Working in the Marketing space for over 4 years, I love to keep an eye on new trends in the market as well as the people leading them.
In the world’s current climate, we are all looking for innovative paths toward growth. Growth Marketing focuses on optimising, automating and scaling marketing efforts towards exponential business growth and is an area that I have witnessed gaining more traction in the job market.
It’s Digital Marketing’s younger, more technologically savvy sibling and the amount of professionals seeing results from this shift in marketing approach is also growing fast.
Max van den Ingh is one of those professionals. I sat down with him to talk about his experience throughout the pandemic, success stories, technology and customer-focused innovation.
Brad: Tell me a little about yourself and your career so far.
Max: I’m from Amsterdam and I’ve been involved in the startup space since 2014. Currently, I’m heading up the marketing team at POP: a B2B SaaS product that businesses use to create marketing campaigns over messaging apps. Throughout my career, I’ve always been an active voice in the startup and growth marketing industry. I love marketing, technology, innovation, automation, learning, sharing and cooking. That last part really helps calm me down and relax after work. It’s a form of meditation, I guess.
Brad: When did your love for growth marketing begin?
Max: When I was doing sales at a company called MisterGreen, I faced a lot of recurring tasks, like sending emails, following up with people, making offers, calls. That kind of stuff. After a while, I started thinking about ways to automate parts of my job in order to make the sales process a lot more scalable. While researching solutions, I came across a marketer who specialised in growing and automating marketing and sales. He showed me the ropes and the rest is history.
Brad: During your time at MisterGreen Direct (2017 – 2018) – you lead a team to go from €0 – €150,000 MRR in 150 days. What were your biggest learnings during this time?
Max: Build your audience first. Back then, we were building a platform which allowed people to order a Tesla Model 3 leasing contract directly online. There wasn’t a single leasing company that went all the way and made this process completely paperless. We did. In preparation for the launch, we started building a community of people who were interested in buying. We got over a thousand people signed up before we actually even started developing the platform. We knew we were going to get some sort of ROI, but it grew faster than we could ever imagine.
Brad: Growth Marketing is an incredibly interesting area to be involved in during COVID. Do you have any insights to offer on the current state of the market?
Max: Personally, I think it’s important to realize that a lot of companies are definitely up for buying, but simply not now. Ignoring those people with your marketing will lead you into certain disaster. You have to stay top of mind, show why you’re relevant and keep providing value. Better times are ahead. Unless you’re in eCommerce. In that case you’ll be fine, regardless.
Brad: What are your thoughts around growth strategy adaptation during this time, how did you approach this at POP?
Max: At POP, we were already in the middle of a transitional period. Of course, we’ve had to cut budgets here and there, but most projects just keep going. We’re trying to get even closer to our customer base to make sure the campaigns they run with our software perform well. At the same time, we’ve been stepping up our content game, adding more educational formats like videos and playbooks.
Brad: Technology has seen a massive boom during this global crisis, what tech have you started to integrate into your life?
Max: Technology has always been integrated into my life. I can’t live without the Asana app on my smartphone. Every time I have an idea or thought, I write it down in Asana, which creates a task for it. I have this process where I prioritize all new tasks every morning. This keeps me in a steady and consistent flow of execution. And it declutters my brain.
At POP, we’ve been releasing some incredible new features lately. One of which is our integration with Zapier. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Zapier, it’s basically an online automation tool that connects apps with other apps and services. Let’s say you collect an email address in a form and you want to use that email address in your Mailchimp account or CRM, Zapier is your friend.
Brad: You talk about customer-focused innovation. Could you explain what this is and why it is so important in the role of Growth Marketer?
Max: If you’re not doing it for the customer, who are you doing it for? Most marketers think they can get away with their own perspective on things. But fact is that you’re probably selling to hundreds or thousands of different, unique people. This is why I like to be close to the sales process. I get the most insights from taking calls myself, asking sales reps about good and bad calls and writing cold emails to see how they perform.
Brad: What tips would you give to fresh-faced graduates attempting to start a career in this current climate Max?
Max: For me, it was really helpful to have started my career in sales. You learn how to communicate effectively and learn the importance of generating revenue. When you learn how a company makes money, your ideas start to change for the better. Very few business owners or managers will refuse to listen to revenue-generating ideas.
Brad: Growth Hacking can have the perception of being a ‘make money fast’ approach to marketing. But you explain it as finding ways to ‘…really bind customers to you in a smart way and make a fan of your company’. What are some tips you can give to people to connect better with the consumer through growth marketing?
Max: Growth hacking, or growth marketing – or simply ‘growth’ – is a process. It’s operated by a person or team that sets (mostly) commercial objectives, and tries to achieve these in – hopefully – the most efficient way. Hopefully, because most of the time you’re just trying and testing and it doesn’t work out.
Of course, using data can get you a long way, but at most companies, you’ll never have the data or volume to make real data-driven decisions. Gut feeling is still an important factor, which is something you either have or don’t. If you don’t have a gut feeling, which most people won’t have in new roles, you just have to listen and absorb as much as you can. Until you reach a point where you feel comfortable enough about an area to start making forward-thinking decisions.
Brad: Most Marketing Managers out there will be working with an altered budget for the rest of the year… how can you be savvy working with a reduced budget?
Max: Personally, I have never worked with real set marketing budgets. My budgets are ROI-based. If something works and it pays off, I spend more. Testing if something works is never going to be really expensive so you can just do that on the go. But, sure, I understand most people will have a budget or have certain goals. Based on those goals and the average customer acquisition costs you’ll have a budget.
I think the first step in being savvy with a reduced budget is seeing it as an opportunity. Not a limitation. Sometimes people have to wake up from what they’re used to doing. This really shakes things up. The next step is to zoom out, rethink your options and move ahead.
Brad: How have you guys at POP felt working from home and will your stance on it change when you’re back in the office?
Max: Good question. We have our offices in Amsterdam, but our sales team is in London and until recently we collaborated with some developers in Portugal. So we were used to working with remote teams. Communications run over Slack, calls over Hangouts, we work in shared docs, etc. So working from home didn’t really hurt our productivity. I might even claim our productivity went up. Personally, I have no problem with work and private life blended into the household, but I know others suffer from this. So perhaps people will start working from home more often when everything turns back to normal. Four days in the office, one day from home to focus. Something like that?
Brad: You’re only allowed to watch one TV show in repeat for the rest of your life… what’s it to be? And why?
Max: Top Gear. Definitely. I love cars and pure British humour. I can listen to Jeremy Clarkson all day.
Brad: If you had to choose a new career tomorrow outside of marketing, what would it be?
Max: I’d probably venture into design. I really like creating visual stuff. But that’s also a bit of marketing, right?
Brad: Oldie but a goodie. Three dinner guests, dead or alive. Who’s joining you?
Max: Damn. Okay here goes: 1) Ayrton Senna, because he was the most insane, disciplined Formula 1 driver, ever. I think I watched the Senna documentary maybe 30 times. 2) Steve Jobs, because for me, he was the number one all-time marketing legend. The way he talked about products was just so smart. 3) Johan Witteveen, because he was my grandfather. He passed away a year ago at age 97 and was a miracle of a man. A respectful person who became Rector Magnificus of the Erasmus University Rotterdam at age 30, served as our nation’s Minister of Finance and was the Managing Director of the IMF. I bet he would have a fascinating vision on the world’s economic state due to the coronavirus today.
Connect with Max on LinkedIn
Read more about Max’s work on his website