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April 22, 2018

Sales and Marketing Advice for Florida Business

How to use 'growth hacking' to build your business

Ron Stein | 11/20/2017

Recently after a speaking engagement someone in the audience approached me to ask a few questions. During our chat he mentioned in passing that his company was using “growth hacking” methods to grow revenue.

That got me thinking about how growth hacking is often misunderstood and its implementation is frequently botched.

It’s a term that came out of the startup world of Silicon Valley. The idea is that engineers try different things in the market, as fast as possible, until something sticks. That something could be a new feature, the right business model, or the color of the “buy now” button on your website that converts best.

The result is fast revenue growth.

This concept makes sense. Yet, in the wrong hands it rarely works. Growth hacking is not some simple follow-the-dots formula that quickly opens hidden doors with customers behind them.

For this reason, I don't love the term growth hacking. Maybe "creatively driven marketing" is more appropriate. Still, the idea works and will pay amazing dividends when done right. Just ask Airbnb, YouTube, and Poo Pourri.

And although these now famous and large companies were startup growth hackers, they still use creative hacking strategies and tactics to continue their evolution and growth.

A new way of thinking about marketing. The key is innovative actions in short bursts of experimentation. This allows you to test a specific idea on you’re targeted audience, quickly, without spending a lot of time and money. Not just a product or feature, but sales channels and marketing methods too. You’ll get quality feedback on the value to your potential buyers and then make the needed adjustments as fast as possible. Creativity is key. YouTube grew from a small startup video sharing network to more than a billion unique monthly views by testing different marketing strategies and analyzing traffic data and monitoring user comments -- contests and giving away an iPod Nano a day to encourage new accounts and uploading videos; a partnership program for its top users to share video revenues; and a subscription feed feature to support accounts with multiple videos to make it easier for all their new videos to be found and viewed. All designed to quickly grow users to get advertisers onboard.

Use marketing technology to your advantage. I’m not a geek, but rather a tech enthusiast. A hacker is someone who knows how to use technology to reach their goals faster, and not by following some rules set in stone to do it. Instead they find shortcuts. This is not cheating, just finding clever ways around a problem by using time and cost effective systems. For instance, before launching a new venture I use a marketing stack of three specific apps together to quickly build a highly targeted audience. The “trick” is to seek out and follow the followers of very popular blogs and companies relevant to my business. Since some of these have upwards of 500,000 followers it’s impossible to that manually -- that’s where one of the apps comes in. Aside from the obvious tactic of gaining followers and likes, I can rapidly test and measure feedback of the concept and its value to users. And these apps don’t break the bank -- two of the three have free subscription levels!

Get creative then test, track, and scale. This is a process that doesn’t focus on quantity, but on quality instead. A creatively driven marketer uses innovative, cost-effective tactics and strategies to help grow their company’s user base. Depending on your growth goals, choose which metrics to focus on. Next, there are dozens of possible channels you can use, but you can’t test them all. So, make assumptions and trust your gut to define a marketing strategy, then prioritize which you’ll test first. Now set up experiments because it’s impossible to know if something is going to work without testing and tracking your assumptions. The good news is that many of the apps you use such as email marketing platforms have built-in analytics to help you. Don’t forget to ask for and score potential buyer feedback, and use all the data you’ve collected to data to fine-tune your business strategy and prioritize your channels. Finally, create a marketing app stack that makes sense for you and your industry to automate and scale your process. Now go grow your company!

The key is to think out of the box, perform fast analysis, and take action. After all, the only way to know if something will work is to test it and to accurately analyze the results.

Creatively driven marketing will maximize your marketing efforts and is the quickest way to attain your growth goals.

Ron Stein is founder of More Customers Academy, helping business leaders build strategic messaging and positioning that cuts through the competitive noise to grow revenue. Ron has developed his own highly successful 5-step Stand Out & Sell More approach to winning new customers as a result of his twenty-five years of business development, marketing, and selling experiences. He works with a range of businesses, from startups to large corporations across industries including technology and healthcare, manufacturing, and financial services and banking. Ron conducts workshops, leads company meetings, offers keynote talks, and consults. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or by email.

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