Growclass’ Sarah Stockdale on the new rules of marketing

In an era of noise, brands need to whisper.

Sarah Stockdale, the founder of growth marketing program Growclass, believes the era of lazy marketing is now over, signalling a fundamental shift in how brands engage with their customers.

Today’s customers aren’t congregating in the same digital spaces, Stockdale pointed out in a sit-down interview with BetaKit at  SAAS NORTH 2023. Facebook is shedding younger users, X (formerly Twitter) has lost over one-tenth of its daily users since Elon Musk’s takeover, while Threads’ user base plummeted by more than 80 percent just a month after its launch this summer.

“We are desperate for authenticity, and that causes a problem for companies.”

“There is an era of marketing that we all got a little lazy in,” Stockdale explained. “…We could basically find our customers on four platforms and just dump money into advertising and optimize for conversion, and hire really smart demand gen marketers. That’s not working anymore.” 

Customers today crave personalization and authentic community, Stockdale noted, and are migrating to other platforms that cater to these needs. “We are desperate for authenticity,” Stockdale said. “And that causes a problem for companies, because we can’t track people when they go out of these town squares.”

Brands have reacted to this challenge by intensifying their efforts, turning to Large Language Models to generate content in an attempt to capture as much attention as possible. This has led to an era of overwhelming noise, according to Stockdale, and for brands aiming to genuinely connect with the right audience, the first step is to “stop shouting at them. We can’t overcome the noise with more noise.”

Stockdale advocates for a subtler approach: whisper marketing, which as she explains means “creating delightful customer moments” that they’re going to talk about in their DMs.

“Your selling is happening in the DMs now,” she says. “Your selling is not going to be happening through ads, it’s maybe going to be happening at things like events or through partnerships. But usually, the way that we find—especially software and higher-cost higher-ticket items—is through our friends. We’re asking in our micro-communities.”

This approach requires a fundamental shift in perspective, she said, which means moving back to viewing customer acquisition as a relationship, rather than a transaction.

“The more you understand your customers, their pain, the moment that they are in when they have to make a purchase decision, what is going through their mind in that moment, the better you are going to be able to predict what of those scalable channels are going to work.”

Listen to Sarah Stockdale’s full conversation below, and catch more conversations from SAAS NORTH 2023 on The BetaKit Podcast.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

0 replies on “Growclass’ Sarah Stockdale on the new rules of marketing”