So you’re a start-up business owner and you’ve decided it’s time to fast-track your business growth. Someone suggests that you hire a growth hacker. Congratulations, you’ve stumbled upon one of the most effective means for small and medium businesses to grow!
Not so fast. Don’t go hiring that growth hacker just yet.
What exactly do you know about growth hacking? What kind of businesses benefit the most from it? What does it take for growth hacking to work? Don’t hire that growth hacker until you’ve read this guide – I’ll help you understand what growth hacking really means.
What is Growth Hacking?
There’s been a lot of talk about the differences between growth hacking and traditional marketing. Both focus on growing businesses through the promotion of your business offerings, particularly tangible products. Growth hacking differs from traditional marketing in two main ways:
- It considers online software and other intangible services products as well. It’s not limited to marketing physical products; therefore, if you’re offering cloud accounting software, that counts as a product that they can sell consumers.
- Its main consideration is a product’s ability to spread themselves. Thanks to the Internet, products – tangible or otherwise – now have the ability to spread themselves and reach consumers where they have not been able to before. This ability is what the growth hacker focuses on and fosters.
The growth hacker’s job is to focus specifically on growth. Marketers focus on growth as well, but they also focus on other things like branding and messaging or managing marketing teams, among other things. Growth hackers focus on strategies and tactics that drive business growth, capitalizing on a product’s natural ability to “sell itself” across multiple channels.
Who benefits the most from growth hackers?
Good question. Smaller, start-up business benefit from growth hackers more than any other business. Why, you ask?
That’s because small businesses are only beginning to establish themselves as providers of products and solutions. Their biggest selling points lie in the uniqueness of, the features of and the problems solved by their product. Marketers work better with established brands, while growth hackers help small, unrecognized businesses grow with the help of their knowledge of product and distribution.
This doesn’t mean growth hacking is exclusively found in start-ups. Growth hacking evolves as an organization gets bigger. It doesn’t focus solely on marketing your product – it also focuses on making any structural and procedural changes that drive growth. Every decision a growth hacker makes is arrived upon based on its potential to drive business growth.
Things to Remember Before Hiring a Growth Hacker
Now that we’ve established what a growth hacker is and what they generally do, it’s time to look at what you should remember before hiring a growth hacker. This is because many small businesses make the mistake of hiring a growth hacker and expecting him to do all the work at once. Take note:
- Growing your business requires your full attention to marketing. Because growth hackers only focus on making decisions that contribute to growth, they may fail to consider other things a marketer will. This includes branding, consistent communications, marketing management (even small marketing teams will require effective management), costing, etc. As a small business owner, you need to be hands-on when it comes to marketing your product and your brand.
- You need to establish a process between your marketing team and your growth hacker. This is important because as mentioned, a growth hacker’s priority is growth, and your marketing team’s priority is growth and everything else. You will need to create a process that involves open communication and collaboration. You also need to determine who will be the decision-maker in your absence – you will need to focus on other aspects of your business as well, which means you will have to figure out the hierarchy. Ideally, whoever is in charge of your marketing efforts should work closely with your growth hacker, and he should be making the final decisions that weigh in other business factors to ensure smooth implementation and maximized results.
- You will need to promote across and monitor all channels. Growth hackers use the Internet primarily to spread the word about your brand. You’ll need to monitor all channels used by the growth hacker to accurately measure engagement and goal conversions. Whether you’re checking SEO stats, running an SEM campaign, promoting your product through social, or running other online campaigns, you need to track all activities and analyze how each activity affects your business and impacts your growth.
- Use and align all channels available. In line with the previous item, you will need to focus on more than one channel to market your product. Digital is made up of multiple factors, all of which you can use to meet different goals: UI / UX design and development to give visitors a pleasant user experience; SEO to make sure your brand and your product reach your intended target audience; SEM and email marketing to lead your customers through different stages of the marketing funnel; social media, forums and blogging to promote brand awareness & recall and establish thought leadership. Your digital strategy should be aligned with your traditional marketing initiatives – if you are participating in an event that promotes your product, for example, this should be promoted on social, while your flyers, brochures and marketing materials should promote your digital presence, etc.
- Social is a huge part of growth hacking. Never underestimate the power of social – it’s a huge part of growth hacking because once your product goes viral on social, it will take a life of its own. Before hiring a growth hacker, make sure you have a strong social strategy in place – and that you hire a growth hacker specializing in social.
- The success of your product depends on what it has to offer. At the end of the day, a growth hacker can only go so far to help make your product go viral. You have to give him a good product to work with. Focus your energy and resources on product development backed up by market research, and you’ve got yourself a formula for success.
What to look for in a Growth Hacker
Now that you understand how having a growth hacker works, let’s quickly look at what you should look for in a growth hacker:
- Must have exceptional skills in analytics. This is because growth hackers need to measure growth and rely on this data to determine their next step.
- Must be heavily growth-oriented. Being focused on growth makes a growth hacker more persistent and unafraid to try new ideas that may get better results. It also allows a growth hacker to build on previous successes until they come up with a proven effective formula that can be scaled and improved as your business grows.
- Must be a creative thinker. Analytical thinking is just one part of a growth hacker’s job – he must also be creative, artistic and innovative. This allows a growth hacker to come up with different strategies to position and market your product to the right market.
- Must be proficient at all types of digital marketing. They should have more than a working knowledge of all digital marketing channels, preferably excelling in a couple.
- Programmers an advantage, but not required. This is especially important if your product is a software, because they can suggest improvements to the program that will make it easier to sell to your target audience.