Growth Hacking Q&A

1. What is Growth Hacker Marketing?

Short Answer: Growth Hacking is finding who your target audience is, identifying where they hang out and targeting them using creative campaigns on these channels.

Simple right?

2. What are the steps needed for Growth Hacking?

This was a really good question primarily because Growth Hackers may know how to run Facebook Ads or Growth Hack Reddit, Slideshare, etc. but don’t know the exact process a Growth Hacker follows which is in my opinion more crucial than anything else. Putting things into process makes it impossible to fail.

Answer: 1. Define the main goals for your business. These are called KBGs or Key Business Goals. Make sure you don’t define more than 3. For startups, keep it to 1.

2. Define who your target audience is. Essentially who is buying/would like to buy what you have to sell. This helps you to be very focused in terms of who to market to and helps you save time, energy and resources all of which are extremely valuable and scarce in a startup.

3. Identify where your target audience hangs out, or rather identifying which channels they are likely to be active on. For example: Airbnb in their early days identified that most of their customers were using Craigslist and through a really smart integration acquired customers without spending any money. They did this by simply identifying their channel personas.

4. Start brainstorming small growth experiments you can run on these channels. List down a few of them. Assign an OMTM to each of them which would be the most important metric for that experiment.This OMTM will be derived from the KBGs and can directly or indirectly impact the KBGs.

5. You probably have a list of small experiments you can run by now. Now comes, prioritising it. Determine which experiment to run based on the ease of implementation and potential impact.

6. Execute the Highest Priority experiment for a period of 7 days. This is your first cycle of execution.

3. Is Growth Hacking really just clever marketing?

Another brilliant question. It’s important to understand what growth hacking is and what growth hacking isn’t. For example: Growth Hacking isn’t a long term solution. (Write more)

Answer: I would say Growth Hacking isn’t clever marketing. Rather technically speaking, growth hacking is a science (so is cooking) and does seem more complicated than it actually is (just like cooking).

As a growth hacker, you explore these unconventional approaches to achieve your objective, you use the relevant technology and rely on data and metrics — and that’s the science behind it.

Growth hackers also work on a lot of things that digital marketers don’t like customer retention, product development, working with APIs, customer development, etc as compared to a digital marketer whose prime focus is customer acquisition.

4. What are the best examples of Growth Hacking?

Interesting Fact: “Smaller armies defeat larger armies more than 60% of the time with Guerrilla warfare as per a study on the last 200 years of wars.”

Answer: Just like Guerrilla warfare allowed smaller armies to succeed without the same amount of resources as larger armies, growth hacking allows startups to succeed. And both of them are all about having the right MINDSET.

The growth mindset helps you build growth hacking workflows and processes.

Let me share with you a very unconventional example of real-life growth hacking in action:

We will consider the example of a Hot Dog Eating Contest, which is an annual American hot dog eating competition held each year on US Independence Day (coming Soon if you’re planning to participate!)

For now, Let’s say you’re participating in a Hot Dog Eating Contest. How would go about it? As a regular participant, you would try to eat as many hot dogs in a given time.

But if you put your growth hat on, you will come up with a process to beat the usual participants. This is exactly what Kobayashi did when he set his first record at his rookie appearance on July 4, 2001 & ate 50 hot dogs in 12 minutes at the Hot Dog Eating Contest, doubling the previous record of 25.

Here’s the exact process he followed (and you should too!):

  • Step 1: Drink a lot of water to expand your stomach early on before the contest
  • Step 2: Separate the sausages from the buns
  • Step 3: Eat the sausages first (like this — It’s disgusting)
  • Step 4: Dip the buns in water before eating them again to reduce the effective amount of chewing and time taken

Now, this process can only come from a growth mindset. Kobayashi found loopholes in the contest rules, came up with a creative process and also ran experiments until he found the right fit.

This is exactly how a growth hacker thinks and works everyday! 

5. What is the way to be a real Growth Hacker?

The term “Growth Hacker” has become so trending today, that everyone from marketing managers to digital marketers like to call themselves “Growth Hackers”.

Answer: The fact is Growth Hacking goes much further ahead than any of the above jobs for a couple of reasons:

1. Growth Hackers are data-oriented and let the data do the talking instead of taking random guesses.

2. Growth Hackers have some sort of technical skills be it knowing how to make landing pages using Bootstrap, Working with APIs or even Web Scraping, etc. Essentially growth hackers also have some sort of a background in engineering, though this is not necessary as you can learn any kind of technical skill online.

3. Growth Hackers are process oriented and run tiny and lean experiments to validate their ideas. Once validated, they scale those growth hacks and automate them. They also focus on running experiments that have the most potential impact and consider the ease of implementation to gauge which experiments should be prioritised.

Want to learn growth hacking yourself? Check out the resources I recommended in this answer here.

6. How do you prove that digital marketing and growth hacking are different?

“Marketers create user personas, Growth hackers create Channel personas.”

Answer: A growth hacker thinks beyond the default marketing channels to get better results, with less time and money.

Doubting the Default is a key characteristic of a growth mindset.

While creating user personas is an essential step of a marketing strategy, traditional digital marketers tend to be blind toward exploring channel personas limiting them to the most common channels for executing their campaigns.

Now let’s look at what a typical digital marketing process looks like:

Digital Marketing Process

  1. Identify goals of the brand
  2. Create user personas
  3. Create a campaign strategy
  4. Execute on popular channels
  5. Analyse campaign metrics

Though there might be various steps in the process on different blogs and website, but this is what really happens. The channel set is usually defined based on where the brand is already active if it has an existing digital strategy OR a new set of channels is defined based on if it’s a B2B or B2C target.

Digital marketers usually play around with a common & popular set of channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram. Rarely social media campaigns are executed beyond this set while SEM campaigns run across the major advertising platforms like SM Ads and Google Adwords from data gathered across most digital marketing campaigns.

In comparison, let’s have a look at the growth hacking process:

Growth Hacking Process

  1. Identify one single goal which is defined using the OMTM or North Star Metric
  2. Create user personas
  4. Use data and gut feeling to brainstorm creative growth experiments
  5. Prioritise experiments based on their ICE Score and other prioritisation frameworks
  6. Execute on selected, often offbeat channels, and analyse OMTM
  7. Scale the successful experiments to growth hacks

Step 3 in the above process is the real differentiator between a digital marketer’s approach and a GROWTH MINDSET.

The growth hacker thinks beyond the default marketing channels to get better results, with less time and money.

To know Why Growth Hackers create Channel Personas, some example of successful growth hacks startups did by creating Channel Personas check out my full answer here.

Hopefully, you learnt a lot about growth hacking, how growth hacking is a science, why Growth Hackers should create channel personas instead of user personas as well as how Growth Hacking is different from Digital Marketing.

Got a question you’d like me to answer? Ask away in the comments below.

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