EP. 12: How Long Does it Take to See Marketing Results
When it comes to measuring marketing nuance is key. For every market, product, and business, the results of marketing have their own specific context. To understand when you should be expecting results from your marketing efforts, you need to understand the context of that work.
In this episode of InDemand, Asia Orangio, founder of DemandMaven, breaks down four key questions you need to ask yourself to understand more about how long it will take your marketing work to start driving results.
- What is the general amount of awareness in your market?
- What does your sales cycle look like today?
- What is your starting point from a marketing perspective?
- What resources do you have available?
- Are the other parts of the business functioning and functioning well?
- 2:58 – The key questions we’re diving into in this episode
- 4:15 – What is the general amount of awareness in your market? And how long is your sales cycle?
- Before someone is a customer they are a prospect, and prospects go through a few stages of awareness, from completely unaware, to being aware of the problem, to be aware of the solutions out there, to finally being aware of your specific solution.
- Depending on how aware your market is, your marketing will take more or less time to show results, this is likely the single biggest factor when it comes to time to see results
- If you are focusing on prospects earlier in an earlier stage of awareness, you should focus on the audience your building and not yet on the sales you’re converting
- Depending on your sales cycle (how long does it take for a prospect to buy) the speed of the results will be faster or slower
- 20:08 – What is your ultimate starting point when it comes to marketing?
- There are three main marketing starting points
- 21:00 – No marketing and trying to just do something
- 25:00 – Bad marketing trying to go to good marketing
- 27:15 – Good marketing trying to get to great marketing
- This is usually the longest path when it comes to seeing results, it’s a long-term investment that happens overtime
- There are three main marketing starting points
- 30:15 – What resources do you have available to you?
- What is your budget and who are the people you have to help?
- If you’re spending less than $1000/month on marketing or doing most of the work yourself, then the results you’ll see will typically be more long-term (because it usually makes the most sense to focus there)
- Sales will always be faster marketing, so if you need results fast, focusing on marketing may not make sense
- More resources don’t necessarily mean faster or bigger results, but it usually does
- 40:30 – Are other parts of the business functioning and functioning well?
- Marketing is just one cylinder in the engine. For a business to succeed all parts need to be working well. So great marketing doesn’t help if your business isn’t functioning well
- If you don’t have a strong product-market fit, marketing can help with generating awareness, but measuring results of marketing in revenue probably doesn’t make sense
- 53:15 – What are the questions we need to ask when thinking about how long it will take to see results from marketing?
What’s up founders! And welcome back to the In Demand podcast where we talk all about how to reach your first $1m ARR. I’m your host Asia Orangio and I’m the founder of DemandMaven where we work with early-stage SaaS companies on reaching their very first growth milestones.
Most intense questions that I get. It’s a question that I see also just all over Twitter, especially on LinkedIn and in forums and communities. And it’s a challenging question because it really depends on our understanding and our knowledge of quite a number of different things. And also just previous experience levels with marketing in general. But it’s the ultimate question of how long does it take for marketing to produce results? I might’ve touched on this in one of my earlier episodes, but I really wanted to just take an episode and really dedicate it to this question. And it’s one of those questions that many people will say. It depends. And in my own personal experience, I completely agree. Generally speaking, there is a range of time upon which we start expecting to see some pretty consistent results when it comes to marketing. And that range is anywhere from three to six months.
I think that that’s a pretty typical baseline. It’s a pretty typical standard when it comes to, if you’re actively investing in marketing, you should expect, expect to see some kinds of results. Period. Within three to six months, sometimes some businesses see results much faster, and sometimes it takes much longer for marketing as a practice, as a department to start generating some very notable results, but really we’re actually going to unpack what results even means. What, so what does that mean and what are some of the factors or variables that play into what ultimately brings business results when it comes to marketing and also what is the timing of that? What kind of timeframe can we reasonably expect from that? So right off the bat, I’m just going to give you the questions that we are going to unpack. And I, and I really pose these as questions you can think of these as prongs or pillars, but these are really the things that formulate that ultimate.
It depends on the “answer”, and I’m putting that in finger quotes. So whenever someone says, well, how long does it take for marketing to generate results? Or how long or, or what kind of results can we expect to see? Usually, the answer is, well, it depends. We can make a few guesses about what is reasonable to expect, and also what are some of the different things that you can prepare that you can align. And then of course, we’re going to just break down in general that, that timeframe. So the first quote that we’ll, I’ll give all of them to you and I’ll, I’ll break down each one, one by one. But the first question is what is the general amount of awareness in your market? And we’re going to, of course, unpack that in just a second. The second one is what is it, your ultimate starting point from a marketing perspective, meaning what are you ultimately starting with then there’s well, what are, what resources do you have available to you?
So this is that budget people, tools, resources, et cetera, are the other parts of the business, ultimately functioning, and are they functioning well? And this really correlated to what kind of ultimate growth results can we really expect, not just from marketing, but from really the entire business as a whole. And there is one last question, and this is really related to one of the already it’s, it’s really related to the, to the, to the first one, but there is this sub-tier of what is the sales cycle currently look like today. And that really does correlate with just how users buy or how prospects buy in general in your market. But if you have an especially long sales cycle, for example, you can expect the marketing cycle to pretty much be just as long, if not be maybe a little bit shorter, but it usually the marketing and the sales cycles overlap.
Okay. So let’s, let’s break down the very first question, which was what is the general amount of awareness in your market? And the sub-question really is also so right along step with that, how long is your sales cycle? So the general amount of awareness in your market, this really speaks to when you are thinking about targeting your ideal, best-paying customer before, they’re your customer, they’re really your prospect. There’s someone who hasn’t purchased from you yet, but they are, they, they, they could, and not only could they, but they’d be a great fit, they are your prospects. So they haven’t yet purchased from you yet, but you would love for them to you’d love for them to become customers. Prospects usually go through various stages or levels of awareness, meaning they go from totally unaware. They have no idea what it is that you do, what problem that you solve, what other options are out there in the market.
And from that unaware stage, they go from completely unaware to now I’m problem aware, and now I want to solve that problem. So I’m going to look for solutions. Now, solution aware to product aware, I’m aware of your product specifications, and now that I’m aware, love your product. I’m also just generally aware of everything that you do, the different pricing plans that you offer, the different ways that I can engage with your brand industry or brand in general. So that awareness, this is called the five levels of awareness or the five stages of awareness was actually coined by someone else. I think I’m Eugene Schwartz. If I’m not mistaken, it’s one that I, it’s an awareness model that I reference often, especially if you’ve ever seen these speeds, but this awareness model, those levels of awareness is there exactly what your prospect goes through when they decide that they want to solve this problem.
Then of course they start looking for solutions, but the reason why this has an impact on how quickly you’ll see results from marketing is abuse. Just because if the vast majority of your market is unaware, not just of your brand, that’s, that’s pretty obvious. Of course, they haven’t purchased from us yet. Haven’t heard of us yet, but the other consideration here is, but are they even looking at for solution to the problem in the first place? Are they blissfully unaware of the problem or are they aware of the problem, but there’s maybe competitors or competitive solutions that have varying degrees of solving that for them, if they’re extremely pain aware and they know that the pain exists and also, so they are motivated enough to actually solve for it, then it’s very likely that you’ll see results a little bit faster in that scenario.
This is why choosing the right customer or segment is so critical. You don’t want to waste your time on people. In theory, at least you are completely unaware of the pain. There are not enough budgeting dollars marketing dollars on the planet to force an entire swath of people to suddenly care about solving the pain. Ideally, you’d focus on the people who already experienced the pain and need to ultimately just get introduced to your brand and your solution and convince them that you are the best solution. And from there convert them into a paying customer. There are very rare situations, especially in the SAAS world, and also the startup world. Very rare situations where you would focus all of your marketing and go-to-market efforts on a completely oblivious, unaware audience. It’s very rare. The reason why I say it’s rare is that there are some products and tools out there that do something that is incredibly, extremely different than anything that’s ever been done before.
And in that case, yes, it makes sense to invest in educating a market, invest in educating and building general top, top of the funnel aware, or just really focusing on those unaware people and building marketing and, and messaging around, taking those unaware people to that problem, the aware stage like, Oh, I have a problem. I want to solve it. I want to fix it. It is a very, very, very slow journey. If you are targeting those unaware people, they have to go through all of the ups and downs of learning about this, of ultimately caring enough about, and then eventually deciding that they do want to solve this problem. They acknowledge the pain it’s there and it motivates them enough to fix it, especially after having tried other kinds of solutions. And like I said, it’s really rare to target an audience that is completely unaware.
But if, if you were then expecting the marketing journey to be longer expect, expect to see results be much more by way of the audience that you’re building, as opposed to the customers that you’re converting. So I would actually argue to you from an awareness perspective that this is really the biggest indicator of how fast you will see results from marketing. And the reason why is because, at the end of the day, the results really come from the people that we want to turn into customers. So if we’re expecting revenue, if we’re expecting trials or demo requests or whatever that action is that indicates growth. And then of course that someone’s actually interested in buying our software or try and get at least then how aware that customer is of their pain and how motivated they are to solve it. That’s ultimately going to be the biggest driver of if we see those kinds of results or not.
And also if we do, how fast does it happen and what is the overall volume of that ultimate KPI or whether that’s, you know, again, the free trial demo, et cetera. You’ll also notice that there’s, in some ways, not as much control as you might think, that you have over what that ultimate awareness level is of that prospect of that best-paying customer segment or whatever that is. There’s actually a lot of debate on do marketing departments truly generate demand, meaning they take someone who has no demand and turn them into someone who does or are they really just meeting that prospect? Halfway? The demand was already there. They are really just creating a very fast back channel to that prospect who already had the demand. They already had it. They just didn’t know that the supply was there for them. So there’s a lot of debate on if that exists or not.
And it really impacts the way that you think about marketing at the end of the day, is marketing something that convinces people that they have a problem, or is it something that really meets them halfway when they acknowledge that they already do have a problem? And it says, Oh, did you know there are solutions? Did you know that our product exists? Here are all of our pricing plans. Here’s everything you need to know about our product to consider it, to solve your problem, lots of debate here. And one I won’t get into and at least in this podcast cause it would, it would not only is it very, very philosophical about what is the ultimate role and purpose of marketing, but yeah, we just wouldn’t have the time, but that said, this is easy. One of the biggest questions to think about when it comes to your product and when it comes to your marketing and the ultimate market that you are serving and the various customer segments that you could serve, those various customer segments in the market.
So let’s say you’ve got software and you’re targeting universities high schools and something else like maybe non-profits each of those customer segments are going to have various degrees of just general awareness when it comes to solving that problem. In more, if we take this a step further, we also get into what sales cycles look like. So is it your product for your particular customer segment and your market? Is that a product that is generally sold really fast? Meaning you can technically go through the problem solution, product awareness phases extremely fast. Maybe it happens in a day or just a few hours, or is it a much more traditional sales cycle where maybe it takes months to close a deal? It really varies from product to product pricing has a huge impact on this as well. And then of course your market, how fast did they move?
How fast do they make decisions? How many people are involved in decision-making, all of these things have an impact on again, how likely are you actually to see results from marketing to not the likelihood of them much more than the speed. I don’t want to indicate that marketing doesn’t ultimately get results. Of course, it does. Otherwise, it would not be as big of a deal as it is today. I wouldn’t be talking about it. Right. but it really comes down to two. If the sales cycle is slower than the speed upon which marketing is able to bring this up, coats generate results also just really comes down to, well, how fast do people make? And therefore, what does the marketing cycle look like at that point? And what is the speed upon which that happens? And then of course, what is, what is the ultimate KPI or result that we should reasonably expect from that point?
So just to recap, if you’re talking, the audience is not searching for a solution to their pain, then naturally we have a longer journey. And oftentimes there’s just a greater investment that you’ll need to make in, go to market, let alone marketing. So again, if your target audience, if there’s not looking for any solutions, they’re completely unaware, it’s going to take longer to, I see that pure revenue related result and at the same exact time, you’re probably right. And I have to make a much more substantial investment in marketing in order to see the results that you want to see. And when I say the result, I really do mean that pain customer at the end of the day, the other indication here is that if your market is truly unaware, then you’re probably going to have to make investments, not just in marketing, but across the board.
And this is true really for any business, but you’re not, it’s not just going to be like Oh, we depend on a hundred percent on marketing. It’s also going to be, well, you’re going to have to depend probably on sales in some kind of way or end also maybe on product kind of way and so on and so forth across all the different investments. If the target audience Lance is actively searching for solutions to their pain, but they aren’t, but there aren’t very many competitors or maybe there are that many great alternatives. Then we actually probably see results really fast from marketing. And this is where we can get into that two to three months range, just depending again, on if that target audience, if that prospect is searching for a solution. And if this is actually a very quick, easy decision for that prospect to make, it’s really rare when this happens, but when it does happen, it’s actually really awesome.
So personally and all of the products and SAAS companies that I’ve, that I’ve ever worked with, and this is just, this is me working across gosh, dozens now, dozens of SAAS companies all over the world, many different markets, many different models, many different just overall customer types and customer verticals. This is across the board B to B, B to C doesn’t matter. There’s only one company I’ve ever worked with where all I had to do was turn on a channel and it was instant. Just one, there’s only been one company out of maybe the, let’s see, 30 to 40 that I’ve worked with, where it was almost instantaneous. We were seeing results within a very short amount of time and not just we’re getting trials and signups, but we’re actually getting paying customers. And it was as easy and as simple as turning on just one channel and implementing a few marketing best practices, it was great.
It was wonderful. This is actually a case study on my website today. But this is extremely rare as well. And part of this is just because of where we were in the market. There weren’t that many, there were no competitors and the alternatives sucked this market, for the most part, was it truly was a blue ocean and it was an open Greenfield for us to come in and scoop up the market. So the first two scenarios are rare. One, I would say, you definitely need greater investment. If the audience again is completely unaware. And then the second one is also awesome, except it again, you really do have to be the best solution that is such a no-brainer for people to choose. And also this gets easier, even easier when the alternatives aren’t that great. And then of course there are no competitors, if any, at all, again, rare, but pretty dope whenever, whenever it does happen.
And then the, and again, have the third piece to, this is if the target audience is actively searching for solutions to their pain, but they’re actually are some pretty good competitors or great alternatives. Maybe there aren’t specific competitors per se, but the alternative is actually still pretty good. And people for the most part will deal with it and live with it. For example, believe it or not, many people, many companies, I should say, really compete with Excel and Excel. I hate to say it, but for, for many folks, it does the job just fine. This is where it’s only faster. It’s only faster than maybe if that audience wasn’t searching for a solution to their pain at all. So for example, we’re, we’re technically solving for people who are problem aware, but they’re not necessarily as motivated or they’re actually pretty well-served by others, other co-market competitors, and maybe even other alternatives in your space, but it still might be, of course, the growth here, or at least the potential for marketing to deliver results.
It still might be a little bit slower than if there weren’t any competitors at all. And this is where it really does come down to, I hate to say it, but part of market fit and it really just comes down to, so is your, is your product truly different? Veteran’s special than w at least some of the others for at least one customer segment doesn’t have to be better and different and special for everyone, but at least for one customer segment, this would have to be the case in order for you to see true results from, but also this could make the job of marketing much more. I don’t want to say harder. It’s just that you’ve got to really think about your marketing strategy at this point. And so your ability to strategically maneuver in the market and position your product well, and make sure that you’ve got a really well-converting website everything from the first experience with a brand all the way down to that very last touchpoint where they’re actually converting and becoming a paying customer, that journey needs to be pretty simple.
And especially if there aren’t any other competitors, this is, definitely I would say an a slightly easier journey. If there are competitors, though, then we have to make sure that marketing ultimately gets the resources that it needs to do a really good, effective job. You’ll probably have to invest a little bit more in marketing in this scenario. Maybe, maybe less so than if you were again, targeting a totally unaware segment or totally unaware prospects, but it still needs to be enough in order to start seeing results from here. Again, I will put this in the middle. So this is probably isn’t going to be super-duper fast, but it’s also probably won’t take you years to see yours in this scenario unless of course your sales cycle just is a very complex or very high touch sales cycle.
So this is kind of where, again, it depends, but I would still put all of this into that three to six-month range again, unless your sales cycle takes longer than six months, for whatever reason, the second question that we’re going to unpack, which is what is your ultimate starting point? Okay, what this means is what are you starting with when it comes to marketing? I think that my business advisor, my coach, his name is Charlie. Something that Charlie and I talked about recently was what is our ultimate marketing baseline? What is their ultimate marketing foundation? And there were really three that he described that I thought were brilliant. And so I’m sharing it with you now, but there were really three main starting points when it came to marketing.
And just what, what that ultimate baseline was that they were coming to me with. And those three are, we’re either going from nothing marketing-wise to something, meaning we’re implementing something marketing related, then there’s, we’ve got bad marketing and we’re trying to get to good marketing. So maybe we’re doing some things marketing-wise, but it’s not necessarily very well done, or it’s not generating those results that we would like to see. And then, of course, there’s, we’ve actually got really good marketing, but we’re trying to get it to that next level of great marketing.
This starting point has a lot to do again with how quickly will you see results? How long does it take to see results from marketing? One of those inputs of information is okay, but what are you, what are you starting with? So if we’re starting with nothing, for example, this means that maybe, maybe we don’t even have a marketing website. Although I find this is rare nowadays, sometimes there is a marketing website, but it’s not necessarily focused on any one particular customer segment. Maybe it doesn’t do the best job of communicating about the product at all, or if it does, it doesn’t really, it doesn’t really do a whole lot for me in terms of helping me make a decision about if it’s really going to solve my problem. And if it’s actually better than some of the other solutions I’ve already done research on. And then of course we get into, are we running any kind of paid acquisition?
Are we doing any kind of content marketing? Is our strategy, mostly inbound versus outbound? Are there other parts of the business that we need to just make sure that we’re able to understand and measure? Are we measuring anything? Do we have any marketing tools at all? So this is kind of where it gets into the space of, do we have any kind of marketing foundation nine times out of 10 there are varying degrees of this is not definitely not like a black and white situation, but this is another indicator of, okay, if we’re going from nothing to something, then we need to make sure that we spend some time investing in implementing something. And sometimes the ultimate marketing result is, well, we went from nothing to something and that based off of the time and the investments that we made that was still a, a worthy experience to do, because it doesn’t necessarily make sense to, as, as you’ve heard me probably described in a number of talks and podcasts episodes, and then in speaking engagements, it, it doesn’t make sense to invest a ton into, let’s say a paid acquisition channel when we don’t even know if our website performs.
So why would we make an investment into something we can’t ultimately measure? It’s just doesn’t make any sense. So if we, if we’re starting with nothing and we’re trying to go from nothing to something, then the marketing results that we should expect, probably aren’t going to be this like two X or three X, you know, in number of free trials, it’s probably going to be closer to, Oh, well, we don’t have this, we don’t have this and we don’t have this. We need to implement those things. And boom, that’s your very first marketing result. It’s not necessarily always a quantitative result. Sometimes it’s a qualitative one. It’s a, it’s a strategic one. And it says a strategic investor. So this effort is a huge investment, but it’s something that sometimes we overlook as founders. And we, we expect to see marketing triple or, you know, 10 X something in a very short amount of time.
What the reality is that if we haven’t even started with the very basic foundation aspects of marketing, then necessarily going to know where that two X or three X or even 10 X is going to come from anyway because we haven’t actually set any kind of baseline. We don’t even know-how, in theory, at least if we truly have nothing, then we probably don’t know how anything performs for us, where any of our customers are coming in from who our customers even are. And if we’re doing, doing a good enough job of converting them, and that’s something that, again, if we’re going from nothing to something, we have to establish those baselines, the second starting point is we’ve got bad marketing and we need to get, we need to make it, you know, good marketing. And this one, this one, okay. Again, it’s, it’s, it’s not quite so black and white.
There are definitely shades of gray here, but maybe we’re firing on some cylinders, meaning maybe we’re running some paid acquisition, or maybe we’re doing really basic analytics. Maybe we’ve also got some content creation going on where someone’s doing something someone’s producing blog posts the week. But all of this effort, it’s not necessarily generating the greatest results that we can very confidently see, and that we are competent in this could also relate to positioning and messaging. This could also be that we’re focusing on the wrong customer segment entirely, or we’re not really doing the best job of speaking to them at all. Maybe we have some funnels going on, but none of those aren’t necessarily converting as well as they should also be that we’re not even really measuring them. So again, this is kind of bad marketing, turning, not into good marketing, and the results here when it comes to how fast can you see results at this stage?
If this is your starting point, then we can actually, we can, I usually see results relatively fast. You’re probably already seeing some results, but to improve those results, it really depends on the investment we need to make if especially if the marketing that we’ve and doing hasn’t ever been good. And also if we’re missing certain kinds of marketing, usually we can, you see results again, in that, that three to six months, it’s a combination of turning a few knobs and maybe making a few various strategic investments and doing some heavy lifting in some areas and others, very small iterations, and tweaks. It’s the combination of all the above. Sometimes again, depending on some of the other factors here, it does take longer to see results if you’re going from bad to good, but just because we might peel back the layers and find that, Oh man, you’ve really got to invest in organic search, or you really got to invest in inbound marketing, SEO, content, marketing, you know, all that wonderful stuff.
And the reality is that depending on the investment suggested or made, that’s not necessarily something that you’ll see results instantly from, unless of course you combine it, you combine it with something else, but in those scenarios, that’s where it’s kind of like, okay, yeah, it might take, you know, much longer than three to six months to start seeing some results based off of that kind of investment. There’s usually more than just one opportunity to identify is really what I’m saying here. Finally, we go from good to great. And this one, this one is one of the more nebulous ones. And again, this is part of, this is a self-fulfilling prophecy because the businesses that I work with very rarely have good marketing, usually, it’s, we’ve got absolutely nothing or it’s, we’ve got stuff, but it’s not, it’s definitely not good. Maybe he even kind of bad.
It’s very rare that I work with personally a business that is doing good marketing, and they’re trying to go from good to great. Now I will say that I just joined the board of MAs. So this is probably one of the few previous in-house roles now that I’m thinking about it, that did have really good marketing. But when I, when I think about going from good to great, this is where this is probably the longest path when it comes to seeing marketing results. There’s usually a combination of really small investments that you can make when it comes to going from good to great. But usually, greatness is something that is molded and evolved over long periods of time. So for example Arby’s burger King brands like that, that come to mind,, they probably have always been considered great in some ways.
But when I think about what they’ve done from a social media perspective, what they’ve done from just a customer messaging and brand identity and tone perspective, I actually feel like they, they were already really good. They were already great even, but they went into this space of excellence that was really satisfying to watch, but that didn’t happen overnight. That was something that transformed and evolved. And they’ve invested in for years, not saying that this is true for SAS companies, per se. It’s very likely that we can go from, you know, pretty good marketing to pretty fricking great marketing, but this is something that likely doesn’t happen overnight. Probably not even in like three to six months. And it’s probably something that is it’s, it’s a very long-term investment and it happens over quite a bit of time. And it is something that needs to be visibly and recognizably experienced by the customer audience.
It’s also very likely that maybe you’ve got many different customer segments. You are actively targeting acquiring, but maybe a few of those are only great the rest, however, not so great. And it’s really just a matter of really focusing on, well, how can we improve the acquisition of these different customer segments for this particular product or this particular part of the market? So this is kind of where it’s much more nuanced and therefore, or likely takes a long time to really start seeing the result of it. That again, though, very rare, the good to great again, it’s in that nuance, it’s likely in a combination of both short-term and long-term investments, but especially on the longterm, the next question to unpack has everything to do you with resources. What are the resources that are currently available to you today? It depends on the budget that you have.
How much do you have available to spend on marketing every single month? What or who are the people involved in leveraging or building or investing in marketing? So, yeah. Is it just you the founder, or is it you and a team of marketers, of writers, of contractors, of employees, or whoever, or that is, and then we get down into tools. Are we, do we have the right tools? Are we investing in the right tools? Generally speaking, when it comes to, I think for results from marketing, if you’ve got less than a thousand dollars to spend per month in marketing, then the results that you’re going to see or expect probably shouldn’t be super substantial for, for, for some time, maybe even longer than that six months. And the reason why is just because if you don’t have a huge budget and again, I’m going to, I’m drawing a triangle, but if you can imagine with me a triangle at the top, we’ve got the scope on one corner and we’ve got time.
And on another corner, we’ve got budget, it’s called the iron triangle and it’s of scope time and budget. If we don’t have a whole lot of time budget. And if we don’t have a whole lot of time, so maybe it’s just us as founders, then our scope is probably going to have to be relatively minimal, which means that the results that we’re going to see from any kind of marketing investment, if that’s our investment, then we likely can expect a huge scope here. We also probably can’t really expect correct big overwhelming results when it comes to marketing. Are there rare cases here? Yes. But if one of those corners frees up a little bit, so let’s say we actually do have, we actually have all the time in the world, but we don’t really have a whole lot of budget. There’s nothing we have investments that we can make now.
So if we have time, well, we can invest in content marketing or we can invest in something, whatever that one thing is that is most likely to generate the positive result for us based off of our market, based off of our product and the general awareness of our customers. It’s very possible for us to actually see results in that three to six months. But again, results should be tempered here with the, that is probably not necessarily going to be exponential increments or let’s, let’s even say that two X or that three X and growth like that kind of mindset. It’s probably going to be much more like percentage lifts, which is absolutely fine because if, again, if you’ve got a very limited scope time and budget if your iron triangle is a little bit on the more modest side, then, okay, that’s okay. Let’s focus on results that are also a little bit more modest and that’s okay.
And healthy and normal happens all the time. I’ve experienced it, founders. I know I’ve experienced it sometimes. That’s just what you have to focus on. You have to focus on those percentage lifts as opposed to yeah. These you know, multiplier, Xs, and growth. However, let’s say we actually have a pretty substantial budget, or maybe we have both quite a bit of time and budget to invest in marketing ourselves cope naturally can expand. It can handle more activity. It means that we can likely just execute and do more things. This also means that the more that we’re able to do in theory, at least the more that we’re able to learn, which also again, just fuels our growth experiments. It fuels us, how we think about marketing and it just, it just continues to expand and learn and grow from there. Sometimes I ex I think about marketing almost like an algorithm, except its one that we’re building in real-time in real life, all an algorithm is, is it’s really just a pattern of behaviors that achieve the same desired result, you know, more or less every single time except behaviors might change.
Especially if we’re thinking about machine learning, where the algorithm suddenly learns, and it gets a new piece of information or to produce the desired outcome. It’s the same thing with marketing. We’re really just building get in real life. And we’re constantly taking new inputs to see if we can get better at it. So if that’s the case, then we likely can see pretty succinct results or at least impressive results in that three to six-month timeframe, the degree upon which we experienced. So results. However, still depends on, well, are we starting with nothing? Are we starting with something is bad, is it good or is it already good? And we’re looking for great. And then of course it also, still ultimately depends on what is that general level of awareness that your prospect has when it comes to solving this problem? Are we able to meet them halfway?
And is that exp, is that effective enough or is it not necessarily the case? I have to invest a lot more in upfront awareness and taking them from I’m totally unaware. I have no idea that this pain exists to now. I have to convince them that they should solve it a much longer journey, right? So this is kind of where that three to six months the results might be much more qualitative might not be so quantitative might not be that three X or what have you. Again, this is why there are so many things, varying degrees in various inputs that impact how quickly we’re able to see results from marketing, the resources that you have available to you in general if you’re spending anywhere from three to five K per month on marketing in some kind of way, whether that’s content marketing, paid acquisition, working with an in-house marketer or something kind of, you can, you likely are going to see results a little bit faster than someone who’s spending, nothing at all.
That’s only with the assumption that you’re able to actually learn from what it is that you’re executing on, and you are taking those insights and you’re actually applying them to what you’re doing from a marketing perspective. It does not necessarily work in a, in a blind, in a vacuum. This is where it’s very possible to spend this kind of money on marketing and see absolutely nothing from it for years. It’s, it’s totally possible. It’s happened before I’ve seen it before. It really is only effective to have that kind of monthly budget on marketing, and also make sure that you’re able to learn from it and implement those learnings. That’s where we start seeing that iterative cycle of marketing. And then of course it gets smarter. It gets better at what it does. You’ve evolved your algorithm. You’re now better at that, right? You know, executing on this spending more than that, I would say anywhere from, let’s see, let’s say you’re spending more than six K per month spending more than that.
It, it, again, it, it increases the capacity upon which you’re able to execute and again, learn it ma it matters more when you’re able to truly learn from something and implant and those learnings. And again, continue to evolve the machine. If that last step happens, meaning maybe we’re not measuring the right thing, things, we don’t have the best analytics or attribution on what it is that we’re executing on. It could also just be that we’re, we’re doing a whole lot of stuff, but no one’s really optimizing anything or really the questioning on if we can execute something better, then it’s very possible to again, spend that much and never learn it and never get better at it. And now we’ve got bad marketing and we need to make it good marketing. So that’s the one caveat I will throw at that. But overall, however, if you’ve got a very limited scope time and budget, if you’ve got a very limited iron triangle, then the expectations from that have to align.
It’s very unrealistic to have a very limited iron triangle and expect massive amounts of growth. At least from marketing. And it’s not to say that you can’t see any growth, but there is a huge caveat to it. It might not be maybe a marketing. It’s probably something much more like maybe more sales efforts. So something that I tell founders all the time, that if you need results right now, like right, right now, and you’ve got nothing going on from a marketing perspective, then we can go from nothing to something. But if you need results right now, I always recommend sales. Even if it’s not scalable because you need it right now, right. And sales will always be faster than marketing, at least again, depending on those various levels of awareness, in theory, however, it’s usually a whole lot faster than marketing. So that’s something that I always it’s a caveat that I throw it at founders.
We’re expecting it from marketing. However, we’ve got to, if we have a very limited iron triangle, then we have to really think about what the Delta is for what kind of reasonable impact and change we can expect on behalf of what that investment is in marketing. So this is where we have to temper expectations a little bit, wrap it up when it comes to how fast we’re able to see results from marketing does also depend on that investment. Yeah. That, that resource availability that you currently have today in budget and people and time. And then of course the scope upon which we’re able to actually make investments. So what investments are those things ultimately making all of these things are connected, and it does correlate with where you’re at in your journey. A higher monthly budget doesn’t necessarily mean more results, but it certainly adds this element of speed and also how much you’re able to learn and to given time.
And then of course, if you do actually implement your learnings, you will absolutely see results faster. And then of course, in theory, more volume from here is this break apart all the time? Well, this is where the operations process. And then, of course, how able, how, how we’re able to tackle our animals, all of those things where they have a direct influence on, on the latter piece. So finally we get into the last one part of this, and this was, you know, this was already kind of, you know, kind of like a long podcast. Why don’t, I kind of know it would be, but the final piece, and this is, this is the piece that I’d actually tweeted about this recently, but it has to do with other parts of the business if they’re functioning and if they’re functioning well, there’s a very common misconception that marketing is a silo that you can make investments in marketing, you can execute on marketing and it has nothing to do with other parts of the business.
And in fact, we can, all these investments, we can do all the execution. We can do all the things when it comes to me, but we still somehow believe that we’ve put marketing in this box and it has no influence or no impact and is not directly impacted by other functions and practices. And the business in this would be, this could not be more wrong. The truth is that marketing just like, just like an engine. It is just one cylinder and your business, or at least the growth function of it is the engine marketing is just one cylinder. And do you really need all cylinders firing every single one of them, every single part of the engine needs to be firing. It needs to be firing well, and it needs to be effective. All of those things combined, ultimately tears up into that multiplier, exponential growth that we all wish that we had in our businesses.
It’s, it’s imperative to really internalize and know that marketing is not in its own vacuum and that it is not, or at least it should not be in its own silo. The reason why this impacts how we see results from marketing is because of the obvious. If we ultimately don’t have a really strong product-market fit with us with a customer segment. And I’m really speaking to those early stages, those early SAAS companies out there when it comes to this. But if we do not have a strong level of product-market fit with any given customer segment, then any amount of investment that we do on the marketing end is probably going to be awesome for generating traffic, but maybe not so awesome for generating customers. And that’s not necessarily any anyone’s fault, not pointing the finger at product over here. But what I am saying is, well, the results that we’re likely to expect is a direct impact of, well, how well does the product serve the market today?
Are we losing to competitors because of really particular features or experiences that our customers are primed and ready to receive, but we’re not quite so meeting the Mark on that, or have we been targeting the wrong person the whole time? And we need to establish a different customer segment that might have a stronger product-market fit than what we currently do today with other segments. It’s a critical consideration when it comes to thinking about how we get results from marketing and how we go to market in general because the reality is that we can do all of this work when it comes to marketing. But if we don’t have a strong product, there’s just no amount of arm polling or blindfolding or convincing that you can do to get someone to buy who doesn’t ultimately want to buy dress me, you, you, you can try to pull arms.
You can try to, you can try to, to, to push people along the path, but people are people they’re humans and they are more or less capable of making their own decisions. And if they don’t see the value, they’re just not going to purchase. There’s like I said, no amount of arm wrestling you can do to force someone to pay. But this is also where we have to get really honest with ourselves about if we’re not just ready for marketing, but we can reasonably expect any kind of results from it. Especially if we know that we don’t have a strong product and that’s, that can be really hard to hear for a lot of people out there listening and at the same exact time liberating, let that be a liberating message. If, if that’s something that you’re kind of, you’re stuck on and you’re spinning the wheels on, you know, that your product isn’t quite there yet, you know, that it’s something that based off of the segment that you want to target.
It’s just not, it’s just not, you know, meeting the mark, there are competitors in the space who are doing it much better. Give yourself permission to continue to be thinking about, okay, well, what marketing investments do we need to make? Can we at least get ready? Can we get prepared, but release that from needing results from it? I think that that’s the thing I would, I, I would want to release you from not necessarily that you can ignore marketing and you can continue to hide under a rock. Superhuman is a great example of this. They were building, I think the product for what, two to three years before they really started to push hard on the acquisition, but they were still doing marketing. In the meantime, they were still working on building an audience. They were still telling the superhuman story. They didn’t, they did not really bury themselves under a rock for, you know, maybe in the first year, but they needed to build the product for at least two to three years.
So I will say, yes, they’ll care about some marketing. Don’t, you know, don’t emerge from the, from under the rock and be like, okay, now I’m ready to compete. And you’ve done nothing because again, we’ve got more heavy lifting to do. We’ve got to go from nothing to something now. But when I will say, however, is you can at least release yourself from expecting these instantaneous large, huge swaths of results. And that’s what I think is, is the thing to release yourself a little bit from, and for no other reason than you, you know, that you might not have the strongest product-market fit if at all. And maybe you’re not meeting the Mark in many different ways, competitively speaking, or alternatively speaking, cause there’s probably maybe something else that people are using that isn’t necessarily a business. Again, this is where we have to really temper our expectations.
Not saying that marketing will ever be a huge driver here. It just probably won’t be the first hugely revenue-generating thing. Especially if we don’t have a strong product-market fit will be the product, but that said, there are other parts there’s, there are other more nuanced things. So that was the obvious one. Well, if you don’t have a really strong part of market fit, then it’s like, you know, and it doesn’t really matter what a marketer does. They’ll probably get you a whole bunch of traffic and maybe some signups, but the product’s not there. Then maybe don’t expect customers for a while or at, or at least use your efforts as a way to learn as much as possible. And sure. Generate awareness. That’s definitely something you can absolutely do. That’s an option that marketing has, but when it comes to giving marketing a revenue goal when you know, the product-market fit is not strong, doesn’t sound like a recipe for success for anybody.
That’s the obvious one, but there are more nuanced examples. It could be anything from is our product activating new users as effectively as it could be. Do we have a very low free trial to paid conversion rate? Do we actually have a really high revenue churn? These are all considerations as well to take into, well, from a marketing perspective, we really expect to be able to build an audience. And then of course, turn our audience members into paying customers. But if we know that other parts of the business aren’t necessarily functioning very well, then we also probably can’t really expect marketing to be the only torch. And the only cylinder that fires in, in that, in that makes all of this, you know, engine go probably not as realistic. And it also probably means that if that is the case, then you’re basically not saying that marketing shouldn’t have expectations, but it’s actually a really inefficient business model at that point.
There’s a lot of emphasis on that LTV to CAC ratio, for example. So for those who are new to that, that’s your lifetime value of your customer in direct ratio to the cost that it takes to acquire a paying customer. And the golden ratio is three to one. So for every, for every customer that you generate the cost to acquire them, should it be one-third of what their LTV is? So if you were to take their LTV, let’s say it was $3,000. Let’s say that a paying customer, their LTV on average is about three K. Then the cost to acquire them should in theory, be about one K. If we have a ratio that is four to one or five to one, then we’re not spending enough on marketing. If we have a ratio that is much lower than that, then we’re probably spending too much on go to market.
There are some scenarios where some investors and SAAS experts will say, even if break even. So if you’re one-to-one the constant takes to acquire a customer, the LTV is about the same. Some experts will say they continue to even do that. And we’re in focus on maximizing the LTV of the customer at that point or, and also decreasing the cost it takes to acquire that customer. That’s still, especially for the early stage. It’s actually still pretty solid advice, but if it is lower than that, then you are actively losing money. This means that we either need to figure out how to, again, increase that LTV of the customer and also decrease the cost it takes to acquire. But these are all more nuanced implications of, okay, the results that we expect from marketing. Can, can we reasonably what we’re expecting at that point, the results that we’re seeing?
So the business is not quite so operationalized or is effective or running as efficient, then the results from marketing, not that they are, you know, suddenly nil, like of course you’re going to have results and expectations from what kind of results marketing can produce, but keep in mind that it’s potentially we’ll be directly impacted by what else is happening in the business. Again, marketing is not in a silo. It never ever was, and it never will be, this is another implication of marketing is directly impacted by everything else that happens in the business and outside of, and it’s really up to the marketing team and the marketing leadership and the marketing strategy to work with what it has, and then stretch a little bit further than that just to make it challenging. But then of course, we get down again into even, even down to, from an operational perspective and a development perspective.
Are we regularly shipping new features? Are we regularly investing in the product? Are we continuing to make better? How about the signup funnel? Is it actually really hard for people to sign up into the funnel is, is our everything from our signup flow to how people create accounts to how people request a demo is that as streamlined and as effective as it possible, they can be in this case, those kinds of journeys fall under their marketing. But then they also have a direct implication on behalf of the development, our product team too, because those, those teams are naturally involved in the process. And so now marketing product development engineering, all of these departments and teams suddenly need to make decisions about what the best possible funnel code and should be. And if marketing isn’t enabled in, in that direction, bi-directionally then we also have kind of take a step back and wonder like, okay, well, if marketing doesn’t ultimately have control over the signup funnel, or if they can’t influence it in any kind of meaningful way, then what can we reasonably expect at that point in time?
This is this, and this is automatically if you felt friction just now by hearing that and listening to that good that’s, that’s exactly the kind of thinking we have to have when we’re sitting down and we’re thinking, Hmm, what kind of results can I expect from your marketing? And it’s like, yes, that’s perfect, that’s the right question to ask. But the other, question to ask is also what are some of the other things that are impacting marketing results that maybe we didn’t consider before? And these are the more nuanced things that have a direct impact on marketing results what’s reasonable to achieve. And also what is unimagined [inaudible] numbers and the results that you could potentially see what is the potential. And those numbers are exciting too, and they should be, they should be extremely exciting and they should absolutely motivate you and get you to continue to make the right investments and to really think strategically and to think critically, not just about marketing, but about the rest of the business.
And that’s the exciting part, that’s the fun part. But then also we get to be grounded in reality. And we also get to be grounded in our own baselines, our own base levels that we’ve achieved in that we are able to measure. And we’re pretty confident in those and we continue to invest in them expand over time. All right. So wrapping all this up, the questions that ultimately tear into that, well, what kind of, how fast take to see results from the marketing, and what kind of results can we see from marketing? The ultimate questions that tear up into that are, what is the general amount of awareness in your market? What’s the general amount of awareness in your market? What is the sales cycle is the average sales cycle? How long does it take to close a deal? The customer segment that we’re targeting? What’s our starting point from a marketing perspective, do we have nothing?
And we’re going to go to something, do we have bad marketing? And we need to make good marketing hate to say bad marketing. It’s usually just like, Nope, not so great. Marketing is really a, but we want to be good. Maybe we have good marketing and we want to become great. And then we get into, well, what are your resources? What’s your, what’s your iron triangle look like? What about the resources and people about tools, budget, et cetera. And then finally we get into are the other parts of the business functioning and are they functioning well, there was the obvious approach of product-market fit. If you don’t have a really strong part of market fit, it’s going to be really tough to expect just glorious, exponential results from marketing. It’s going to be tough, but if we actually do have a really strong product-market fit, then what are some of the other implications?
And this is where we get into the more nuanced approach of what is functioning in the business. And is it functioning well, the combination of all of these things in varying degrees, many different factors in each of those all again, impact what we can ultimately expect to see from marketing and the speed upon which the velocity upon which we’re able to realize those results and also marketing results, at least in the early days are often much more qualitative? And over time with the right investments, they become far more quantitative and it becomes far more obvious when things are working versus when they’re not. And to what degree are they working? I really hope that that helps. I hope that that expanded your knowledge when it comes to thinking about marketing. And then of course, when it comes to thinking about how to invest in these things, and I just really hope that that helps refine your approach when it comes to what can you reasonably expect and to, to what speed upon which you can expect. Those things, both that net multiplier, that two X at three X at 10 X versus the maybe’s a 30% lift and we’ll have to be happy with a 30% lift. And then on average, of course, we look at that three to six month Delta upon which you can reasonably expect to see marketing results and then certain implications upon which it’s shorter than that, or longer than that. And that’s, and that’s what we really unpack today.
I hope that that helps again. And I hope that if anything, it released you a little bit from feeling super under pressure if it actually had the opposite effect of getting motivated also good, so good all around.
As always thank you so much for spending this time with me to learn more about how to reach your growth goals for your SAAS business, head on over to demand maven.io. You’ll find all kinds of free resources, articles, and content. Don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t already and I’ll see you at the next one. Let me know what you think. I am always available on Twitter, @AsiaMatos. Thank you so much again and have an awesome day.