A story of growth hacking too soon
Jul 03, 2017
Estimated Reading Time: 4 Mins
I am going to tell you the story of how I lost a client for growth hacking him too soon. Recently I started the agency side of my business. 6 months in and I hated it and shut it down. I don't like paperwork and operational overhead, just let me do the work of marketing and I am a happy camper. However, I did LOVE the growth hacking side of it and am all in on that! Having my own ego, I detest admitting defeat, however, like a true growth hacker, I realize this is just another test. Like my ancestor, Thomas Edison, "I have not failed. I've just found 10000 ways that won't work."
This is a tale of caution to other growth hackers and companies thinking about hiring a growth hacker.
I have been hacking the growth of my own business for 15 years. I was new to the growth hacking process for other companies, and I made two mistakes.
Make sure the instrumentation is in place first
To begin with, this client had no CRM, no tracking, no landing pages and no analytics in place there was no baseline, zero. So the first phase was implementing systems that would track everything for them. One of his team was resisting this all the way. He was an instrumental member of his team, so it made it challenging. If I could advise anything here, make sure the CEO is strong enough to stand up to his employees or make sure all of the employees are on board with growth hacking and don't feel threatened by it. Also, growth doesn’t happen overnight when you start from zero. Don't do contracts less than 1 year with a 6-month optional release. You need time to produce results and most importantly choose a later stage company than I did. (unless you are a prospector - more on that below)
What I did right
We got the system in place and started advertising. In one of our tests of the system, I managed to get his CPC down to 46% less than the average Facebook CPC. In another test, I increased the sign ups on a landing page by 100%. In another we found that they definitely had product market fit - their users LOVED their product. However, none of that matters if their budget is too small to make a significant difference. Which leads me to the next thing I did wrong.
Don't work with a company who isn't ready to growth hack yet
Yes, growth hacking can help your company acquire exponential growth, but not if you aren't growing already. I can't stress enough that without product/market fit and funding, growth hacking can be a bumpy ride. If you aren't getting more than 5K in visitors a month, you aren't ready for growth hacking. Tests need numbers to be statistically viable. If you aren't experiencing at least 20% growth year over year. You aren't ready yet.
First of all 9/10 hacks fail. Next, as a business owner, you need to have the following skills. The "Boss Skills" below were inspired by Morgan Brown, who leads Growth Hacking at Booking.com
- You must be ok with being wrong.
- Okay with being proven wrong.
- Okay having your ideas tested like everyone else's.
- Okay changing your strategy based on tests.
- Okay relinquishing control of the product to your customers.
- Okay with unexpected and unintended results.
- You must be willing to invest in experimentation and instrumentation.
I've learned my lesson, and I'll keep learning every day that I am alive, thanks to groups like Growthhackers.com and others.
So what does a growth lead do?
The growth lead reports to the CEO and works with the heads of marketing, engineering, and product development to maximize growth. They focus on NOTHING ELSE but the growth of your business. Sometimes they can perform marketing, engineering or product development as well, depending on their skill set.
5 benefits of growth hacking
When you let your customers drive the direction of your business your growth will be exponential
Learn how to acquire more of your customers for less.
Deliver a better onboarding experience for your customers.
Learn what keeps your customers coming back to your product or service.
Learn what will drive your customers to refer more business to you.
Find happy customers who will not only refer more business but will purchase more products and services from you. What makes them different? Double down on THAT!
What I learned about myself in all of this
I've learned what kind of growth hacker I am, I am called a miner. I am really good at seeing what is wrong or missing in established companies because I have been doing it for my own business for so long. Nothing compares to just the raw experience of doing digital marketing for 15 years.
"Miner growth hackers do best in post product-market fit conditions when their skills are needed to excavate datasets in large and/or fast-growing businesses and find ways to turn those insights into even more growth." ~Venturebeat
Marni shares cool things that will help you build a business that serves your life. She has designed a life where she works 4 days a week for 4 hours a day and can work from home to be with her family. She lives an active life golfing, paddleboarding, snowboarding and yoga as well as weight lifting. She writes for iBusiness magazine.