Next generation marketing

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 Innovation

It 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?
The rest of the GrowthMBA can be summarized by focusing on Platforms (the tools of the Growth Hacker), People (the skills of the Growth Hacker), and Processes (How to hack for Growth).

Platforms: the toolbox for the Growth Hacker

Wow! 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: The Growth Hacking teams at Squads work with quite a few of these tools, but there are new things popping up every month. Therefore you always need to be on top of things in this field.

Process: a scientific approach to Marketing

Kaizen 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 men

What 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:
  1. Be an expert in one specific domain (this could be 1-2 specific Growth or Traction channels, like SEO, Facebook, Twitter, or Offline Sales).
  2. 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.
Marvin, a Growth Hacking specialist from 500Startups, gave some insight into his approach to the field. As a Growth Hacker you are linking marketing to product development. Therefore your knowledge base should not only be in marketing, but you will also need technical knowledge on building Internet Startups. Continued learning and experimentation are key in this dynamic field. Marvin spends quite some time and money (30K dollars!) on training to learn new channels. Although some channels are paid and offline, a lot of resources are available free and online. You have to be absolutely passionate about the field to become an excellent Growth Hacker, since it will cost blood, sweat, and tears to keep up with the rapid developments in the field. The good thing is that as a skilled Growth Hacker you will have great value for every Startup. That is why we at Squads are happy to have some very good Growth Hackers on board to help our customers and our own Squads Lab Startups. Want to learn more about Growth Hacking? Contact us and connect with our Growth Hacking teams.