We’ve started our Growth Hacking Myths series by talking about why growth hacking is not -just- a form of online marketing. Within the post, I’ve mentioned the word “system” multiple times. Well, any system that works in harmony needs proper force to drive it. even before that, it needs enough attention to create that system. We (as of growth enthusiasts) like to call it the “growth machine”.
The growth machine aims to achieve ongoing growth by the repetition of hypothesis-testing-analysis on the lean model. Such effort and creativity can not be put on single persons’ shoulders. At the very least, it’s not correct management. What happens if that person takes a 6-week leave or simply quits? Will you lose your engine of the growth machine?
Besides the fact that you can’t put all your eggs in one basket, the system of growth needs a multi-disciplined perspective. You need your product manager to tell you that the x feature will be added or removed on the coming sprints beforehand. So, you can start creating experimenting ideas around it. You would also need your sales team to give you insights about your customer feedbacks so you know what actually triggers conversions. Another input source would be your customer support team to let you know the common pain points so you can address them to achieve better retention and activation. If you have UX/UI designers and front-end developers you can use their knowledge as leverage in your experiments. Of course, these examples can be expanded or narrowed according to the size of the overall team and in what stage the company is.
Getting input from different parts of the organisation is a must but it’s not enough. You need them to be part of the process. You can’t have a single person running around talking to each department or the person in charge asynchronously. That would consume time and create problems as one might disagree with another’s idea with an insight only he/she might have. More importantly, you won’t have anyone embracing the mission as much as you do. It might be seen as an ‘extra work’ on people’s daily routine. If you going to create a machine you can’t effort this. Instead, you need a team; the growth team.
Whenever I was asked to give consultancy about growth my first request -even before I actually meet the client- would be them to understand the need of a team. There need to be people from the company creating the team with various perspectives. The growth hacker, or in my case the growth consultant can be a participant at the round table, executioner, and the scrum master for growth. I don’t believe an outsider can achieve growth alone. No one knows that business better than the team. Bad news; no one has a magical solution. But you can get guidance and path to make it part of your business.
Think of it as the drummer in a rowing team, making sure the rhythm is right and the boat is going as well as it can.
When I was giving consultancy, I would establish the growth team from the start and include all departments as much as I can. We would first work on the DMMP (Digital marketing and measurement plan) based on the famous model by Avinash Kaushik. Then once the plan is ready we would move on to weekly growth sessions where we work on the experiment backlog. I will talk about the process in detail in a separate post about the Growth Hacking Framework. But going back to the point, if you don’t have all departments on board, it’s rather hard to go forward with your experiments. The most obvious and unfortunately common case would be if the development team does not understand what’s on the plan or the product manager doesn’t prioritise it, you end up with experiments held up for weeks.
I have to spare a few words at this point about priorities. No matter what you do, you will have something that is seen as ‘more important’ than the tests you want to run. This is especially the case if it’s a start-up at an investment phase. A lot of times you get the response from the founders that ‘ we need this feature now, so our limited resources have to work on that’. Which is something I can relate to. You tend to work on a feature/change/update for example if an investor is asking for it to give you the next round of investment rather than running the tests that might help you or not. But those tests have the potential to provide sustainable growth for your business rather than a nitro boost. So, it’s Growth Hacker’s (or whoever has the hat of growth professional a the table) responsibility to keep the ball rolling. The most effective way I’ve seen so far is to include the cost vs. potential benefit in the experiment backlog. If you can demonstrate the potential impact against the cost of effort from the team, you will have tests running. Then again, the team needs to be in on it to calculate and agree on the potential impact. Otherwise, you have your word against the busy backlog. Good luck with that.
To sum it up, growth happens inside out and it needs help from every department or -depending on the size- every member of the company. The round table will allow ideas to be born and sharpened, experiments being created and most importantly being tested. After all, it’s the growth team, and they are working on their growth machine.