Next generation marketing: The Growth MBA
Growth Hacking is hot! There is quite a lot of hype around it, but underneath is an exciting mix of marketing, hacking, and data science that is crucial for businesses and marketing. To delve into leading-edge Growth Hacking I attended the Growth MBA In A Day at The Next Web Europe Conference in Amsterdam. Growth Guru Samir Patel, mentor at 500Startups and founder of GrowthMachines, delivered the Growth MBA playbook to a crowd of around 100 growth enthusiasts. The two and a half hour workshop in the Westergasfabriek was a fun experience and I’ll share some highlights with you.
Lean Corporate InnovationIt was an interesting choice to kick things off at the Growth MBA with the corporate case of Philips. Corporate cases are familiar from my traditional MBA but was not what I expected in Startup Walhalla. It was interesting to hear how Philips applies Lean Startup and Growth Hacking to introduce innovations in the Personal Care domain. They have done three innovation projects in the last 8-9 months in this new style. The main struggles faced are:
- How to get the same pace, agility, and effectiveness as Startups in a business-like Philips?
- How to do customer-facing experiments when you have a brand like Philips to protect?
- How to deal with decisions from position driven (top management decides) to data-driven (objective decisions)?
- How to get to a repeatable model of Lean Innovation with the alignment of people and processes?
Platforms: the toolbox for the Growth HackerWow! Samir had a good pace in showing the audience many of the tools that every Growth Hacker should have in its Toolbox. There are specialist tools for content marketing, e-mail marketing, analytics, and so on. It is incredible and only keeping up to speed with the tools is quite a challenge. Some of the tools covered were:
Process: a scientific approach to MarketingKaizen is the process of continuous improvement and that is exactly the process you need in Growth Hacking. Developing an effective Growth Hacking process for your Startup is probably the biggest challenge and requires quite some learning. Successful Growth Hacking revolves around the alignment of platforms, people, and processes. For this alignment, a lot of testing needs to be done. Everything needs to be in balance and has to fit your Startup’s characteristics and aims. The process of Growth Hacking is a scientific approach to marketing. It is a chain of growth experiments with rigorous data collection, analysis, and attribution. At the core, Growth Hacking follows the build-measure-learn loop that is crucial to Lean Startup. This not only requires a disciplined process as we know from Lean Startup but also requires new skills that aren’t taught in school. Therefore these skills are not found in traditional marketeers. Growth Hacking is a different trade and requires a lot of learning on the job.
People: Madmen or Math menWhat does it take to become a Growth Hacker? This is an interesting question. The trade is relatively new and requires some science & data analysis skills, creative thinking, hacking & coding, and marketing skills. An interesting mix that is almost impossible to find in one person. The suggestion, therefore, is to have a T-shaped Growth Hacking profile:
- Be an expert in one specific domain (this could be 1-2 specific Growth or Traction channels, like SEO, Facebook, Twitter, or Offline Sales).
- Have enough acumen in the other disciplines to be able to communicate effectively with other Growth Hacker specialists. This requires an understanding of the available channels with their individual characteristics as well as insight into how they fit into the bigger picture of creating growth.