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From Short-Term Hits to Lasting Gains: Build a Growth Engine That Scales

What is a Sustainable Growth Model?

Forget fleeting bursts of growth fueled by the latest campaign. Sustainable growth isn't a temporary boost; it's building a scalable engine that consistently delivers value to customers, driving year-over-year expansion even in turbulent markets. Imagine it as a self-sustaining ecosystem where growth becomes ingrained in your organization's DNA.

Why the Shift is Essential

Most companies rely on episodic promotions, product launches, and pricing incentives for growth. While these tactics provide temporary gains, they rarely equip organizations to stay ahead in the long run. In contrast, high-performing companies invest in building a Sustainable Growth Model, transforming their teams, processes, and decision-making to embed growth into their core. This article empowers CMOs of both young and mature companies to make this crucial shift across key areas.

Commit to the Multi-Year Journey

Building a robust Sustainable Growth Model takes time and dedication. Transforming from siloed, product-focused functions to integrated, customer-centric capabilities is a 3+ year roadmap. Take inspiration from Salesforce's 5+ year journey, expanding from CRM to a diversified cloud suite through acquisitions, achieving a 28% CAGR in revenue from 2018-2022.

Securing executive buy-in is crucial. Allocate 70% focus on building differentiating capabilities and 30% on hitting near-term targets to maintain momentum. Address potential resistance early on by exposing middle management to customer experiences and showcasing successful high-growth competitors.

Architect Your Firm Around the Customer

The bedrock of Sustainable Growth Models lies in a differentiated customer promise. Build cross-functional teams combining strategy, product design, customer experience, engineering, and analytics expertise. These teams should continuously engage customers across the buying journey, not just focus on transactions.

Identify emerging needs early and rapidly prototype new offerings or improvements. Enterprise software company Toast launched an integrated restaurant loyalty platform in just 8 months, now driving 20% of subscribers' revenue. Allocate top talent to these squads focused on building the future to maintain system momentum.

Invest in Compounding Differentiation

Limited resources often lead companies to spread themselves thin. The smarter approach is to invest disproportionately in 1-2 capabilities where you can build 5-10x advantages that make you unbeatable in delivering a particular customer outcome.

Take Shopify, whose focus on web and mobile app design flexibility empowers over 1 million merchants with customized storefronts, driving 2x average conversion rates. Instead of incremental growth, pour resources into breakthrough areas for compounding gains.

Track System Indicators, Not Just Lagging Metrics

Sustainable Growth Models prioritize forward-looking indicators like the rate of building differentiating capabilities, customer engagement rates by community, employee adoption progress, and the ratio of investment into innovation vs. legacy areas.

Software firm Adobe measures feature usage, help tickets, and user sentiment within its Creative Cloud suite to identify and prioritize high-ROI areas for improvement. Allocate resources based on what strengthens the platform, not chasing short-term metrics.

The Road to Enduring Growth

Transforming companies into Sustainable Growth Models requires significant investment, but the rewards are immense. You unlock systematic expansion, sustained relevance, and the ability to thrive in disruption. While the journey is complex, taking action now is vital. Let's leverage the presented perspectives and frameworks to accelerate leadership commitment and empower your growth journey.

Next Steps:

Together, let's build resilient growth that scales.

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