As we saw in my last article – 9 Insights into Seed Fundraising in Europe, we saw that what matters is that your team build traction with users and (if possible) customers. Hence, in this piece, I’m leaning into Growth Hacking Insights – and how to set up your team to deliver the traction and growth your startup needs.
Five Growth Hacking Insights
Note, the reason I focus on a Growth Hacking *team*, is simply because the range of skills needed to growth hack is enormously broad.
A growth team will typically consist of a number of people. These people will share common skills and knowledge, but each one will have a particular ability in a key area.
(Warning: if you are looking for just one person to deliver it all, by themselves – then you are running a high risk of failure.)
The good news is that growth hacking skills can be learnt quickly and cheaply online via udemy etc. So, crucially, when you, the founder, hire, look for someone with the desire to learn.
But equally, do check that you aren’t just hiring a course junkie and that your new person still has a powerful desire to act, too.
Oh, and don’t forget they need to fit into the team too.
Secret number ONE: Set Up Your Growth Hacking Team Right
To understand Growth Hacking and the skills you need in the team, let’s start by contrasting it with marketing – here’s a really useful quote:
“Aside from being focused on growth, what makes growth teams unique from your startup’s sales and marketing teams is that they are made up of data-driven, analytical and product-focussed employees.”
(see more here)
Hence, a Growth Hacking team, compared to a marketing team, has three additional skills sets; data driven, analytical and product focused.
So let’s take a closer look at these skills:
Firstly, let’s recognise that since the turn of the century, the means of marketing has moved from buying someone else’s audience channel (via adverts and inserts and lists) to building your own.
Hence, the ability to manipulate the website or social media or email or video channels is now a key growth skills that younger marketeers would normally have baked into their experience or be able to quickly acquire them.
Where the ‘product’ is a digital experience (Service as Software or platforms etc) this requires UX or UI ability to help see the customer experience and to intervene where engagement is lost or where messages are missing.
Increasingly, this UX/UI skill increasingly applies to complex e-commerce websites too.
However, in virtual product startups, the Growth Hacking team *also* needs the means and ability to upgrade the web or app software.
Similarly, e-commerce startups, require their growth team to have the ability to develop physical product.
These types of skill are not natural in digital marketeers.
Hence, you face a question:
“Should you develop those ‘product’ capabilities with one of your marketeers? Or, can you bring a software or product developer or engineer into your Growth Hacking team who is able to develop a sensitivity to marketing and customers and users”?
Part of the answer about who can move from a pure technical or software or engineering role to a growth hacking team and vice versa, will depend on mindset:
Which is Secret number TWO: Set Your Growth Hacking Team Mindset for Risk
The Growth Hacking mindset leans strongly to risk. Which is equally matched by the approach that if a strategy fails, kill it quickly and replace.
The speed of interaction with users and customers has changed from seasons and long campaigns… to weeks/ days, hours and even minutes.
So, how do you plan in this environment? You don’t!
Well, at least not in the old fashion sense of annual marketing plans:
“You can’t plan the year, but you can plan to hack the year instead.”
The way to manage a Growth Hacking team is with a weekly scorecard which tracks all the essential data points of performance.
Hence, don’t expect an annual marketing plan (nor hire someone that offers you one).
Instead, start with a team that takes action.
However, in addition to action, they also need, in parallel, to capture data, because:
Secret number THREE: In growth hacking only four things matter; data, data, data and data
The data driven mindset / culture is no different from a direct response (‘direct marketing’ of old) team – however, the tools have changed – python replaces excel and access etc…
…but dashboard software makes data accessible for non-technical specialists too.
Still, regardless of technical skill, can your growth marketeers uncover which lever (usually a combination of levers) which has greatest impact on your startup;
…in this season, at this stage of your startup’s growth?
Because, yes, you guessed it, it’s a moving target!
Hence, the analytical skill of deciphering ‘what matters’ from the trove of data is key and depends on your team possessing these things….
Three critical growth hacking skills and attributes:
- High emotional intelligence. (Able to both set firm goals and the flexibility to hear the insights needed to tear up the plan)
- Curiosity – someone who keeps asking the question ‘why’ not just ‘how’
- The allowance to get it wrong. (And an ability to accept failure as a path to success)
Old marketing consisted of annual marketing budgets and goals – which led to huge spreadsheets calculating the intricacies of every planned campaign over the next 12 months!
(If you still do this, give it up!)
Instead, Growth Hacking is ‘controlled chaos’. It is designed to be responsive – to external factors and opportunities as well as internal insights and developments.
However, your growth team still needs *some* control and direction.
And, this is where your scorecard comes in.
Update it weekly, religiously.
From that scorecard, set weekly targets to test new ideas and capture the results data and re-assess, re-assess
…and re-assess each and every week!
Essentially, if you don’t have a weekly scorecard, you are not growth hacking!
Which leads to…
Secret number FOUR: Your growth goal is to discover the levers to growth by focusing on this three part formula!
Top of the funnel x Magic moments x Product
What you, the founder, want from your Growth Hacking team is a clear understanding of what each of these elements is and which levers you need to pull to get more growth for more top of the funnel prospects and more magic moment experiences and more product ‘wow’ enjoyment.
Which brings to the the final, Insight number FIVE: Strategic Psychology and Happy Offers!
Before we let your Growth Hacking team loose, we should focus on the psychology – both at a strategic and tactical level.
I call the strategic bit ‘Strategic Psychology’ and the tactical bit, ‘Happy Offers’.
The Happy Offer, let’s do this first, is in many ways, the sale ‘closer’ .
When someone has already decided to buy, it closes the sale. Think of it as the power behind buying ‘now’ – rather than, buying ‘later’ (or just forgetting).
So, what does a Happy Offer look like?
Essentially, it is one of the many tactics of Growth Hacking – free gift, free trial, something extra – which has a high perceived value, low cost to deliver and doesn’t upset your existing customers!
Which is why I called these ‘Happy Offers’!
For many years, insurance and finance companies issued *Un*happy Offers – discounted deals to new customers only, which caused years of outrage etc…
So, now smart insurance companies – Halifax began a few years ago – now write to existing customers with an ‘existing customer discount bonus’ – Happy Offers!
Hence, if you offer a free e-book to new customers, then offer the same e-book to all your existing customers too – tell them you are running a campaign but want to give them early access…
…and then, invite them to share your offer with their friends.
When it comes to the strategic psychology, this requires leveraging natural human hot buttons that we all have – which are present regardless of seasons or fashions.
- – the need for more likes (think: social media),
- – the Fear of Missing Out (think: scarcity and why Ryanair always says ‘only 3 tickets remaining’) etc..
- – Reciprocity.
This is where you offer a lot of stuff for free and build trust with the aim of (possibly longer term) gaining a client or a deal.
Once a upon a time, reciprocity was called – ‘scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ – it’s the power of the ‘club’ or a tribal-type belonging
… that one might find operating in political circles… 😉
Here’s the key – make sure someone on the Growth Hacking team has responsibility for the strategic psychology and for the tactical Happy Offers. You’ll want to use both!
Thanks for reading so far, let me now wrap things up!
Your Growth Hacking Mission
You mission, if you choose to accept it, is to build a team of curious, action focused people who can track, report (weekly!) …
…and hack their way to success.
If doesn’t matter whether you build your growth team with new or recent graduates or with experienced direct response type marketeers or software developers. Look, instead, for the personalities types that can learn, adapt & act.
Lastly, the tighter the team, the better the results.
Find likeable people, give them a ‘fun’ budget. Set them free.
And watch them like a hawk! 😉
So, what’s the coaching question from all this?
It really has to be this:
Who is building your Growth Hacking team and what do they need to accelerate their mission and uncover your startup’s success levers.
If you like this, you can check out more of my stuff here or watch the video version of this article
or checkout the third in this series of founder insights into growth hacking and fund raising: How to Discover your North Star and Magic Moments