Gifting in B2B is really hard to do well.
And the competition is cutthroat.
With competitors like Sendoso having raised $150M+ and Reachdesk around $50M+, a new approach is required if you want to compete and win.
Enter: Loop & Tie.
If you’re a marketer working against well-funded competitors OR work in a SaaS with strong seasonality, you’ll want to read this.
I can’t wait for you to apply these insights to your own company.
What you’ll read here are words. Some MK’s. Some mine.
How Loop & Tie Gets Customers (+40% user growth YoY)
Below, we’ll explore:
- The unique meeting and planning structure that allows their team to do meaningful work while remaining small
- How they turned their product into their best performing channel
- Learnings from a big mistake that they made with their own product that frustrated a lot of customers
- Loop & Tie’s “regenerative” growth method + how it helps them reframe growing a company
1. How far out do you plan your marketing in detail, and how has that evolved over the years?
With a company their size, there are two key timelines to keep in mind: six months out… and TOMORROW.
They have to plan appropriately due to the seasonal nature of their industry (corporate gifting). Every July, the focus becomes intensely focused on the upcoming holiday season.
MK offered a few insights when it comes to weekly team meetings:
- Mondays are often challenging. Have team meetings on Tuesdays. It also reduces the odds of teammates working on weekends to “catch up” before a Monday meeting.
- Read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team → stop looking at metrics & absorbing info and have time to think WHY, also brainstorming sessions, staying aligned
- Off Season (Separate long-term projects meetings) → This is when they’ll focus on things like a brand refresh and website stuff
- In Season (Big boulders) → what do we have to remove before the busy season climax? Then where are current projects.
- The last week of the month is always a no-meeting week
MK also does a 1:1 with each team member for an hour each week. They talk about various things depending on the time of the year, including what stretch projects the team member is working on.
2. Do you use OKRs (e.g. objectives, key results, 70% goals, etc.) in some form?
They use OKRs as an org and break them down into discrete key results for each department.
Right now, there isn’t a ton of overlap with OKRs because their team is fairly small, allowing MK to run air traffic control over dependencies and blockers.
MK joined L&T because they knew their CEO understood that marketing was not just top of funnel demand gen. To be effective today, marketing must sit across the entire customer lifecycle.
Marketing at L&T has to live across product, sales, account management, and customer support.
Eventually, customer support may even sit in a blended group with product marketing.
3. For marketing strategy, who comes to these meetings, who runs the meeting, and how often do you meet?
Primarily CEO & MK lead the highest level strategy conversations and then everything filters down to the team.
4. How many marketers do you have? How has that team changed over time?
MK was the first marketer at L&T.
Currently, there are 5 marketers:
- CMO (MK)
- Director of Growth
- Product marketer
Converting one marketer into a designer had a huge impact on production and brand.
In 2023, they needed to accomplish two big things:
- Refresh the brand to align with values.
- Then, establish it into marketing motions around content and growth.
Content was re-thought to become an exciting moment and potential for conversation
5. What is the difference between average marketing leaders and those who are able to attract, hire and retain top talent?
MK is incredible at attracting and retaining high-performing marketing talent.
The way they win there is by not thinking of marketers in the roles they’re in, but the roles they’ll be in one day.
Their job as CMO is to make sure they’re put in front of every potential experience and challenge that makes them more qualified for the experience they want to achieve.
6. What’s your primary tool for tracking tasks and campaigns? And for production?
- They love Asana → it’s not just for unicorns, but for cross-functional collaboration – they even have different views based on stakeholders
- They have different scrub boards for GTM, ops, and a designer. Their Director of Growth (Bridget Poetker) *is* the marketing calendar, and the sales team loves that!
- Task management but expression of task changes based on your role
7. Is there something unique or philosophically core to how the marketing team and leaders think about acquiring customers?
1. Make user acquisition fun!
Oddly enough, so many high performing marketing teams forget this!
“Brand performance marketing” → sitting between where “brand” can operate as a performance marketer.
For them, it’s worth it to spend time thinking about what would be fun *and* drive results.
Suddenly, the campaign materializes, the team has fun, and makes better decisions.
Instead of what do I have to do, it shifts to what can I do.
2. Livechat and support → considering bringing that into the marketing org
3. Stay close to customers → Product marketer spends the most time with customers (multiple weekly interviews, pricing, packaging).
Bridget spends time thinking about what folks are talking about in the world so that they can reconcile what’s happening in the world and invite folks into a conversation.
An analogy that I love here:
A knife has to work against something to keep its edges sharp, sometimes those are totally different materials (stones, leather), but you have to go out into the world, find your own inspiration, and keep your edges sharp.
Marketing leaders: spend time thinking about how you keep your team’s edges sharp.
8. What were the best performing channels for you? Did that change over time?
Hands down, their product.
Even MK didn’t fully understand the power of it before they joined.
Product is the largest referrer of business to their business.
Second to the product is paid search (based on users acquired).
Loop & Tie has put in functions to keep their ear to the group and stay face to face with their customers.
For example, they held a series of intimate dinners and they heard people didn’t know how to do gifting appropriately when the economy was rough, politics were a mess, and others had done layoffs.
They were justifiably scared to do or say the wrong thing with gifting.
Here’s how to do it where it’s led with intentionality.
But they haven’t always gotten it right.
Following the overturn of Roe v Wade, Loop & Tie proudly put Planned Parenthood in their recommendations for donations and some customers complained.
What they found in talking to frustrated customers was that it wasn’t that their customers disagreed with them supporting Planned Parenthood, but instead that it forced L&T’s customers to talk about it with their gift recipients.
And, fairly, a number of their customers weren’t ready to have those conversations as a part of sending gifts.
This was a full-stop moment for Loop & Tie where they vowed to stay true to their values and their POV, but also always question whether that compromised their customers’ ability to.
L&T’s customers aren’t encountering L&T.
They’re encountering the person that’s doing the gifting.
They’re encountering their customers.
L&T’s job is to make their customers look like rockstars, which requires a balance of perspectives.
9. What other questions do executives ask each other that often aren’t shared publicly?
Sometimes, CEOs are so myopic around short-term goals around revenue growth and appeasing quarterly board meetings that they start to miss the plot.
Instead of L&T’s board hounding them asking what problems they’re solving, it’s FAR more likely that the team approaches the board to help them solve problems.
Because she’s not focused on numbers and topline growth, their CEO can focus on legacy and how that impacts our brand standards.
The way we think about survivability is, “How do we have a bigger impact with our existence and everybody who comes into our orbit?”
This includes customers, but also vendors, the planet, and employees.
If they don’t hit their growth goals, it means they can’t be as helpful as they wanted to be.
This reframing of our problems shifts the level of importance they bring to what growth really means.
Growth for the sake of growth at L&T is a really “extractive” way to build a business.
They use metaphors of agriculture a lot, too
“Extractive” farming is take, take, take, deplete, and ruin the ecosystem.
They aspire to a regenerative style of harmony and synchronicity.
How to use this info:
1. Send a DM to your teammate: “Lindsay — I read about how MK from Loop & Tie grew users +40% YoY. I thought there were 3 things in there that might really help our team. Mind if I send them over?” Then send her this link.
2. Meeting with your boss: “Last week, you mentioned wanting to find channels that were more sustainable than what we’ve been doing. I just got a behind-the-scenes look at Loop & Tie’s small team scaled brand performance content that had a big revenue impact. Think we can do the same? If so, this might be worth bookmarking.
3. Linkedin Post: Why every B2B leader should create forcing functions for their team to stay close to customers (make sure you connect with & tag MK!)
Thanks for reading!
This is the sixth of a long series.
If you have a tip or feedback, I’d love to hear it.