In this week's newsletter: What is Anti-Scaling? How Doing Less Leads to More
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Weekly Briefing No. 197
by Edwin Abl

Hey — It's Ed. Welcome to my weekly briefing, scale smarter. 

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The Number #1 reason CMOs fail 
What is Anti-Scaling? How doing less leads to more

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2. The best thing you can do for your team is to give them reasons to stay hopeful and optimistic.

To do that, leverage the Progress Principle.

3. Any action, no matter how small, can spark momentum. Once we’re moving, we find the motivation to keep going. Don’t wait for motivation. Act for momentum. Interestingly, this fits my anti-scaling advice to scale-ups; the connection is the same principle.

Don’t think about doing “scaling” activities before you get the basics working and building momentum.



4. When you need a CMO. And the #1 reason CMOs fail. I like the point here on “A true CMO also executes the CEO’s vision” because when I was an operator, I thought it was my job to define and execute the vision (in my siloed thinking). I should have taken this quarterback approach to work closer on executing and refining the vision - funnily enough, which is what I do now. 

Insight: And CEOs — don’t expect magic from your CMO. Expect someone that can take what you’ve already built, make it scale, and work better through the next few phases of growth. That’s enough.

5. Thinking about getting back to basics in 2023?

Often, the threat of an impending slow-down helps to re-focus the mind (well, I find that true). Think deeper about removing bloat from your go-to-market plans and OTT strategic wish lists. In terms of making progress towards the number, I’d suggest just breaking down and learning about what little things drive the biggest leverage. 

To scale the business, you need to NOT focus on the big outcome; you need to: 

🟢 Get the little things right. 
🟢 Understand what your little things are. 
🟢 Then, the big things will take care of themselves. 

6. Starting. Community. Is. So. Hard. I know. I’ve probably failed at doing it multiple times. Here’s why. The first step in the right direction is this cool idea called ‘first study your people. Because, to build a community, you need to understand your people first.



7. What things in your life could use some sacred focus? Choose just a small handful that actually matters to you. I use this idea to create “Sacred Focus” blocks in my calendar; how will you use yours? 

Read more on sacred focus 

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 🤔  What is Anti-Scaling? How Doing Less Leads to More

Seven simple ideas on how to embed anti-scaling in your GTM:  

1. Positioning and value proposition 

Most SaaS between $2m - $10m ARR companies get far too ahead of themselves with positioning. They believe the vision (and using the significant change in the world story will motivate buyers). Anti-scaling focuses on making your positioning simple enough to engage a small audience that understands the sales story; then, you expand the vision later. 

Everything starts with the sales story (you need revenue). 

You don't want a confusing ideological message externally or internally.

2. Content Marketing 

Post or pre-investment is all about "scaling" content production and distribution. The content plan will never get done because the program often contains too much, i.e. six blogs per month, one thought leadership piece, 6 SEO blogs, and two new case studies. 

Slim the content plan. Don't think about scaling it. Just focus on one or two content streams. Do them well, and then go broader. 

You don't want lots of poor-quality content that does not engage a minimum viable audience. 

3. Outbound Marketing

To hit your number, it's all about "automating" and "scaling" outbound. Most do this without ever knowing what's working. Most spend six months evaluating tech because they feel it will make your process scalable. You buy it and spend one day writing the content before a mass send. Congratulations, you managed to scale your email sends, but your conversion rate is 0%. 

Anti-scaling says to focus on a smaller set of accounts, focus efforts on writing, getting the right message and getting results. Once you determine whether outbound works, you build a more scalable plan.

Not the other way around. 

You don't want loads of activities and zero results. 

4. Field Marketing

Get started. Scaling field marketing is about getting started, consistency and a mixture of event types. For example, owned (small breakfasts, dinners and small co-marketing events), webinars, conferences, round-tables and more. 

You can wait to know the complete plan. Start with running small breakfasts or dinners once per month. Start with one conference. Get a good process before investing heavily in "scaling" your events program. 

You don't want 50+ events with no pipeline delivered. 

5. OKRs

You don't need to have 55 OKRs across the business. 

a) You'll probably only finish writing them halfway through the quarter, and before you know it, it's quarter-end already—a waste of time. 

b) It won't help you scale. 

But keeping a lean set of OKRs that are simple will.

You don't want ineffective OKRs every quarter. 

6. Hiring 

You get investment to "scale" the team, sure thing that's part of the plan. But the anti-scaling mindset is about "getting the right capabilities" and "resources", not the number of resources. 

Understand how to use resources efficiently. Most groups or teams must be more productive and fail because the plan is too broad. 

Create a slim, high-performance environment. Then scale the team.

You don't want a large group of unproductive people. 

7. Hiring the CMO or CRO

Most CEOs want to hire someone who has "scaled" revenue previously at their ARR range. In theory, great. Often, it fails to work out because it's hard to go back into the trenches if they have become too BAU. 

Anti-scaling says to look at the capabilities and potential of an individual to adapt to the needs within the ARR phase. These people may not over-complicate things and get support through a mentor to validate their plan. 

It makes a world of difference.

You don't want someone to come in and solely focus on building systems and infrastructure. 


Those are seven simple ideas that have an anti-scaling mindset at the core. What would you add to the list?



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This newsletter is my passion project. I hope it helps you gain deeper insight and equips you to learn at the pace needed to keep up. Many readers have asked about how we can work together. In case you’re interested, I do three things.

(1) DUE DILIGENCE: A bespoke framework and capability model ‘DEMAND KARMA’ that delivers DD services to investors, VC firms and CEOs. 

(2) GTM COACHING: Retained advising at funded scale-ups. A simple monthly fee. Helping CEOs build a scalable marketing machine.

(3) MENTORING: Designed for people looking to get to the next level — My sweet spot is helping to mentor developing new CMOs, VPs, Directors and "Head of"  / aspiring leaders to step into the CxO role.

If you’re interested, let’s jump on a call to see if you’re a good fit. 

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Edwin Abl · 32 Lavender Sweep · London, London SW11 1HA · United Kingdom