The Simple and Undeniable Power of Driving Growth

By Elizabeth Ross

Published on 22 Jan, 2024

Marketing, when done well, is the most powerful growth driver you have at your disposal. So, why then is marketing often treated as a cost, a necessary evil, and something that many C-level executives view with such haughty disdain? In many respects, that reputation is deserved. Whether by perceived luxurious travel expenses, extravagant event sponsorships, or excessive spending on trade shows, marketing has inadvertently earned this reputation. To shake this shadow, CMOs need to align their marketing initiatives with board-level expectations

Focus on Growth

At Shift, our core belief is that the most important trajectory you can define for marketing in your organization is a relentless focus on growth. Your job is not marketing, it’s to drive growth for your business. The role of the CMO largely represents spending money and reliance on marketing metrics which are disconnected from the core business. In contrast, a Chief Growth Officer leads their business through harnessing the power of technology and data-driven insights. A CGO can often take on sales, R&D, distribution, real estate, franchises and other key departments with direct connection to  growth. If you are a CMO that is aiming to become a CGO, you have a crucial role to play in driving organizations toward this vision, and the stakes are high.

The advancement of marketing technology has brought both opportunities and challenges. While it serves as an asset, it also highlights organizational gaps, particularly in the integration between IT, marketing, sales, and finance teams. Navigating this complex environment requires a strategic approach centered around truth and data.

From Anecdotes to Quantifiable Metrics

In previous market conditions, when geo-political and economic influences were stable, business leaders had the luxury of relying on anecdotal decision making. Times have drastically changed. Consumer confidence remains low, and corporate spending and expenditures are facing increasing scrutiny. Within this climate, the key to driving sustainable growth lies in identifying and aligning with core business metrics. 

These are not just marketing metrics, but pivotal indicators reported to Boards of Directors that reflect the overall health and trajectory of the company. Many companies rely on standard business metrics such as Revenue Growth, Profitability, Return on Investments, Cash Liquidity, and Debt Ratios.

While those metrics are all critical to assess overall performance, marketing leaders need to align their organization around specific metrics that indicate, quantify, and point directly back to measurable growth. These can be any number of things, and some examples that we work with include:

  • Customer Lifetime Value
  • Lead Conversion Rate
  • Sales Cycle Length
  • YOY Customer Retention
  • Average Contract Value
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Pipeline Statistics (including number of opportunities and associated value)
  • SQL Volume and Acquisition

In addition to the metrics listed above, many companies have organization-specific metrics that largely account for business health:

A Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) brand we worked closely with measured the following KPIs as indicators of business health:

  • Stack-case Volume (volume of product on shelf) delivered to Walmart
  • Sell-through Rate (the percentage of inventory sold within a specified timeframe)
  • Brand Loyalty (reflecting the brand’s ability to retain customers, and sustain long-term profitability)

For a Telehealth style company engaging in both direct-to-consumer (D2C) and business-to-business (B2B) operations, KPIs would include: 

  • Visit volume per partner or affiliate
  • Quantity, Overall Revenue, and Lifetime Value of visits generated by each partner entity

For a B2B SaaS organization with a strategic focus on Product-Led Growth (PLG), pertinent KPIs could include:

  • Conversion Rates – from single-user subscriptions to enterprise-level commitments)
  • Conversion Rates – from demo requests to successfully closed opportunities
  • For a traditional B2B Manufacturing company, KPIs center around the end-to-end customer lifecycle, focusing on operational efficiency and profitability:
  • Cost of Goods Sold (COGS)
  • On-time delivery performance metrics
  • Days Inventory Outstanding (DIO)
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS)
  • Carbon Footprint

Regardless of which KPIs you decide to track, these metrics should be ones that your company and executive leadership team believe to be a true indication of growth. If you have alignment that they are the core growth KPIs you can focus on measuring – and improving – these agreed-upon metrics as a source of truth. The challenge lies in gaining alignment at the CEO and Board level on these metrics and integrating them into the company’s strategic framework. This is where technology becomes your ally.

The power of shared understanding of growth metrics

The Board of Directors at one of our clients (a global software company) was most interested in Customer Lifetime Value. The marketing team calculated this value differently for every board meeting, however. Instead of relying on a data-based system with structured calculations, a person manually created it, which allowed for variations that were less helpful for diagnosis and measurement over time.

To support them in getting a true reflection of performance, we leveraged technology as a more stable method of reporting and measurement, mapping the calculation and the underlying data about customers to build the measurement model of CLTV, thus generating a data-based answer that supported the marketing teams’ efforts and spend in a way that directly connected their work to the performance of the business.

At Shift, we believe in harnessing technology to provide a clear and fact-based view of your business. Think of your marketing technology as a window to the truth. Using our proprietary approach (Shift Tech Navigator), we answer key strategic questions that help you prioritize your marketing and identify improvements that can meaningfully address driving growth, faster.

Shift Tech Navigator stands out in the market with its unique blend of people-driven insights and cutting-edge technology. Unlike other tools that offer generic solutions, our approach is tailor-made to align with your specific business metrics, paving the way for CMOs to evolve into Chief Growth Officers. Our solution not only maps your existing technology to these metrics but is underpinned with strong insight derived from interpreting this data, ensuring that your growth strategy is both technologically advanced and deeply rooted in real-world business dynamics.

Our approach involves mapping your business operations through your existing marketing technology infrastructure to trace customer journeys, identify bottlenecks, and uncover areas for improvement. We conduct a thorough audit of your technology usage and create a multi-year roadmap to design a system that delivers growth aligned with the agreed-upon metrics and optimizations.

The process of aligning technology with business goals is intricate. Marketing technology stacks are complex and based on historical decisions and needs. By matching your data sources to a dashboard that reflects these key metrics, mapping your technology and understanding your funnel, you will transform the role of marketing within your company. Embrace this strategy to pave your path to becoming a Chief Growth Officer, leading your organization towards a future of data-driven decision-making and sustained growth.

Remember that CEOs are looking to leverage marketing as a means to propel their company’s growth initiatives. If CMOs align their marketing initiatives with board-level expectations, CEOs will be more apt to provide CMOs with the necessary space (and the respect) to achieve this goal.

What we do for our clients is drive growth. If you need support aligning your marketing objectives with your technology in a way that resonates with your C-suite, talk to Shift Paradigm today.

Written By Elizabeth Ross

Liz Ross is the President and CEO of Shift Paradigm and brings more than 25 years of experience leading some of the world’s most progressive and fastest-growing agencies. She is passionate about challenging the norm and inspiring marketers to be early adopters of innovative ideas and technology. As a dynamic leader accustomed to navigating today’s complex world of marketing, Liz has pioneered brand-consumer relationships for clients such as General Motors, Delta, HP, General Electric, United Health Group, Michelin, Citibank, IBM, Clorox, Cox Communications, Hillshire Brands, Visa and Pepsi-Cola, to name a few.
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