I would also add author of this book which is Growth Hacking. I’m going to go in and give a little bit of an overview on the key takeaways there. I’ll talk about the framework, it’s going to be high-level around growth. I’ll talk about a specific concept. I’ll drill into a concept around a particular tactic. And then, talk about a tool because everyone loves the “tool of the day” kind of stuff. At the end, I’m going to talk about more of a bonus item that’s a little bit more controversial.
As it relates to the framework, you’re going to see – especially with a lot of these data-driven marketers out there – promoting the funnel. If you Google “funnel” around Google Images, there’s a million different versions and variations. The mental model that I have been advocating – and this is what we talk about in the book, Growth Hacking – is going to not be a funnel but it’s going to be a flywheel.
And so, the challenge with the funnel is that, at the very bottom of the funnel, you have this tiny little baby piece – referrals or retention – and it’s this element that, when you look specifically at the biggest, most prominent growth hacks out there, it’s been the most prominent area for those specific growth hacks.
If you look at Dropbox, for example, it’s going to be an incentivized referral. If you look at PayPal, if you look at Airbnb, a lot of these key growth hacks are going to be happening at the very bottom of this funnel. And so, when you have this mental model that’s going to be more of a funnel, you really pay a lot of attention to the attracting component at the very top. But, by transitioning this mental model into something that’s going to be a flywheel – let me just hold this up just to illustrate it in the illustration here – this component down in here is something where that mental model, that mental shift is going to be something that’s going to drive that focus back on where the most potent growth hacks are.
Let’s talk about, as you’re pushing your way into this flywheel, we’ll start back out at the attraction component which was the top guy here. A lot of people stress out and it’s like you get very tactic-driven or focused and what happens when we’re working with clients, all you really have to do is get one channel right to be able to create a multimillion-dollar lift in the business.
And so, people get very granular, they get focused on this specific tip of the day, tactic of the day, but it’s something where, by having this emphasis on just finding the first channel and getting that one right, take comfort in the fact that you can just take this thing to the bank. So, something like you getting AdWords right. When you get the economics to work out on Google paid search, you can ride that to infinity; content marketing – doing that right, you can ride that to infinity; SEO – same thing; social media. There’s these core things that you’ve built these 100-plus-million-dollar businesses around and the amount of variation between the different channels is a lot less than people realize.
And so, stop stressing out about figuring out which specific channel or tactic you’re going to use within the channel but emphasize or focus your energy on what you think is going to be the best fit and so there’s a lot of intuition there but we can talk more about intuition at a later date. But the concept here is to identify product, market, marketing fit. And so, you’re probably familiar with the product market fit and that’s something where a lot of people stop once they have that. They think, “All right, we have a successful product at this point,” but, by identifying that last channel, that marketing fit, that’s that missing component between seed and Series A and beyond. And so, that’s really where we’ve spent a lot of time with a lot of the clients we’ve worked with.
Now, let’s drill down into a specific tactic and this is something that, if you’re watching this within the next three, six, twelve months, it’s going to be relevant. If you’re watching this a year from now, it’s probably not going to be relevant.
Something that we talk about in the book is this advertising arbitrage. And so, what we’re looking at is this mismatch between advertising supply and advertising demand or it might be the inverse of that. But what’s happening is you look at Facebook circa 2006, 2007, 2008, you had massive amounts of eyeballs, very few ad dollars going after it. And so, you could take advantage of this arbitrage situation where a dollar spent on search advertising could get twice the effectiveness when you went over to Facebook. And so, Facebook is now an efficient dynamic marketplace. It’s much more expensive than it used to be.
And so, when we look at this next frontier of marketing, where are the eyeballs? The eyeballs at the moment, especially if you’re going to direct to a consumer, especially if you’re focusing on the 18 to 34 audience, it’s going to be platforms like Snapchat at the moment. Snapchat recently went public and they have opened up their ad platform and there’s not a whole lot of people watching what gets pushed through there. There’s a lot of flexibility.
And so, you can go in, geo-target a small little area. For $5.00, you can have it for the entire day. You’re talking about it’s in the right geo. You could pick, for example, a conference. Perhaps you’re not even going to be at this conference for your industry but what you can do is go in – really, you can customize the little geofilters.
So, when people are swiping on their Snapchat, they’re going to see something that’s relevant to your brand, sponsored by your company, and this is going to cost literally just $5.00 at the moment and it’s a good way to have this digital canvassing, this digital coverage over these other geographies around the country. It might be a school, it might be your favorite accelerator that you’re applying to. You can use this in a variety of ways but we’re talking pennies on a dollar on a CPM basis – cost per thousand impressions. Think of this as Facebook advertising circa 2008. That’s a specific tactic. We’ve kind of jokingly called it Snap hacking.
Another one is a tool. On the tool side, I wanted to focus on tools that have stood the test of time because we all find the tool of the day out there or the tip of the day but the tools for me that I’ve used over and over and over again, one has been SEMrush. SEMrush, when I’m starting out with a client, a lot of times, it’s just focusing on getting eyeballs to the table to get some data, to get some feedback, especially for the earlier stage companies that are out there.
And so, SEMrush allows us to go and we call it “stand on the shoulders of giants.” What we’re doing is we’re going into specific competitors. We’re looking to see what their ads are, what kind of keywords they’re bidding on, what kind of cost per clicks for those keywords. I would kind of look at the cost per clicks with a little bit of, you know, of […]. It’s not always correct there but it’s directionally correct. But you could go in and walk yourself through their Google AdWords funnel and get a sense for where their traffic is coming from, what their copy is, what their magnet is that they’re using as a bribe for people to get an email address.
And so, it allows you – like I said – to stand on the shoulders of giants. And so, you’ve just taken maybe ten years of honing in and optimizing a funnel and you can start with that on day one. it’s a really good way to get the ball rolling right out of the gate and not waste so much darn money on AdWords because AdWords, especially on the search side, gets really expensive. SEMrush is a tool I’ve used for years and I foresee that being the case moving forward.
Another one I’m kind of just an email assassin which is from my investment banking days. I would just get beaten if I had an email I didn’t follow-up on. And so, FollowUpThen or FollowUp.CC, these are two tools. FollowUpThen specifically is a tool that I use to go to inbox zero on a daily basis roughly. Sometimes it’ll slip a little bit.
I’ll give an example in context. Matt and I were coordinating a call here. This allowed me to get an email from him and then forward it to two days at FollowUpThen.com and then I get an email delivered to my inbox two days from now at that very moment reminding me. And so, my inbox changes from just a glorified to-do list to something that I can either do – if it’s five minutes or less, I’ll do it – or I can delegate or I can just push it off to a later date. That’s where I pushed it off to a later date. SEMrush, FollowUpThen – those are the two perennial tools that I’ve always had in my toolbox.
Now, the last piece that I was talking about was the bonus. This is something that’s not in the book. It’s something that I don’t talk about too often – at least not in public forums – but it’s something that I have in my personal blog at ChadRiddersen.com and the specific tactic is what I call conflict marketing.
As an earlier or smaller company, you’ll see a lot of instances that are successful with people picking a fight with a bully. If you take Basecamp, for example, 37signals is the parent company. Jason Fried, he was notorious in the early days of Basecamp for going out there and picking a fight with 800-pound gorillas.
Apple is another classic example. They were always picking a fight with the big boy out there. You had Netscape doing it with Microsoft. You have this situation where you’ve got this small scrappy company and what you can go out there because, in conflict marketing, the premise is the only thing that spreads faster than good news is bad news or conflict or drama.
And so, by going out and picking a fight with that leading company in your industry, you can expose a lot of their vulnerabilities which assumedly you have fixed, you have solved for, you’re better than. And then, when they go out there to address your objections, to address your beef with them, your bone to pick with them, it shines this big spotlight on you as a small company.
And so, there’s a bunch of different famous sayings out there and one of them is from Barnum Bailey from the Barnum Bailey Circus or whatever – PT Barnum. “Say whatever you want about me, as long as you spell my name right.” In the case of Jason Fried, he would go out there, he would cause a ruckus, he would get all these people talking, he would go to their blogs, and they would pick a side. It’s something that, by this conflict marketing, a lot of people will go out there and will just try to sell on value, sell on price, sell on tool, sell on features, sell on novelty.
But, when you really look at PR, the things that are spreading and Trump – I don’t want to beat a dead horse with this but Trump does this masterfully – he’s going to go out there, light a few fires and those fires are going to spread.
And so, what you want to focus on if you’re going to implement this tactic, because it’s a high-risk tactic and that’s the reason why you wouldn’t want to do it for a later stage company because assumedly you’ve built some brand equity and it can put that brand equity at risk. But, as a small unheard-of startup, you don’t have anything to risk.
And so, what you’re wanting to do is focus on managing the drama triangle. At the top of this triangle – and, Matt, this is something that we talked about before – it’s going to be the hero. You’re the hero. And then, you’re going to have one of the corners, let’s call it this corner here, we’re going to have the villain – that’s going to be the person that you go out there and pick a fight with. In the other corner, you’re going to have the victim. It’s important to remember the victim and this is something that my blog post about how growth hacking my wedding led to a death threat, I talk about how I did not establish a victim early on or at all.
As time meandered on and I was able to use conflict marketing to land a national syndicated ABC News story, Univision morning show which got international uptake, I had Playboy Enterprises reaching out to me. I had Carson Daly talking about us on the radio. We had all of this press with a zero-dollar marketing budget and, what had happened was, as this thing kind of ballooned out of control, it’s like media napalm, I called it, what had occurred is I became the victim of my own success in this case.
And so, by not establishing a victim, the victim became me and, quite literally, my life was at stake at that moment when someone had threatened to bomb our wedding church and you can read the blog post more for that.
The bonus – conflict marketing – make sure you’re managing the drama triangle. Pick your hero, villain, and victim. That victim should most likely be the customers that are out there that are the ones being victimized by this big villainous bully – that 800-pound gorilla.