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The Difference Between B2B Marketing and B2B Growth Marketing

b2b growth marketing

The difference between B2B marketing and B2B growth marketing is anything but trivial.

On the surface, the big difference may sound superficial.

But if you dig deep, it’s actually quite profound.

Growth marketing is about engineering the kind of coveted, rapid growth that leads to billion dollar valuations and the insanely high trading multiples investors crave.

Growth marketing is not about branding or PR or thought leadership.

That’s not to say these activities aren’t useful when applied selectively to support growth at different stages of a company’s evolution.

But B2B Growth Marketers focus on customer and revenue growth.

After all, what’s the true value of a marketing qualified lead that never closes?

Or web traffic that doesn’t convert?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dismissing the value of top funnel buying signals.

Awareness, influence and brand equity still matter. I wrote the book on it.

The difference with B2B growth marketers is they gravitate to tools with closed loop reporting that can measure revenue attribution, rather than fixate on impressions and clicks.

When you can track activity back to revenue, you can test, improve and optimize based on performance.

Growth Hacking Strategy

“If you look at sales and marketing as a revenue engine or a system, it affects the way you make business decisions. You don’t make siloed decisions. You make decisions that help the system,” says sales and marketing alignment expert Jeff Davis in recent episode of his Alignment Podcast.

The basic argument is that when cross functional disciplines come together — like sales and marketing — in service of revenue growth, the outcome is always going to better, because they’re focused on company, rather than departmental growth.

For a growth marketing strategy to be successful, folks from marketing, sales and customer success have to operate as one system, and be accountable to common KPIs.

“You cannot look at data in department silos. You cannot say marketing has a handoff to sales. That is fundamentally flawed. That concept of a handoff implies a silo. Your data cannot be separate. You have to look at the entire customer life cycle,” says InsideSales.com CEO Dave Elkington.

That means everyone has to work together. “Reps are the people closest to the customer and their group knowledge around what prospects want is invaluable,” writes Outreach.io CEO Manny Medina et al in their new book Sales Engagement: How the World’s Fastest Companies are Modernizing Sales through Humanization at Scale.

It’s doesn’t matter who’s right. What matters is what’s profitable.

Growth marketers trade their ego for insights and vanity for revenue-oriented metrics. Growth marketers are less interested in things like sessions and bounce rates than they are in whether those activities generate revenue.

Data Driven Insights

The science of growth marketing is steeped in data analysis. Growth marketers measure everything and optimize their sales outreach sequences based on the data.

But in order to understand the journey their customers take from awareness to renewal and develop replicable, repeatable omni channel sequences that sales development reps can use to accelerate lead acquisition and qualification, you have to start with clean data.

“More than 80% of the people that we work with are trying to get a better understanding of their customer journey map but there are all these integration and data hygiene issues that need to be addressed first before they can even get to a place where they trust their data,” says John Wall, partner at Trust Insights, a leading predictive analytics firm.

“To be able to accurately measure today’s sophisticated marketing campaigns, you need a modern tech stack that integrates from the top of your funnel to the bottom” writes Medina.

Once you’ve got clean data, it must be maintained and that means you need to record every customer interaction and that weighs heavily into the tools that growth marketers adopt.

Tech Stacks

“Marketing Tech Stacks” refer to specific software tools b2b growth marketers integrate into one cohesive application and Medina’s book covers many of the current offerings out there, including, of course, his own Outreach.io, which has emerged the leading contender.

“But what if you aren’t seeing your retention rates and lifetime value improve as a result of those increased click-throughs? Worse, what of you can’t even know what happened beyond the click? This is why you have to bypass pure activity and top-of-funnel metrics in favor of true revenue attribution,” says Jessica Cross, a demand generation manager at a prominent high-growth AdTech company.


Matches Made on Revenue Heaven: Perfect Parings for Revenue Attribution


1. visual website optimizer + Heap Analytics
2. Segment + Customer.io
3. Outreach + Bizible
4. Marketo + Salesforce
5. Quickbooks + Revel

A contribution by Jessica Cross to the book Sales Engagement: How the World’s Fastest Growing Companies are Modernizing Sales through Humanization at Scale, Page 152

“Never choose a product that can’t truly tie to dollars earned — it’s not worth the price of admission,” says Cross.

Why Growth Matters

“Profitability is not the be all end all for startups. It might be as important — or even more important — to grow your customer base and grab market share first, while you’re still disrupting the existing market,” says Andy Sack of Lighter Capital, a revenue based financier, in his ebook The 8 SaaS Metrics that Matter: What Investors Look for When Funding Tech Companies.

And venture capitalist Sean Fanning (of Napster fame) maintains a list of product-led growth companies, including Shopify, Atlassian, Zoom, Twilio and Slack, which rely heavily on growth marketing strategies to outperform their competitors.

Fanning “continue[s] to believe that the valuation gap between public product led growth businesses and the rest of the public SaaS landscape will widen…”

Compared to his SaaS Index, gross revenues and enterprise value-to-revenue (EV/R) multiples at product-led growth (PLG) are roughly double.

And they’re not afraid to spend more (as a percentage of revenue) on sales and marketing as well as research and development to drive growth.

If you’re intrigued by the notion of adopting a growth marketing strategy as an SMB, you’re not the only one. Growth marketing is not the exclusive domain of venture backed start ups and high flying public companies

Stay tuned for more as I continue to share my research for an upcoming book I’m writing on Growth Marketing.

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