Business growth lessons from Facebook Israel
Einav Dinur of Facebook Business Marketing talks to us about Hockey Sticks and Base, a framework for helping businesses adapt, pivot and achieve incremental growth (while keeping business death out of reach). We helped Facebook recently launch this framework as a digital campaign in Israel and throughout the EMEA region.
Tell me a bit about the Israeli business scene – how did this project evolve out of that market?
The Israeli ecosystem is very tech-savvy. There are a lot of startups, companies that sell their products or services outside of Israel, primarily in the US. Those are the types of clients that we work with at Facebook Israel, and I think it’s particular to Facebook Israel that our relationship with them tends to be very consultative, especially on business strategy. We find ourselves talking to them about not just their media campaign strategy, but also about their business strategy when it comes to their products, where they should be selling, etc.
They’re digital natives, so digital marketing isn’t just one part of the marketing they do, it’s everything. These are often small companies, and we’ll often have a relationship with the CMO or the founder. So the levels of conversations we’re having with them is not just about campaign optimization, but “have you thought about selling in other Geos (geographical areas), or “have you thought about introducing different pricing models to reach new customers,” things like that.
Where did the Hockey Sticks and Base concept come from?
We didn’t invent the concept of hockey sticks or protecting your base. It’s actually a well-known business framework. In late 2019 we took this framework and adapted it to the digital native and digital marketing space and it has become our go-to-market for how we work with our clients. When our account managers work with managed clients, they use this framework. But the majority of the companies using Facebook are not managed. We wanted to make this framework available to a broader audience at scale, and that’s where the idea for this project came from.
The idea was to make this framework self-serve, so that companies can go and consume the content and download the playbooks and be able to actually implement it themselves without being a managed client with a dedicated person at Facebook.
What’s the difference between a hockey stick and a base strategy?
The hockey sticks are the levers that businesses can pull to unlock new growth opportunities, and there are five: Geo Expansion, Audience Expansion, New Products, Pricing and Multi-Brand Approach. These are fairly well established, and for the launch we focused on two – Geo and Audience – though there will be more coming in 2021.
Hockey sticks are wonderful but how do you make sure your new business is not coming at the expense of your existing business? It’s important to invest in a new growth strategy, but in order for it to be incremental, you also need to take care of your core business. That’s what protecting your base is about. A hockey stick without protecting your base is not incremental growth, it’s a pivot.
Are these base strategies fixed too?
Protecting your base is all about how you optimize, how you make sure your campaigns are running smoothly, to make sure that you’re still getting the most out of your existing business. These strategies are in constant evolution. To start with, we decided to focus on two: Measurement and Signals, but these could change based on changes in technology or the industry. The base is definitely a living and changing thing.
Your seminar and original concept were in Hebrew for the Israeli market. How did you decide to scale this up for EMEA?
Because our market is very particular we often have to develop our own tools and narratives that work with the digital savvy startups that we work with.
Interestingly there are other markets around Europe with those types of clients as more and more pockets of entrepreneurship open up. The Nordics, for example, and innovation hubs in Poland, and the UK has a booming tech ecosystem – these are all places giving birth to global startups. So our view is that this framework isn’t only relevant for Israeli companies, but for companies of that nature: startups, digital natives, that move fast and do a lot of direct response campaigns. That’s why we wanted to create this campaign in English – so it really reaches beyond our borders. Another reason is that although our companies are Israeli, they sell to the US, so they have a pretty big presence in the US. So some of their teams may not be Israeli, and we wanted to make sure they’re included.
How do you choose this mix of assets?
We wanted to have something very actionable and self-serve, which is why we thought in the direction of a step by step guide. But it’s also true that when you have somebody to walk you through it and explain it, sometimes concepts resonate more, which is why we wanted to also include the webinars. The webinar and playbook use the same terminology, so the playbook is really the take-home guide so you don’t have to sit there taking screenshots while you’re watching.
We also felt like it would be good to introduce each hockey stick or base in a short way so that they could assess whether it was something relevant for them, which is why we made those very short explainer videos. From a user journey standpoint, the vision we have is for people to come in, watch the video, and if they think it’s interesting for their business they could watch the webinar, and then download the playbook and implement some of what they’ve learned.
What do you hope people do with this information once they’ve got it?
At Facebook, we really view our role as helping businesses and startups thrive. This framework is really meant to give companies inspiration for how they could grow, and how they could leverage Facebook platforms and expertise to achieve some of this business growth, and give them very actionable, easy to use guides for how they could implement this into their business strategy starting tomorrow.
But some of these are pretty in-depth exercises that require companies to, in a sense, mentally break down the company to understand who we really are, what we do, and who else could we reach.
Yes, but you could start those exercises tomorrow!
I imagine this would help with even the sharpest startups who’ve maybe grasped one thing, and done that really well, but then some competitor comes along that does the exact same thing and you think “Where do I go now?”. Or maybe you’ve hit a wall with the number of people you’re reaching and you think, “What do I do now?” So for even very bright startups, here’s how to get to that next step.
In the version that we presented in the seminar, which also appears in the introductory video, we present the idea that in the life of a business you grow fast, then grow slower, then eventually decline. So it’s really about helping companies constantly innovate, so they’re constantly avoiding that decline, or heading towards the decline.
I always thought it was a pretty radical to say, as you do in the introductory video: “Your company was born, and it’s going to die.”
But all companies do die. Unless they know how to evolve.
Right, but it seems like a bold thing to say.
We didn’t invent that either – it’s business economics. When we presented the analogy in our seminar we say it’s the same as humans and all living things. And there aren’t many exceptions to this trajectory.
Is this even more true in the time of Covid?
Covid really created pressure-testing for which companies were agile and innovative and which companies weren’t. And so companies that have that mindset for constantly looking for the business opportunity, who can constantly innovate while continuing to protect their base, have survived. And many of them have flourished, if they were able to capitalize on an opportunity. Companies that move slow, and couldn’t quickly adapt, took a big hit. Covid showed the importance of having that kind of mindset.
Thank you Einav – it’s been a pleasure.
Thank you, Kyle!