This is an updated article from the early days of Dandelion. The first time I wrote this article about growth marketing vs maintenance marketing was in 2019. And while our position hasn’t changed, the terminology certainly has so it’s time for the update! (BTW updating and republishing past content is a type of maintenance marketing).
If you google, “types of marketing” you’ll find articles with 20 or 40 different ‘types’. For us every type actually falls into two categories. Here’s what they are and why you need both.
Two Categories of Marketing: Growth vs Maintenance
We look at businesses and their growth holistically, with the goals of consistently bringing in new customers and retaining loyal customers over time. That’s why we think both categories of marketing are vital for the long term health and sustainability of a company.
- Growth Marketing
- Maintenance Marketing
They’re both vital. Growth marketing is focused on bringing in new customers while maintenance marketing is devoted to retaining them. When we start to see plateaus in engagement and revenue of a brand, the interaction between these two aspects of marketing is the first place we look for potential solutions.
What Is Growth Marketing?
It used to be that “growth marketing” is the term used for marketing tactics focused on short term, quick wins. Today, that term is “growth hacking” and this article won’t really cover this because it isn’t what we do. Growth hacking, although helpful when done right, is often a quick way to lose money for sustainable businesses, can easily lead to issues like greenwashing, and usually doesn’t lead to sustainable growth.
Today, growth marketing is a focus on data-driven marketing solutions that bring in new customers on a consistent basis. It allows us to test unique ideas and creatively build campaigns into a brand’s marketing strategy.
Growth marketing is often equated to paid ads. We want to push back on the notion that paid ads are the only way to test what works for growth in a business. Plus, they border on that ‘growth hacking’ vibe we’re not into. We create a brand marketing ecosystems that focus on long-term data-based strategies without suggesting that our clients funnel money into paid ads that don’t work.
It is important for businesses to look at monthly data and quarterly trends along with individual organic marketing campaigns to understand what’s growing the business, and what just isn’t working. It’s also vital that brands stay up to date on lasting trends and test different ways to show up!
What is Maintenance Marketing
Maintenance marketing focuses on retaining loyal customers over the long term through consistent, reliable communication.
Even though “everyone knows” they need to write a consistent blog, make social media stories, and send emails, we find that maintenance marketing is less common than growth marketing efforts.
We flip the script for the businesses we work with.
Why? People choose their loyalties quickly, so retaining clients is easier and more lucrative than earning new ones. The dedication in maintenance marketing is to stay top of mind for the people that already love you, buy from you, and support your cause.
Now, we aren’t the agency to suggest inundating your customers with a daily email or spamming on social media. In fact that kind of marketing annoys people. That said, it is vital to have regular, high quality communications for customer retention.
What to Focus on: Growth Marketing or Maintenance Marketing?
Which one should a business be focused on? Both. (I bet you saw that one coming).
A business needs both growth and retention strategies to truly grow. You want to bring in new customers and keep the old ones. That means testing unique campaigns and getting creative with your external content and campaigns, like social media and speaking at events. All the while staying consistent with your retention strategies like sending regular donor emails or reminding folks about upcoming events.
This can feel like a lot to focus on, because it is. Content marketing isn’t for the weak. We solve this issue by creating sustainable marketing cycles for our clients. It allows us to watch the trends organically and make all of our marketing decisions based on what new and loyal customers are focused on. Then, once we have the cycle going consistently and we understand our baseline, we can start getting creative and seeing what works to grow the brand!
Additionally, because we’re focused on building holistic ecosystems, when we do see changes in engagement and revenue trends, we don’t immediately assume there is just one issue. We look to the interaction between growth marketing and maintenance marketing with questions like:
- Are we losing ground with earning new customers or retaining loyal ones?
- Has the sales cycle changed? Is it longer, or shorter, and are we hitting key touch points?
- Do we need to update our maintenance marketing assets to match a successful new voice or visual branding? (This one is common)
- Are we talking to the right audience to pull in new customers?
- Are there new competitors on the scene that undermines our growth marketing?
- Is there something on the website or in the sales cycle we need to optimize?
Do you have both aspects of marketing in your business?
Book a call to talk about how we can add holistic growth and retention to your marketing strategy.