able they both to run reports, slice data for us, pull any numbers or data that we really need.

Kathleen: That's awesome. And now how long have you been at Onna?

Peter: So I've been at Onna for a few months now.

Setting expectations for your growth model

Kathleen: Okay. And this isn't the first time you've held this kind of a role. So I'm curious to know, expectation-wise, someone tries this for the first time... I feel like it would be like setting KPIs overall or like setting your professional development goals. It seems like one of those things that you would get better at over time.

So what has your experience been with the first one or two times you build a model like this? How accurate do you think someone should expect to be out of the gate?

Peter: Yeah, I think there's a few things. I think that, like you first said, you definitely get better. You have to start somewhere though.

It's going to be iterations on iterations, and hopefully it becomes like your own personal playbook that you can sort of bring wherever you go and adjust no matter where you're at.

But it all starts with actually doing that, starting somewhere and actually improving on it.

I think the second thing is, you need a team and a leadership team that's okay with challenging and pushing each other and being candid with each other. Because the first time I did this, no one asked me to do this. No one said this is something that we needed. It's something that I felt that I needed to be able to support the decisions that I was making.

And so I went to the CEO of my former company. I said, "Hey, this is something I've been working on. It's an MVP. It's lightweight. Please tear it apart and give me feedback and go back to the drawing board with it."

And one, he was so happy that I took the initiative to do it. It's not anything he asked for, but it painted such a clear picture of what marketing's doing and why marketing exists. And he did. He tore it apart. He told me from a CEO and founder perspective what he wanted to see, what our board cared about, and what I should be focusing on to help build out the bones of this growth modeling foundation.

So I think you'd definitely want that from a leader and you want that from a team.

And I also get that not everyone has that team in place. So then I think it's about having a network and being able to go to peers and be able to go to other people you know to help build that out, if you're not in as like a secure place, that you need to go to your team with something a little bit more buttoned up than that MVP version.

Kathleen: Yeah, that's a really good point. And I appreciate that you brought that up, because I think there probably are some marketers out there who are thinking like, "We don't have enough information, or, "I don't have a tech stack that can give this to me."

But it sounds like, to me, what you're saying is, don't let that be something that stops you. If you don't have the data internally, you either know someone who has comparable data or you can Google it and find out what industry averages are.

But it sounds like it's just worth starting with something and then iterating, and as you build data you can refine.

Peter: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And I think it's important, saying again, if you're at a company where no one asked you to do this and you go build this growth model and you present it to them, it will be a big deal in their eyes.

These are the things they want to see. These are the numbers that they care about. This is how you paint marketing in a light that that leadership and investors and everyone really wants to see.

So if no one's asking you for it, I'd encourage people to build out these models and show the nitty gritty of what marketing does.

Kathleen: Yeah. Yeah, that's great advice. And I think... What is it? The average head of marketing lasts 18 months these days. And so that is something that I'm sure is top of mind with lots of people who are listening, which is, how do I set myself up for success so that I beat the odds and last longer than 18 months? It's a depressing number.

Peter: It is. And I think people fall into this trap of marketers not getting the credit they deserve for a few reasons.

It's like marketers need to show what they do internally. If you don't showcase what you do, if you don't share what you do, people in product who are writing code all day are just going to be like, "Oh, marketing doesn't do anything."

You need to showcase the things that you're doing and boast them proudly. Sharing your work is a very important thing.

Like at Onna, whenever my team creates something, does something, we have like a marketing shares channel where we show everything that we do, so it allows us to showcase what we do.

And we want to hold ourselves accountable. We want someone to call us out if something isn't up to our brand standards. If something doesn't look good, we want people to call us out on that, because we want to be better and we want to be held accountable.

And the second thing is marketers that just sort of never execute and just move too slowly. We want to be known as a department that can get things, spin something up, spin up an MVP and be able to iterate.

So that's another aspect, that we want to be known as a team that's on the ball, that's snappy to a reasonable amount. We don't want people to come to us and throw off what we're working on.

My team operates in marketing sprints so we can protect ourselves from those things that come in. We have our priorities locked in for two weeks, but we can tell people and we can set the expectation but next sprint we'll put this in and we'll get back to you in like two to three weeks with something ready.

Kathleen: Yeah, I love that marketing shares channel idea. It was funny. Months ago I interviewed Dave Gerhardt, who has been the VP of marketing at Drift. He's just left to take a new role. But he talked a lot about sharing your work, but it was sort of more internal within the marketing team. And I've done that now for a while. Ever since I first talked to him about it, I started implementing it, and it's been great.

But what I haven't done is that next step, which is what you're talking about, and that's having marketing shared outside of the team with the rest of the company. And I love that, because you're right. I think a lot of people do think marketers are just sitting back there, as somebody once said, doing arts and crafts, right? And it's a lot more than that.

And unfortunately a lot of the work we do does take some time before there's very publicly visible things to show for it. And so taking those pieces and sharing them out as they're ready, I think, can be very powerful. So I'm going to do that too. I'm going to copy your idea.

Peter: Yeah, I really like it. And I think that I've heard from some people like, "Oh, my team's afraid to share things internally." And it makes me question like, how can you be afraid to share things internally but okay to share them externally? 

Kathleen: Yeah, that's a bad sign.

Peter: Yeah, that's a really bad sign. So it just promotes good work, good behavior, good actions. So I'm a big fan of it.

Kathleen: Now, do you wait until those things are done? In other words, are you sharing drafts of things, or are you sharing completed, shipped work?

Peter: To the whole team, we're sharing shipped work. We do have the internal marketing team sharing where we share early versions, early drafts, to make sure that we are buttoned up. But we're sharing to the whole team final products.

Kathleen's two questions

Kathleen: Great. That's awesome. I love it. Love this topic, and I will definitely put your slide in the show notes.

Changing channels a little bit right now, I have two questions I always ask all of my guests. I'd love to know your thoughts on this.

The first is, when you think about inbound marketing, is there a particular company or individual that you think is really killing it?

Peter: Yeah, absolutely. I think Ryan Bonnici at G2, the CMO over there, he's doing amazing work. I think he built an incredible team over there from an inbound perspective. If you're not following him on Twitter, on Instagram, follow Ryan Bonnici of G2. He's like my favorite CMO in the world.

If you're thinking about going to a marketing conference in 2020, check out the G2 Reach conference. I think that I went last year, which was the first year, and Brian's just doing incredible things out there for all marketers. I encourage everyone to watch him and see what he's doing.

Kathleen: Yeah, he's incredibly creative. I interviewed him as well, so I will also put the link to my interview with Ryan in the show notes, because he talked about some really cool stuff that he did at HubSpot that he was rolling out at G2 Crowd as well, so that's a good one. He is super creative, and he moves fast also.

Peter: And he's also just a really good person and really funny. He's just entertaining too. If you ever get the chance to talk to him or watch anything that he puts out there, he's genuine. He's thoughtful. He doesn't just talk about marketing, but he talks about like mindfulness, things like imposter syndrome for young marketers. Just overall great person, great marketer. I think he's doing it better than anyone.

Kathleen: Yeah, agreed.

All right, second question. Marketing changes really quickly. A lot of marketers I talk to feel like they're drinking out of a fire hose. How do you personally keep educated?

Peter: Yeah, I think marketing is changing rapidly, but I think the fundamentals kind of stand the test of time. So I'm a big fan of reading marketing books depending on what I'm going through.

Like one of the things I always fall back on is How to Win Friends and Influence people by Dale Carnegie. If you just understand empathy and you understand actually what makes people tick and what people want, that's where marketing starts. We're trying to influence people. We're trying to empathize with people and understand their problems and present them with value.

I think things like Elad Gil's High Growth Handbook, it's a book that he wrote that just outlines anything that really anyone could go through at a SaaS company.

And then depending on what your specialty is, like if you're in something like content or copywriting, reading, something like Ogilvy on Advertising, such a good copywriting book.

So depending on what you're going through and what role you're in, there's so many books that have been written that tell you the foundations and the principles of what have been done, what you should be doing, and things that have already been tested.

You don't have to go learn things on your own. These things have already been done, so learn about it and then put your own flavor on it based on what you're going through.

Kathleen: I'm so excited that you mentioned a couple of specific books, because I love marketing books. I have a lot of them on the shelf here behind me, which you can't see if you're listening. But yeah, I have Ogilvy on Advertising, but I haven't read a couple of the other ones you mentioned.

So my little trick for that is, I love to listen to them on Audible at like 1.5 speed. But then if it's a book that has a lot of meat to it, I'll get the hard copy and do that at the same time so that I can mark up the pages. It's a good way to get through things quickly without...

Peter: Yeah. Yeah, I think audio books have been great, because you can just power through them on your commute. They've been great. But for the books that I really like, I do love having a physical book and highlighting it and writing in it. That's hard to beat.

How to connect with Peter

Kathleen: Yeah, 100%. Well, I love all of those suggestions, Peter. If somebody wants to learn more about Onna, or the topic of growth modeling, or they want to just reach out to you and connect, what's the best way for them to find you online?

Peter: Yeah, people can follow me on Twitter @peterschroederr with two Rs. If you have any questions about this, any of this, just feel free to email me at

Happy to talk to anyone anytime and help people out who are like going through this for the first time and and just walk them through this. Just as much as as growth modeling, I love that career modeling with people too, and building out their own careers and next steps and sort of where they want to go. So big fans of both topics.

You know what to do next...

Kathleen: That is incredibly generous of you to offer. Thank you so much. If you are listening, I will be putting the links in the show notes for those things, so head over there if you want to reach out to Peter.

And if you did listen and you learned something new or you liked what you heard, please consider heading to Apple Podcasts and leaving the podcast a five star review. That helps us get found by new listeners, and I would really appreciate it. Thank you so much, Peter. I appreciate everything you shared with us today.

Peter: Thank you so much for having me. I had a great time. Hope everyone enjoys it.