Why Betting on Brand Delivers More Long-term Value Than All Those Growth Hacks Combined

This Won't Scale

Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from our upcoming book This Won’t Scale. You can sign up to receive the book (yes, a real physical book) when it ships here.

One of my responsibilities as the first marketing hire at Drift was to start building the brand.

Unlike a lot of companies in the SaaS space, we weren’t all that worried about the immediate ROI of our marketing tactics. We took a bet on brand because we believed that in the long run, we’d benefit more from telling an authentic and consistent story than all the one-off marketing growth hacks combined.

Beyond that, we had another good reason for going against the grain.

You might have seen Scott Brinker’s famous martech landscape slide.

Scott Brinker Marketing Technology Landscape

Known as the Martech 5000 — nicknamed after the 5,000 companies that were competing in the global marketing technology space in 2017, it’s been said to be the most frequently shared slide of all time.

And already by early 2018, Brinker had updated it with almost 2,000 more vendors — that’s nearly 7,000 marketing software companies fighting for the same buyers’ attention.

While a lot of founders would argue that there’s no point in even entering such a crowded market, DC and Elias took a different approach.

In fact, DC has this pretty unorthodox view on markets — he prefers those with a fair number of competitors. According to him, that’s the best way to know there really is a market.

And so DC and Elias weren’t going to get paralyzed by competition because they knew that where there’s competition there are buyers. And where there are buyers there’s money. And where there’s money, there’s an opportunity to achieve hypergrowth.

But the trick here is that you can’t enter a crowded market and then do things like everybody else. Instead, we entered a crowded market knowing that we were going to focus on something that a lot of SaaS companies hadn’t. We were going to build a brand.

As DC explains in this article on the Hypergrowth Curve, every successful company goes through the same three stages of evolution.

Hypergrowth Curve

Let’s use the marketing and sales software market as our example:

  1. In the first stage known as the Edison Stage, companies can compete on commodities. All they need to win is a better product.
  1. However, as the market matures, scaling up production becomes a priority. And so in the Model T Stage, companies must learn to deliver consistent quality at scale.
  1. In the third and final stage, known as the P&G Stage, features and mass production capabilities won’t get you very far. To compete, you need a brand to differentiate your company from the competition.

And since we entered the B2B SaaS market at a time when it was already swarming with competitors, we knew that to win, we would have to bet on brand.

Want to learn more about why Drift bet on brand early and what we did to accelerate awareness and share of voice? Sign up to receive This Won’t Scale when it ships here.

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