Firstly, what is growth hacking? Growth hacking was born out of the philosophy of agile marketing - a way to move very quickly in unison, in order to achieve constantly increasing and expanding targets. Apart from being an annoying buzzword, growth hacking can be a very clever way for businesses to grow considerably in a short amount of time.
There are agencies that focus solely on growth hacking but if you’re a large enterprise, you may be able to trial this in house before calling experts in.
Usually, the larger a company gets, the more cumbersome and less innovative it becomes. You can get complacent and stop looking for innovative ways to do old jobs… productivity levels sag, competitors turn up and you start to lose customers.
In startup land, you thrive or you die. Everyone strives to do everything in the most productive way possible, for the best price they can. It’s always about thinking how to do something better. How can this process be automated? Can we act immediately on the results of this data? Can we test this campaign cheaply before we run with it? These are the questions asked every day.
It isn’t impossible to think like a startup and adopt new techniques when you’re a large organisation. Here are ways you can adopt growth hacking techniques and get your team to be more empowered, motivated and productive than you thought possible.
- Learn to fail small
Larger businesses are less keen to make mistakes, and often berate their teams when things go wrong. It’s rare for enterprises to break free from the dogma of failure to acknowledge that making mistakes can actually be a faster track to growth than getting everything right, as this post on Forbes outlines brilliantly.
Recently UBS Chief Sergio Ermotti got criticised when he privately told his staff it was "OK to make mistakes." Now, this was maybe taken out of context as an “OK to be slack at your job” but that’s not what failing small is about.
Making mistakes more than once, mistakes down to sloppiness or carelessness isn’t what you want. It’s the ability to empower teams to challenge and test certain processes to find better ways of doing things. As long as it’s clear to employees where they can and can’t take small risks or experiment new ways of doing things, you create an environment where people feel like it’s ok to learn and innovate.
You’ll inevitably find that your team discovers more effective processes and begins to see a higher rate of productivity. Even if some things go wrong, it’s on a small scale so it’s always fixable and worth it in the long run.
A growth hacking quote favourite, Thomas. A. Edison once said “I have not failed 10,000 times, I have found 10,000 ways that won’t work” - and when he found a way that did work, he invented the long lasting electric lightbulb.
- Be scientific about making mistakes
A technique that growth hackers use is to create experiments when challenging or testing a hypothesis. If you have something you’d like to test, or a process an employee wants to test, then create an experiment like a growth hacker would.
It’s a great way to test a rule, but it works best when made into a process. You can create experimentation forms for your team where they can record their experiments. This way, anything that works, you can repeat.
Make sure when people test an idea that they only test one variable at a time, so you can be sure of what’s affecting the results. There’s a nice post here by Referal Saasquatch on how to design experiment forms from a marketing perspective, but you can apply it to other areas of your business.
There could be incentives for experiments that produced a good result and are repeatable. Don’t discourage the experiments that didn’t work - they just bring the experimenter and the business closer to a success next time.
- Get focused on growth
If you have the power, assign or hire one person (proficient in developing and knowledgeable in marketing) or a small team, to focus exclusively on growth.
This team should be there to find one lever that is the largest bottleneck to progress and/or growth, and focus intently on moving it. Don’t try and do too much or your efforts won’t be as effective. Empower the growth person or team to conduct experiments on freeing the bottleneck without being encumbered by too much red tape.
If the growth team want to test moving the signup button on your webpage to increase user acquisition for example, allow them the freedom to work with the site designers to do this. If they think your sales team need to make an extra call after a product delivery to test the effect on customer satisfaction… try it. You’re only going to repeat what works.
- Change how you have meetings
Losing time is the biggest cost of a new company going through explosive growth. The same should be true of enterprises.
Always tell your team to hold meetings only if they have something concise to talk about. If you can’t write on an agenda what you want to answer then don’t have a meeting. Although this isn’t a “growth” technique perse, every hour you save is an extra hour of productivity.
Having your managers hold mini team meetings on Monday mornings in order to outline the goals that particular week will help everyone focus on what their most important jobs are. It also makes sure the efforts of the team are aligned. Once the goals are outlined, ask your team which tasks they can commit to completing that week, and how those tasks will achieve the objective or goal that week. Any task that is not essential or contributing to the completion of the weekly goal should not be a priority.
Team members should also be asked which tasks they completed the week before, and if they didn’t, why. This can help identify bottlenecks that your team have which are preventing them from being more productive.
- Sweat the little, painful data
Don’t collect and analyse ALL the data. If you’re job is a data scientist, ok, maybe. Otherwise you have way too much data around you to worry about it all. Focus on the metrics that hurt, not the vanity metrics that make you feel good.
It’s the little numbers that are going in the wrong direction that count. Who cares if you’re getting more traffic on your website if your lead page conversion rates are dropping? Who cares if there are twice as many customers if there are now five times more complaints costing you money.
So, if you can learn to do all of these things within your team, department or enterprise - you’ve learned to adopt the key growth hacking techniques that will ensure you’re always progressing, learning and looking for ways to maintain and grow.