As a marketer, it’s easy to get completely engrossed in day-to-day marketing activities. I sometimes find myself so focused on my digital marketing metrics—blog traffic, backlink counts, newsletter subscribers, and customer acquisitions—that I forget to step back and look at the bigger picture.
A view of the big picture is crucial—not just for marketers, but for CMOs and founders, too.
In Hubstaff’s early years, I had a weekly meeting with Dave and Jared—the company’s co-founders—where they would ask me strategic questions, such as:
- We noticed that [our competitor] is doing [a specific activity]. Have we ever considered it? Do you think we could adopt the strategy and improve it?
- Do you think this [specific strategy] will still be driving sales a year from now?
- Is this [specific strategy] in our top 20% that’s driving the majority of our revenue today? Will it get us to our $1 million annual recurring revenue goal sooner than other strategies?
Between those weekly meetings, I would prepare answers for those questions to supply in the next week’s session. Over time, I found myself asking those same questions as I formed new strategies, finding answers before I was asked.
As a result of this routine, I developed a high-level marketing mindset, and I’ve been using that approach ever since to stay one step ahead of our marketing goals.
I’m so proud to announce that Hubstaff crossed $2M in annual recurring revenue this week. What makes this milestone even better is that we achieved it as a self-funded company with a bootstrapped budget. Our customers are our investors.
If you prefer listening to these lessons, I covered them in this podcast episode.
How it all started
Dave, my boss and co-founder of Hubstaff, connected with me in the very first week of 2015 to discuss if I wanted to join the team as a growth officer.
I’ve been waiting to do this Year-in-Review thing for a while now and I kept postponing until the last minute. It’s Dec 30 2016 and I’m finally sitting down to write it.
So every year, I’ve followed the tradition of setting new year resolutions. 2016 was special because I actually managed to complete 80% of my new year resolutions – talk about a home run!
For my 2017 resolutions, I wanted to do something different. I came across this mind-mapping technique to figure out what I want to do in my life next year, shared by a former Google career coach.
Up until August last year, the Hubstaff team didn’t place much focus on direct sales. We assumed there wouldn’t be enough ROI since our product cost is pretty low at $5/user. Instead, we focused on inbound marketing because it’s the kind of channel that got us great results. I feel that this is often the case; direct sales are underrated and take a backseat to online marketing.
Nathan Barry of ConvertKit wrote a post on how he prioritized direct sales as a channel to acquire customers over his content marketing and other tactics. With direct sales, ConvertKit saw a whopping growth of 2605% in the last 12 months. That post inspired us to start allocating some time in direct sales as a growth channel for us.
Here are the steps we took, which ultimately contributed to our more than 200% revenue growth in the past 12 months.