Pay Mark First! Why Marketing Should Always Be an Investment Priority

Infusionsoft is a $100 million company employing close to 700 people. So, how did the founders take it from a boot-strap startup to a class-leading software company in just over 12 years?  They committed to reinvesting 40% of revenue back into marketing.

That’s a huge number – and an even larger commitment. Yet, those entrepreneurs understood that marketing is what fuels growth. As a previous BuilderRadio guest, Mark Stevens, put it, “Marketing is the jet fuel that will take your business to the next level.”

Infusionsoft still lives by this creed – and they still reinvest 40% of revenue into marketing.  Why? Because that’s what it will take to reach their growth objectives.

Brett Gilliland, VP of Infusionsoft, joins us for a candid interview on that company’s meteoric growth and their continued commitment to helping small businesses succeed, and why marketing is integral to their growth – and yours.

Listen to the interview by clicking the “PLAY” button above.

Additional quotes from Infusionsoft CEO, Clate Mask:

From Inc. Magazine:

Don’t ignore “Mark”

When I came to Infusionsoft, I joined with two existing partners. They handled everything on the software side and I was tasked with marketing and growing the business.

On one of my first days, I went through our books to get a clear picture of the budget. In the payroll section there was a whopping bootstrapper salary of $2,000 each month set aside for the three of us.

Then there was $5,000 for a guy named Mark, who I apparently had not yet met. Was there another partner these guys didn’t tell me about?

After I wondered aloud to my two partners who this well-paid Mark was, they both had a good laugh. “Mark” was the monthly marketing budget.

Herein lies the “money” portion of the time and money equation. These guys were smart enough to pay for marketing just like they paid themselves–better actually. By treating marketing like another person on the payroll, we guaranteed that the money would be spent to grow the business to the best of our abilities.

About 40 percent of monthly sales were reinvested back into marketing, and that’s a huge amount of money for any startup to reinvest. But it worked, and I credit my techie co-founders for their commitment to paying “Mark” first, and to paying him well.

Entrepreneurs are continually faced with the dilemma of what to invest in–technology, people, training, an office? The options are endless, but marketing is the investment most often overlooked–and the investment most essential to make.

If you aren’t out there marketing your business, you can be assured no one else is, either.

Additional Resource:  Catch Me If You Can: How to Get Sales Leads to Chase You


Over the past 7 years, Brett Gilliland has leveraged his extensive experience in strategic planning, culture and vision work to help Infusionsoft scale from a scrappy start-up with under 100 employees to a venture-backed industry leader with 675 employees. 

Brett has been an integral part of Infusionsoft’s quarterly planning process and is one of the original creators of Infusionsoft’s Elite Forum, a leadership development program for small business owners. He also helped craft the core values and leadership model at Infusionsoft and established processes for strategic planning, recruiting and employee development. 

Brett has a master’s degree in organizational behavior and is a huge fan of Jim Collins. 

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