How Did You Become Passionate About Business Growth?

Unlike a lot of other people that come from a traditional marketing background, […] to teach history and history is nothing but a bunch of lessons of we thought we were going to do this and we ended up doing that. We get a lot of sanitized versions of it but pretty much nothing in history has ever gone exactly according to plan and that fact has always been a passion for me and the stories of that.

Growth is about finding those opportunities in the business world and in the companies I work for – all these things that we think we should be doing this and we end up doing that and finding those things and learning those things and teaching about all those opportunities is really what I love doing.

What Results Have You Gotten?

I’ve been doing this for fourteen, fifteen years now. I’ve worked with 300 different companies. Again, all of my favorite stories are those that come from we thought we’d do this then do that.

A perfect example, I was working with one of the largest SEM programs in the world for a financial services company and they had seven key products and they wanted to build a landing page that just served the products and information based on what the person was searching for – which is something that was suggested and didn’t come to practice. Instead, we talked him into testing out the content to everyone to see if it was matching right because, if the product meets the match, they’ll be the best performer and, every other outcome, we would find a better outcome.

What we ended up finding was, if we had done exactly what they originally wanted to do, we would have lost about 18 percent of leads which is millions and millions of dollars for them. But, instead, by doing that, we discovered that the only correlation between products was a couple that didn’t match but, by looking at browser or time of day and serving content based on that, we were able to get about a 24 percent increase.

Again, it’s another one of those cases where we thought we were going to go left and we ended up going right. Those types of stories happen in my current role in all the different companies I’ve worked for.

What Do You Do Differently than Other Practitioners that You Think Is Hugely Valuable?

So much of the space is about how do we measure and do what we think is going to work best. In the optimization space, a lot of how do we validate this hypothesis or validate these ideas that we have and everything that I do is about how do we look at all the possible options and prove ourselves wrong, not right. You’re able to get into a lot of things that other people aren’t even aware of.

In my case, I’m a math nerd so things like fragility, math of efficiencies and system thinking which allows us to both validate if those ideas are right but, in the day, we actually make more money when we’re wrong. By doing that, we’re able to have far more successes, far higher rate of impact to businesses and be more efficient with it.

That’s really the core of what I teach and how I work with people – again, teaching them the discipline to go past their own egos and their own previous thoughts and keep building on it.

What Are Your Thoughts on Growth Hacking?

Growth hacking or growth marketing, in a lot of ways, is one of those open-ended terms that you use for a lot of things. In a lot of cases, it’s just data-validated marketing. “We’re going to do what we did before, we’re just going to throw a different name of it and kind of measure things.”

To me, it’s really this opportunity to rethink classic marketing or classic online marketing and to go past just looking at channels or looking at outcomes to, again, explore and exploit information and to keep building things.

There’s a lot of great voices out there but there’s also a lot of voices that use different words to teach people to do what they’ve already been doing or to feel better about what they’re already doing. And so, growth marketing kind of gets a bad name in my mind from that. But there’s also a lot of key people out there that really help people learn and go a different way.

You know, to get a different outcome, you have to be doing a different action. And so, whether you want to call that growth marketing or exploration or whatever, it’s a great opportunity learn and grow and go different ways whether it’s how you do spend or how you talk to customers or even what channels or markets you explore into. It’s a great wide unknown and it really allows you to keep going in different directions as opposed to being under the constraints of classic marketing.

What Role Does Data Play in the Day to Day Grind of Growth Hacking?

Data is like oxygen, right? We don’t exist without data, but just having data isn’t enough.

So much of marketing and data usage is for validation or what I usually refer to as data-justified marketing, not data-driven marketing. You know, there was that classic saying that you use data like a drunk man uses a light post for support rather than illumination.

To me, data is all about how do you just have the discipline and be able to disassociate the outcomes or the measure of the outcomes from the concept you want to do and the execution that concept. By doing that and only using data to really drive decisions as opposed to find something that proves what I’m trying to do, it really opens up conversations and gets far more results.

One of the things I tell people is you can ask for data on anything but, unless you can prove how it’s going to add marginal value, it’s not something that I’m going to provide to you because you’re just doing it to make yourself feel good.

Data is both the most valued and least valued part of just about any organization.