Last week we dove into my "no networking" philosophy, which gave you a taste of how I choose to run my business. With that said, the people that are in my life, as friends, colleagues and peers, consistently amaze me. I met Jason Pummill about a year and a half ago at my day job. We worked closely together on many lead generation campaigns and in our off time commiserated about life, business and art. When Jason was scooped off by a new company and gained the official title of "Growth Hacker" I was not shocked at all. Jason's knowledge of digital marketing is far ahead of the curve, so when he showed interest in writing for the blog, I jumped at the opportunity. I hope you enjoy his take on the "growth hacking" midset!
What is Growth Hacking?
Growth hacking is a marketing technique that employs a testable and scalable methodology to growing your business. To be clear, growth hacking is not a toolkit, but rather a mindset at which you approach problems. Strategies and tactics employed for one business or product do not always translate to another. It is the mindset of the growth hacker that is important, not the tactics which is why great growth hackers focus on creativity, metrics and analytics.
Mass Marketing vs. Mass Customization
As a Growth Hacker it is my responsibility to gain exposure, create engagement, generate leads, drive demand, acquire customers and ultimately provide growth for my clients. How I have accomplished this has changed a lot over the years. Since the advent of the internet, technology has been empowering the customer and we continue to see audiences split into smaller and more unique niches across more and more diverse channels. As mass marketing fades away and mass customization takes hold it creates both an obstacle and an opportunity for small businesses.
Mass customization has been a blessing in disguise for small business because even though it is fragmenting the audience it also enables you to identify niche markets and theoretically target your marketing to your specific niche. The only catch is you need to fully understand how your product aligns with your audience and that is where growth hacking can help.
The Growth Hacking Process
Part of my job consists of looking for loopholes and under appreciated opportunities, but I also need to build a repeatable process that incorporates experimentation and drives predictable results. Most growth hackers utilize a process similar to the scientific process that looks something like this:
- Research and define actionable goals
- Implement analytics to track goals
- Execute and optimize the experiment
- Analyze data and draw conclusions
- Rinse and Repeat
As you can see the process is pretty simple and straightforward; it’s also extremely effective.
Growth Hacking Your Small Business
So, how do you apply this to a small business? You start at the very beginning and define your product and/or service. The first question to ask is:
- What problem(s) do you solve for?
This forces you to think of your business/product from the perspective of your customer. What problems do you solve for them? How do you make their lives easier? Most businesses will know the answer to this question immediately, but be sure you've really thought about it from the perspective of your customer. After we know that then we want to start understanding more about your audience. Here are the next three questions to ask:
- Who is your customer and what do they want?
- Where are your customers and what moves them?
- What is the language of your customer?
Some of these answers will be clear to you, while others will require research and testing. This is where you can begin employing the growth hacking mindset. You can utilize an experiment to gather and/or confirm your answers by surveying your current customers or even doing some SEO testing using various messages and offers across optimized landing pages. In my experience, I have found that many small businesses don’t know as much about their customers as they think and this tends to be a very eye opening first exercise. It also tends to be a first step in improving product and audience alignment, which is at the core of growth hacking.
This is just the first step of growth hacking, but it’s a huge step because it gets you in the right mindset of experimentation, innovation and optimization!
Now you are Growth Hacking!
After you have accurately answered these four questions and performed the necessary experiment to gather/confirm your results you have officially started growth hacking. What you attack next will depend on your situation, but in most cases you will dive right in and begin testing traffic sources, channels, messaging, offers and tools. I can’t tell you exactly what you should begin testing without knowing a little about your situation, but messaging and traffic sources are almost always a great place to begin (I recommend starting with SEO as well).
How far you will be able to hack your growth will be limited to your experience with marketing and online tools such as email, search, analytics, social media, content development and more. The good news is there are a lot of great online resources and tools on how to get started with growth hacking as well as an army of growth hacking professionals that you can employ based on specific needs.
What steps are you taking to grow your business? How could you benefit by doing this internal analysis?