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.