There is an increased interest in high growth companies and the methods they use to develop. Growth hacking is now a buzz word. But what exactly is it and why does it matter?

It means different things to different people but Wikipedia defines growth hacking as:

“A process of rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development to identify the most effective, efficient ways to grow a business.”

In a conversation on growth hacking, at the digital marketing festival, at Imperial College, marketing gurus shared their thoughts. The panel includes:

  • Mark Greenway, Digital Media Sales Director at Adobe
  • David Keene, Sales Productivity, Growth Hacking and Market Strategy at Google Apps for Work
  • Jeremy Waite, Head of Digital Strategy at Salesforce
  • Ben Gott, Head of Analytics at Periscopix
  • Moderated by Daniel Rowles, CEO at Target Internet

Below is a summary of my takeaways and some personal thoughts.

If you are a start-up, it’s about finding a way to get your product or service to the market and create opportunities to acquire clients as fast as possible.

It’s about using creative ways to get prospects in your sales pipeline and not be too prescriptive or rigid about how to achieve it.  It’s all about finding unorthodox methods and do whatever it takes to put your product or service in front of the customers, surprise them and make them pay attention.

Simply put, growth hacking is about making the s*** happen!

And to get there, you need to be original, agile, jump on that news thread (without spamming) and create a great piece of content that people would love to read, share and ask for more.

It also thinking about what other people haven’t thought of: like dropping a box full of cupcakes with the url of your company to the decision maker you want to meet with your business card and follow up if you don’t get the ring first.

Be different and find out what your prospect love (check their social media activities). Are they a lover of aged Rhum? Send a bottle by snail mail, personally addressed to their office, and the gate keeper you are unable to pass for months would gladly put it on their table!

For larger organisations, less agile, it’s not all over. Lubricate all the parts of the business to make it move smoother and faster. This means removing silosbetween departments and work towards having a single view of the customer journey and common metrics. Far too often, the sales and marketing departments have their own data and metrics that aren’t shared internally and result in lost opportunities.

The difference between a growth hacker and a salesperson is that the former think about sustainability. It’s not just about making the sales once and neglecting the customer. They think in terms of lifetime value, by continuing to deliver great value to delight the customer and get them to become their ambassadors and own sales force.

In the digital age, with multiple touchpoints in a customer journey, it pays to focus on 3 defining moments: See- Think- Do.

  • When you buy something, you see You see how people use it, whether it is a camera, a software or a car
  • At a certain point you start to think that this is good for you
  • After a while you reach the conclusion that you are ready to do something

In a growth hacking team, there should be someone or a group of people who want to find people who have moved through this journey and have reached thedo stage and catch most of them whilst the rest of the team continue to move people through the stages.

The way to do this?

Have a bank of varied stories to use and empower your team to tell them in the most compelling way. Produce also a wide range of materials for all the 3 stages such as videos, whitepapers, testimonials, case studies, flyers, infographics, fit to be distributed across multi-devices.

But what explosive growth companies have in common is a particular mindset as described by Peter Thiel, co-founder of Paypal in his book Zero to One. These companies build something 10x better than someone else and know that the quickest route to fail is to get it on the market and iterate.

The mistake some early stage start-ups’ make is to try to be the next Uber or Facebook. They already exist. Think instead:

“what can I bring to the world that is unique and has never been done before?”

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About Francine Beleyi

Francine Beleyi is a digital strategist, change consultant and entrepreneurial journalist who helps businesses thrive in the digital age. who helps businesses thrive in the digital age. She spends her days speaking with and studying the most successful entrepreneurs in the new economy, and sharing her findings with those who are open to new ideas and want to increase their results. Follow her on Twitter @FrancineBeleyi.