How to hack your growth: Three tips from Showpo chief marketing officer Mark Baartse


Showpo founder Jane Lu and the Showpo executive team. Source: Supplied

Knowing your numbers, having transparent processes and setting clear goals are essential ingredients for any startup looking to scale, according to Mark Baartse, chief marketing officer at Sydney-based online retailer Showpo.

Baartse was one of the speakers at the Interactive Minds 2017 Digital Summit in Melbourne on Wednesday and he told the audience at the event about the importance of understanding the key numbers that drive fast-growing businesses, and not losing sight of “those fundamentals”.

Showpo has continued to expand its market share throughout the last financial year, according to Baartse, who told the summit the e-commerce business brought on eight marketing staff and experienced 220% sales growth in that time. Building on a cult social media following with close to 2 million followers on Facebook and Instagram, the former Smart50 finalist helmed by founder Jane Lu was founded in 2010 and was turning over $10 million in 2015; more recent estimates have put that figure close to $25 million.

Baartse shared the following three tips for startups hoping to emulate Showpo’s growth.

1. Know your numbers

Baartse emphasised the need for startups to hone in on the key metrics needed to measure and monitor growth.

“Sometimes you get drowned with a tsunami of numbers and the important ones get lost in the noise,” he said, suggesting startups should “pick a few to focus on” and be “obsessively hounding after those”, rather than casting a wide net when capturing data.

To ensure startups capture the right numbers, Baartse suggested startups revise their Google Analytics implementation, know what it takes to be profitable, and then set up dedicated dashboards to report on this weekly.

Baartse also recommended startups make sure to keep track of key metrics like email open rates and website conversions during times of high growth.

“When you’re growing really fast it’s easy to lose those fundamentals,” Baartse said.

2. Have transparent processes

Baartse emphasised the need for “transparency and the ability to prioritise” to ensure operations run smoothly and efficiently during times of rapid growth.

“List each project, break it up via departments, have the heads of each department review this together each week,” he advised, suggesting startups consider have a prominently-placed physical board where projects are listed, updated and moved around.

“Create processes — everyone should know what they’re doing, when something is passed on, and when it’s due,” he said.

“We spend 95% of our time on projects enacting processes and 5% of our time on exceptions to these processes, not the other way around. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel every project.”

3. Set clear goals

Baartse suggested startups set clear weekly and quarterly learning goals as a key way to manage a rapidly growing team. This encourages employees to take control of their own professional growth and establishes a supportive company culture.

He also suggests adopting an agile approach to these goals, which balances strategy and tactics and encourages new ideas.

“Accept you’ll screw stuff up — a good plan today is better than a great plan tomorrow,” he said.

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