Setting up a process for your growth planning can be challenging. How do you direct your resources and team to the right initiatives.
There are thousands of tactics, but which of them should you decide on? This podcast is about my experiences with setting up a growth planning process, how to align the team and how to follow your company objectives
To my personal podcast episode
The podcast will touch the following topics:
- Growth planning process
- Align with OKR + objectives
- Align your cross-functional team
- North Star Metric
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I hope you enjoy this episode of my podcast.
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Transcription of the podcast:
this is the grow what the [ __ ] podcast a growth podcast of hog class m
hi my name is klauser schremzer and i’m co-founder and head of growth of user snap in the grow what the [ _ ] podcast i want to share with you the successes but more the failures and learnings from growing our b2b sas company as a co-founder and as a head of growth in the last years i was and i am still confronted with all kinds of challenges from growing our product company and our team also i want to become a successful head of growth since i joined a growth agency some years ago and this podcast should be the platform to share my experiences about what worked and what not so what is this company i’m working in usersnap is a feedback platform that helps businesses to build better more successful products and services with user feedback a bit about myself i’m a serial entrepreneur and in the last 20 plus years i co-founded three companies within the tech marketing industry two of them got acquired one by atlassian let’s start with today’s podcast but before that don’t forget to subscribe on itunes for this podcast or sign up on grow what the [ _ ] so it’s g r o w t f dot com to stay connected this will bring you seven years of good luck today’s episode is about how to plan the growth of your b2b sars company as always this is not the playbook of how to do it it’s more about my experiences what i learned from setting up the growth process for user snap
yeah so how should we grow our b2b company this is i think the main question everyone asks him or herself when you’re working for a startup or any other company and is there a process i can use is there any frame framework and when i joined user snap several years ago a lot of things seemed right and they seemed like being already set up in the right way and working so this customers were kind of defined the growth channels the content marketing was a big uh like big channel for for incoming leads the blog has an amazing number of visitors so the product had kind of a product market fit but operated in a niche it was visual or still very popular in visual feedback but um yeah and also there were several hundreds of of customers um including microsoft airbus canva so a lot of things seemed right and we had a kind of a decent growth back then but of course the expectations also when i jumped on board was that we can turn that into a hockey stick so i started looking into several um like growth analytics in several numbers looking into uh google analytics and we did a lot of uh customer interviews to hear firsthand like how they are using user snap you know are they happy and so on and so forth um and when i did that and i looked into several like let’s say draws uh of user snap a lot of things became less clear to me than it were before besides one person i was the only one working on the growth of the company in terms of marketing and sales
so yeah so i started the growth process back then and looking back i have to say it was a bit too fast so i jumped too fast into action i should have spent a lot more time into analyzing and and getting like a lot of things clear or making them clear before i start so which is um a clear perspective on where we are positioned what the personas are what are the needs of these personas
yeah but i spent some time in a growth agency and i learned some growth frameworks there and so i started using that so what we did and as i said we were only two back then in the in the growth team uh we we came up with a backlog so we collected a lot of ideas along the the r funnel so along the customer journey we collected some ideas we prioritized them and then we we we started doing a lot of things you know from paid acquisition to more of the content marketing trying to leverage the blog even more doing more social media and so on and so forth but it was this this like this was like more in doing a lot of things but less about a planned process which um were or which which hooks up on the on the ends where you where you see the best like where you can leverage the bed the most on it yeah so we worked you know we did a lot of thing activities but i think they were not what was it was not outcome driven yeah so um yeah we were kind of running in the in the red race but in the wheel the mouse wheel but we were not coming forward um
when i looked so so i stopped doing that back then and then i looked into or tried to to to analyze what is what is going wrong here um can we do a restart so first of all there were several problems one was there were hundreds of topics i had the feeling i we have to focus on it was hard to to pinpoint what we should focus on the team was too small um they were unclear growth goals you know hockey stick is nice but you have to focus you have to start somewhere you have to focus also the metrics and kpis to follow were unclear our teams were were not cross-functional which means that um i can recall back then that you know even the development product team was in the other room so they they built something new and then when it was finished it was like kicked over the fence to the marketing team and then we should uh promote it and so this was not the way how we saw agile teams working and cross-functional teams and especially also aligned teams on a on a goal um yeah and then was not only working about growth you know getting more customers and leads on board it was also like about marketing brand um sales setting up all of that there was a kind of an urge for growing but there were things on the foundation not set which is like positioning uh where are we standing where where do we want to head how do we see us in um in comparison to customer competitors what are the needs of our personas what personas do we address and what is our market so with this several problems ahead of me um i started focusing on on like restarting a process and being clear on on where we want to head so we set the objective to set up a growth planning process um based on these experiences
i set up three main topics or like so in the to this this approach here was was cons like consist of three main topics i wanted to focus on so the first one was to hire the right and hopefully senior people because with two people it is of course you can do it but then i think you don’t need this huge planning process you don’t need this alignment you can make scale it down but you can only just you know get one or two things at a time with two people so i wanted to grow the team first of all and hire specific persons so it was from you know for sales and a growth hacker and a digital marketeer um specifically you know people who are familiar with the us market and you can listen to the podcast episode 2 to get more insights on hiring the right people so hiring was my first plan and i focused more than six months only on this topic or most of the time i focused on this topic the second was i wanted to have a goal-based growth process this seems very obvious but goal it was unclear you know our goal setting was like basically pretty young so we we started with the okr framework and i will do a podcast episode about that soon um so we had the goal okay the okr process but it was still not easy going i would say so i wanted to align our growth process on that because if the company focuses on the okrs then the growth has also to focus on the okrs it cannot go on the sideways you know um and i wanted to take so to analyze what is working and double down on that first of all because this is always the easiest one um if something is already working try to scale it last but not least and this has of course a lot also to do with our approach and you know that our company is about user feedback so research and user research is kind of a important topic so for all the um outstanding or for the for the upcoming and and to be done steps which is about let’s see how how do we set up our brand um what brand values do we have um the positioning where do we position our company and also like other marketing uh focused topics we wanted to to set them up in a research base so we don’t want to to just um set up our positioning and we have want to do the the necessary based on that and also the personas i think this is an important part who wanted to do in-depth uh research on the personas and understanding their needs and just not just doing you know experienced and gut feeling based
definitions here so yeah i we restarted the growth pro planning process and the first and foremost let’s say um goal there was to follow our goal the to follow the two years um goal and and take that as a north star metric so it’s our two years goal is around let’s say customers and then certain revenue plus we have a team specific kpi based on quality leads um so this is this is kind of the north star and then from the ocr process i hope you’re familiar with that um the company objectives are our guidance so they help us to focus and to narrow down where we are um concentrating our growth efforts for the planning and in a we call it quarterly okr ceremony we we’re defining new key results for these objectives so which are like measurable um deliverables for for these objectives and the important thing here is that this works together across all teams yeah so we are working here together on the key results and the key results are our our focus and our our focus also for the growth project of course we are still doing like kind of research and um analysis into our um into our metrics and seeing like um you know do we have any gaps uh which could be sweet spots where we uh to for growth initiatives or are there any like um any parts where we have a specific a massive growth which which or massive massive change where it could could focus uh on and maybe double down on that um so this is kind of you know we’re we are having the objectives and key results as a as a funnel like this this is helping us to narrow down uh our efforts where do we focus on and then we do the research and analysis just to see that we are not missing out on anything it’s also along the r funnel so sometimes you know you have to do something in awareness and acquisition and activation um but this helps us to to to come up with growth initiatives and they have to fit into the key results into the company objectives and also uh working long term throughout our two-year goal this is how we quarterly come up with the initiatives so as i said we’re doing an analysis on the behavior on the journey of like what are the visitors and and leads doing on our web assets assets and in our product analyzing what gaps do we find and what massive changes so maybe we find some sweet spots we can work on and then based on the key results from the ocrs and the sweet spots we built like a backlog a list of growth initiatives and then we still use the approach i i already described a bit so we have this backlog of different growth initiatives and probably have way too many so you have to prioritize them somehow so this will do that we are doing that right now by the ice core so the ice means uh impact confidence and ease so how easy it is to do it how confident are you that you’re getting the results you want and how big is the impact on the company of course the limits on on resources and budgets are also a factor which we have to take into account um and based on that we can prioritize and list and rank our growth initiatives again
the good thing is as they are based on the okrs we can also bring in some initiatives which are not directly contributing to growth immediately but you know you need them as a long term especially if you’re working on a product company which is like you know how can you work on the brand on your positioning on research topics so with that approach we can bring these activities also into um into our planning
yeah following following this growth planning approach we have at the end of this quarterly we have a list of growth initiatives which are ranked which are agree agreed across teams that’s very important so not only the growth team is working on that so but everyone or the everyone in the company kind of agreed and is aware of what we’re doing why we’re doing it and or what we want to do and it also follows our main company goals and kpis i think with that we currently we have a very good feeling of how we are moving on we also see um that the teams are working together on certain um initiatives and are aligned on that um and that’s that’s that’s helping us to identify um growth levels across the whole company not only in the growth section also in product also in customer success and when you’re also working for a sas company you probably know the the topic where when the product team you know meets the growth team um within the product that it’s all not always so clear who does what um for example to activate people in your trials in your product so i think this is something we take it quite quite nicely with this approach um as i mentioned before there was also we wanted to um like focus on what worked so far i want to go a bit into that so in the beginning um we yeah we also analyzed what worked um because i don’t want to change everything uh what is working you know never touches running system so what is working try to scale it yeah and for us especially three things worked quite fine as i said the content marketing with the blog and organic traffic so we’re pretty where our seo and and content marketing works pretty well second part was work uh word of mouth a lot of people recommended user snap and are recommending user snap because they love the product uh which is super nice um hard to scale and last but not least the referrals so with these three topics in mind um we started some initiatives i will quickly go into them uh so for content marketing and organic traffic we build a content lead engine so how to get more leads and product trials out of your content and if you want to hear more about that then listen to our my podcast number one which is about the content lead engine the second is word of mouth which is as i said hard to scale um we started building a feedback tribe which is a community to get people to talk more about their success stories around feedback and to interact and to also connect user snap with this positive feeling and yeah to get recommended more and last but not least the referrals um yeah this is something where we started becoming thought leaders we we were sharing a lot of valuable content through pr and guest posting also something um we restarted we tried it before but now we have a very i think restructured approach that and slowly it’s taking off this is a long-term process um it takes quite a while until you have set out all the articles but i think this will be also a good topic for another episode of this podcast i want to quickly mention this book from weinberg and mars about which is called traction because if you’re like in the beginning of of the of your growth um planning process it’s helpful to to to see and know about the different traction channels um the authors are talking about 19 attraction channels and this always helped me to to find also to dive into new ideas i can only recommend you to read it um it’s super helpful to to learn more about different attraction channels but also what some kind of ideas what is working for to be to be and what not so i think this is a good um a good read for you or at least it was for me
so a short summary um after we restarted our grow growth planning process we we took the two-year goal and the kpis there um as our north star metric uh we’re using the ocr planning the objectives and the especially the quarterly set um key results as our funnel and focus to to narrow down where we where we where we are uh starting growth initiatives and we just we’re still um doing a lot of analysis and research to find sweet spots where we can focus on and if we take that together it gives you a pretty good um yeah alignment on the teams so you can set cross-functional goals to reach certain objectives
you can also include marketing goals from branding positioning into that so and still have a growth planning process um especially if you’re a smaller team it is not so easy you know to have specific risk people working on on these topics you have to bring that into your interior or
approach everything takes some time so it took me also quite some time to set up this process because every team constellation in every team setup is different yeah so even if you do the same as i’m suggesting here it might take some time until it is working for you it will be probably a bit different
measuring the success is hard um especially if the attribution is not finished uh every every successful um growth planning has first of all you need the goals but after that these have to be measured and the measuring we have an over like our overall measuring on the company on the product is quite um quite nice and working well um but especially figuring out single initiatives and how they contributed to the overall success is super hard and currently we’re working on um getting the attribution right which means that we can better figure out which growth initiative um contributed to the overall goals goals but um last but not least a process a growth planning process is for me i i think it’s essential to move um in the same direction what i mean is that the whole company all teams are aligned um and working together on certain campaigns
and and this this is for me one of the success factors one of the important ones yeah on the grow what the [ _ ] website which is g r o w t f dot com you will find some resources and links i’m i used to come up with this approach so have a look at the website and if you are currently working on your own uh growth planning i would be super interested to hear more about your approach so just reach out to me talk to me i would be happy to to learn more about other ways of how to tackle this problem but not least thanks a lot for listening i hope you subscribe to the grow what the [ _ ] podcast on itunes or directly on the website um to stay up to date thanks a lot and have a wonderful day