Understanding Growth Hacking: A 5-Step Guide

Growth Hacking. Few concepts are as polarizing and revolutionary, simultaneously. Is it marketing in disguise? Is it just another buzzword? Is it interchangeable with digital marketing?
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the silver bullet that people think it is. You can’t magically “hack” your way to a million users overnight. It is a process that requires a serious shift in the way your entire organization thinks about and works towards growth. And like any real, meaningful change, it takes time.

So How Did This Come About?

We all know the phrase “growth hacker” was coined by Sean Ellis in 2010. When Sean was asked why he felt the need to coin a new phrase he said that it stemmed from his frustration while he was hiring replacements for himself.
Sean helped a range of internet companies achieve incredible growth, and many of them even had an IPO. Needless to mention , Sean became the guy that the valley sought out, any time they needed to grow their user base, and he would take equity and payment in exchange for his services. He essentially became a one man growth shop, setting up systems, processes, and mindsets that could be maintained even after he left. Eventually, he would pass on the keys to his growth machine to somebody else , and he would ride away into the sunset. This is where the problems started.
While looking for his replacement he would often receive resumes that were legit, but not relevant. They had marketing degrees and marketing experience, but they were still missing something. Sean knew that the type of strategies he employed weren’t necessarily represented in the standard playbooks employed by traditional marketers, and if he gave them the reins it might not be a good fit.
A traditional marketer has a broad focus, and while their skill set is extremely valuable, it’s not as necessary, early during a startup’s life. You don’t need someone to “build and manage a marketing team or outside vendors” or “create a strategic marketing plan to achieve corporate objectives” or the very many of things that marketers are usually tasked with doing.
Early during a startup, you simply need one thing. Growth.
Sean asked for marketers. He got marketers. So he changed what he asked for. The title of his landmark blog post was “Find a Growth Hacker for Your Startup” and the idea was born.
Like Sean, we, at Savittr, firmly believe that much of growth hacking comes down to systems and processes. It’s about finding the weaknesses in a system and exploiting them. It’s about the processes of continual ideation, prioritization, testing, and analyzing. Hence we also believe that the same principles of growth hacking can be applied to larger organizations as well – not just startups.
There is of course, no one size fits all approach. But with some basics in place, anyone can start seeing results.
Here’s your 5-step guide to get there.

1) Develop A Growth Mindset

The growth mindset is not a new concept. It is all about challenging yourself. It is about discovering and acknowledging that you simply are capable of much more than you give yourself credit for. Growth hackers are known for thinking big, taking risks and constantly asking the question “what if?”. This relentless pursuit of a goal, even when it pushes the boundaries of their comfort zone, is what makes growth hackers effective.

2) Build A Culture Of Experimentation And Agility

Growth marketing means continual experimentation with not just the tools available to the modern marketer but also the methods. Digging deep and testing marketing ideas quickly, puts your team in a new state of mind. You no longer have the luxury of time and have to become more creative and agile.
No matter how experienced you are, there is simply no way of knowing if your long-term marketing strategy will work unless you try it out in the market. And if it doesn’t, you’ve just wasted a lot of time and fallen behind. What instead works, is an experiment-driven process. It helps you to test out multiple strategies, and find the ones that fit your requirements the best.
By adopting Agile Marketing techniques, your team can experiment, get results and improvise quicker. Instead of plans that last a quarter or longer, Agile Marketing uses shorter, finite periods of intensive work sequences known as Sprints. Each sprint can be 2-4 weeks long and has its own goals and KPIs. This instead prioritizes achievable goals over fake numbers that look good on long-term strategy slides.

3) Talk To Your Customers And Identify Their Needs

Entrepreneurs sometimes fall in love with the products they create, and when they fail to sell, they are often unwilling to let go. They fruitlessly spend all their time, money and energy trying to push something for which there is no market. Don’t let this be you.
How can you avoid this? By listening carefully to your market and tailoring your product to what your potential customers are already asking for. It seems obvious, right? It’s amazing how often this gets neglected.

4) Trust The Data

There is no room in the world of growth hacking for assumptions. As the saying goes, “When you assume, you make…”, well, you know the rest. All decisions should be based on data. And in order to have that data, you need to start measuring, and more importantly know what to measure.
Many marketers or SMB owners, in the traditional marketing sense, wouldn’t be able to say what the ROI was on their most recent marketing campaign, likely because they don’t know what to measure, or they do but don’t have the proper measurement tools to do so. Knowing what and how to measure can be challenging, but it is critical.
If you succeed in reaching a target, but you didn’t track and measure everything you did, you don’t know what it was that led to success. Conversely, if you fail at something, without measurement you won’t be able to avoid the same mistake next time.

5) Get Comfortable With Tools And Tech

Growth hacking and technology go hand in hand. It relies heavily on technology to get you the results. And technology helps you measure and harness the data that is so critical to this process.
But let’s clear up one big misconception first. You don’t need to be a developer to be a good growth hacker. Marketers don’t need to learn to write code but you must have a technical mindset and be willing to use the necessary tools. There are plenty of tools out there that will allow technical-minded marketers to do the work of a developer. An ideal growth team will have a developer in the team anyway.
We’ve all seen this famous martech landscape infographic and it’s only going to get more complex with new tools and products sprouting up every day. Yes, the tools are critical but don’t get carried away with the shiny new kid on the block. You can achieve a lot with a very basic set of tools. Always remember people first, then process, followed by tools.
So, convinced enough to give this a shot? Experiment and let us know how you fared.
Overwhelmed? Get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to guide you every step of the way.

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