Writing Total Customer Growth – Ten Years of Frustration and Nine Months of Writer’s Block
Several people asked me how long it took to write Total Customer Growth.
The short answer is nine months. My co-author, Ben Person and I started writing last September. We finished a solid first draft by January. It then took five months to publish.
The more honest answer is that it took eighteen months as it took me nine months to overcome my writer’s block and start writing.
Why Nine Months of Writer’s Block
- Writing a book is a lot of work.
- There are already a bunch of really good books on ABM. Does the world need another one?
- I write a blog post every week, and I just didn’t feel I could write a book and keep up with the blog posts.
- While I know a lot about ABM, did I know enough to write 45,000 words that anyone would find insightful?
- Did I mention that it’s a lot of work?
Then in September 2022, two things converged.
First, it dawned on me that I could write a chapter a week and publish each chapter as a blog post.
Secondly, my great friend and endless source of ABM insights, Ben Person, left his job as Nuvolo’s CMO to start a martech venture. Ben had spent three years transforming Nuvolo’s marketing into a full-scale ABM engine. I asked Ben if he would like to help me write the book, and when he agreed, it was the spark to start writing.
The motivation to write the book was to satisfy an itch that started in 2012. Specifically, the frustration of not being able to build a marketing-driven predictable sales pipeline.
The Accidental Healthtech Entrepreneur
A little over ten years ago, and through a series of random events, a physician friend and I started a health-tech company, Practice Unite (later renamed Uniphy Health).
We were focused on solving a big problem in health care: the inefficiency of communication between clinicians. It is hard for doctors, nurses, and all the other professionals involved in caring for you and your loved ones to communicate with each other effectively and in a timely way. This challenge is a big part of patient safety issues. People die because of breakdowns in communications.
We developed an idea for a mobile app for clinicians. When we pitched this to the CEO of a hospital, he said,
“You build it, and I’ll buy it.”
So, we did.
His hospital became our first of many customers. Users loved the app, and we were able to sell the solution to many other healthcare systems over the next few years. We eventually sold the business to a larger health-tech firm.
It was an exciting period in my life, but there was a big source of frustration.
Predictable Pipeline Pain
As the CEO, I needed greater predictability in forecasting our sales. We suffered a few near-death experiences due to poor cash flow when deals did not convert or closed much later than expected. I endured frequent battering from investors when we missed sales targets, which happened too often. And five years in, we had to lay off staff, as we were way off our growth forecasts.
It made me sick. I was desperate for a way to create and forecast demand in a more predictable way.
It was especially frustrating for me, as I had three decades of experience in marketing and selling B2B. Our marketing had generated demand, and we could see that our PR and social media were building awareness. In addition, demand-generation tactics would sporadically generate leads for our sales force. We also had some success in using LinkedIn to reach out and start new relationships.
The problem was that we had not developed a scalable way to build a forecastable sales pipeline where marketing made a measurable contribution.
When I started healthlaunchpad in 2020, I had a double-edged mission. I wanted to help technology firms navigate health care more effectively. But my personal mission—my white whale—was to help companies develop more effective and more predictable ways of marketing.
If I could help companies avoid the frustrations I had experienced, it would be worth the hard work.
Part of this was mastering Account-based Marketing (ABM).
We had been using the principles of ABM to win several large customers in my health-tech start-up, but we were never able to scale it. Since starting healthlaunchpad, we have dedicated ourselves to learning all we can about how to do it well and how to teach other firms how to do it.
Total Customer Growth – A More Holistic Model
Becoming more expert in ABM has included reading and following pioneers in the ABM field.
While I admire many other books on ABM, I felt a fresh and more holistic approach was needed.
ABM seems to losing its way. First of all, it has become too focused on just demand generation. While this is important, it’s not the whole story. ABM is just as much about growing existing customers as it is about acquiring new ones.
Secondly, ABM has become a festival of acronyms like ABX, ABE, ABGTM. Definitions of these are inconsistent, and this fuels confusion.
We want to simplify things and get back to what’s most important: The Customer Journey and, more to the point, The Total Customer Journey.
And Total Customer Growth is a system for turning the customer journey into an effective marketing strategy. This involves sales, marketing, and customer success to find, engage, convert, and grow profitable customers for life. It is a holistic approach to building a sustainable, long-term business model.
The book is written as a comprehensive practical guide to ABM, ABX, and Total Customer Growth. The book includes how-tos, strategic rationales, examples, and references to resources to help in your journey.
Getting Started With Total Customer Growth
If you are interested or need help, we can help you on your Total Customer Growth journey. Here are some ways to get started:
- Check out the book. Here is our page about the book, or you can buy it on Amazon.
- Check out more posts like this in the Healthtech MarketingLearning Center. It is chock-full of articles, use cases, how-to’s, and ideas to get you started on your ABM journey.
- Follow me or connect with me on LinkedIn. I publish videos and articles on ABM and healthtech marketing.
- Work with me directly. Let’s book a growth session and we can explore ways you can improve your marketing using the latest techniques in account-based marketing.