How accessiBe Plans for Hypergrowth | 2022 Marketing Planning Series

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Today we’ll speak with Yan Kotliarsky, Head of Growth at accessiBe. 

AccessiBe is one of Israel’s hottest startups. The company was founded in 2018 and has since grown to over 100 employees, providing an automated, AI-powered web accessibility solution for ADA and WCAG compliance. 

Yan has been working in digital marketing for over 10 years and teaches digital marketing courses at various colleges.

Yan discusses revenue KPIs, planning, and how marketing contributes to the company’s revenue.

Here are some key takeaways from the interview:

  • Make a plan for the year, but realize that the reality may not always line up with your plans. Prepare mini plans / mini adjustments to deal with the “here and now”.
  • Aligning sales and marketing. Put sales under marketing, not as a separate department.
  • What are your strategies for balancing long-term and short-term investments? Make a conscious effort to separate long-term and short-term investments. A good investment strategy is to invest 60% long term and 40% short term.
  • Additionally, you need to tell the rest of the company how marketing contributes to revenue. Coordinate frequently with the Sales team to ensure everyone is on the same page. Talk to sales team members outside of work to get their perspective. 

1. Plan for the year, but realize that reality will not always match your plans. You need to be ready to make mini-adjustments to deal with the “here and now”.

On the one hand, you have a regular plan. The one you plan for, let’s say for next year. It has its own goals. You also have emergent plans, the plans that you need to come up with when things change. 

COVID showed that reality doesn’t listen to your plans. You can’t plan something and then execute it exactly the way you planned. You need to make sure that you’re on track.

Usually, what’s needed are mini plans or mini adjustments. Occasionally, a major adjustment is needed. COVID, for instance, was a big change. Suppose you plan for 2022, and then you get a big round of funding you didn’t expect. You knew it was possible, but you had no idea when it would happen, and then it did.

You might adjust your plans if you suddenly have more money or if you lose a big client that you weren’t expecting to lose. All of the numbers in an Excel sheet are correct, but reality doesn’t listen to spreadsheets. You have your major plan – the one that sets the goal – and then you have the mini-plans that you need to make in order to accomplish that goal. 

2. Aligning Sales and Marketing – Have Sales under Marketing and not as a separate department.

Personally, I look at it differently. Sales should be under marketing. It shouldn’t be a separate department. 

An e-commerce shop’s salesperson is its website. Usually, marketing is in charge of the website. Marketing is responsible for optimizing the website, the messaging on the website, and conversion rate optimization. Marketing is responsible for these things, which are essentially sales tools. Why not make marketing responsible for the physical sales tools – the people? By doing so, you can ensure that messaging is consistent. Everyone will say the same thing. The same thing is being sold. There is no miscommunication. 

However, in many organizations, because sales can show income, they become a strong force in the company. The sales department becomes the driving force of the company, while the marketing department supports the sales department.

In this situation, there is no long-term growth. There is only short-term growth.

Sales VS marketing

It’s like saying that Google search is the sales team and any other channel that supports the growth of a brand is marketing. Eventually, the sales team will say – we don’t have enough leads, we don’t have qualified leads. Marketing is to blame. TheMarketing says that’s not how marketing works.We don’t have a remote controller that we open for more leads and close for less leads.

A CRO is a unique position that sits above marketing and sales, and his role is to care about revenue. However, he needs to understand that the investment needs to be in future revenue, not in current revenue. Most companies invest in what I call “now revenue”. 

They do not invest in future revenues. At some point, there will be a plateau. You have a rise in income, everything appears to be going well. Suddenly, you see a straight line. It seems to be a small decline one month, then another, then another. 

Then you have a half-year of straight line income, and you don’t understand why. You start optimizing the wrong things again. So, if you have a CRO, make sure he is looking at both long-term and short-term, because you need money now, but it must be invested for the long-term.

3. What are your strategies for balancing long-term and short-term investments?

Less Binet and Peter Field wrote a famous book. It’s called The Long and the Short of It.

In their study, they demonstrate that the golden balance between long-term and short-term is 60-40, in favor of long-term. In other words, if you have $100, you should invest $60 in the long term and 40% in the short term. It’s not a magic formula. All companies don’t follow the same exact formula, and it all depends on the stage of the business. You need to make sure you have a clear distinction between short-term and long-term goals. 

In addition, you should know what short-term and long-term are. In our case, for instance, Google search is a short-term step. For other companies, it might be LinkedIn or Facebook. 

We must first understand what is short-term and what is long-term and how to invest there and how you measure it, as well as how long to invest. People often think of the long term as three months. As a matter of fact, if you don’t do the same thing for at least six months, it won’t have any impact.

4. Marketing’s contribution to revenue should also be communicated to the rest of the company. How can you do this? 

We review our Campaign reports:

  • We spent X dollars. 
  • How many demo schedules did we get? 
  • Number of accounts opened.
  • Shown demos
  • The number of website owners it brought

We have those generic KPIs. They show us how efficiently we spend our money. A monthly meeting with the sales team summarizes all the activities we did in the previous month and what we are planning for the upcoming month. Members of the marketing team also meet weekly with the sales team. As a result, sales and marketing are always in synergy.

There is never a division between us. We don’t meet every quarter and are surprised by who we see or what we do. While it sounds funny, we play ping pong in the office, and I always make sure to speak with someone from the sales team. 

I don’t do it at random. When I choose people to play with, I can ask them what they’re doing, what happened and what they heard during the game.

Take them out of the working area. Then we can start talking. Essentially, it’s market research, but for us it’s sales research. This keeps us aligned. Everyone knows what everyone is doing, and we know the goals of the projects they are working on.

Takeaways

We picked up a few gems from our conversation with Yan Kotliarsky. His idea of getting sales people out of their work zone and talking about their day-to-day challenges can be applied to most companies. The fact that the sales team is totally under the marketing team is also very unique.


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