Growth Hacking Geniuses - Sean Kim - Visual Summary

Sean Kim

Can You Tell Us a Bit More About Your Business?

Rype is a global language learning platform where we have essentially disrupted the traditional language model which is language schools where you have to go and commute to language schools.

Instead, we connect you directly to teachers online allowing students to work with better teachers and taking up less of your time at a cheaper cost. We’ve essentially disrupted that model by connecting you directly with our teachers.

We’re also introducing the subscription model to the language learning industry that has never really existed before so we’re really excited to be helping connect the world through languages.

Which Daily Habits Have You Installed to Maximize Your Results With Clients?

I think, with entrepreneurship, as many of you guys listening, it definitely comes with its ups and downs. For me, just having a daily habit that’s keeping you at rhythm is important. It could literally be anything.

For me, I have a similar priming method that I’ve gotten from Tony Robbins – for anyone that’s a fan of Tony – where he primes himself for ten minutes from the moment he wakes up. It’s a little bit different in terms of the way he does it versus the way I do it. It has a specific set of patterns and I’m happy to share all of them with you.

I don’t want to bore you with the details but it starts with three things that I’m really grateful from – from anything as small as I’m currently here in Bucharest right now and it’s really just recognizing the small little moments because, I think, as entrepreneurs, we always think ahead. We never think of the present moments that we have. So, those are the three things. I start with the three things that I’m really grateful for and then I generally take a cold shower in the morning and I meditate for ten minutes.

It varies; sometimes, I’ll add small things here and there, but those are the three fundamental things that I do to really prime my mind. No matter how bad of a day it is or how much of a rollercoaster the day comes up with, I know at least I can prime myself so that my body and my mind feels as new and it feels like it’s the daily routines that I’m going through could help me withstand anything that comes my way for the rest of the day.

What Are Your Top 3 Pieces of Advice for Growth Marketing?

I guess the first one that I would look at is keep in mind that the three processes that I generally take is have one KPI in mind and make sure that it’s not a metric. Make sure it has some value towards your business.

For SaaS, it could be the number of actual signups. For eCommerce, it could be the actual revenue that you generate. Make sure it’s a KPI which is a key performance indicator – one number that you’re trying to improve.

If you have a growth hacking team especially, make sure that everybody around you understands what that KPI is because, when you have one person that is trying to optimize for traffic and one person that’s trying to optimize for revenue, those can be very different processes. One metric, keep everyone in the same company and the same team work that one metric.

Second is I generally look at most things as a funnel. I have processes where I literally write down every little step with a lot of arrows. I can’t really show you here right now since we’re on a video chat but everything really comes down to having a structure funnel of creating an on-flow experience.

It’s kind of like when someone goes into a Nike store, you want to make sure that they are going to specific steps. When they first come into the store, what are they looking at? How are they going to leave? You want to really have a step-by-step process of what experience a user goes through.

And then, the third step is generally don’t listen to the advice of others, especially around very specific advice, mainly because what happens and what has worked for someone else is not going to work for your specific business.

I personally made the mistake of listening to someone that is maybe an expert in eCommerce but is not going to give you the best specific advice on how to optimize your funnel, how to growth hack your SaaS business, or the business around your education because it’s a different model, it’s going to be a different funnel and you’re going to have different customer segments that are going to react completely different to what you’re doing. So, I would be very careful and really test out everything on your own and measure it yourself.

For me, I really tune out to all these gurus with advice unless it’s more high-level things that every marketer should do which is stuff that I’m recommending right now. When it comes to the nitty-gritty things in your business, really, test it out for yourself. Use tools like, – I think I’m getting that right.

Do these A/B tests on your own – multi-variant tests – and decide based on data, not what other industry experts are saying.

How Important Are Lead Capture and Conversion Funnels?

It’s really the essence of a business, I think.

Again, it depends on what exactly is the experience that you’re trying to take towards your customers. For example, if you sell maybe a high-pricing product, you want to generally not sell them right away. You want to capture their emails and you want to be able to nurture them through an email marketing funnel or through a series of really valuable information that helps you become more trusted and helps you build some sort of loyalty that, in a month from now or three months or even a year from now, people will be willing to take out their hard-earned money and pay a thousand dollars for it.

Now, if you are running an eCommerce company, let’s say, and you sell products that are $10.00, $20.00, $30.00, that’s not going to really impact the wallets of a regular consumer, that might be a different case. You might just want to sell them right away.

Like, Amazon actually does the opposite where they ask you to create your account way later down the funnel rather than early on because they understand that most consumers, you don’t want to create a barrier for them. You want to make sure that you want to be able to do that last.

Some companies don’t even ask you to create an account. They ask you to continue as a guest but, obviously, they do ask you for your email. It really depends on the business that you’re running.

I would say, if you have a high-priced product, then set up an email marketing funnel and capture leads early on. If you have a very cheap product – $5.00, $10.00, $20.00 – then it may not be as necessary because a consumer does not overcome as big of a barrier or make a purchase product decision.

How Are You Growing Rype

We have multiple different ways that we’re growing Rype.

As many things that I do or try to do with my life and the way I make my personal decisions, I have one or two things that are really making a big impact in the business itself. I think a lot of marketers, a lot of entrepreneurs that are starting out try to optimize for way too many things. By “way too many,” I mean, four is way too many for a company that is one to five people because you just don’t have the resources to optimize all of these things.

While it is important to try out multiple things, the way I look at it is spend 80 percent of your time working on channels that work. For us, it’s content marketing – that’s Facebook ads. Those are really the two main drivers in the company. And then, spend 20 percent of your time trying to do little experiments like affiliate marketing possibly. It could be increasing referrals, it could be email marketing that are not as proven but could become part of your 80 percent later down the road.

You never want to take your eye off the ball of the things that are working and either have someone that’s really good at it that’s working on it or you have to be the one that’s continuing to grow and scaling that while being able to do these small little experiments as well.

For us, we’re trying to constantly figure out what’s the best way to scale through content marketing and continuing to grow our blog and sharing our journey of starting a company itself. We’re very transparent about that as much as possible. Facebook ads are working out really well for us. But then, at the same time, we’re starting to see results in little things through our experiments that may go into our 80 percent bucket. We’re constantly changing as data comes back to us.

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.

Ricardo Martinez

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

I got started in growth and digital marketing around 2010 where I was doing PPC and search engine optimization with advertising agencies.

From there, I just kept on moving up and getting into sales funnels, building also conversion funnels, as well as content marketing, Facebook ads throughout several advertising agencies, then a Fortune 500 company. I decided that was too corporate and too structured.

And then, I switched back to the advertising agency model once again as a search manager. Then, I got promoted to director and then I decided to start my own company to have the ability to leverage the clients that I actually want which are mostly driven through eCommerce and performance marketing.

How Do You Attract Leads to Your Business and Clients?

As of right now, we’re mostly focused on getting leads for clients. In terms of my own business, we do it through lead magnets and a lot of content marketing. We’re not running anything through Facebook or AdWords or affiliate. It’s just crafting very, very long and lengthy pieces of content that provide pretty great value for our audiences that are on LinkedIn or on different blog posts.

For clients, we do utilize a bunch of different tactics and digital marketing aspects to get leads. Majority of the leads that we utilize and that we get for clients are coming through search engine optimization. A lot of them do come from Facebook ads. We run a lot of Facebook campaigns with budgets ranging all the way from $2,000 a month all the way to $60,000 a month with video campaigns, conversion campaigns, brand awareness, local awareness that drive directly to the product page as well as to a category page.

But we also drive the majority of the traffic to direct response landing pages. We bring a lot of traffic as well through, again, content marketing for our clients by crafting guides and how-to tutorials to get people from the top of the funnel. We also focus a lot on affiliate marketing campaigns for our clients. We’re also focusing a lot on micro-influencers which are basically these people that have YouTube followings and Instagram

followings anywhere from 20,000 to – let’s say – 125,000. Those are sort of the influencers that we like to work with just because they tend to have a much more engaged audience.

We also bring a lot of clients through Instagram ads as well as organic Instagram efforts. The way that we do that is by scraping competitors’ websites and scraping also niche websites by actually following every single person that comments on a picture or actually seems engaged. Therefore, we actually start following them and start communicating with them via direct messages. We send them to our profile or our client’s profile. And then, from there, we actually put a link on the bio and start generating leads that way.

Lastly, we’re also generating a lot of leads through referrals and loyalty programs. Those are actually working pretty well such as Customer Works is the brand ambassador.

How Important Are Lead Capture and Conversion Funnels?

For now, conversion funnels are the most important aspect of digital marketing. They can give companies the ability to actually segment users by awareness, consideration, evaluation, or sales purchase – depending on whether they land upon researching or interacting with the website.

As of right now, too many companies and we still see this with a lot of eCommerce companies that are just treating every single marketing funnel the same way versus actually interacting with customers in such a way that would present them the opportunity to separate – whether it’s by age, interest, audience, gender – in order to provide the most well-crafted message to make sure that there’s an actual interaction and connection with the user and the brand.

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

For now, honestly, I’m still growing the company and still messing around with a lot of growth techniques that we’re utilizing for clients as well as for our own.

I’ve got to tell you that the three most important aspects, the first one is going to be knowing when to fail and having the guts to fail. Too many of us are scared of thinking, “What if this campaign doesn’t work? What if these efforts don’t work? What if it’s a waste of money?” But you need to actually realize and get to a point in which, after analyzing the data, you say, “Okay, is it worth it to continue with this project or do we just go ahead and kill it and actually restart by making something better?” Definitely having the gut to fail is the most important aspect of being a growth hacker.

The second part is going to be actually data analysis – also something extremely, extremely important. The data is actually what makes or breaks the business and it’s what takes basically any campaign to the next level. It’s what give you the ability to scale marketing efforts. However, this is not just relying on Google Analytics and looking at average time spent on site or bounce rate. This is definitely going to be on analytics catalyst, implementing data visualization tools and reporting as well as utilizing heat maps, scrolls, Clicktale, Kissmetrics to find out exactly where the customer not only is on the page but knowing how they’re interacting, looking at purchase behavior flows in order to then again pass it on to different parts of the funnel and segment audiences depending on the actions that they’re taking on your page.

The third quality about being a growth hacker is actually having the ability to lead a team. Yes, one person can be very well-skilled and very well-crafted in the analysis, search engine optimization, PPC, but once you actually start combining paid search engine optimization, copywriting, UX, development, there’s just too many different skill sets that need to be combined. Having the ability to provide a team with the tasks that need to be done upon reaching a specific threshold is extremely, extremely important to keep on moving forward and making sure that the team is working in conjunction.

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

That’s a pretty awesome question.

Right now, we’re definitely utilizing a lot of tools. I’m guilty of having a software addiction. We definitely try out dozens – if not, honestly, we have tried hundreds of different software. Our favorite software right now for growth hacking for clients in our businesses are Sumo, SEMrush, Keyword Revealer, […] Ninja Outreach, ScrapeBox, Hotjar, Mouseflow, Kissmetrics, even AdEspresso every now and then, Kowaya, Drip and MailChimp for email marketing, as well as our custom dashboards that are presently built depending on the data that we’re trying to analyze.

Growth Hacking Geniuses - Jordan Benjamin - Visual Summary

Jordan Benjamin

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

Well, you know, I initially wanted to be a lawyer and found out that that didn’t really align with what I wanted to do. And so, in school, I changed my major to business and then just kind of got aligned with a few folks that were doing different startups in kind of the early stages.

And so, my junior and senior year in college, I went to work for a friend’s company. I think it was maybe the fifth employee. I was an intern doing sales for them. We really had to kind of just start thinking about how do you bring digital marketing? How do you find your list of prospects?

From there, that kind of got me started on that path of really wanting to work with startup companies – being able to kind of see how does everything work internally. And so, it really kind of just got me started on that path and connected into the startup kind of mindset and group of folks.

There’s a really good community of startups in Boulder, Colorado, where I’m originally from. So, I was out there for about five, six years, working with startups. And then, I actually moved up to Boston to join on HubSpot to kind of watch how a startup moves from startup into public company. I got here and got to watch the IPO and got to watch us kind of move and then got me thinking about how do I start my own projects or business trying to drive growth as well.

What Problems Have You Solved for Customers?

A lot of the time, it’s about how to get new customers. How do you drive growth? How do you drive growth efficiently? How do you stay motivated? How do you prospect? How do you really bring more data to the table?

One of the things that I love about digital marketing is we can really look at analytics and very easily measure – not what just drives a new hit or visitor to my website but what actually turns somebody into a customer? How do they move through that process and how do we leverage data?

As a startup or as a young company or as anybody, really, how do we really use that data to say, “Well, what’s the most efficient? Where should we spend our time? What drives the best ROI?” And so, that’s where most of the companies I’ve been working for it’s how do we drive a more effective cost per lead or how do we actually bring data to understand what drives people through our sales funnel more effectively?

Now, I’m starting to work with companies to think about how do we lead more intentionally, how do we perform at our best as humans? Really kind of start bringing all those pieces together to really bring a kind of whole person/company/organization into the ecosystem.

What Are Your Top 3 Pieces of Advice for Growth Marketing?

I think, when you’re trying to approach growth, you’ve got to be able to put yourself in the shoes of your ideal customer or prospect. The word that we’ve been using a lot lately is empathy. How do you empathize with that prospect?

You go beyond just thinking about what do they want. You think about what do they really care about? What do they struggle with? What can you actually bring to the table that adds value?

When you think about “what does this person want to achieve?” then you can build resources, you can build content, you can build answers to their questions that they might be asking online or other places.

Really, what you do is you build trust, you build value, you build credibility before you ever ask for their dollars. And so, I think that kind of encompasses probably all three. How do you put yourself in the shoes of your prospect? How do you really understand them so you can lead with building trust so you can build credibility so you can really then measure everything that works? And see what works most effectively and then spend your time in those areas?

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

The one that I see continuously, I was working with a small business owner last week on this, he was starting to go and try and prospect and try

and get in front of more potential customers. The email that he started sending says, “I saw this. I want to know about this. I want to hear other things.”

And so, it’s really critical to think about how do you focus on that prospect? How do you talk about what they want and what’s really important to them? Because that’s what grabs attention.

Today, so many people are blasting different business owners, marketing managers, sales leaders, or whoever it is with “here’s what I want, here’s what’s important to me,” and you’ve really got to flip that on your head and kind of go against what you would normally do to think about “What do they want? What’s important to them?” to lead off with.

I think another mistake is there are so many tools, so many people are bombarding you with coming to use them, but really see what you can do to measure everything. If you can use this data and understand digital presence, understand how your website is working well or not working well, from there you can really leverage those tools to measure everything.

I see a lot of businesses that say, “Yeah, we just have an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of that,” or “All of the intellectual property is in my brain.” Most small businesses fail because they don’t have systems or processes that are repeatable. So, then when they actually have a little bit of success and they go hire somebody, it becomes nearly impossible to train someone effectively so you can continually grow.

So, really thinking about how do you measure everything, how do you build systems and processes, and how do you think about what does your prospect care about most as opposed to what you care about or what you want to get done.

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

A lot of times, Google Docs, I love the Google apps. The Google suite is just so easy. It’s very inexpensive – you know, $5.00 or $10.00 a month to get email, to get Google Docs so you can actually share documents, hold people accountable, have meetings so you’re actually face-to-face. I think it’s great.

One of my favorite free tools as well is using to have webinars with folks or calls using something. HubSpot has a free CRM that’s just absolutely wonderful to use and totally free which is great. I think early stages it’s especially wonderful to have stuff that doesn’t cost very much money but then can scale with you. There’s also some free marketing products that HubSpot has or Google Analytics has some great tools to actually help you understand that interaction with your website.

If I’m trying to sell or prospect, using tools like BuiltWith or Datanyze to help understand, “Okay, do these people use tools that would be a good fit or my services are for me to sell into?” And then, you know, a tool called Zapier that really helps connect different things together. Depending upon the systems you have, it can really help you start getting a more holistic view of everything you’re doing.

I think those are some of the tools.

And then, I use Stitcher to listen to different podcasts, different interviews. Obviously, my Kindle to read as much as I can and learn from a lot of other people – to keep growing.

I’d say those are a handful.

Growth Hacking Geniuses - Andy Carvell - Visual Summary

Andy Carvell

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

My background, as you probably noticed, I started back in mobile back in sort of 1999. I’ve been in mobile for pretty much as long as mobile has existed. But I started out as a programmer. My background is computer science, actually. My bachelor’s degree is in Computer Science. I started out making games.

I was doing games for Nokia back in 1999. I had worked on a game called Space Impact which got embedded on the 3310 phone which then became their best-selling phone ever.

And so, I was working in mobile games for a long time which is not growth and is not marketing.

Basically, after about nine years or so of working on making games and building software, I decided to take a break. I took a year around the world, just traveling.

During that year, I decided to go to business school. I applied for some business schools during that year. When I got back, I went to business school. I did my MBA and specialized in marketing strategy. And then, I came to Berlin which is where I’m now based and where we have our Phiture HQ.

Yeah, it was basically coming to Berlin and working with companies over here – particularly with SoundCloud – that really got me into the practical applications of growth marketing. It was really this combination of the technical background with the business school and the specialty and marketing and then the practical application of that at SoundCloud, helping them grow their mobile apps.

Who Are Your Role Models for Growth Marketing?

Role models – I have quite a few. I try to read a lot of stuff from people that are posting good things about growth. There’s a lot.

But I would say, if I had to pick a couple, Brian Balfour – I really love his stuff. I think he’s a very good communicator and he’s putting out – for my mind – consistently for a long time some of the best content. Now, he’s running Reforge which is like growth courses for professionals – like online learning. I would think he’s the best in the business, really.

Some others that I would say would be good role models and people that I’ve learnt a lot from – Casey Winters who is now at Greylock; Gustaf Alströmer – I’m not sure if I’m pronouncing his name correctly but he’s the Head of Growth at Airbnb; and John Egan at Pinterest – he is a growth engineer at Pinterest but he writes some really good stuff on growth.

What Are Your Thoughts on Growth Hacking or Growth Marketing?

I’m not too keen on the term growth hacking, to be honest, because I think it sometimes gives people the wrong impression – like, all they need to do is make a few quick changes and they’re going to get this silver bullet kind of effect.

Yes, sometimes, it works that way but, more often than not, growth is more of a process. It’s more of a mindset. It’s about being analytical, it’s about being data-driven, and it’s about continuous scientific experimentation. You know, lots of small victories, probably the occasional big win, and a lot of things that don’t work.

It’s a lot about actually getting this process that allows you to iterate around experiments on an ongoing basis and get that fast level of iteration knowing that, actually, 25 percent of your experiments are probably going to be significant results and the other 75 percent probably not.

I mean, I really do love this field of just intersecting of product and marketing and data science and I sometimes refer to it as technical marketing. I really like the way that this marketing is developing and going very much away from this kind of old school, Mad Men kind of brand marketing type of stuff to really kind of actionable, cool, experimental, technical stuff. It’s a bit nerdy and I like it a lot.

How Do You Attract Leads for Your Business and Clients?

At Phiture, we get a lot of inbound leads, actually. The way that we attract those is mostly through the writing and the publishing stuff that we do.

Mostly, we publish on which is our kind of blog site. You know, we don’t really call it content marketing because it’s not really there specifically just to sell consultancy. We do consult with clients. That’s our core business.

At Phiture, we do mobile growth consultancy. But, you know, we do like to actually contribute to the whole community through writing articles, through sharing what we’ve learned and what’s working well for us on articles on and with the Mobile Growth Stack framework in general.

People see that we know what we’re talking about and that we have some good experience. And then, yes, that does generate leads and inquiries about the consultancy business but, you know, I think it comes – hopefully – from a very authentic place and that it’s not just sort of a cheap marketing gimmick. It’s like we’re just sharing what we know and that knowledge kind of shows through.

For our clients, we help companies – mostly in the consumer space. I’m working also with a B2B client. We help them attract users or leads in all sorts of ways. What we do is we use the Mobile Growth Stack as a framework. We look at the acquisition layer, specifically in that stack, and really help them to sort of identify what would be the biggest opportunities, the various activities that they could be doing – whether that’s PR, whether it’s performance marketing, whether it’s partnerships. We help the client to really figure out what is going to be the right mix and what are the things which could have the biggest upside for them.

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

That’s a tough one.

It’s kind of a multidisciplinary kind of approach. Actually, there’s lots of qualities I think you need to succeed and lots of different kinds of people can succeed across hacking because it’s quite multidisciplinary.

But, if I had to pick three, I guess number one – definitely data-driven. You know, you need to be always thinking about impact and how to measure that and how to structure an experiment properly to actually see if impact was achieved with the change or the experiment that you’ve made and you really should have let that data really lead the discussion and the decisions that are made. You can’t be too tied to a particular idea even if you’re excited about it. if the data shows it’s not driving impact, then it’s no good. So, number one, data-driven.

Number two – I think it’s good to think holistically and think about the big picture rather than getting too down into the detail. You need to be able to drill down into the detail to actually run a tactical experiment but you might also need to think on the big picture level to make sure that you are actually running the right experiment or running experiments in the right area where you can drive the most impact. I like to think holistically and work with clients and I think it’s an important quality to be able to zoom out and do that strategic view.

So, number one, data-driven; number two, thinking holistically.

Number three – I think it’s perseverance or being systematic. As I mentioned, I think growth is more of a process than a specific tactic or a specific single discipline. It’s more about getting this process in your team or your organization or even just as an individual and then being systematic and actually being able to repeat that process over time to get small incremental wins.

So, number one, data-driven; number two, holistic thinking; and number three, perseverance.

What Are Some Resources You Encourage People to Explore?

Well, I have to say, of course, because that’s my blog. We try to make that a really useful resource for growth marketers and growth hackers. But then, if you can afford it, Brian Balfour’s Reforge series. It’s not the cheapest. I think you have to pay to access the material but I can really vouch for the quality of the material on there. In particular, if you can get your company to pay for it, then it’s really, really a great resource. It’s the best resource out there, for sure.

Will Bunker

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

You know, we had that experience where we built that first idea which took four, five months to even program it and then you’re sitting there and you realize you have no customers. And so, the thought that occurred to me is, if I don’t learn how to market, then all the stuff we did to build the site is for nothing. That launched me into getting very serious about digital marketing.

Would You Like to Plug Your Current Business or Product? What Do You Have Going On?

We’ve started GrowthX Academy which teaches people three different roles which we feel are critical to growing startups – sales in biz dev, digital marketing, and design. We want to create talent for our ecosystems so that these great companies that have good products don’t die on the vine because they can’t sell them or reach their customers effectively.

What Are the Top Three Qualities That a Growth Hacker or a Growth Marketer Should Have?

I think that you have to be extremely intellectually curious. What worked in 1995 won’t work in 2017. And so, teaching yourself constantly.

I think another issue is understanding that all of your ideas are hypotheses and acting appropriately – you know, not getting too attached until you get the feedback, the users that tell you you’re going in the right direction.

Another quality that matters greatly is your mental flexibility and ability to accept that feedback in a way that’s constructive. It’s super easy to get your feelings hurt. We’ve all had that situation where a potential customer writes that long email about how bad you suck. In there, there’s some truth that you can act on if you can control your emotions and then look at it, “Okay, what is this person really trying to tell me is wrong with the product and can we fix it?”

Which Daily Habits Have You Installed to Maximize Your Results with Clients?

I am a very deliberate learner. And so, I have a flashcard system; I’ve got 45,000 facts in that system. I probably spend 30 minutes a day reviewing technical material within that system so that my skills stay fresh with things that have longer range value. I read probably two to three books a week so I set aside daily reading time so that I’m inputting new things into my brain and making sure that I stay relevant.

What Are the Top Three Mistakes to Avoid When Doing Growth Marketing?

Well, the biggest one is to overcommit early. It just takes a while to build a great product and find product market fit and it’s super easy to get excited and want to push yourself to that next level that leads to investment. If you do it prematurely, you’ll kind of flame out. You see a lot of companies that get a great initial curve off of some growth hack but they don’t build the real value to the end customer and it fails.

Another big mistake is see is arrogance. You know, it’s interesting; it’s easy to be good at some pieces of this and then get the attitude that founders to listen to everything you say or their crap and it’s hard to understand all the constraints you’re going through as you build a business. And so, learning more empathy toward the other team players and understanding what makes their job work so that you don’t come across as a jerk is a big one.

And then, overreliance on one channel, especially early stage. There are lots of ways to go to market and all of them work under certain circumstances. And so, having the ability to switch a context so that you’re doing the right role channel for a particular startup.

What Are Some Resources that You Would Encourage People to Explore?

Being the big reader that I am, the last couple of books that blew me away were Gary Vaynerchuk’s Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Punch – kind of a long title but super interesting read on how to fit your message within a particular medium and how to be sensitive to how the medium works. I read one recently, it wasn’t a great read but, man, is it working! It’s How to Get to 100,000 Twitter Followers. I’m rapidly approaching 10,000 up from three, four weeks ago. Combined with Gary’s book, for the first time, I’m starting to feel confident through social market messaging versus just trying to advertise down those channels. That’s something by the end of this year, I’d like to have 10,000 followers from Quora and 100,000 followers on Twitter. I’m just trying to read resources around that to make me better.

Growth Hacking Geniuses - Patrick Campbell - Visual Summary

Patrick Campbell

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

It’s funny. I think I’ve only accepted growth marketing as kind of a label in the past couple of months, actually, which is kind of funny because I think that although what we were doing at Price Intelligently and what we continue to do is kind of in the growth framework. It’s definitely not something you typically think of when you think of growth hacking.

My background is in econometrics and math. I started working for the US government in the intel community for a little bit out of college. From there, I worked at Google for a little while. At both places, I was doing econ modeling which is just kind of a fancy phrase for basically taking a bunch of data inputs and getting some sort of optimize output. That kind of started me down the path of being able to use some of the skills in kind of a marketing capacity.

When I worked at a startup after Google, that was the first time I started working on pricing. And so, that kind of led me to basically realizing just how important pricing was and is and how little we just know about it in general. That kind of led me into the growth world because our big thing is about you use pricing as actually a huge growth lever in your business. And then, also, from a meta perspective, obviously, growing the business, you needed to be growth mindset in terms of how we attracted our own customers, how we attracted brand and those types of things.

That’s kind of the ramble-y version of the story so far but, yeah, just kind of cranking in this world from using those skills and that background.

How Did You Become Passionate About Business Growth?

I’m not sure how it is in Montreal or in some of other places but, you know, when you’re in high school or secondary school and then university in the States, if you’re not going to be an engineer or something in medicine, a lot of people end up like, “Oh, I’ll go be a lawyer!” or something like that.

And so, for me, I had the false choice of wanting to be a lawyer for a while and I kind of fell more into business but I think, if we talk about falling in love with it, I think it really came down to ultimately really getting attracted to the hunt in terms of growth, growing a business, those types of things.

I used to be motivated by money but I kind of realized that my real motivation was really around taking an idea, putting it into practice, seeing if it worked or failed. If it worked, seeing how much you could make it work.

That’s kind of the long story short in terms of falling in love with business there.

What Are Your Thoughts on Growth Hacking or Growth Marketing?

What’s funny is that growth, it’s definitely gone from this early stage thing with Sean Ellis and Hiten Shah coming up with the term, coming up with the concept. I think it’s gone through the first wave of people being very emphatic about growth hacking and not necessarily knowing what it is. Everyone and their mom has growth hacking now in their LinkedIn bios and things like that.

And so, I think it’s one of those things, for me, I’ve had a little bit of an aversion to the term “growth hacking” but I think the concept of speed and high-tempo testing that Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown talk about a lot, I think it’s huge. I think it’s one of those things where, if you’re running a marketing team in a very slow way or a very quarterly campaign-based, you’re probably missing the mark in a lot of different ways.

For me, personally, I think it’s one of those things where we’re actually probably going through another stage of the growth hacking world where now people are just getting the idea of high-tempo testing and now it’s about how do we properly understand our customers in a way that we can make those high-tempo tests worthwhile.

I think the industry is really kind of fascinating. If you’re not doing some sort of growth-focused marketing, you’re going to end up failing. That doesn’t mean you have some big growth team like Uber but it definitely means that your marketers that you hire need to be more growth-focused than just kind of what they used to call arts and crafts marketers which is kind of like a derogatory term. But, you know, it’s some of these folks who don’t get the growth side of things, essentially.

Which Daily Habits Have You Installed to Maximize Your Results with Clients?

Our clients are more our customers. I’m not growth for hire. I’m more kind of focused on our software and our customers so it’s a little bit different. I’m pretty bad with habits, actually. I’m trying to get better but I think that some things that I do to kind of set the guardrails up properly are things like making sure that, for instance, making sure that all of my meetings, I try to push most of my internal meetings to Monday and then having the rest of the week try to do only external meetings or actual work.

I think that’s a pretty important thing, especially if you’re a CEO or someone – even a VP level – that has a team. It’s really, really complicated in terms of you can actually fail if you have too many meetings because you’re not getting anything done.

I think, in addition to that, personally, I think meditation has actually helped a lot and I was definitely not ever thinking I was ever going to meditate. I didn’t think it was dumb or anything; I just was like, “Oh, that’s not for me.” When I started doing it – actually, about a year and a half ago – it actually really helped me just kind of center myself or what I like to say gives me an extra second to react to things. I’m hearing news or I’m hearing something, it gives me an extra second and helps me stay on the rails here at the office and things like that.

I’d say those are some of the habits. I mean, there’s certainly a lot of habits. For us, we’ve just moved to a place where we’re trying to run five tests a week – you know, just in terms of growth, that’s something and I think that’s something you’ve heard a lot with some of the other speakers and things like that. But really trying to keep us on that focus of ship, ship, ship, ship, ship. Don’t overthink it. Don’t try to boil the ocean, they say, in terms of ideas and quality and stuff like that. That’s kind of where we’re at in terms of moving things forward.

What Are Some Resources You Encourage People to Explore?

Resources, I think what’s funny is there’s so much noise out there in the growth space. It’s really, really hard to find the right stuff. I would say that what I would recommend doing is following certain types of people who typically publish maybe not as frequently as some of the other stuff out there but the stuff they do publish is really, really good. Some of the folks I’ve already mentioned.

I really focus on Hiten Shah and Sean Ellis. Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown actually just wrote a book – I think it’s called Hacking Growth. I can’t remember the exact title but I’m pretty sure that’s the title of it. They’re doing super well in terms of, well, Sean was kind of the original growth hacker. Those three are really good to follow.

I think another couple that are really important are someone like Brian Balfour. Brian’s really, really good at just kind of the frameworks as well as the strategy. He’s had a lot of opportunity to execute for a few different companies and I think that that’s really helped him hone this whole concept of growth.

If it comes to pricing, I think the Price Intelligently blog, we’re the only folks who really publish deeply about this type of stuff from not only philosophy but kind of an actual practical way. And so, there’s a lot of stuff there, less so on the concept of growth but more so specifically on pricing.

Those are the folks that I’d recommend following in a couple of different ways for those types of resources.

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

There’s a couple that we use. One is called HubSpot. HubSpot – I think everyone, not everyone but a lot of people have heard of them. That’s what we use with our marketing automation. It’s one of those things where it just makes it easy to, like, everything to tie in together. It’s got its quirks. It’s not always the most seamless, user-friendly product that we use, but it’s certainly something that kind of the workflow and the automation aspects of it really make it worthwhile.

We also use our own product called ProfitWell. That helps us keep really in tune with what’s going on with our financial metrics. It’s a free subscription financial metrics product that plugs into your different billing systems and it really helps.

And then, it’s a lot of old-fashioned Excel – or in this case, Google Sheets and Google Docs. That really helps us collaborate using Slack on our team just to make sure that we’re running the right tests.

There are some products out there like Growth Hackers has the Growth Canvas and there are some other growth-focused products. But, for us, right now, in our current stage, it just makes sense to kind of keep it there. To me, it’s more important, the tools are interesting but it’s mostly just how you use them, of course. We tend to stick to those foundational tools that I mentioned.

Growth Hacking Geniuses - Michel Koch - Visual Summary

Michel Koch

1. Can You Tell Us a Bit More About Your Business?

Time Inc. is a very well-known publisher – a leading consumer multi-platform publisher based in the US, leading in the US, but also has a branch in the UK which is the leader in terms of volume share with 23 percent volume share; leading also in terms of advertising with something like 33 percent market share; and with a reach of nearly half of the UK population.

We have 60-odd brands across print, web, mobile, tablet, and events. We reach 8.4 million users which is 17.7% reach of the UK internet population.

2. What Does Growth Hacking Mean for a Magazine Business?

That’s the interesting part, I think. You’re talking about a business of print magazines that has been declining for the last eight to nine years consistently across both newsstand and subscriptions as well as advertising. In many ways, advertising revenues going in a new direction now with more digital advertising than print advertising in terms of business. So, more and more of a shift towards digital. Obviously, magazines being print, they need to reinvent what they’re about.

So, I guess, growth hacking means for us looking at areas where we can grow outside of our traditional business. Rather than acquire new magazines or buy and sell more, it’s really about where else can our brands expand? How can we reach the same customers in different places? That’s really the exciting journey I’m on right now with looking at different ecosystems. But starting with one thing in mind, we’re about passion points with our stories and we can tell those stories in different places and we can go into adjacent markets such as events, eCommerce, marketplaces where the same customers are and where basically our brands can also stand for something.

3. What Are Your Thoughts on Growth Hacking or Growth Marketing?

As I’ve been on that journey for almost a year and a half now, I think the first thing is you need to be in a position where you can look at your business with a new fresh pair of eyes and challenge what you traditionally stand for.

Rather than saying, “We are a print magazine publisher,” we went back to our DNA and we thought, “What we do is actually tell stories.” Regardless of whether the stories are in text, on print, video, pictures, events, it doesn’t matter. It’s about storytelling. That’s what we’re good at and that’s what our brand stands for.

So, there’s an element of growth hacking that has to do with disrupting yourself and challenging your own business and thinking, “If we were to compete with ourselves, what would we do?” I guess you’re more creative when you’re trying to do that than when you’re trying to survive or trying to protect yourself. It’s about really attacking – hacking, in a way – your own business so that you can identify areas where you can move to. So, that’s one thing.

Another thing, I think, around growth hacking is speed. It’s about going fast – failing fast. Test, learn. A/B test all the time and not be afraid to fail in many ways because, otherwise, you just sit still and stand still and, therefore, do nothing.

That’s the key two things that come to my mind in terms of growth hacking – disrupt yourself and do it at pace.

What Are Your Top 3 Pieces of Advice for Growth Marketing?

As I said, if you want to be in a position where you can look at your business with a fresh pair of eyes, you need to think out of the box. The first thing is really there’s no bad idea. Interrogate your partners, your employees, everyone, and really start coming up with ideas that you would think maybe are crazy but actually they may make sense in a couple of years. So, test everything and think out of the box. That’s the first one.

The second one I think is thinking like a customer. Take the view of a customer. If you are passionate about cycling or equestrian or beauty and fashion – any given magazine brands stand for – what would you accept from that brand to tell you in terms of new stories? Would they be able to sell you anything? Think as a customer is the second one.

And then, as I said before, all ideas are okay. Generate ideas from inside the business. You know, there’s some really good people who are in your marketing teams, in your editorial teams, and they will come up with ideas and any idea is good. And then, it’s about having the arguments and the best argument wins.

What Are the Top 3 Mistakes to Avoid when Doing Growth Marketing?

I think the first one – and I see this repeatedly in businesses that want to move through digital, like retailers or catalog businesses that have gone through that transformation and change – it’s about working in silos – creating new silos and not collaborating.

The first mistake is thinking you can do that in isolation. We need the people who know about the business, who know about the brand, who need new skills as well; therefore, you really need to involve your own experts is the one thing. And so, work across metrics, work in  multifunctional teams, and create those new teams that are going to hack growth.

The second thing is it should not be just a top-down approach. Obviously, you need buy-in from top management but that energy and that speed and that envy around growth hacking has to come from the bottom up.

The third one is a lot of people say they want to hack growth and grow and start doing labs and things like that but usually there’s no fund attached. So, you need to fund it and properly. I would say dedicate 15 to 20 percent of your marketing budget to growth. It’s probably the minimum.

What Are Some Resources You Encourage People to Explore? Any Favourite Book?

Rather than books… Well, there’s one I like that I’ve just discovered. It’s called The Growth Director’s Secret. It’s pretty good. I’ve just started reading it and it’s about the connections between consumer behaviour, organization strategies, and boards and so forth. So, it’s joining the dots between all these things that are available. It’s a good read by Andrew Brent.

There’s another thing in terms of resource that is probably more important than any book – your network. I think reaching out to your network, working with LinkedIn, asking questions whenever you have one, that’s the best solution I think in terms of resources.

Another resource is your own common sense. I think these are some of the interesting areas. I’ve also recently listened to a book. I think reading books is great but, if you don’t have time to sit down and relax, when you’re traveling, I think listening to books is also great. I recently listened to a book called Zero to One – it’s about start-ups – from Peter Thiel and that’s really a good book as well. Really, really motivating and eye-opening in terms of how start-ups create themselves and how you can just create roads from zero to one, basically.

Lyle McKeany

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

Yes, that started a few years back, mainly just out of reading articles and being interested in growth while I was actually a sales guy at a different company. You know, getting excited about the concept of growth and maybe get into this a later but how I feel like it’s a little bit more than just traditional marketing – a little more analytical – and that was interesting to me.

In that process, I discovered Tradecraft which is kind of like an immersive program in San Francisco for three months. I did that about, I think, three years ago now and that was sort of my kick-start into the San Francisco tech startup scene. From there, like you earlier, startups – tried to start a few things on my own and things like that. And now, I’m growth marketing manager here at Galore.

2. What Are Your Thoughts on Growth Hacking or Growth Marketing?

I don’t know if I really like the term “growth hacking.” I know it’s a bit of contentious debate about that here and there.

And then, you know, like I kind of alluded to a second ago, I feel like marketing is sort of a subset of growth. Like, I look at it as growth as sort of an umbrella of different things you could be doing to grow a product and marketing is maybe one component or traditional marketing can be one component of that whereas there’s a lot more to it like product and things like that that I like to focus on with growth as well. So, it kind of extends beyond the traditional marketing you would think of – or most people would think of – like, running advertisements and things like that.

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


Number one for me – especially if you’re doing early stage startups – is prioritizing. That’s just super important. There’s a million things you could be doing at any given moment s you need to figure out what you actually should be doing. There’s a number of ways and frameworks about going about doing that.

The second piece I would say is being okay with failure. You’re going to fail a lot. Like I said, there’s a thousand things you could be doing and not all of them are going to work amazingly well and not every case study you read and you’re going to try whatever they did that’s going to work for your product or whatever you’re selling. So, be okay with failure and learn from that and move on and maybe innovate and try different things.

The last bit is kind of related. When something actually does work, then double down on it and exploit that as much as you possibly can – whether that’s adding more budget or automating the process or whatever it may be – once something actually works which feels like a rarity sometimes in growth but, when it does, just double down on that.

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

Kind of related to prioritizing is trying to do too much. I feel like you can very easily take on a lot of things. In the end, you’re really not executing that much. It’s better to be focusing on a few things that you have determined to be priorities and go deep on those.

Second, when people hear the word “growth hacking,” they think of being like, “Oh, we’re going to do these kinds of spammy hacky things.” I think just being inauthentic or spammy in general, I see that all the time with growth-type stuff. A perfect example, you could try this, you could go on Twitter and you could type whatever you want and just put the hashtag #growth or #growthhacking and you’ll have something like fifteen people automated likes on your tweet and that’s just an example of that’s not really you doing authentic growth marketing. You heard about it somewhere and you made some little script to like things automatically. That’s not really that authentic so it’s a little bit spammy.

Lastly, you know, a lot of people will come to me, they have growth goals and they’re not quite hitting them or they’re looking for that silver bullet idea. Like, “Oh, what’s the one thing we can do that will get us where we need to go?” Largely, it doesn’t exist. You hear about things from other companies like Dropbox has their referral program and everyone talks about that as being their huge driver of growth. Sure, it was a big driver of their growth, but there was a lot of other stuff too. And word of mouth is always a really big one as well which is hard to manufacture. So, I think, like I said, there’s really no silver bullet. It’s a combination of a lot of things and a lot of it stems to just having a really good product.

5. How Do You Get Customers a Quick Win?

Early on, I like to focus on things like conversion rates and thinking about things from their customer journey standpoint – kind of putting yourself in the shoes of a customer that’s just hearing about a product and maybe going through a sign-up flow or whatever it may be – and seeing if that makes sense, especially if it’s a client or consulting work where maybe they’ve been heads down on this product for who knows how long. It could be years, right? They’ve been staring at it and they know every detail of it.

But, if I’m coming in a little bit fresh with that growth marketer’s mindset towards it and looking at it and going, “Look, if I’m a customer, does this make sense or is there something missing? Can things be cut out?” Oftentimes, that’s a big one – cutting things out.

Just increasing those conversion rates, those little drop-offs throughout a sign-up flow or something like that can add up to big changes at the end.

Growth Hacking Geniuses - Dan Kaplan - Visual Summary

Dan Kaplan

1.  Who Mentored You? What Did You Learn From Them?

I love this question because I love to say that, as a marketer, I have not been mentored very much by other marketers.

I wrote a post in the end of 2016 about the sort of bias that Silicon Valley has against marketing in general as a discipline and how that bias has led to both a lot of value destruction in Silicon Valley – you know, venture capitalists losing money’ founders losing time, money, and energy; people losing their jobs, et cetera, et cetera – but, also has contributed to a significant lack of high-quality – or shortage, at least – of high-quality mentorship and great marketing skills in the technology industry in general.

That is not to say, by the way, that there are no great marketers in tech. There are many. There just aren’t so many that they’re easy to find and easy to work for. And I have worked for some really great people, but most of them were not primarily focused on marketing. They were focused on other areas of building a startup business.

And so, most of the marketing I’ve learned – and I’d like to say Hiten Shah is someone who’s really helped me think through some of the big marketing challenges. So, in the tech industry, it’s basically Hiten. But, really, most of my mentorship has come from outside of both tech and marketing itself.

The mentors that have been most important in my life were my long-form journalist teacher in college, a man named Paul Hendrickson who had built his career as a journalist for the Washington Post and later went on to write a couple of national writers’ award-winning books.

Another man named Robert Wright whose books – Nonzero and another book called The Moral Animal – really have profoundly shaped my understanding of the world and human nature in fundamental ways. I know it sounds like that’s kind of […] marketing, but it is actually my skills, what I learned in long-form journalist class was the absolute importance of being able to dive incredibly deeply into a subject and master its emotional and logical details in a way that really is valuable and, in a way, that really lets you see the full picture and tell that in a story that is coherent and compelling to the person reading it. That is what I bring to the table as a marketer in a way that I think makes me unique – not unique but somewhat rare in that way.

I bring a magazine journalist skill and deep investigative reporting and compelling storytelling to the problems that companies face – marketing, hiring, recruiting, strategizing, et cetera. So, most of my mentorship has come from the journalism area. The mentorship and marketing I got from reading books more than anything else.


2. Would You Like to Plug Your Current Business/Product to Show Us an Example?

It’s funny you called me at this moment because I’m literally at this moment up to my neck, pivoting or adjusting my own message and story and set of offers away from what I’ve been doing out of the last four years. But the way I’ve been talking about it in the last four years into something that aligns much more closely with what is both dear to me and important to me on an emotional, spiritual, and intellectual level. That is what I’m doing with Exponents.

While I’ve been working for the last four years primarily on seed and early SaaS companies, seed stage, Series A and maybe the occasional Series B as a client, I’m now expanding my focus to companies that are building potentially disruptive products. They can either be at the early stages of the development or they can be further along but have not fully “crossed” the chasm into the mainstream. So, they still have hundreds of millions – if not billions – of dollars of revenue opportunity in front of them.

I am pivoting my business to focus on helping those types of founders and teams and companies develop the strategies they need to successfully get to the next stage of growth. If they’re in the early adopter stage, that might be winning that early adopter segment and really dominating and becoming entrenched in it. If they’re at the brink of the chasm and they’re sort of saturated, they’re early adopters and they’re ready to cross to the mainstream, it will be helping them develop the strategies they need to really focus on the mainstream.

That type of thinking is most clearly demonstrated by a piece I’m going to publish this week about Twilio which is a company I used to work at, like, five years ago. The piece is about how Twilio’s current go-to-market strategy is leaving anywhere from 53.5 billion to 500 billion dollars on the table over the next five years and an explanation of why that situation is the way it is and three completely different strategies they can take to solve that problem and cross the chasm – you know, realize some of those returns. That’s the type of thing that I’m focused on now.


3. What Are Your Thoughts on Growth Hacking or Growth Marketing?

Those are different things, right?

Growth hacking – I have very strong feelings about. I actually wrote an essay three years ago that said, “Real engines of growth on the internet have nothing to do with growth hacking.” In preparation for that, I interviewed a man named Stan Chudnovsky who works with James Currier on NFX Guild and was also one of the first thinkers about strategic tech implemented growth; I’ve also interviewed Josh Elman who had been one of the leaders of Twitter’s early growth team and also worked with Facebook and LinkedIn and is also partner at Greylock; and Andy Johns who is now at Wealthfront and had been at Quora and founded Facebook’s growth team.

Basically, the point there – and I was a little too harsh in the post because that can be some of my writing style – there actually are some people who call themselves “growth hackers” who are really growth people who really understand how to do growth. People like Sean Ellis and Andrew Chen who are actually the people who coined that term and popularized it are actually legitimate growth hackers. They really understand the subtleties and details and nuances of growth or growth marketers or growth people.

The problem is that the term that they coined has been adopted by people who don’t really understand what growth really is and like the sound of the label, like the concept that they can be a growth hacker – both a marketer and a hacker at the same time – but, really, they’re neither that good at either of those things.

And so, the term – even though it’s popular – I find it very misleading.

Now, growth marketing, on the other hand, is something very different. That is applying the discipline of marketing to making a company successful. One of the big differences is that so many of the people who call themselves growth hackers are focusing things like top of the funnel acquisition – literally just like getting more people to sign up, conversion rate optimization at the very bottom, top of the funnel stuff – whereas the most important things in growth are retention, long-term retention – your ability to retain your actual customers; your ability to activate new customers – people who sign up and actually turning them from signups into engaged, happy initial early customers; and monetization – actually getting those retained and activated customers to pay you and keep paying you.

If you look at the graphs on this on Price Intelligently – Price Intelligently did a great post on this – the difference in the number of posts about customer acquisition versus the number of posts about retention, activation, and monetization is literally something like ten to one or worse.


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

The first thing is hacks and tactics are okay and sometimes not okay. But, generally, strategy needs to come first. If you don’t have a clearly defined set of frameworks and tools and approaches for strategically finding your ideal channels, leveraging those marketing channels, scaling those marketing channels, throwing out the ones that aren’t working, scaling them down when they stop working, your growth efforts will fail.

The second thing is the most important thing is long-term engaged usage and monetization. The most important things are retention and monetization. If those things are lacking, all of top of the funnel efforts you put, all the brilliant things you do at the top of the funnel will be basically pouring down the drain or lighting it on fire or both. I don’t know if […] works but you’d be throwing money away.

And so, the first thing is to focus on monetization and retention above all else.

The second thing is understand the psychology of your retained user. I got that from Stan Chudnovsky when I actually interviewed him. I like the way he says it. It’s basically understand what really motivates the problems, the needs, the desires, and goals of the people who are sticking with your products and also paying for you. Understand those people and then figuring out what it’s going to take to get a lot more of them and create a lot more of them.

The third thing is focus on – and this depends on the stage of your growth – focus on solving a really clearly defined problem. Now, that problem doesn’t have to be something that the market already knows it has, but it does have to be a problem they have even if they don’t know it or not, right? It’s obviously easier to sell people a solution to a problem they have already articulated in their own mind. But, if they haven’t, there’s a whole other set of things you need to do to take them from “I don’t even know I have a problem” to “Wow! I really have a problem! Your product is the solution for it and now I want to pay you for it.”

You know, understanding where in that spectrum your customers are and how you get them from wherever they are now to becoming a paying engaged user is the most important thing for long-term sustainable growth.


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

That is sort of the flip side of that thing, right?

Focusing on hacks and tactics over core strategy; focusing on acquisition before you’ve really figured out your retention, activation, and monetization; and trying to apply growth strategies or hacks or tactics or any of that before you’ve really dialed in who you’re selling your product to, what they really need, what they really want, what problems they have, how they think about those problems or not, and how your product or solution fits into their lives and dramatically changes them for the better.

Another way of saying that is definitely don’t focus on features. If you’re in the growth space, you know that already. One of the assumptions that a lot of growth people make is that the right thing to focus on – if you’re not focusing on features – is benefits and I actually say, “Go a lot deeper than that.”

Focus on transformation.

There’s a diagram that I love to use in my presentations from a company called UserOnboard that shows Super Mario. For instance, in a Mario game, there’s a little guy. Then, in the middle, there’s the fire flower that, when he touches it, will let him throw fireballs. And, at the end, there is Mario with the super fireball capabilities.

The fact is that most companies and products – even established ones that are successful – think they’re selling the flower. If they’re talking about features, they’re talking about, like, its petals. If they talk about benefits, they talk about how it lets you throw fire, right? What they don’t realize is that Mario is living in this world where he is under attack from walking turtles that then might kill him, flying bullets that also might kill him, pipes that shoot out plants that also might kill him, and a bunch of pits that also might kill him. He does not care about the details of the flower or even that he can throw fire. What he cares about is being able to destroy the enemies who want to kill him and eliminating the risk that one contact with them will kill him immediately.

So, focus on that transformation. Focus on transforming Mario into a badass, less easy-to-kill version of himself, and you win.