Ever since I was a kid growing up in Copenhagen, Denmark, I’ve always been fascinated by technology and its potential to impact the world for the better. And guess what? Over the last 20+ years, I’ve been lucky to work with some great companies, including Salesforce, LinkedIn, WeWork, and most recently Matterport.
In that time, I’ve had the opportunity to see how these companies grow, what works and what doesn’t, and how to do epic marketing.
The framework for epic marketing
Whether you’re talking about product development, sales, or marketing, I’ve found that there are three levels that teams and companies operate at:
Let’s talk about how that applies specifically to marketing. At the tactical level, you’re going in and doing the bare minimum. You’re publishing blog posts, updating web pages, putting out press releases, etc. It’s all good, important stuff but, if you spend all your time in this realm, you’re never going to create a breakout, mega successful company.
For that, you’ll need to get more strategic. By my definition, this is where you’re working on a big idea that has the potential to move the needle. This could be changing your go-to-market strategy, changing your messaging, or some other program. It might take weeks, maybe months of effort, and it’s rarely done alone. This is a team effort with many people involved across the company to pull off projects that deliver real big growth.
Then there’s the last category of operation, the epic level, with the potential to create exponential momentum and growth for your company. Naturally, this is the hardest category—after all, if it was easy, everybody would be doing it.
While there’s an endless amount of data for the tactical level, working on epic marketing means taking a chance and dealing with the unknown. It’s uncomfortable, scary even, which is why most companies end up getting stuck in the tactical and strategic realm.
I recommend breaking down your time and effort as follows:
- Tactical Projects 20%
- Strategic Projects 60%
- Epic Projects 20%
The tactical and strategic tasks are important and can have a significant impact, but if you want to create a category leader, then you have to take chances. Epic marketing takes bravery and courage; people will tell you it’s stupid, it’s crazy. Sometimes it might not work out.
But those are also the moments you look back on in your career and see that you did something special as a team. And if it works, it will also do wonders for your career.
How do you define epic marketing?
Well, how do you define epic?
For me, there are two possible approaches.
- Find something broken and 10x it. For example, before Airbnb, it wasn’t that booking private accommodation couldn’t be done—it was just broken. They saw that they could do it in a much better way that benefited both hosts and customers, and of course themselves, which is how they created a super brand.
- Do something brand new. Uber did something that hadn’t been seen before. With the widespread adoption of mobile phones and geo-location, combined with using people’s private cars, they were able to create a new experience that was frictionless for everyone.
While these are examples from product development, the same principles apply to marketing. Look for what’s broken and what hasn’t been done before. Sure, it’s risky. I’m not going to lie and say that everything is going to work out. You can have a great idea with perfect execution, then a Black Swan event comes along and derails it all.
There will always be unknowns, but that’s part of the fun. We created a Super Bowl ad for Salesforce back in 2011, one of the first consumer-style ads for an enterprise product:
It didn’t really work, but it was fun to work on and I’m glad I had that experience. It didn’t work in the sense of generating revenue, but it created massive sign-ups and awareness. You learn more from your failures than your successes, so lean into those moments and make the most of them.
How to get inspired for epic marketing?
Where does the inspiration for epic marketing come from? Speaking personally, I rarely find it in books or sitting in front of a computer. It usually strikes when I’m out for a walk or a run, when I’m with my friends, basically anything that’s taking me outside of my normal environment.
Ask yourself, is this pushing the boundaries? Can we do this? Should we do this? If it doesn’t make you feel a little bit uncomfortable, it’s probably not good enough. If you’re asking those questions, it means there’s probably a thread that you can start pulling on, an idea that you can build on.
Of course, you can’t just spend all of your time thinking—you also have to take action. Once you’ve figured out your epic idea, you have to break it down into practical steps that you can execute as a team.
If I could just offer a few final bits of advice, I’d say hire the right people, and then get out of their way. When you hire a superstar, micromanaging them to death makes no sense. When I’m looking to hire someone, I look for people who are hungry, who are passionate, who can go the distance.
Then, when everything is said and done, you have to GSD—Get Shit Done. Once you’ve figured out those tactical, strategic, and epic things that are going to move things forward, you need to just get it done. Make sure everyone on the team knows what they’re doing, that they’re aligned and going in the same direction. If you don’t do anything, then it’s never going to matter.
Now get out there and do something epic!
Watch Robin’s “Epic Marketing 101” session from Revenue Marketing Bootcamp 2021 for more tips and insights: