How to become a growth hacker

How To Become A Growth-Hacker

Juan David Mendieta Villegas
Entrepreneur | Shaping industries, growth strategist

[7 minutes read]

The Skills To Become A Growth-Hacker

Would you like to become a growth hacker?

Below I will provide you with a short overview of what skills you need to master in order to consider yourself as a growth hacker (sponsored by Elium Academy)

First of all, it’s important to realize that there is no magic ‘growth hacking formula’. Every hack effort must be customized for the company and the particular type of interaction it has with its customer (ie. B2B, B2C or B2G).

Three Timeless Principles

There are three principles that are critical, regardless of the project, if you want to achieve your ultimate goal:

(principle 1) to build a selling machine. Your ‘product’ is always to create a system/structure that can be called up – exciting right?

(principle 2) Go for exponential growth and make sure its aligned with the unique work practices and culture of the company.

(principle 3) Your ‘approach’ is always lean. Growth Hacking borrows ideas from “The Lean Startup” methodology pioneered by Eric Ries. Everything, including marketing, is an iterative process. This means that strategies are implemented as experiments, allowing the marketing and sales teams to test approaches, i.e. through A/B testing that lead to a selling machine.

Your obsession? As a growth-hacker, you are totally crazy about viral growth.

The question is then: “How do Growth Hackers use the lean approach to create selling machines that achieve viral growth?”

That’s what we are going to dig into now.

Achieving Viral Growth

Have you ever thought about how your favorite companies managed to grow so successfully that they actually managed to impress you? I certainly have (Check out Rocket).

Many believe leading companies today just struck dumb luck and became market leaders with minimal effort. In reality, Viral Growth is the result of a lot of hard work, creativity, automation, and analytics. Remember those four things, they will be important later.

Below you can find what’s hidden below the surface of ‘Viral Growth’.

Merging Three Skillsets

To create your first growth hacking strategy you need to become a master and an artist in three domains. Why a master and an artist? You need to not only know these skills, but also be able to wield them creatively. Let’s take a look at each.

Automation and Engineering

A growth-hacker needs to be able to understand technology, to be capable of interacting with the product team of an organization and deploy digital strategies. It is not necessary to be a full-stack web developer (although, of course, that helps a lot) but a basic understanding of code its fundamental. Javascript, Html, Css, Bootstrap, npm, Git are some of the basic skills needed to take action with the product team.

But it is not only about the logic of the code, it is also about the capacity to understand a company-process and automate an operation with the use of existing tools (CRM, ERP, etc) as well as APIs. The objective is implementing an efficient system to automate operations inside an organization that can end up in bringing more clients (this is especially useful in the B2B and B2G industries).

Lean Experimentation and Data:

Traditional sales teams in organizations have been approaching marketing and sales as a one way process where a combination of strategies are implemented to reach a metric or achieve a KPI. Growth-hackers are, however, aware that we need to start bringing the lessons from the lean startup into our customer approach. Putting into place systems that are capable to of adapting to the market by continuously pushing experiments to the market and measuring results. Therefore there is an understanding of how to maximize impact instead of simply deploying a strategy to accomplish a KPI selected by top management.

A growth-hacker needs to understand how to use tools to track analytics, design experiments and implement agile management to a team in order to quickly pivot (our main recommendation is to work the scrum methodology as a software team).

Creative Marketing:

Creativity is a fundamental part of success. The reason is simple, a hack doesn’t work many times. Once an organization uses a hack to attract and grow a customer base the market gets used to that type of marketing strategy and finds it less valuable/attractive if another company tries to offer it again.

Let me explain with an example: nowadays the concept of “invite a friend and get a discount” or “price for you and your friend” is common (they’re called simple digital referrals). A lot of startups are using these referral techniques to attract customers. But the reality is that this is not as effective as it used to be when Dropbox implemented its massive referral program. Nowadays we are all used to startups telling us that we will get something for free if we invite a friend. This therefore makes this strategy less effective.

As you can see, trying innovative experiments and bringing new ways to interact with customers is the difference between one more referral campaign and a hack. But of course, to be creative you first need to be at the cutting-edge of knowledge about growth-hacking to be able to spot the new trends before they become mainstream.

The Growth Hacker Has 3 Skills Pillars

Automation and Engineering
Lean Experimentation and Data
Creative Marketing

So Why Growth-Hacking? Why Is The Market Ready For It?

A small difference in the customer-acquisition-cost can have a massive impact on the competitive landscape. This therefore creates the need for creativity in order to acquire new users and retain them.

Traditional marketing channels are expensive and saturated. Even social media acquisition costs are growing every day.

Today the real challenge is not the products but the distribution. In a world that is so globalized with a very mature startup ecosystem, reaching out to customers and effective distribution is a bigger differentiation factor than the simple capacity to create a product or service.

Product-development and marketing are becoming one, therefore organizations are starting to structure these departments together.

So … What does a growth hacker do?

After looking at the skills and attitudes of a growth-hacker it’s important to define the scope of the operation. In the following chart you will find a clear explanation of the marketing funnel that a growth-hacker should manage.

But to make it simple:

The growth-hacker does not stop at acquisition of customers; he implements processes that activate the customer throughout the customer’s “life span” in the company.

The complete list of steps in the growth hacker’s funnel is shown below.

The graph sums up all the essential steps a growth hacker needs to know, from first catching your customer’s attention to making that customer actually work for you by telling others about your product.

The Growth Hack

It’s becoming clear that we need to run experiments.

So now it’s all about deciding if an experiment really has the potential to exponentially take an organization to the next level. We simply test the hacking ideas and once we find the one with potential we focus on that one, grow the organization and start over again to test and iterate. The process should look something like this:

Implementing & Building The Sales Machines

At Elium Academy, we not only train people on how to acquire the skills to portray themselves as growth hackers but we also make sure our graduates are capable of setting up sales teams, marketing automation processes and funnel structures to really learn how to achieve the creation of a sales machine.

Of course this is not something simple to implement. That’s why implementation is critical to achieve real growth. And the only way to learn about implementation is to practice doing it.

You can look around on the internet for growth hacking techniques but because growth hacking is an iterative process, the only way you’ll really learn is by implementing these strategies and iterating until you find the best technique for your needs.

Growth hacking your first company. Elium’s growth hacking bootcamp.

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