Growth · Growth hacking

When should I bring a growth hacker to my team?

William Liberman CEO of BookTracks

April 10th, 2015

So far, my startup is at the per production/market fit stage, and I have been mostly the growth hacker or product hacker myself. Curious to hear when is a good time to bring in a growth hacker to the team?

Jeremy Grodberg Web CTO & Software Architect - Available

April 10th, 2015

The time to bring on a growth hacker is after you have achieved product/market fit and have automated your systems so you are ready to scale rapidly. Before that, you are spending money and effort on attracting customers to what might not be your final product, which can actually work against you in many ways (e.g. making it hard to remove features).

Shingai, my definition of a growth hacking is data-driven product design that causes your customers to bring you more (new) customers. It might also include product design tweaks that improve satisfaction or retention, depending on the situation. It is not sales at all and it is a different kind of marketing, which is why it has its own name. 

Shingai Samudzi

April 10th, 2015

Just for my edification - is there an actual difference between a growth hacker and someone who is skilled in both sales and marketing?

Jeremy Grodberg Web CTO & Software Architect - Available

April 11th, 2015

Karl wrote:
>>Shingai, my definition of a growth hacking is data-driven product design that causes your customers to bring you more (new) customers<< 

how is this different than normal product design and marketing? P&G has been doing this for more than 1/2 a century.

What is it about the product design of Tide laundry detergent or NyQuil that causes your customers to generate new customers for those P&G products? Answer: nothing. If a product works well, you might get word-of-mouth recommendations for those products, but that is not really a product design feature. 

Compare that to FounderDating, where the design of this discussion forum is that by default, posts are broadcast the the poster's personal network via LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. That is a product feature that primarily benefits FounderDating in drawing new people into the discussion and through that into FounderDating. It is a classic "growth hack". 

Growth hacking is data driven in that hard data is used to determine whether and how well a growth hack works and to learn about the customers in the process. Pretty much all design is trial and error; the growth hacker has the data to determine what was an error and generate a plausible hypothesis as to what when wrong that can be further tested. P&G for the most part doesn't know if their ads on YouTube increased sales of NyQuil and if so, why. They have done focus groups and other kinds of testing, but they don't have a complete feedback loop that ties product design changes to desirable consumer actions; growth hackers do. 

I, as a Growth Hacker, have great respect for what P&G (or especially Disney) can do in traditional sales and marketing. I am not even close to as good as they are in that. What I can do that they cannot is suggest and validate specific product changes (not pricing or package design or promotions) that lower customer acquisition costs while improving (or at least not harming) customer retention and satisfaction. 

I can also analyze customer behavior data to identify potential customer issues and design targeted interventions to address them. I'm not as strongly committed to the idea that this is unique to growth hacking, but it is at the least a natural extension of it. Traditional marketers are moving in this direction as the availability of data allows. Target, for example, famously did it too well in targeting newly pregnant women. 

So like many fields, the borders are fuzzy and there is overlap. To me, the bright line is that the growth hacker makes changes to the product itself and the result is that the customers themselves are the ones doing he marketing.

Diane Stokes Executive Consultant at Spartan Race, Inc.

April 11th, 2015

Totally agree with Jeremy. Without your product tested with a few customers and your production set for the growth you would be wasting your money. EXCEPT if you need help with strategy in Product and your skill set can't get you further than you might want more of a partner with those skills that you would bring in.

Norman Liang Building growth for consumer mobile products and services

April 10th, 2015

If you have a person in mind, the best thing to do is walk them through your activities and talk about what your plans, strategy, and tactics have been thus far to drive growth.
I and others have used a tactic of looking at your task load. You can think of it this way. If it takes half of your time to run these tactics currently, when you meet a person, could they easily spend half their time planning new tactics, one quarter of the remaining time running existing tactics, and one quarter of the time reviewing tactics/getting insight from you. Functionally you should be at a point where then you could spend half your time on top initiatives around product, partnerships, and fundraising.

Karl Schulmeisters Founder ExStreamVR

April 11th, 2015

>>Shingai, my definition of a growth hacking is data-driven product design that causes your customers to bring you more (new) customers<<

how is this different than normal product design and marketing?   P&G has been doing this for more than 1/2 a century.  

Think about the term "growth hacking"  - everyone wants growth and wants to hire marketing and sales folks who will drive growth.    So the key word in this is "hacking".

"hacking" is the opposite of "data driven" - "hacking" rather is the use of 'tools at hand' to achieve solutions (in this case growth)  to problems you don't otherwise have time or cash to address.

thus "growth hacking"  is about using unpaid marketing and media channels or using highly leveraged paid channels - to get your message out.   For example

you COULD sign up as a sponsor for a conference and get a speaking slot.  That's traditional marketing

a GROWTH HACK would be to simply pay the entrance fee for the conference and while participating in the various seminars - position yourself with questions or with example content, so that the presenter uses your product as an "on stage" example.

Most "growth hackers"  really are just using their contacts network and various combos of social media channels to try and create buzz.   Its essentially a sales and marketing person who knows how to achieve success on next to no budget

Karl Schulmeisters Founder ExStreamVR

April 11th, 2015

I think you are misunderstanding the product P&G sells, and hence missing the innovations in product designs. Take Tide for example. it was introduced in 1946 as a "heavy duty detergent for machines". It was initially a white powder. but this sometimes had incomplete dissolution in hard water. so they innovated and came up with a liquid form. that also required innovation in the delivery packaging. They also innovated on the branding, only introducing the dayglo colored bullseye 10 years after launch.,

They also run about 50,000 tests with water sampled from around the USA to adjust the formulation.

If that's not data driven mkting I'm not sure what is.

Growth Hacking arguably is not data driven since the analysis of "what works" invariably is based on simple coincidence and not even full correlation. OTOH P&G does very sophisticated mathematical analysis on who watches where and how different ads do in different demographics.

Do you have the mathematics background to even attempt the kind of multi-variate correlation analysis that a company like P&G can afford to do (and does)? I don't and I think I have more maths than most.

Growth hacking was coined in 2010 with a focus on Growth. And while it includes some A/B testing and tracking of trends via social media - it rarely rises to the sophisticated analytics that someone like Target and Walmart have been using for well over a decade.

What do you think Planogram software analytics are and why do you think there is a frequent changing of the "impulse buy" displays at aisle ends and checkouts? These are all continuous testing and analytics that have been in use for well over a decade http://analytics.typepad.com/files/retailanalytics.pdf

Loyalty marketing programs are also part of this analytics and while the ones introduce in 1793 (no that's not a typo) were not that sophisticated they did serve to do that. Greenstamps from the late 1800s very much did analytics on what their customers wanted to trade the loyalty tokens for. And Frequent Flyer programs started doing this some 25 years ago.

So lets not pretend that data driven marketing is something new.

What "growth hacking" refers to mostly is marketing through non-traditional channels (ie cheaper channels) in hopes of reducing CAC in comparison to traditional brand messaging and marketing

Dominic F. Tarantino Entrepreneur who seeks to connect with bright people who are interested in bringing ideas to life.

April 10th, 2015

In my opinion, its always good to have a rich seedbed of growth possibilities to work with. New company? Never a better time than now. Its directly related to strategy, no? Sent from my iPhone

Ameer Rosic Serial Entrepreneur, Adviser, Investor & Blockchain Advocate

April 10th, 2015

Best time, is when your skills and knowledge can't take you further. 


Questions you should as is: Can you afford to him him/her or is this an equity trade? 

Remember the old adage of Jim Collins. "Dream Team" 

If this new "Growth hacker, fits in your culture and he/she can help you 10x your Startup 

Then yes... Pay or give equity. 


Karl Schulmeisters Founder ExStreamVR

April 12th, 2015

P&G has been doing A/B testing with ads and product placement and coupons since before I was born.  the notion that somehow growth hacking is not about "making a product "otherwise more appealing to a customer" seems rather self contradictory.

absolutely linking to LinkedIn is marketing.  Its bi-directional marketing at multiple levels:  both for the posters - who improve their status on LinkedIn and for Founder's Dating which gets more and more exposure to other LinkedIn users, and for LinkedIn since it enhances the value users get from within the LinkedIn brand.

Yes it is "growth hacking" because it is "low cost social media marketing"    And your Branson example is yet another example of growth hacking being a way of exploiting existing channels for no or low cost.

I would contend that most "growth hacking experiements"  lack the sample size or the analytics to really assert causality much less running real multi-variate correlation analytics (most "growth hackers" don't even know what the term means much less the math to do it).

but we can agree to disagree. I think "Growth Hacking" is just another name for "low cost, non-traditional marketing".  and I don't see that any of the examples you have offered contradicts that