Seeing Results: The Barnett Growth Quadrants


Technology and software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies often come to us when they haven’t fully realized growth on their own. We survey the situation with a model that lays out their marketing spend versus the size of revenue results they’ve seen. We call this matrixed approach the Barnett Growth Quadrants:

Big budget, big results: Pay (Big) To WinWhat it visualizes is four types of management teams — a couple to aspire to, and two to avoid.

Imagine you’re the CEO of Apple. AT&T. Nike. You blanket the globe with your unmistakable brand and omnipresent message, thanks to a marketing division bursting with talent and a budget that bulges with zeros (the five largest marketing spends totaled over $46 billion in 2017, per Ad Age). This is the goal, but let’s not dwell on it. Pin a picture of Phil Knight to your vision board and keep reading.

Big budget, low results: Expensive Failure

Another scenario: You throw money at your problem, which only compounds (as does the venture debt interest). Channels are sucking cash but not spitting out results, spreading efforts and patience thin. Your ego, fear, or false hopes squelch a smarter, sounder approach.

It’s a nightmare that’s too real — see Beyond the Rack and Chef’d for examples of multi-million dollar mistakes. But even start-ups with a total capital of $1 million can run into $30,000-a-month PR retainers, sales staff on payroll with no product, and misguided marketing purchases (maybe scale back that lavish trade show booth).

Small budget, small results: Thrifty Failure

Most start-ups start small, but staying that way indicates a lack of strategy. Maybe your entire digital department a nephew with Squarespace skills. Or you rely on gig-economy tactics for your public relations or sales staff. Perhaps the lists you buy get you sucked into spam filters 90% of the time. It’s all technically something — but it’s not savvy.

Perhaps you managed to taste success through these efforts, but don’t have the acumen or hours in the day to go further. Your good ideas need amplification. Your positioning needs to adjust (or exist). There’s only one place to go: our final quadrant.

Small budget, big results: The Best of Both

Welcome to the sweet spot — a place not many start-ups occupy. Here, your goals clarify and your budget clicks. You get the results you want with a burn rate that works for you. You spend time crossing off your success checklist, not revising it.

We love guiding entrepreneurs and venture capital investors into this optimized quadrant. Here, we make a difference for prudent yet hungry companies who can’t afford to go into debt or stay small. If that sounds like you, and you’re ready, let’s talk. »