Growth Hacking Geniuses - Maree Jones - Visual Summary

Maree Jones

How Did You Start Your Journey in Growth and Digital Marketing?

You know, it’s a funny story and it’s something that I would never ever – ever – recommend for a business to do.

I actually started out managing social media for a company that I was working for many, many years ago. It was a magazine publishing company. I was already working there, doing advertising, sales, and I was doing really well. I was very motivated and won several contests. But they kind of put me in-charge of social media and, really, my only qualification was that I was the youngest person in the office. And so, kind of by default, I was given that role and took it on for an additional $25.00 a week.

Since then, I’ve kind of found my niche and have grown that role but, yeah, it’s something that I would never recommend businesses to do.

What Are Your Thoughts on Growth Hacking or Growth Marketing?

You know, I believe growth hacking and growth marketing is really a response to the way that different online avenues have really changed the marketplace. Being reactive is really being the new proactive. As these technologies emerge, people who are able to respond, who are able to practice growth hacking have a huge advantage over people who only practice kind of the traditional marketing.

Growth hacking certainly does not take the place of traditional marketing but it’s a really cool compliment to it in that you can have those longer planning cycles but you can also be reactive in real-time.

What Are the Top Three Qualities that a Growth Hacker Should Have?

I think the first one is that they’re always looking for partnerships or integrations that make sense.

The smartest growth hackers that I’ve seen and worked with understand that one plus one equals three and that, the more you can find people and organizations to work with and to kind of grow your business, the better off you’re going to be in this environment.

You know, the second one I would say is a sense of curiosity or experimentation – being willing to try new things, new approaches, and really being reactionary while the marketplace may change or new technologies may develop.

Finally, I would say that user experience as well as the technical chops are very important. But thinking about the value that you can provide to a potential customer or partner is really important. Yes, you do have to have the technical chops to kind of bring it to life but you also have to have that creativity and that understanding of human experience to kind of bring to the table as well.

What Are Some Resources You Encourage People to Explore?

You know, a lot of times, I will come across clients who are maybe startups or entrepreneurs and they’re simply strapped for cash. They do not have a budget for marketing or PR or social media management. They can’t afford it so they kind of resort to approaches that are more along the lines of growth hacking – you know, referrals, loyalty programs, and things like that. Because of that lean cash flow, I like to point them in the direction of free resources as much as possible, if I can help them.

Sites like Kissmetrics have a wealth of information about growth hacking and even some of those non-conventional sites like Quora have a lot of information that’s community-driven and, really, heavily slanted to growth hacking.

Which Tools Do You Use to Grow Your Business or Help Clients Grow Theirs?

I specialize mostly in PR, content, social media, and there are lots of different ways to kind of growth hack those and to put some things on automation so that you can continue to work on your business. You can kind of set it and forget it, so to speak.

I really like tools like Hootsuite or Buffer that really make managing those multiple channels and social media more effective and having to log into an account or change a password or things like that. It saves people a lot of time in which they can work on other things and not have to worry about social media growth. It kind of puts them on auto-pilot a little bit.

For email marketing or content, there’s lots of really great things like CoSchedule. I use Emma for email marketing. I’ve also used MailChimp. Those kinds of tools have a lot of options that are very affordable if not free. They’re really great resources to kind of build your email list, build your social media following so that you can embrace kind of those principles of growth hacking.

Growth Hacking Geniuses - Arvell Craig - Visual Summary

Arvell Craig

How Did You Start?

I got into marketing and designing and a lot of things back in the late 90’s.

In college, I started messing around with websites. I studied computer science in school. But, before I got done, I was just watching how the internet was growing. I just got right into it. and so, I started out doing design and logos – kind of just straight local business stuff. Through the years, I’ve grown to understand the value.

At the beginning, I started out just doing stuff because it was a skill, it was a talent, it was fun. But, when you start to understand what people want, that a lot of the tools, a lot of the techniques, a lot of the cute stuff are just a means to an end, I learned to discover that people didn’t really care about the design. They wanted results. It was like, year after year, I’m always growing towards figuring out how to get people what they really want.

And so, starting off in Photoshop and then Dreamweaver and HTML. I’d see, over the years, as technology continues to grow, whatever is new, wherever people’s attention are, that’s kind of where I find myself learning and spending time – whatever it takes to get in front of people’s faces – in front of their attention.

How Do You Attract Leads?

There’s a couple of different ways. Depending on the project or the campaign, my bread and butter, the quickest, fastest, easiest way to get leads is going to be through email.

Again, the simplest way is going to be taking an existing database and either warming those leads up and getting them to re-engage existing leads into buying additional purchases. We can take those same leads and, again, depending on how we want to incentivize them, depending on
how you want to throw the pitch or the story, we can initiate some kind of referral or affiliate campaign whereby any of our existing customers or leads will be motivated to send our offer or send our product to somebody they know. If you can formulate the pitch in a certain way, they’re going to benefit from goodwill of sharing a really great offer with someone else.

Email is always the shortest, quickest, easiest way to get some new business in. but, other than that, I’ll do content marketing – whether it’s writing on my own blog or writing on Medium or different places where attention is and then directing the traffic to the site and then doing some lead form there. And then, I’ll do Facebook ads because that’s the hottest social media site right now so that’s always a way to get some new leads in.

What Are the Top 3 Qualities Growth Hackers Should Have?

The top three qualities that I find is valuable is – one – they have to be able to understand their customer. They have to be able to understand the motivations, the psychology, the fears and the desires of whoever they’re going after – whether it’s email, whether it’s paid traffic, whether it’s cold email, whether it’s Facebook, webinars, everything – it’s going to fall based upon understanding the motivations and the desires of who they’re targeting.

The second quality that I’ve learned or discovered in the past couple of years is really kind of more of a self-understanding – understanding your personal strength, your personal skill. There is this test called the Marketing DNA Test by this guy named Perry Marshall. It’s a phenomenal assessment for any person in sales or marketing to understand what is the greatest quality that you have that brings the greatest results for other people.

Whenever I’m working with someone or a business, I always want them to understand and assess their own strengths – their own marketing strengths – because that’s a long-term strategy. You can learn and watch a blog or take anybody else’s tactics for a couple of days or a couple of weeks or a couple of months. You can grind it out by being somebody that you’re not. But I find, if you can leverage your own strengths, you’ll get the greatest results.

And then, number three, a big quality I find in marketing – again, I’m a part of a couple of masterminds here locally and also online – just really
not being independent, not being solo, not being a lone ranger but finding ways to leverage the knowledge of other people live. Interacting one-on-one through a mastermind or maybe hiring a coach or a mentor, but always involving someone else in your game plan is going to be a great win for you.

Who Are Your Role Models for Growth Marketing?

My role models are Perry Marshall. I mentioned the Marketing DNA Test. He also wrote a great book called 80/20 Sales and Marketing. I’m a part of his community. I’ve been following him for years. He wrote the first biggest book on AdWords – I don’t know – ten years ago. So, he’s been around for a long time.

There’s another guy who to me is not as widely known because he’s not active on social media a lot but his name is Dean Jackson. He’s been around ten, fifteen, twenty years. He’s got some simple, very direct, phenomenal strategies. They’re simple and they work. So, Dean Jackson is somebody I love to follow.

And then, I would probably say Gary Vaynerchuk which a lot of people know of. I’ve been really following and listening to what he’s been saying lately and I love that he’s not just about hustle – he also gets into the self-awareness or kind of leveraging your strengths or knowing what makes a difference to you. But he’s great for practicality and for the motivation to grind and to hustle and to get results.

Those are my top three role models.

Which Tools Do You Use to Grow Your Business?

My favorite tools right now for hacking, marketing, growing, there’s a couple of them.

For conversion rate optimization, I like Instapage – that’s my favorite landing page builder that I’m using now that’s getting the best results for split testing landing pages. I use Active Campaign as my marketing automation email system of choice. It’s phenomenally simple and easy. I may have used InfusionSoft – I use that on another site. I use MailChimp. But Active Campaign – plus it’s got a CRM for managing leads and pipeline but for the price point and the features, there’s nothing that compares to it.

I also use Tout – not for my existing emails or my existing customers but Tout is great for cold leads for getting new customers if I want to get them through email. So, Tout at toutapp.com is that site. Those are, like, my favorite three – Instapage, Active Campaign, and Tout are my top three right now.

Wes Walls - Visual Summary

Wes Walls

1. How Did You Become Passionate About Growth Hacking and Digital Marketing?

Before I discovered digital marketing, my big career passion was music. So actually I went to school for music and spent many years focused on that. One of the things that I love about music and attracted me to that is obviously, among many things, the creating aspect and the idea that you can sort of marry the creative and the technical to produce something that people can experience and listen to.

There was always that attraction to merging creative and technical I think. So when I decided that music wasn’t something that I was going to do as a long-term career, I was looking for something else and digital marketing was a natural fit just because of that.

When I started it was sort of an emerging field, a lot of people were learning what it is and developing the concept of digital marketing so there were a lot of opportunities, and in Montreal where I was living, the digital marketing community was very well becoming friendly and it just felt like a natural direction to head in.

2. Would You Mind Telling Us More About Your Role at Bandzoogle and Your Work With Other Companies?

I’ve been with Bandzoogle for about a year, and before that I was working with a startup called LANDR. The role really is pretty straightforward, it is helping to grow the company and the bottom line at the end of the day.

Practically speaking, what it comes down to is as a growth hacker, it is sort of bringing all the skills that I have and everything that I’ve learned working in the past at agencies specializing in various areas of digital marketing and bringing all that in and becoming a generalist, to pull everything together and do as much as you can with those skills. It’s everything from planning, the big picture, understanding where the business seems to go, working with key stakeholders in the business, so everything from that to, because we’re a small thing, to doing most of that as well. I’ll bring in specialists when needed, for design, copy, videos, or whatever, into projects.

But aside from that, it’s everything from tracking, analysis, strategy, planning, execution, and the range of tactics that run the gambit, from paid ads, analytics, copywriting, design, PR, outreach, tactical SEO, project management, conversion optimization, email marketing, among many other things. It’s using everything, pulling all the stops to grow the business.

Bandzoogle is a platform for musicians who need a website, essentially, so if you’re a band or any kind of music artist. It’s a platform that has everything you need to promote your music and sell your music in one package. You don’t need any technical skills to do that, for most musicians they don’t necessarily have a lot of technical skills, obviously.

Most musicians would prefer to spend their time making music, not necessarily learning how to make a WordPress website. Bandzoogle allows people to not have to do that, so everything is drag-and-drop, really easy to use, very low learning curve, and there’s no need to look around for all sorts of solutions, everything is there, ready to drag-and-drop into your website. That’s the idea of Bandzoogle.

It’s really a time saver. I remember that myself, as a musician, obviously promoting yourself as an artist is a pretty important thing, and a website is a really key part of that. There are obviously many other things that you need to do, but a website is sort of a keystone. I remember spending quite a lot of time myself learning how to use WordPress and build a WordPress site, looking at WordPress templates, learning to play with HTML and stuff like that. Personally I would have liked to save myself a lot of time and Bandzoogle would have been a good solution had I known about it back then.

3. What Are the Top 3 Qualities That a Growth Hacker Should Have?

I think there’s probably more than three, but I think from my perspective, one of the things that is a daily challenge as a growth hacker is there is no rulebook. You have a challenge, you have a problem to solve, but there is no rulebook for solving it. So I think having that sort of analytical problem solving ability is an important thing. So being able to, first of all, creating a framework for where you want to go and where you’re starting from, developing a process for how to get from A to B without any sort of reference in terms of how to do that or you’re trying to do necessarily. So it’s really being able to work with stakeholders to create your own objectives, getting to know what your objectives are, getting to know what your metrics are, and figuring out for yourself how you can move your needle on your metrics. So I think you need to have some good analytical problem solving skills to achieve that and be successful in your role as a growth hacker.

I think definitely creativity is an important one. No matter how many skills you have, technical skills you have, how much planning or strategy you do, if you’re not able to put together a compelling campaign, you probably aren’t going to see much movement on what you’re trying to do. I think there’s an art form to good marketing and I think having that creative ability to create good marketing is a good quality.

The last thing is, this is the best way I can say it: having a fire under your feet. You need ideas obviously to start from, but ideas are the easiest things to come with. The hardest thing to do is actually getting stuff done. Even not necessarily knowing what the outcome will be when you start. It’s not always clear how things are going to work or what exactly you’re gonna do. So having that fire under your feet to just do stuff, because you need to do a lot. There is a lot to do. That sort of idea of moving fast, failing as fast as you can, learning from that, and getting better. So having a good strong pace is important, getting things done and moving quickly.

4. Who Are Some of the Successful Growth Hackers That You Learned From or Inspired You?

This is an interesting one. I have to give some credit to my colleague Justin Evans, who I worked with at LANDR, he’s one of the co-founders of LANDR. At the time I was moving from an agency role to a role where I was more of a growth hacker in-house and working closely with Justin among other people. Justin is very masterful at the art of marketing and compelling messaging. And I really learned how powerful and effective that can be when it’s done right.

Creating something that really resonates with your audience when you communicate it in a certain way. I don’t think he would define himself as a growth hacker, but I think as somebody who does that myself I learned the power of that. From Justin I also learned not to be afraid of even your craziest ideas. No matter how big and crazy your ideas might be, just embracing those big crazy ideas and oftentimes those end up being the ones that are producing the most amazing results.

I have a couple of other ones here. I think neither of them are actually growth hackers but there are some good lessons that I’ve learned from them in my journey.

There’s a guy named Michael King, he’s a SEO thought leader. I was following him a lot for a while because he was the first to promote the idea of researching for SEO and combining that with audience personas to create a framework for not just optimizing for keywords and SEO, but also for user experience, from the search engine results page all the way through to the end results of the user is hoping to achieve. And the reason I mention that is the idea of merging these two different ideas in a creative way and the tactical and creative aspect to that. Even though I don’t think he would call himself a growth hacker either, that quality of creatively coming up with these sets of solutions for problems and challenges, especially in the case of growth hacking it would be in an applied sense to specific business metrics. I think that’s the definition of a good growth hacker.

And I think the last one I’d mention is sort of a boring answer, but the author of The Lean Startup, Eric Ries. He’s pretty well known. I mention him because that methodology is something I use everyday at Bandzoogle – coming up with an idea, developing a minimum viable product for it, whether that’s the basic landing page variant in Optimizely or whatever, something quick and easy, testing it, measuring it, and optimizing it or just figuring out what they’re not […] The idea of just failing as quickly as possible so you can move on to the next step. I think that’s a really powerful methodology that works really well for this field of work.

5. What Are Your Top 3 Pieces of Advice for Growth Hackers?

The number one thing would be: being a growth hacker, every day is diving into the unknown to an extent. You might have your bread and butter channels or tactics that you know boost results. But you can never stand still. You always need to be pushing the boundaries in some way. So what that means is you’re always diving into unknown territory. Being bold and fearless is what I would say as a growth hacker, and learn to not be afraid of the dark, embrace the unknown.

I wrote an article a couple of years ago when I was starting, it was a reflexion on my growth hacking role. One of the things that really stood out to me at the time, and still is very much true today, is be prepared to use every tool that you have available in your toolbelt. So use every tool that you have, and not just once. Always be using every tool. You never have enough tools, you always have to find new ways to grow things, and you’ll keep adding new tools to your belt, so you always have to be pulling all the stops and using everything you have. Use every tool in your belt.

The last thing I would say is keep building your personal library of case studies. I don’t mean writing case studies. You’ll always be meeting new challenges everyday and as you progress and you overcome challenges, those lessons that you’ve learned will almost be inevitable and useful in the future. So when you’re approaching a challenge, being able to say that you did this, that happened, this is why it happened, it’s a lot more useful than just being able to say “If we do this, then that might happen.” You can reference something that you’ve done before, the lessons that you’ve learned. Maybe writing it down and keeping a record of the case studies. Making sure that from every challenge you encounter you make sure to learn something from it and remember what you learned so you can use it later.