Ground Up Podcast

The 4 Principles G2’s CMO Used to Grow Monthly Organic Visitors from 500k to 5 Million

Rapid growth is hard—consistent rapid growth at scale is even more of a challenge. Here, Ryan Bonnici explains the 4 principles that helped G2 10X organic visitors.

Avatar Kiera Abbamonte on March 17, 2020 (last modified on March 16, 2020) • 3 minute read

In a recent episode of Ground Up, we spoke with Ryan Bonnici. Ryan is the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) for G2—formerly G2 Crowd. He talked with us all about how G2 has grown extensively over the last 2 years.

As part of that process, Ryan grew the marketing team from 5 people to 80, rebranded the company, and turned 500,000 monthly organic visitors into 5 million.

Along the way, Ryan and team have completely restructured the marketing team and made a habit of consistently hitting super ambitious goals.

According to Ryan, there are 4 main keys to making that happen. Below, we highlight the steps they took to facilitate that kind of growth—both in headcount and in revenue.

1. Hire Deliberately

When Ryan joined G2, he came with nearly a decade of experiencing marketing software to other marketers. It was his first C-level role and, though he’d built out teams before, he’d never done it as quickly as he did at G2.

As Ryan explained it in the podcast, hiring a team to enable the kind of growth G2 was looking for came down to hiring really deliberately and being picky about it.

“A really great marketer will speak up if they don’t have the right resources or they have limitations.

Ryan was looking for self-starters, people who intuitively understood the funnel, and who wouldn’t hesitate to speak up when lack of resources or limitations stood in the way of meeting their goals.

In other words, he wanted to build a team of people who could get things done—like him.

2. Be Adaptable As You Grow

It’s hard to overestimate the amount of change that comes with going from a 5-person marketing team to an 80-person department. That change didn’t happen overnight either—it was a process that lasted nearly 2 years.

“I didn’t want to waste time on building a lot of processes that would have to be redone again and again.”

While some marketers crave process, Ryan knew that every process they developed was likely to wind up irrelevant as the team continued to grow. So instead of putting tons of processes into place, Ryan just didn’t.

Since he’d hired such adaptable marketers to fill out the team, Ryan had essentially built an entire team that could adapt and think on the fly. All he had to do was let them.

3. Set Top-Down Ambitious Goals

G2 has doubled both revenue and headcount year-over-year for the last several years. And according to Ryan, that’s no happy accident. Ryan credits a lot of their extensive growth to the ambitious, “naively confident” goals they set.

“We say, ‘Where do we want to get to?’ and then build the plans from there.”

While many companies look at their available resources and set best-case goals based on them, G2 flipped the script entirely—setting ambitious, top-down goals and then assessing the resources they needed (like headcount) to hit them.

4. Bake Benefits Into Your Branding

“Reviews are a means to an end.”

Most marketers know they should focus messaging on benefits instead of features. It’s a phrase running rapidly into marketing cliche—but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

When Ryan and his team rebranded G2 Crowd into the G2 they are today, that phrase became a principle reflected throughout the brand. While most marketers craft homepage copy around benefits, fewer companies are baking that benefits vs. features idea into their overarching brand.

“We don’t think of ourselves as a reviews site anymore. We think of ourselves as helping buyers reach their potential at work and at home, and help sellers reach their goals.” 

According to Ryan, that focus revolutionized the way both customers and internal employees think of the company. They became bigger than reviews.

Wrapping Up

In addition to the 4 principles highlighted above, Ryan also talked to us more about:

  • How they grew and structured the team rapidly
  • Setting aggressive goals and measuring success
  • The strategies that helped them grow
  • And more

Listen to the full episode of Ground Up with Ryan Bonnici here.

About the author
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Kiera Abbamonte Kiera's a content writer who works with SaaS and ecommerce companies. Catch up with her on Twitter @Kieraabbamonte or KieraAbbamonte.com
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