Growth marketing is often misconceived as a set of tactics when it’s much more: It is a process that startups need to put in place in their early days that will scale as their customer base and internal teams grow.
This is where British growth agency Ascendant shines, Robyn Weatherley, head of marketing at Thirdfort, let us know via our growth marketing survey. Ascendant’s consultants haven’t just helped the British legal tech startup execute growth tactics, she wrote: “They’ve helped us set up the framework to keep executing on those whether we are five, 50 or 500 people.” (If you too have growth marketers to recommend, please fill out the survey!)
“If you don’t come from a growth marketing background, you don’t know how to even frame the problem, let alone fix it. This is why so much startup marketing is tactical rather than strategic.”
We followed up on this recommendation by interviewing Ascendant co-founder Gus Ferguson and partner Alyssa Crankshaw for our ongoing series of growth marketer profiles. If you are in the U.K., you might know them from the TechLondon Slack community, or bumped into them pre-COVID at the OMN London events, the digital marketing meetups they co-organize. In the interview below, they share how they work with early-stage companies, including tactical planning and building out tools for marketers to use without taking up internal engineering resources.
Editor’s note: The interview below has been edited for length and clarity.
Can you tell us about your background and how you came to work with startups?
Gus Ferguson: I’ve been a digital marketer for the last 15 or 16 years, and in 2009, I started one of the first content marketing agencies in the U.K. We did a lot of work with big travel brands, but the problem was that in big corporates, teams are in silos, so they weren’t able to take advantage of being at the forefront of marketing.
I was based in East London and I started working with a couple of startups. It’s also around that time that I partnered up with Alyssa. But we were looking at startups being hampered by traditional marketing — because traditional marketers were bringing big corporate problems to startups, when their key strength is their nimbleness and their agility and their ability to adapt.
That’s when we started developing processes for basically building businesses from scratch — when you don’t have any historical data to base your marketing strategies on. We were saying to them: Don’t ask us for a 12-month plan, because it’s a waste of time. But because there was that mindset at the time, that’s just what people expected. So we were going in and saying: You need a broad three-month plan, maximum; then a one-month plan in detail, and ideally a two-week sprint.
What kind of clients does Ascendant work with?