Ready to sprint ahead with serious progress against the growth goals that your company needs to hit to meet investors’ sky-high expectations?
Then you are ready for the 90-day growth marketing sprint.
Structuring a 90-day sprint for a fractional Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is a collaborative process between company leadership and the fCMO.
The fractional CMO drives the planning process and takes the lead on incorporating everyone’s best ideas into a workable and realistic plan with clear OKRs. The fractional CMO also conducts customer, industry and competitive research and reviews existing campaign research as a means of providing a data foundation to the goals that are set.
The 90 day sprint involves setting clear objectives, defining key initiatives, and implementing actionable strategies to drive marketing success within a relatively short time frame.
No one size fits all. But the 90 day sprint will fit 90% of situations.
The Stages of the 90-Day Campaign Launch Sprint
A fractional CMO constructs a 90 day growth marketing sprint to generate growth in awareness, traffic, leads and conversions.
The idea is to have a period of time that allows for a complete cycle of planning, implementation and reflection. This way, the company knows it has given the strategy proper time to show what results it will bear and how they might meet or not meet expectations and why.
It is a common goal to dial up a new channel for potential awareness and leads. Sometimes the company is looking to extend success from one channel into another.
An example would be a software company that has had success gathering
The Stages of the 90-Day Growth Sprint
The sprint is led by the fractional CMO in tandem with your employees, leadership, sales team, vendors, agencies and customers. The fractional CMO is also the final “owner” of the success (or failure) of both implementation and results, so the fCMO has broad authority to drive activity efficiently.
A fully-featured 90 day growth marketing sprint has 5 distinct phases:
- Research and goal setting
Key questions: Where are we today? Where do we need to be in 90 days? Can we accurately measure success?
- Strategy development and approval
Key questions: Where will we be at the end of the sprint? Do we have the resources in place to support the plan?
- Campaign buildout and launch
Key questions: Can we launch efficiently according to best practices for each channel that we dial up? How can we best utilize the existing internal team, vendors, freelancers and outside helpers to make it happen best?
- Optimize and refine campaign
Key questions: What is working best and how can we focus campaign budgets on that activity? Where are there frictions, technical issues or creative problems that are hampering the effectiveness of the whole customer journey? Are we on track with OKRs and key growth metrics? Where are there needed inputs of resources, budget or strategy that could be added to maximize results?
- Review and plan for next cycle
Key questions: Did we meet or exceed the OKRs? What did we learn in this cycle that will help us grow more rapidly ahead? Did everyone perform their role and have the support they needed along the way? What is the best estimation for possible growth ahead in the next quarter, since each quarter’s results always have room for improvement in many ways?
Everyone wants the campaign to launch and begin bearing fruit in recurring revenue, happy customers and happy sales cycles as quickly as possible.
The best way to be sure everything happens on time and is produced on time is to stick to the 90 day cycle of growth marketing. Every possible data connection must be made so every moving part of the marketing campaigns can be tracked and used by machine learning, automation and AI.
To get you started, here’s a suggested framework to help. You will see how the five phases of the sprint shown above lay out into weeks and months:
Weeks 1-2: Assessment, Goal Setting, Analytics
Begin your sprint with planning for the plan. Job number one is to answer the question: where are we right now?
The first phase is for your fractional CMO to get an accurate GPS reading on exactly where your company stands in the market today. Who are the competitors and how are they distinct from yours? Are you pioneering a market, or entering a crowded one? What are your frictions and issues?
If you don’t know where you are, you certainly won’t know how to get where you are going.
This includes making doubly sure that your analytics are in place and are collecting accurate data. If you do not have accuracy in your attribution data, it will be hard for a fractional CMO to rely on it as a source of truth and guidance for the future.
Here in stage 1, it is important to establish a benchmark (or benchmarks) of your current flow in traffic, online authority, lead flow, conversion and more so you can measure progress against that baseline result. This is also true for your competitors in your B2B industry: how well (or not) are they doing today and why?
- Conduct Company, Competitor and Market Analysis:
- Conduct a thorough analysis of the company’s current marketing strategies, existing campaigns, and market positioning.
- Understand the unique beachheads your company holds: products and services in which you are the clear leader. How well is this distinction communicated?
- Evaluate relevant competitors and industry trends to identify opportunities and challenges.
- Consider overall economic trends and events that might be temporarily or permanently sending the market in a new direction.
- Stage Stakeholder Meetings:
- Meet with key stakeholders, including executives, sales teams, and customer support, to gather insights into their perspectives and expectations
- Interview key customers to learn what value you bring to their work and how your company has made a difference.
- Review vendor relationships with key account participants to gather feedback on low-hanging fruit, budgets and key frictions.
- Check All Analytics and Attribution Wiring:
- Review all integrations, APIs and pixels to make sure everything is firing correctly
- Conduct “secret shopping” to test forms, phone numbers, buttons and links
- If not already in place, build a real-time dashboard that takes into account all vital growth metrics.
The second half of this stage is to answer the question: what growth do we need?
- Establish Preliminary OKRs:
- Establish Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) based on the assessment findings and stakeholder input. OKRs make it clear to everyone what must be accomplished and helps focus everyone’s roles on the final result to be won, in both the planning and the implementation phase.
Once this work is complete, the fractional CMO is well-equipped to provide a strategic recommendation of where to go next and how quickly to go.
Weeks 3-4: Strategy Development
Stage two is all about figuring out where to go and how best to launch into getting there. If you don’t know where you are headed, you certainly won’t get there!
The fractional CMO helps determine the destination(s) so you can set milestones together to check along the way. That way, you’ll know if you are on the right path while on the road, or – as happens 95% of the time – you’ll know if you need to shift course, pivot, put more gas on the fire, or find another path altogether.
- Marketing Strategy Development:
- The fractional CMO creates a comprehensive marketing strategy aligned with the company’s overall business objectives.
- fCMO identifies the key target audiences, value propositions, and positioning strategies.
- Fractional CMO outlines key differentiators, pain points, aspirations and fears for the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and any related personas.
- Channel and Campaign Planning:
- Select marketing channels based on the target audience and business goals.
- Plan specific campaigns and initiatives for the 90-day sprint.
- Month 2 will involve launch and optimization
- Month 3 will later involve final optimization and measurement for next steps
- Budget Allocation:
- Determine budget allocations for each channel and campaign. Ensure an optimal distribution to maximize ROI.
- Knowing the desired outcomes allows the fCMO to anticipate how to allocate budget, time, and people power to areas that will contribute most to achieving the OKRs as defined.
- Finalize Analytics and Attribution:
- The live real-time data growth metric dashboard should also now be live as well. Common items to see are: campaign results and ROAS, top keywords, conversion stats, Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) and more.
- Finalize OKRs:
- Whether you call them SMART goals, KPIs, rocks or something else, now is the time to finalize these expectations for the next 70-75 days. Establish your Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) based on the assessment findings, stakeholder input, data research and planning results. It is common to revise the preliminary OKRs at this point to make sure they reflect reality and not “wishful thinking.”
- OKRs make it clear to everyone what must be accomplished and helps focus everyone’s roles on the final result to be won, in both the planning and the implementation phase.
- Report in to Stakeholders to Get Buy In
- This period is a great time to plan a quick internal presentation for the fractional CMO to deliver.
- The fractional CMO presentation sums up the findings from the research stage as well as the fruit of the planning stage. Investors, VCs, employees, other leadership… everyone likes to see a well-crafted, highly-researched, thoughtful plan that charts a course to the exact growth target that’s wanted.
- Everybody should have their role well-thought out by now and know how they will contribute personally to the OKRs.
With a data-driven plan in hand, the next 30-60 days will be full of action and reflection for everyone on the team.
Let’s take a look at stage three, when “the rubber hits the road” and growth begins to happen.
Weeks 5-7: Launch, Implementation and Execution
By stage three, everyone should know what to do, how to do it, and when it need to be done by.
The challenge now is to get off to the best possible running start. How will the growth rocket leave the launch pad efficiently and safely?
- Campaign Launch:
- Roll out planned marketing campaigns across selected channels.
- Monitor and optimize campaigns based on real-time performance data
- Content Creation:
- Develop engaging and relevant content aligned with the marketing strategy. This includes blog posts, social media content, and promotional materials.
- Performance Monitoring:
- Implement tools and systems for real-time monitoring of campaign performance.
- Set up KPIs and dashboards to track progress against goals.
If your company’s objectives are crystal clear, specific and aligned with the overall goals of the organization, the launch comes much easier.
Many companies rely on Asana project management and other project management tools to help ensure success in the implementation stage. Even better, winning strategies and tactical rollouts can be saved as templates and reused for future campaigns.
Weeks 8-9: Optimization and Refinement
Three key principles create a solid foundation for successful plan execution:
- Clarity of objectives
- Effective communication
With this in mind, the team is already set up to move fast, test rapidly and drive growth quickly and efficiently. If they are asking the right questions and looking for frictions to repair, you will be rewarded with deep insights and quick, small pivots that will make a big difference in your growth rate.
The real-time data dashboard is your friend in this endeavor. It must have the insight needed to guide the team accurately, but not overwhelm stakeholders with data points and charts that don’t really make a difference. You want the team to stay focused on the right things and to keep going for those big win insights.
- Data & Attribution Analysis:
- Analyze data from the ongoing campaigns to identify areas for improvement.
- Refine targeting, messaging, and creative elements based on performance metrics.
- A/B Testing:
- Conduct A/B testing on various elements of campaigns to optimize for better results.
- Test different ad creatives, landing page designs, and messaging.
- Iterative Approach to Rapid Improvement:
- Make sure your marketing apparatus allows for a continuous measurement and improvement cycle. Lessons learned from one campaign can inform the setting of more effective goals for subsequent campaigns – as well as other channels.
- Humble curiosity and experimentation is key to success in moving rapidly to build the best campaigns.
- Customer Feedback:
- Gather and analyze customer feedback through surveys, reviews, and direct interactions.
- Use feedback to make adjustments to campaigns and strategies.
It is always best to keep an eye on analytics and do occasional tests of every landing page and clickable element in your website and customer funnels. Pixels tend to fail and embed codes tend to break… so beware and be aware!
Weeks 10-12: Reporting and Planning for the Next Sprint
Growth marketing emphasizes rapid experimentation and iterations to find the most effective strategies. It is thus doubly important to spend time reflecting on the results gained versus expectations and where there is room for celebration and improvement.
This is the beauty of the 90-day sprint: it provides a structured framework for setting short-term goals, implementing experiments, and quickly adapting based on results. Six months is more time than is needed to know if you are headed the right way. One month is way too short to know.
- Performance Review:
- Conduct a comprehensive performance review, comparing actual results against set goals.
- Identify successful strategies and areas for improvement.
- Report Generation & Results Presentation:
- Prepare detailed reports for stakeholders, summarizing the outcomes of the 90-day sprint.
- Include insights, key learnings, and recommendations for future marketing efforts.
- Next Sprint Planning:
- Based on the performance review, collaborate with stakeholders to plan the next 90-day sprint.
- Adjust goals, strategies, and campaigns based on evolving business needs.
- Training and Knowledge Transfer:
- If applicable, provide training to internal teams on successful strategies and tools implemented during the sprint.
- Facilitate knowledge transfer to ensure continuity in marketing efforts.
Ongoing: Continuous Improvement
The best part about working on growth marketing is that there is never – ever! – an end to the optimization and testing that can be done to make it better. Even the best campaign will eventually get stale as the markets move around you, so keeping it fresh and always thinking about improvements is vital.
The key to successful growth marketing is for the fractional CMO to model and cultivate these attitudes among your team. I call it a CHAMP Mentality:
- Curiosity: how can we do this better than we have before?
- Humility: how can I personally get better so we can all be better?
- Apples and oranges: how can we compare and contrast with the most pertinent comparisons?
- Measure everything: how can we measure and test even more?
- Pinpoint winners and losers: where are the best and worst campaigns, and what is driving their results?
Here are some successful strategies to make sure your team is set up well to benefit from continuous improvement:
- Iterative Optimization:
- Implement a culture of continuous improvement, making ongoing adjustments to marketing strategies based on data, market changes, and business feedback.
- Regular Check-ins:
- Schedule regular check-ins with key stakeholders to keep them informed about marketing progress and solicit input.
- A typical cadence for meetings might be:
- daily check-ins and Slacks with team members
- a weekly standup meeting for all hands
- a weekly reporting session for the fCMO and the founder
- a monthly level-setting meeting for all hands
- individual working sessions and corrective meetings as required
- Stay Informed:
- Stay informed about industry trends, competitor activities, and emerging marketing technologies to adapt strategies accordingly.
- Consider what trends can be added to the live stakeholder dashboard so everyone stays informed and on the same page.
Flexibility is key in any growth marketing sprint. , and the 90-day sprint model allows for agility in adapting to changes and opportunities. Regularly reassess and adjust strategies based on data and feedback to ensure ongoing success.
What Happens If I Don’t Rely on a 90-Day Sprint for My Growth Marketing?
90-day sprints aren’t for every company. However, there would need to be a very good reason to depart from this time-tested wisdom for project management.
Here are some considerations and potential consequences if you choose not to use a 90-day sprint methodology for your growth marketing campaign:
An Extended Timeline: Without a structured sprint methodology, your B2B company’s growth campaign timeline might be longer. This leads to “marathon thinking” and makes the team feel worse over time, even if they are actually winning. This leads to slower implementation and delayed results.
Reduced Agility: Sprints emphasize agility and quick adaptation to changing circumstances. If your campaign stretches over a longer period, it’s challenging to make rapid adjustments in response to performance data or market shifts.
Resource Challenges: Longer campaigns require sustained resource allocation over an extended period. This impacts budgeting, team energy, and other resources. Short term campaigns can be surprising in their resource needs. Without a longer time horizon the company can “whipsaw” from one thing to the next, which can be painful and hurt results.
Harder Goal Setting: While the 90-day sprint encourages setting short-term, specific goals, longer campaigns require more flexible and adaptable goal-setting strategies.
Delayed OKR Assessment: Without a defined sprint period, assessing and adjusting goals can be delayed, potentially leading to missed opportunities for optimization.
Market Changes: Marketing landscapes can change rapidly. Longer campaigns face challenges in responding quickly to shifts in customer behavior, industry trends, or competitive activities.
Poor Stakeholder Engagement: Long campaigns require sustained engagement and enthusiasm from team members and stakeholders. Maintaining momentum over an extended period can be a challenge.
Limited Iteration for Learning: Shorter sprints allow for more frequent iterations and learning cycles. Longer campaigns limit the number of iterations, potentially slowing down the pace of learning and improvement.
Budgeting Challenges: Long campaigns require careful budget planning to ensure resources are available throughout the entire duration. This impacts cash flow considerations.
Delayed Results Feedback: Longer campaigns experience delayed feedback from the market, making it harder to assess the effectiveness of certain strategies or tactics in real-time.
Different approaches have their advantages and challenges. The key is to align your strategy with your unique circumstances and objectives and put a timeline in place, even if you can’t commit to 90 days right away.
Growth Marketing and 90-Day Sprints are the Best Combination
The combination of growth marketing and 90-day sprints is powerful. Not too long, and not too short… just right.
It not only aligns well with the dynamic and iterative nature of modern growth marketing, but it also make the work more exciting and fulfilling for every team member involved.
90-day sprints are a great way to take advantage of the combination of an expert fractional CMO and the power of your extended team to hit those ambitious revenue growth targets.