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By John Crimmins, Chief Marketing Officer @ Imprint Genius

I was recently lucky enough to attend a keynote at Affiliate Summit East by marketing executive-phenom Bill Macaitis, who was the CMO/CRO/SVP Marketing at 3 of 5 of the Top 5 Fastest Growing B2B SaaS Companies of all time (say that three times fast). Salesforce. Zendesk. Slack. In short, the guy is a beast.

And after the keynote, I asked Bill about one thing he said during the keynote, which was this:

“Your customers should be recommending you to 20-30 people. That should be your main source of marketing.” – Bill Macaitis

And this brought me to a sudden realization: He’s RIGHT.

As a business owner, you’re either going to spend a lot of money on R&D / product development making the product better than the competition’s so that it speaks for itself, or you’re going to spend it in marketing so that customers may find or adopt it before hearing about something that may be better. If you’re not the best product, then you must be the best known product. This is assuming of course, you want to be the best.

So after the keynote, I was also grateful to have a few moments alone with Bill (as part of the VIP experience at ASE – hands down, amazing).

And this led to a very interesting conversation around engaging the rest of the organization to be as customer-centric as possible, so that marketing is much less about selling the product, and more about just finding that first person who is going to find all their friends.

There was another interesting takeaway from that conversation, which is this:

Excessive advertising can be viewed as a tax on top of where your product is lacking.

I don’t know who came up with the concept or said it first, but I do know that this really made me think: If our product or service isn’t that great, then we have to spend more on advertising. But if the product is truly great, then our customers will do most of our advertising for us, and our market position as a leader naturally emerges.