Ellen founded Tuff, a firm that offers on-demand growth marketing teams to businesses. She has grown the firm by putting in place a 5-step structure to experiment with growth initiatives and pick those with the greatest return on investment. Tuff has worked with over 35 firms over the past three years, from small startups with little funding to well-known enterprises with enormous advertising expenditures.
Tuff, a firm that offers other business owners on-demand growth marketing teams, was founded by Ellen. By putting into place a 5-step structure that enables them to experiment with growth initiatives and pick those with the greatest return on investment, she has been able to grow the firm.
What is your background and what are you concentrating on right now?
The company’s owner, Ellen, here. We help businesses generate money by utilizing a growth marketing team that is available on demand.
We create a plan, put it into action, and use Facebook and Instagram ads, Google ads, Google shopping, retargeting campaigns, optimizing landing pages, link-building, technical SEO, content strategy, and more to drive growth.
We have worked with over 35 different firms over the past three years, from small startups with little funding to well-known enterprises with enormous advertising expenditures.
What is your background, and how did you come up with this idea?
I think that businesses and organizations with innovative ideas ought to have access to the best growth marketers in the sector. Working with small businesses run by entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds who are tackling issues that few people are taking into account is my passion.
In addition, I think there are problems with the conventional agency model. I was tired of watching business owners fall behind by a year because they hired a company (or an internal employee) that wasted their time and money on subpar work. So I started working for hire. My first customer (a partner with whom we still collaborate) was recommended to me by a marketing firm that was operating at capacity and wanted to find a home for a less important client. They left me to run Google advertising on my own since they knew I could do it.
I gradually made the switch from freelancer to business owner, and I still had a lot to learn. Being by myself was easy, and I felt competent working alone. Due to my cheap overhead, I was able to operate independently, produce results rapidly, and pick and choose my clients. But after a year or two, I decided I wanted to do something bigger and more significant with a bunch of gifted and brilliant people, and Tuff was born.
I worked on the marketing teams at Adaptly (bought by Accenture), Nielsen, and Uppercase before joining Tuff. I was also the Head of Growth & Marketing at Uppercase.
How were Tuff and you made?
Tuff is still being built! We presently have five full-time employees, but by the next year, we hope to have twice that amount. It has been an iterative process, and as new people join the team, we are always improving it.
I think that as your company grows, it will get more difficult to find the right people to hire. Finding the right growth marketing skills may sometimes be a difficult task. This is the reason we’ve put a lot of effort and money into developing and growing the Tuff team. The more diverse our workforce is, the more effectively we can support business owners in producing significant outcomes.
What marketing techniques did you use to grow your company?
For our clients, we use a growth marketing structure with five steps. Additionally, we consider Tuff to be a customer.
Rapid experimentation is the subject, and it is quite simple. The structure, which is housed in a Google Sheet, allows us to target high-impact growth initiatives in order to quickly provide ROI and significant learnings, and then invest in further campaigns in order to scale what is effective.
We start by doing a basic inquiry. Afterward, list as many growth strategies (paid, affiliate, content, events, PR, partnerships, etc.) as you can based on the objectives, choose trials based on their effectiveness, and then carry out the campaigns. After that, we examine the results and repeat the procedure.
For Tuff, we evaluate three to five fresh experiments each month (this month, we funded the Failory, one of our experiments!). If you’d want access to Tuff’s spreadsheet of growth marketing tactics, get in touch with me, and I’ll walk you through it.
What are your long-term goals?
We are consciously and slowly growing. Tuff has two vacant roles right now, and by the end of the year, we want to increase that number.
Our crew does not want to work on more than four or five accounts at once or produce as many adverts as feasible. As we grow, we want to keep this framework.
Our top three goals are giving our clients value, testing and running experiments, and creating a supportive workplace.
What were your biggest challenges, and how did you get over them?
It has shown to be quite difficult for a woman to run a growth marketing business. Despite my fortunate fortune, having encouraging friends and mentors may be isolating and lonely. You get good at stepping outside of your comfort zone almost constantly.
One of Tuff’s biggest challenges has been assembling a totally remote staff. In order to get us to the point where we’re humming as a team, share values, and people are happy to get into Slack in the morning, I’ve had to gradually change the way I think about team culture and team building.
What are your biggest flaws, exactly? What were your biggest mistakes?
We have made many mistakes, as with any business endeavor, and we still do while continuously improving.
The worst misstep I think I’ve made was failing to respond quickly enough when we made a hiring mistake or when there was a mismatch with the culture we were trying to create. Fostering a culture where people may make mistakes, take initiative, grow, and learn is one of Tuff’s key beliefs. We have a well defined career structure to make this possible so that people are aware of exactly how they may grow in their profession. Since not every member of our small team will eventually assume a managerial position, this has proven extremely helpful.
But we needed two years to build it. If I could turn the clock back about a year, I would have spent more time and money creating a structure for my early career that outlined team roles, wages, and development pathways.
What actions would you do differently if you had the chance?
I would have started saying “no” more frequently and sooner.
The goal of Tuff is to build a group and culture where people can grow, receive support, and help business owners produce significant outcomes. And as its founder, I’ve overcommitted myself and taken on a lot of duties. I am unable to be the effective leader that my team (or our colleagues!) needs when this happens.
I’m in a better “no” space right now, but if I could go back a few years, I’d try to focus on what really important and cut out all the extraneous bullshit.
What educational tools would you suggest for entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
Podcast from GrowthTLDR. Weekly Discussions on Business Growth – You may put the methods you learn from these episodes to use in your own company.
GrowthMentor – Sometimes you need to talk to someone and are tired of looking things up on Google. You may arrange one-on-one meetings with company founders and marketers using GrowthMentor to talk about really niche subjects, technologies, and platforms.
My Favorite Growth Marketers to Follow: No fluff; just real people sharing amazing experiences and advise.
Sophia’s Friday Newsletter: Sound business guidance from a female entrepreneur on fundraising, expansion, and more.
Jimmy Daly’s Friday email: Jimmy is in charge of Animalz’s growth, and his email is jam-packed with interesting information and surprising connections.
It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work is a resource for the Tuff team’s corporate culture and business philosophies.
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