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Ask GH: What type of planning should a growth/marketing team be doing on a quarterly basis?
With the shelf life of channels and tactics getting shorter and shorter, should all growth execution be done weekly or are there some things that should be done quarterly? What sort of things can and should be looked at quarterly? Thanks!
I had a great conversation about this with @MicahCohen (head of growth at Twenty20) earlier this week. Some of the things we discussed that make sense to revisit quarterly are:
- Current customer snapshot (user personas, use cases, intent, perceived benefit, next best alternative...)
- Customer strategy (any new segments, what's needed for new segments - pricing plan, features...?)
- Model of the growth engine (areas to be optimized)
- Referral channel trends (ROI, growing vs shrinking, potential for scale...)
- Future channel projections (expected referrals, expected budget)
- Broad new channels areas of exploration (unexplored channels)
Might also make sense to include hiring plans, since this usually requires some kind of approval (depending on org size).
Curious if others think anything on here is overkill or what else is missing.
Maybe to add to the list:
- Content/messaging strategy (Can be an agile differentiator for smaller structures startup/SMB when compared to larger incumbents who have rigid, annual content/messaging plans)
- Campaign/promotion strategy (same note as above from differentiation standpoint)
- Growth hacking budget adjustments (beyond hiring as mentioned by @Sean , may need to scale budget on paid side of growth hacking when growth opportunity identified in previous quarter)
All of these are great suggestions.
I think two things 1) OKRs and 2) the good old SWOT analysis:
What is the objective and key result for the quarter - get total alignment.
Strengths - where should we double down and extend our lead
Weaknesses - what do we need to shore up and fix
Opportunities - are their gaps in the market, customer feedback or usage behavior that points to an unexploited opportunity
Threats - what threats, be it competition, changes to channel performance, customer behavior, etc. need to be mitigated.
I think the list @Sean provided covers the big items. I think the one area to add would be any competitive intelligence. In other words:
- Did the way my competitive set markets change (traffic sources, tactics, messaging, or pricing)?
- Did anyone in the competitive set introduce something that puts us in a competitive disadvantage (new features, partnerships, etc..)?
I think you should have a read on the first bullet point every month. If monthly doesn't scale for you, it should at least be reviewed each quarter.
Great points Frank!
We've (Startup Studio) tried to summarise that in what we call the Lean Growth Canvas, found here: http://leangrowthcanvas.com
If you're familiar with the business model canvas, you recognise the format, but this one is more focused on product and growth.
The purpose of the canvas is to help a growth team ask the right questions and focus the product for growth.
Not to be confused with http://Canvas.growthhackers.com :)
Quarterly questions to ask would be related to the area in the upper left of the canvas:
Has our image of the customer changed?
Has the way we make a customer more engaged changed?
Has our key KPI changed? Should we follow something else?
I would also reflect on the canvas itself: do we have the right zones? Does the canvas help us answer the right questions or should we change something?
This is a good discussion. I looked at our collective list and it could seem overwhelming at first. A couple of quick thoughts to make it executable and sustainable.
1. Identify the key data collection baskets ahead time for each driver (user personas, use cases, channel trends, competitor strategy, etc..) and where/how you can get the data.
2. Calendar 30 minute data collection intervals once a week or a couple of times a week throughout the quarter. Doing this before the quarter starts makes it much more likely you will follow through. A 30 minute window is much easier to get people to stick to than long sessions that can easily get rescheduled in favor of short-term issues.
3. As you collect data annotate any key items with dates so you can see trends over time.
4. Schedule time to review the findings two weeks before the quarter ends. This gives you time to adjust for the next quarter.
Hope that helps.
The most important planning your team could do is monthly. At Enplug, we are focused on seeing growth monthly. Of course, we are constantly thinking big picture. We have projections for growth through the next year, however that starts with focusing on month to month growth. How are we going to grow x amount to reach x% of our expected growth rate?
While quarterly planning is still essential, it's important to remember that most startups switch their company direction multiple times per month.
With that in mind, your quarterly planning should be simple: What kind of growth do we need to see this quarter? After determining your growth plan, then it should be a month to month game. Hope this helps!
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