What makes a great team? How do you recruit people and build collaboration that reflects your organisation’s culture while structuring your teams to be as effective as possible?
Ferdinand Goetzen | Interview
Ferdinand Goetzen is a marketer’s marketer, with two particular aptitudes: early-to-mid-stage growth strategy and digital transformation in traditional companies. We spoke to Ferdinand about his current role at 3D Hubs and how he builds teams and selects technology to maximize growth and efficiency.
Ferdinand’s passion for early-stage growth marketing began while he was at Glasgow University. It was here that he co-founded Affairs Today, an online student news outlet that at its peak boasted over 30,000 monthly readers. In the years since, he has worked as Lead Trainer at Growth Tribe Academy and was the Chief Growth Officer at talent acquisition SaaS company Recruitee. In August of 2019, he transitioned to one of Europe’s fastest-growing tech companies, 3D Hubs.
Who are 3D Hubs?
Founded in Amsterdam, 3D Hubs provides on-demand parts manufacturing for engineers and organizations around the world. Early adopters of 3D Hubs came from the Maker DIY and 3D printing community. At the start, the platform was more free-form with the goal of serving as many, mostly one-off, custom maker projects as possible. As the company evolved and became more of an all-round manufacturing platform, 3D Hubs’ customer base changed from individuals to corporations.
Today, the company serves 27% of fortune 500 companies to get their prototypes and parts manufactured. Engineers can upload designs, get immediate feedback on product feasibility and cost, receive a quote and start production. The model improves upon and in some cases completely removes traditional inefficiencies that slow down the process of product delivery.
First of all, how would you describe growth?
Growth really hinges on ensuring that every part of the customer journey is understood and receives the right level of attention. Many organisations focus on retention as a key indicator of marketing success. However, I think that retention is a funny metric for marketers to look at… Sure, it’s useful, but retention is dependent on so much more than just marketing — it’s about the product, price, usability, customer service, etc. I consider retention to be a shared metric across teams, rather than a measure of marketing success.
Negative churn is the opposite; that’s the Holy Grail of metrics (in SaaS). In this context, it means that if you stop marketing, your company will still grow — this is the ideal situation. Well, almost ideal… If that ever happened then I’d be out of a job!
I generally categorize growth into 3 key areas:
- Demand Generation — building a brand and making sure that people have heard of your company
- Customer Acquisition — this is more focused on generating, converting and nurturing leads
- Product growth — all things product-driven, geared mainly towards activation.
What does the perfect marketing technology stack look like?
I think many companies approach this the wrong way and get hung up on having the perfect marketing stack. It’s certainly important, but we increasingly have a culture where people want the tool before they have identified the problem — they just want a shiny new piece of technology to play around with.
A tech stack should be there to solve the specific problems that you’re dealing with, rather than being there just for the sake of it. Focus on the problem, understand your goals and ensure you factor in the team that will be using said tool. There is a little point in investing in a best-in-breed solution that on the surface solves your problem but is unusable for the team at hand as they lack the technical know-how or time to learn it.
What factors do you use consider when structuring your teams?
It’s quite funny — when I left Recruitee, I had a very clear idea of how a team ought to be set up… But I’ve since realised that it has to be pretty fluid. As with a tech stack, you need to build solutions according to specific problems. Your team structure should depend on the project that you’re working on, what your quarterly targets are, how much budget you’ve got, and a wealth of other factors.
My general principles are that you need to structure teams to push the boundaries on growth. That might mean that you decide to sit all the really creative people together so that they can bounce ideas off each other and all the data analysts together so that they can ask each other for tips and tricks, or you might set up different cross-functional teams to tackle specific problems and have one creative and one data analyst in each team.
There’s no right or wrong answer here. The main goal is to build your teams so that they are productive and that you eliminate silos as much as possible.
Setting up the perfect team
The perfect team obviously depends on each company’s unique situation. Some of the most successful teams in history have been filled with high-performance people who hated each other’s guts and were, in many other ways, completely dysfunctional.
Steve Jobs at times had a notoriously unpleasant side while building Apple into a global behemoth. Oasis’s Gallagher brothers had a notoriously rocky relationship. The all-conquering Australian cricket team that dominated the sport during the late nineties and early noughties was full of rifts.
So what can we draw from this? Does it mean that we should force people who don’t get along well to work together? Not exactly.
The key to building a successful team seems to boil down to 4 C’s:
Effective communication is the mainstay of any successful team, and when communication breaks down, you can be sure that success will soon begin to stall. Build processes within your teams to foster constant communication, so you are confident that the right people have the right information at the right time.
Individual team members have to be able to work together, help each other when needed and focus on the benefit of the team as a whole. This may seem obvious but it’s important to really understand how the team will collaborate, which team members have a tendency to ‘do their own thing’ and create checks and balances so every team member is involved in the process when needed.
Many highly successful people have a competitive streak to them and it’s no different when looking at the best teams in business, sport, music, or whatever industry you might be working in. A little friendly internal competition can help motivate team members while wanting to be bigger/better than other companies can bring everyone together. A key component to fostering this competition is having a good understanding of the data and KPIs involved. Having objective definitions of success for people to measure themselves and their team ensures that the competition is fair and not stacked against them in any way.
Finally, it’s important to build a sense of community within teams by finding commonalities. Maybe your team members have a shared sense of humour or common interests, which can help build strong interpersonal relationships. Alternatively, maybe they don’t get on so well but have shared professional goals — this can help unite disparate team members.
Setting up high-performance teams should ultimately be fun. If you’re a manager, think of it as a personal challenge and see how you can get the most out of each and every one of your colleagues.
If it doesn’t work, you can always make a change!
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