Growth Hacking Geniuses - Nissar Ahamed - Visual Summary

Nissar Ahamed

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

My journey was accidental. A few years ago, I would not imagine this is what I wanted to be. I have a full-time career – B2B sales. That’s where I focus a lot of my time. I wanted to explore marketing and learn marketing.

A couple of things happened. I came across a few articles and speeches by this individual from Malaysia. His name is Vishen Lakhiani. He is very famous in the digital marketing space. He runs a meditation company. I saw some of his videos and he talked about how he grew his blog from scratch and how, over the course of a year, he grew it to X number of subscribers, X number of revenue, and he had a bizarre topic. I thought, “Okay, wait, I can do this.” His topic was something most people have never heard of. So, that was how the idea started.

What also happened at the same time, at that point, I had also worked in recruiting. I understand the ins and outs a little bit about the job search market. I help myself getting jobs but I also started helping my friends and family as well. So, they came to me and whenever they were asking me a question, I’d say, “Do this on your interview. Do this with your resume.” One of my friends said, “Hey, you’ve been talking about this blog thing. Why don’t you start a blog on career and job search?” That’s how it all started. A few years later, here I am. Now, it’s something I spend most of my weekends and evenings working on.

 

2. Could You Tell Us a Bit More About Your Company?

I started a blog to make it a resource for jobseekers to find any information they need that’ll help them in the job search. This could be writing their resume, how to network better, how to do their interviews, how to negotiate their salaries. Also, once they get the job, how they can improve their skills – whether it’s leadership, communication, et cetera.

It’s meant to help find new jobs but also optimize their careers.

When I started off, it was started off by myself. I just did it as something to try out. Then, I started getting validation. People got excited. People started reaching out to me. They wanted to write for me. In the last couple of years, it has grown to close more than 900 articles. I have about 250-plus authors who have contributed to the site.

The site has won multiple awards for being one of the top career blogs. So, I’m pretty happy about what we have been able to accomplish, but it all started out as an experiment and now it’s come a long way.

 

3. Who Are Some of the Successful Growth Hackers that You Learned From or Inspired You?

The idea started off from Vishen Lakhiani. This was three years ago.

But, in terms of successful growth hackers, today, I just listen to one person or read one person. His name is Neil Patel. He is a content marketing king. He has a website called NeilPatel.com or QuickSprout.com. That’s one person I learn from today. I find that it’s easy to get confused by so much information out there so I stick to that one person. I’ve learned a lot from him. I also learn case studies from others but I would say Neil Patel is my number one go-to choice right now.

 

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

I think number one would be to have an open mind and willingness to learn because you will be learning a lot of new things. Growth hacking is so wide. There’s so many things you can start with – content creation, blogs, videos. It’s essentially marketing very quickly.

Growth hacking, very quickly, what that means is you’re hacking the growth of your business. You’re trying to change things so you can grow faster. There’s so much things to learn so you have to be willing to accept all the ideas and you need to be open to new ideas. It’ll change the way you think.

The second thing I would say would be quantity first, quality later. Almost anybody I’ve spoken to, they want to write that one article and become an instant success. They want to create one video, one interview, and become an instant success. I think, initially, you need to focus on quantity – just focusing on doing more and more and more. Eventually, you will get better. The quality of your visitors, the quality of your company would get better. So, I would say focus on quantity and volumes first.

The third thing is stick to one strategy. I just mentioned so many ideas out there. Sometimes, I get anxiety because there’s so many ideas and I’m just sitting there for one hour, not knowing what to do. I would say, no matter what you do, stick to one strategy and focus on completion. If you can break it down to multiple projects, don’t go to the next project until you have finished number one.

If I can give you a quick example, when I started the blog, I started focusing in June 2015, one of the first things I wanted to do was get into the habit of writing. So, I said, “Within the next three months, I’m going to write 25 articles.” So, evenings and weekends, I went to Chapters, Starbucks, or even a library and started writing. Once I got to 25, I said, “I’m going to write 100 articles.” I only focused on that goal.  I didn’t change anything and that actually helped me focus and create a good path for my business.

 

5. Which Growth Tools or Resources Do You Encourage People to Explore?

In terms of one thing I focus on, there’s tools and there is resources, right? Tools – I would say content is king so focus on writing. Learn to be a better writer. Content could be writing. Content also could be podcasting.

What you’re doing, this is amazing. You’re creating content for your business right now. You’re interviewing people. This is actually a good piece of content people would like to consume.

Content should be your focus and there’s tons of tools out there. Choose what works for you. You’re using Hangouts. I use podcasts. Use whatever works for you.

In terms of resources, I want to give out a shout-out once again to Neil Patel. I go to his website – QuickSprout.com or NeilPatel.com. He writes articles daily. What I like about him is he gives you examples and data to justify whatever he’s saying. There are tons out there but he would be my number one choice.

There is a website called GrowthHacker.TV. It’s essentially interviews – 45-minute to 60-minute interviews with different individuals. They have done a good job. They’ve interviewed about 200-plus people. You’re talking about people from Dropbox, Slack, all these big companies. But, funny thing, two years ago, I only listened to the first interview which was the growth hacker from a company called Treehouse and he’s the one who said focus on content and I’ve been running with that idea. I’m sure, if I listen to the next 199 interviews, I will learn a lot.

I think the third thing will be there are a lot of forums out there. Reddit has some forums, GrowthHackers.com, Inbound.org – these are all resources where people share questions, case studies. They do Ask Me Anything so you can learn from them as well

Growth Hacking Geniuses - Rick Kuwahara - Visual Summary

Rick Kuwahara

1. Who Are Some Successful Growth Hackers that You Learned From or Inspired You?

Well, I think everybody kind of, you know, there’s always the usual suspects. But there’s three little more under-the-radar guys who I like their stuff.

One is Ryan Stewart over at Webris – he has a lot of great stuff about processes and frameworks to help you scale. Love anybody who’s so process-oriented.

Dave Gerhardt at Drift – they’re doing a lot of stuff with content. Their approach is really unique and, you know, it’s disruptive. It’s different from everybody else. So, I really love how they approach it.

Bernard Hong – he was our point of contact for distribution over at when we through 500 startups. We were in Batch 18. He’s just an SEO wizard. He had some really cool hacks that he’s done in the past. If you ever get a chance to go on YouTube and see his presentations, some very cool things that he’s done when he was doing growth at 42Floors and Food by the People.

2. How Do You Attract Leads for Your Business?

Right now, we attract mainly all through inbound. So, SEO is a huge, huge growth lead generator for us. We targeted bottom of the funnel keywords that convert very well. You know, there’s just a lot of opportunity there. At any time, we focus on long-tail and, within a niche, it was lower competition and we’ve done well to rank number one for a bunch of good keywords that just, you know, search volume is not super high. It converts very well and it’s very revenue-driving.

And then, we do offline stuff. I think that’s something that’s undervalued a lot. So, a lot of events and we call them “social mixers” where we bring together customers and potential customers and that works like gangbusters, especially when we go to conferences. We pull people off of the conferences to our mixers. That’s done real well. That’s how we landed our first hospital deal.

Right now, actually, something that we’re going to be playing with is account-based marketing type of work to work our outbound sales a little bit. We’re really excited about that and we’re going to be doing that in the next month or so.

3. Top 3 Qualities that a Growth Marketer Should Have?

Well, I think, definitely, process-oriented. You know, if you don’t have a process, then you can’t scale and you can’t go back and see what worked or what didn’t work. So, definitely someone who can follow a process.

I think something that’s really underrated is being able to apply concepts because there’s really nothing new under the sun. I mean, marketing has been around for years. Everything has been done. But being able to apply a concept from, say, SEO to content marketing or SEO to, you know, your paid advertising, you know, that’s where success happens and that’s really how innovation happens – you know, when you’re able to apply, you know, “Someone did this over in e-com and you can pull it over to your B2B SaaS.” I mean, that is a skill that’s really undervalued.

And – everybody says it but it’s true – you’ve got to be curious. You know you have to want to pull apart a campaign or, you know, you saw an onboarding funnel that somebody did and, “Yeah, that was cool, how did that work?” and then, “How can I make that work for me?” I think that’s something that you always need to have.

4. What Are the Top 3 Mistakes to Avoid When Doing Growth Marketing?

I think tunnel vision is something that you’ve got to really watch out for, especially when you’re doing a lot of the experiments. You still need to keep in mind the big picture overall and that especially is true when you’re trying to prioritize things. You know, there’s a lot of frameworks to pick – you know, what experiments to deal with first – but, sometimes, you’ve got to factor in the big picture. What’s your strategy?

I think something else is making too much statistical significance. I think people get married to it sometimes and you can miss a lot of opportunity and move too slow if you get too caught up in needing that because, you know, data can be directional. You can be informed by it and still make a decision. So, sometimes, you’ve got to just make a call and move on, especially when you’re early and you don’t have much things – like, much traffic – to do, say, an A/B test on a landing page. You know, especially if you’re testing concepts and not small details, you don’t need a lot of data to make a good decision.

I think the last mistake is just not talking to your customers – you know, not just only email but getting on the phone with them and talking with them. You can learn a lot about people and really build your personas and understand who your customer is if you just get on the phone and a lot of people just don’t want to pick up the phone anymore.

5. Which Tools Do You Use to Grow Your Business?

We use the typical stuff like Salesforce for our CRM and we use Autopilot for our email marketing and Google Analytics and things like that.

But, you know, some unique things that we do, we use something called Clearscope. We were lucky to get early in on a beta of it and I think they’re going to launch pretty soon, actually. Basically, it gives us data-driven recommendations on how to improve our content. You can reverse engineer what top-performing Google content is out there and it was definitely something that helped us get to number one and some of those keywords that we targeted.

So, Clearscope, you’ve got to check that out whenever it comes out live.

Upwork is something we use to scale a lot of our – I would guess – grunt work or things like that. I mean, Upwork is very cool. If you have good processes in place to train people, you can get a lot out of it.

And then, the last thing is the super underrated – like I said before – the phone. You know, we use the phone to grow our business – whether that’s talking to customers or being quick to call back someone. I mean, they really appreciate it. We have very good, loyal customers that way and it helps us close our deals faster. It really shortens the cycle that way.

Sujan Patel - Visual Summary

Sujan Patel

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

I started off in SEO years ago in 2001, 2002, made an e-commerce website. This was before the luxury of Shopify, Big Commerce and those types of companies. So building it using a lot more rudimentary platforms. I put a lot of money into it, I was in high school and college. I built the website, no one came, I had to figure out a way to get people there. I stumbled on SEO. The business failed but I successfully kick-started my SEO career. As SEO has evolved over time, it’s become really just all things marketing. And so, over time, I expanded beyond SEO to just all things digital marketing. Growth has always been something I’ve been measuring myself against – what is actual growth numbers? There’s a lot of fancy numbers and things you can measure against, but at the end of the day it comes down to growth, which is really why you’re doing digital marketing in the first place. So growth is a new name for something I’ve been going off of, I call it ROI, fast-paced marketing. That’s kind of my entry into growth and digital marketing.

2. Could You Tell Us a Bit More About Your Company, WebProfits?

WebProfits is a growth marketing agency. When I say growth marketing, I mean we don’t do fluff, we don’t focus only on one channel, we can’t help with just SEO and PPC. When we help companies, we’re going to help them with all things growth, and we peel back the layers of going into the organizations – what else can they be doing on the customer support side? So we’re looking at all parts of that funnel, more than just driving more traffic or increasing conversions. And the services that we provide right now: one is content marketing, which we provide à la carte, and the other is called Fluid Marketing. Really what that means is we come into an organization or if we’re talking to a potential client, we want to understand what they’re struggling with, what are their channels that got them there, what are big opportunities, and we’re helping with all things growth. Our fluid service will adjust over the month to what we focus on. So we may start with an heavy emphasis on let’s say Facebook ads because that’s a great opportunity. But 3-6 months in, that’s gonna be on optimization mode, we’ve done a lot of the work, we may shift our focus to SEO or content. So we really focus on an omni-channel approach, leveraging any advantage a customer has to grow.

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

Number one is hustle. Hustle is, I think, lacking in most people, not just marketers. What I mean by hustle is you gotta figure stuff out. I get lots of emails lately around people asking me questions and my response is Google it! Learn as much as you can by reading publicly available information and I guarantee there is publicly available information on every topic. You can be an expert coin collector. I want to help.

Ask people for help once you’ve gotten stuck or you’ve gotten to a point where “I got this, this, this information, this is what I’ve done, I’m stuck can you help me?”. That, to me, is hustle. People go immediately to the easy route. So that’s number one, the hustle, it’s working long hours and doing things that suck.

Some of my biggest success in marketing has been with working with customer support, it’s come from sending cold emails and doing the dirty work that you would probably outsource to a VA myself. Now, at some point, we’re going to scale those channels or tactics. But at the end of the day, it was the willingness to put in that hard work and doing it.

Number two is agility and understanding that it’s not necessarily tactics or certain channels that are always going to help you grow. You’ve got to think beyond the channel and think really to growth, what is going to help a company, your company, or whoever you’re working with to grow. That may not come from things you’re used to. So when I say agility, it’s the ability to move around, being uncomfortable, doing things again that are not sexy.

The last thing is testing. To be honest, nobody has a silver bullet. There is no silver bullet. Why work with me over someone else? It’s probably because I’m more relevant, I have more experience. Again, that can be said for someone else. Really, there is no silver bullet. Digital marketing has become so complex, it’s just as complex as offline marketing, and if not even more. It’s saturated, people are moving fast, you’re competing with people with bigger budgets. You have to be willing to get uncomfortable and learn and test new things, because you’re going to find things that work and then you gotta figure out how to scale them.

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

Honestly, there are so many people, I really love what Hiten Shah and Stellie are doing on the startup chat. Hiten is from Kissmetrics and CrazyEgg, and Stellie is from Close.io, great podcasts and great community around startup people. It’s not really what they say, it’s what they do, and it’s the fact that they’re solving problems which is awesome. I’ve been bringing people to that community. Obviously, Neil Patel. Dan Martell is a great guy, he’s taught me a lot, he’s with Clarity.fm. He taught me the power of mastermind dinners and networking and really just going out there, and even simple things like how to ask for advice. Guys like Gary Vee are awesome inspirations to see what they’re doing. Again their hustle – I work probably 50% if that of what Gary Vee works, and that teaches me how to be a better hustle. These days I look at their actions and the little things they do outside of that which really inspire me. Morgan Brown is another great guy and Sean Ellis, creating a great community around this. There’s so many people so it’s hard to list off these things.

The counter to that is it doesn’t matter. These guys are all great and inspiration, you can read all the knowledge you want on growth hacking and growth, but at the end of the day, it’s not about what you read, it’s about actions, testing, and then figuring stuff out, then scaling. At the end of the day, execution is the key, and these people personally inspire me to execute.

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

One, don’t believe everything you read. It’s probably true, but it’s very situational. Everyone write an article on how Hotmail did this, or how AirBnB grew by this, or how my company did this and that happened. Look, it probably did happen, use that for inspiration. Minimize your reading or silo it so that you’re reading maybe one hour a day and not throughout the day. Tip number one is focus on execution and try to read less, don’t ever thing you’re going to get the same results. Think “Oh, this is something I can test.”

Number two is split up your ideas and planning. That is right brain and left brain thinking, meaning your ideas should never be limited, but you don’t want to execute and plan when you should execute your ideas when you’re thinking so freely. You need to write everything down, so many people make this mistake is that they may be great at executing, but they don’t execute on the right things. And I’ve made this mistake many many times. In fact, I make it probably fairly often because I work on so many companies. But at the end of the day, let your right brain be creative and brainstorm ideas, write them down in Excel or on a napkin, but make sure you come back and you think about what’s the impact of that, maybe even sleep on it, and the next day plan when you can execute those based off of resources required and the impact it’s going to have. I emphasize the impact, because tactics are never going to be a winning strategy.

That’s kind of my last piece of advice. Whatever you’re doing is getting old. Digital marketing and growth moves fast. The lifespan of a tactic or strategy is getting shorter and shorter and that’s ok because the resources and tools and avenues for us as marketers to grow and leverage is getting bigger, so it kind of counters things out. So always be thinking about what the next thing is going to be, and think of how you can test. So, that way, as you have scalable channels that you’re working on for your business that are consistently growing or predictable growth, you’re also testing in new channels that may be unproven but you still have proven channels on top of unproven ones. So you have a chart, of graph of consistent growth, and then you have these crazy graphs of ups and downs of things that could work. And realistically, probably you’re not going to get everything you test to work, maybe one or two out of ten, and that’s ok, you still have the consistency. So combining those two is very powerful. Never rely when you’re done or out of scalability on your current channels to then start testing, you’ve already lost a strong foothold on growth.

I recommend that you spend 25-30% of your time in the exploration phase. This will also help you and your team be creative and think outside that box, because frankly as a marketer the worst thing you can do is not innovate because six months or a year your strategy is going to be either milked completely dry or not as scalable. If you look at Facebook ads, years ago they were the hottest thing, you could get clicks for cheap. Now you’re paying more than Adwords sometimes and how much things cost. Things get expensive, and if your economics don’t work out, if you’re not first there or early in, you might be starting at $6 CPCs and that may never work for you.