This week we did an interview with Sujan Patel, VP of Marketing at When I Work, a SaaS product for small businesses. He's also the co-founder of Content Marketer, a tool to help marketers scale outreach and content promotion. Sujan has over 12 years of Internet marketing experience and has led the digital marketing strategy for many companies.
On his free time he likes racing cars and motorcycles.
He says that to be successful, you can't just be an expert in one thing. You have to understand every aspect of marketing, support your team and „get your hands dirty.“
We also talk about growth marketing, expanding your business and the dangers that come with them.
1. What are the key factors for a well-managed organization?
To build, sustain, and grow a business in 2015, you need to be:
● Transparent. In order to build a team of motivated top-performers, you need to loop the people working for you in on your goals, your progress, and your big ideas.
● Data-Driven. You can’t fix what you don’t track. In business, measuring, evaluating, and acting on data is the only way to grow.
● Competitive. If you want to attract top talent, you have to be the best. You have to compete and win on things like culture and benefits, and you have to do what it takes to position yourself as the market leader.
● Helpful. To survive in business today, you have to be willing to provide upfront value and take the time to show people that you actually genuinely care about helping them solve their biggest problems.
● Experimental. To move the needle, you have to constantly be testing and implementing new ideas, new techniques, and new strategies. Things change fast, and if you want to keep up, you have to run experiments on everything.
2. What is marketer's role in a workplace and how has it changed in the last 12 years?
To be an effective marketer today, you have to have a solid understanding of every spoke in the marketing wheel. Gone are the days when you could be really skilled in one area and rely on others on your team to fill the gaps. That’s not to say you can’t hire people under you to own different areas of marketing—you can and should. But if you want to help them be successful, you have to be willing to get your hands dirty too. You can’t just manage and hope that everything will work out. You have to be in the trenches with your team—testing, evaluating, and constantly learning. Rand Fishkin has a great blog post that points to this idea. In it, he discusses the idea of the ‘T-Shaped Marketer’—i.e. someone who has a deep understanding of one particular marketing emphasis, but who is also constantly working to expand their marketing skill-set in order to fill in the gaps.
3. What is growth marketing? Why should entrepreneurs care about it?
To me, growth marketing is all about coming up with and implementing ideas and techniques that can be tested. I think too many people have romanticized terms like “growth hacking” or “growth marketing” and think it’s just about coming up with really clever, unique ideas. I think good ideas are important when it comes to growth marketing, but I’m personally more interested in the data you can collect and learn from when you actually implement or test ideas.
As an entrepreneur, you can spend every second of every day coming up with and implementing new ideas to build buzz or get the word out about your product. But if you aren’t collecting and learning from data in the process, you’re not only wasting your time—you’re missing huge opportunities.
When done right, growth marketing, or growth hacking, can have a huge impact on the success of your business. If you’re not sure where to start, check out my ebook, 100 Days of Growth. It’s a collection of ideas I have personally tested and used to help hundreds of companies move the needle.
4. What is the first step to quickly start expanding your business?
Start investing in content marketing. There are a TON of resources out there that can teach you how to do it right. Content marketing can help you build brand awareness, connect with the right people, drive traffic to your site, position you as an influencer in your industry, build relationships with partners, and boost conversions.
5. What dangers arise with a rapid growth of a company?
As big of a proponent of testing and experimenting as I am, one of the challenges that arises once you start seeing growth is that you want to test every idea you can think of. This can be toxic. As a marketer, you have to be able to prioritize ideas. You have to be as objective as possible when it comes to testing and experimenting ideas. That might mean giving up on an idea or experiment halfway through, or simply deciding that it’s not something worth starting at all. When you become too obsessed with ideas, you run the risk of flooding yourself with an endless amount of projects—many of which never get done because of how many you have in progress.
6. What do you think the main challenges will be for running a company in 2020?
In my opinion, the challenges business owners face will be similar to the ones they are facing now, such as:
● the need to adopt technology and tools in order to solve problems and make experiences better
● the need to connect with and understand customers and prospects on a deeper level
● the need to differentiate from competitors in an increasingly-competitive and highly connected world
● the need to attract and retain top talent by competing on culture, benefits, and mission