If you’re in search of a development marketing playbook, cease studying now, since you received’t get one from Tuff. The company’s founder Ellen Jantsch makes it clear: There’s no one-size-fits-all relating to development.
The crew at Tuff is aware of their stuff — and it’s exactly why they’re not promoting “magic” or any variety of “mysterious secret sauce.” Instead, they’re betting on transparency and experimentation, and it appears to be working nicely: The company was warmly really helpful to TechCrunch a number of occasions by way of our development marketing survey. (You can share your personal suggestions here!)
For occasion, Luke Oehlerking, VP of Product and Strategy at photo voltaic firm Zenernet, defined that Tuff fitted the invoice for its capability to “truly move the needle with measurable results” whereas performing as “an extension of [Zenernet’s] own team.” This doesn’t essentially contain offline conferences: Oehlerking and Jantsch are each primarily based in Colorado, however Tuff’s crew is absolutely distant, with world purchasers. Client work apart, Tuff additionally launched Growth Guide, a distant development marketing coaching program for founders.
We requested Jantsch about all that, and located our dialog an attention-grabbing complement to our interview with LA-based agency MuteSix: Both share a give attention to outcomes and creativity, however Tuff is centered on a wider vary of sectors than DTC, whereas additionally being smaller. Let’s learn the way it really works.
Editor’s observe: The interview beneath has been edited for size and readability.
What is Tuff? Why did you launch it, and the way huge is it now?
Ellen Jantsch: Tuff is a small (20-person) development marketing company that companions carefully with startups and scaleups to assist them improve income and gross sales. While now we have discovered success working with groups in practically each business, from early traction startups to giant enterprises, there’s definitely a kind that matches us greatest. The most simple tips: If a prospect is trying to purchase new prospects and scale their firm by way of fashionable channels, instruments and frameworks, we’re nearly all the time in.
I began Tuff as a one-woman present as a result of I needed to do significant work with firms (and founders) I preferred. While development was all the time within the playing cards, I’ve all the time been most centered on creating a excellent place to work with those who care about serving to firms with distinctive concepts as a lot as I do. After practically 5 years in enterprise, I’m proud to say that I’ve been capable of examine fairly a few of these bins I created for myself within the very starting and added a handful of others alongside the best way.
What vary of providers do you present?
Our bread and butter is constructing environment friendly, holistic, growth-focused marketing methods. We do that with our technique that’s been battle-tested and has confirmed itself regardless of the business or firm life stage. Then, we keep hungry for analysis and execute to a T, constantly optimizing and refining to search out most efficiencies.
Throughout all of it, we lean on all members of our crew. Egoless and curious, we share hypotheses and findings with our companions and one another to search out extra streamlined paths to development. But what actually units us aside is our technique. Radical transparency is the title of the sport. We consider that collaboration and displaying our work is the one actual approach to construct foundations for reliable partnerships.
Our checklist of ways consists of however is most definitely not restricted to PPC, social advertisements, technical search engine optimisation, content material technique, inventive, e-mail and conversion price optimization (CRO).
Are your crew members generalists and/or specialists?
We rent for 2 core roles at Tuff. We have development entrepreneurs who’re big-picture strategists, in addition to channel consultants who’re deeply skilled in a explicit kind of marketing. Each account we work with is paired with a development marketer and no less than three to 5 totally different channel consultants relying on what we’re testing. Your development marketer is your map maker and wayfinder — preserving targets clearly outlined and the entire crew centered on creating the neatest path to development. Your channel consultants are the in-the-weeds, watching-every-dollar-spent effectivity finders and optimizers.
What are the professionals and cons of hiring an company like Tuff, in comparison with an in-house marketer?
Finding a full-time rent is a nice choice for a lot of firms. But they arrive with their very own set of execs and cons when in comparison with a plug-in development marketing crew. The main profit is the experience and time they convey to the crew. Pulling a full-time, good marketing hustler that may squeeze essentially the most out of a small price range and keep in lockstep with every thing else you’ve gotten happening might be a enormous asset. The largest downsides and dangers are discovering the best match, investing the excessive price and hoping that they will stay your go-to even when it turns into time to check ways that fall outdoors of their wheelhouse. Ultimately, an in-house rent is proper should you’re already assured within the channels that give you the results you want and simply want somebody that can assist you refine and develop these 1-2 channels.
When you rent a development marketing company, although, the foremost, overarching profit is that it usually comes stacked with a full crew that may get a holistic view of your enterprise, collaborate to determine the perfect course of motion and delegate execution duties to true channel consultants. With an company, you may typically reallocate sources as you study and transfer extra rapidly as a result of the crew has a lengthy historical past of expertise.
Have you labored with a proficient particular person or company who helped you discover and maintain extra customers?
Respond to our survey and assist different startups discover high development entrepreneurs they will work with!
How do you cost purchasers, and why?
Most efficiency marketing companies pocket a proportion of the quantity of advert spend they’re managing or of income generated by their ways. Neither of these strategies is improper by any means. But we intentionally constructed our pricing system in another way: We cost flat-fee retainers primarily based on the quantity of providers we’re plugging in without delay.
Why? Because development marketing is fickle. Sometimes, even the perfect GM within the sport can predict that a combine of PPC, search engine optimisation content material and social advertisements is the golden ticket. But when one of them underperforms, it’s not a signal of one thing gone improper, it’s a signal that it’s time to attempt one thing new. The method our course of capabilities at Tuff permits us to seamlessly sub in new providers or crew members to attempt one thing new (like CRO or inventive growth) with out a hitch till we discover the combo that’s excellent.
Can’t your purchasers merely all comply with the identical development marketing playbook?
Scaling any enterprise is laborious, and development marketing is not a [magic] trick. I’ve but to see a playbook you could take from one enterprise and apply to the following and get constant outcomes.
We work with extra than simply e-commerce companies; we flex into SaaS, fintech and B2B industries and it’s compelled us to actually develop a mannequin/course of for development and not simply a playbook, which means our channel and tactic combine is all the time totally different.
I feel one thing that we give attention to greater than most is fast, fearless testing, then discovering methods of operationalizing the early wins to allow them to turn into repeatable. It’s one factor to coax wins out of champion channels, and it’s one other to know that your big-picture technique is going to carry up below the stress of scale.
Your web site mentions “rapid experimentation” and “quick wins.” Can you element how Tuff does that?
We know that even our most skilled development entrepreneurs can develop an unique development plan that doesn’t drive outcomes the best way we would like it to, regardless of intensive analysis and strategizing. That’s one of the explanation why we like development marketing a lot, there’s no gilded street to success.
So, as a substitute of setting a technique in stone, we’ll begin each new partnership with a plan to check a vary of totally different ways inside our chosen channels and examine in each single day to gauge efficiency, reallocate budgets, glean insights and prioritize fast wins. After a few weeks, we’ll be capable to emerge from our sea of knowledge to stipulate what labored, what didn’t work fairly in addition to deliberate, and our sport plan for driving longer-term success.
How do you make certain these early wins maintain up below the stress of scale?
In our earliest weeks of a partnership with any of our purchasers, we’re centered on not solely driving fast wins, however designing our exams and articulating our hypotheses in ways in which not solely uncover insights for the next quarter, however for the following 12 months and past.
More so, I feel some of our strongest attributes as a crew are our starvation to continue to learn, our curiosity and our fearlessness relating to adapting, even when it means turning away from a tactic that’s held up for us prior to now.
One of the perfect methods for example this is the intro message a new prospect despatched us final week: “Our current agency was great — until iOS 14.5 and then things went south because they only knew how to do the one thing.”
True, we noticed CPCs [cost per click] shoot up and CVR [conversion rate] plummet quickly after iOS 14.5 got here out identical to each different development marketing crew on the planet. But what permits us to scale is the identical factor that allowed us to get each one of our purchasers again on monitor post-iOS 14.5: fearlessness, curiosity and adeptness.
Why did you select to have an in-house inventive crew?
Ad inventive is really distinct from model inventive and, merely, we had a heck of a time discovering companies and even freelancers that might produce content material optimized for advert channels on a tight price range and an environment friendly timeline.
Around the identical time that this downside began to hinder our capability to rapidly and effectively optimize our campaigns, there have been a handful of founders that reached out in search of a development marketing crew that might drive income development and in addition validate/battle take a look at their messaging and worth props. So, we tried it out: We designed a few exams to measure the effectiveness of totally different worth props, created visible property that represented these in a clear, environment friendly method, measured the outcomes and located that all of it simply clicked.
Long earlier than advert inventive was introduced in-house, although, we had been working with a set of extremely proficient UX designers. Over the years, CRO turned a way more tried-and-true factor of our development marketing methods, and when the seeds of the advert inventive crew began to sprout, we knew that bringing inventive in-house would anchor every thing in place.
How has being a distant crew fared out to this point?
We’ve been a distant crew since day one and this helps us be actually considerate about methods we talk internally and with our purchasers. Aside from setting the expansion technique for every firm we work with, selecting the instruments and executing ways, we’ve discovered find out how to be grasp communicators.
As a distant crew, we’ve needed to put a lot of time and vitality into creating a tradition rooted in transparency and authenticity. I prefer to suppose that this seeps into our consumer relationships, too. The extra knowledgeable, sincere and clear conversations we are able to have as a crew and with our purchasers, the higher work we are going to all do.