• Matthew Lerner

When "growth" isn't marketing (or product)

How Love Electric doubled growth by turning off marketing.

We preach that “growth is everyone’s job,” but as a leader, how do you actually do that? Should everyone report to the Head of Growth? Should engineers join your growth team? When is it Marketing’s job and when is it product-led? Sounds tricky but check out Love Electric’s story for some insight.

When “growth” isn’t marketing

At the beginning of our coaching program, we help each company map out their business as a flow-based system, and identify their “rate-limiting step.” That’s the part of the business where, if you can increase capacity, it makes the entire system run faster. (We got this idea from the Theory of Constraints.)

For Love Electric, an Edinburgh-based provider of subsidised electric car lease plans to businesses, growth was strong. So strong that in fact, they couldn’t keep up with the demand. Their “rate-limiting step” was delivering cars to new customers. But they only had one customer service agent to respond to all those impatient new clients Even worse, “word-of-mouth” was their main growth channel and when you depend on referrals, poor customer service can kill you.

Their SCS coach, Lisa Kennelly, encouraged the team to focus on customer service, since that was their rate-limiting step. So, Love Electric turned off their marketing and shifted their growth team to build automated waitlist email sequences to make the delays in deliveries less unpleasant.

First of all, it worked. They hit their customer satisfaction targets, and within 2 months, they hired more CS reps and automated much of the communication, which allowed their growth team to resume focusing on demand generation. But nobody expected what happened next…

Despite the car shortage and long delays, their conversion rate from warm leads actually doubled during that time. That means even though customers hadn’t received their cars, they were encouraging their co-workers to sign up for the service. The scarcity and wait-list experience were creating a buzz of anticipation. (Here’s to the growth team not doing marketing!)

How do you decide where your growth team should focus?

Your business has a rate-limiting step somewhere. That’s the area where, if you improve it, the whole system runs faster. It may be a customer journey drop-off like conversion or retention, or it may be an employee problem like staffing levels, performance, or even mindset. Of course it might also be cash. In any case, when you find it, make it your top priority, and allocate the right people to open it up, regardless of their job title. (And then look for the next rate-limiting step and shift your focus there.)

Simple next steps

  1. Look at your data and identify your rate-limiting step

  2. Ask lots of questions to understand the root cause

  3. Shift the appropriate resources to address it and make it the clear #1 priority across the business

  4. Ask the team for a target and a date

  5. Check in with the team each week: “How’s it going, how can I help?"

So what’s your rate-limiting step? And is it fully resourced?

I hope this helps.


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