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First Stepping Stones Towards A Sound Growth Marketing Strategy

“In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.” (Seth Godin) Rather than remaining unknown, let's make your business break through the noise with a winning growth marketing plan.
By Kaley Nguyen | EnvZone Staff
on October 06, 2019 | 12 min read
Image source: WeWork

If you’re in the game of driving growth for your business, you must have been familiar with the buzzword “growth marketing”. In fact, it is one of those terms that gets thrown around like a tennis ball in doggy daycare.

Over the last few years, growth marketing has significantly redefined the goal of marketing: Successful marketing effort is no longer just about being at the top of the funnel and acquiring customers – it’s about acquiring customers who are going to stick around. Growth without retention isn’t growth after all.

Wanna foster a “true” growth for your small business? Let's dive into the exciting world of growth marketing to reach out to your desired end!

Growth Marketing: The Fundamentals

So, the very first questions arise: What does growth marketing actually mean? What does the role actually entail? And, how is it different from “regular” marketing?

Let’s take a closer look at what it is – and what it is not!

1. A Definition for Growth Marketing

Simply put, growth marketing is a systematic process that combines strategic brand marketing with tactical performance marketing to acquire good-fit customers and help them become so successful that they'll buy again, buy more, and tell others.

For a better understanding, it’s essential that we divide such a “lengthy” concept into separate small parts and carefully consider each:

  • Growth marketing is a systematic process

Built from agile development principles and growth hacking practices, growth marketing follows a cyclical sprint model where marketing performance is constantly tracked and optimized.

  • Growth marketing combines strategic brand marketing with tactical performance marketing. 

Not only is growth marketing measured in short-term generated leads but also in long-term brand awareness, demand, and loyalty.

First Stepping Stones Towards A Sound Growth Marketing Strategy - Fig 1
Image credit: Julian
  • The goal of growth marketing is revenue growth - not only through new customer acquisition but also through the activation, retention, and monetization of the existing customer base. 

As fore-mentioned, growth marketing doesn’t end where the funnel ends. Rather, its ultimate goal is to empower the customers, making them become so successful that they would like to stay - to buy more and even promote your business to their peers.

  • Growth marketing is laser-focused on serving good-fit customers. 

In fact, growth marketing is firmly rooted in the idea that marketing budgets should be spent on serving profitable customers – those who are getting the most value from the product. Beyond that, the primary role of marketing is to create value for these customers, rather than to extract value from them.

Some of these concepts are perfectly applied in the case of Facebook - the largest social platform these days.  With more than 2 billion users, Facebook is now a fact of life for many of us, but even the now ubiquitous social network still adopts growth marketing to extend its reach fast. A Quora question on Facebook growth reveals a couple of particularly effective techniques:

  • Encouraging users to add their contacts
  • Sending out emails to those contacts if they were mentioned or tagged on Facebook

The growth marketing practice of "mention notification" emails has piqued people's interest and made them go to Facebook and sign up to see what had been said about them.

First Stepping Stones Towards A Sound Growth Marketing Strategy - Fig 2
Image credit: Business Insider

2. Growth Marketing Vs Growth Hacking

It’s the truth that plenty of folks, even those who have been in the world of business for a while, use the terms “growth hacking” and “growth marketing” interchangeably, though they literally refer to some different things. Thus, it’s a “should” that we take a moment to differentiate such two terms.

To begin with, growth marketing is first and foremost after sustainable revenue growth whilst the ultimate goal of growth hacking is rapid market growth.

What’s more, growth hacking relies on tactical performance marketing alone, while growth marketing also borrows from brand marketing, where the goal is to foster brand awareness, demand, and preference among ideal customers who may not be ready to buy the product just yet.

Another noteworthy point is that growth hacking is unquestionably an in-house function, whereas growth marketing operations can be partially contracted out. If growth hackers are hybrids between full-stack developers and marketers, growth marketers are hybrids between business strategists, customer success managers, and marketers.

First Stepping Stones Towards A Sound Growth Marketing Strategy - Fig 3
Image source: Growth Marketing Platform

Once you have through some fundamentals as to growth marketing, it’s time to move on another critical step of its journey –  to get to know about growth marketers.

Growth Marketers: The Essential “Ingredient” For Winning Growth Marketing Efforts

Understandably, growth marketers perform an indispensable role, especially when it comes to mapping out your powerful growth marketing strategy. But, what are they exactly expected to do? And, which specific qualities are required for your dream growth marketers? Let’s see!

First Stepping Stones Towards A Sound Growth Marketing Strategy - Fig 4
Image source: WeWork

1. Responsibilities of A Growth Marketer

  • Customer research

First-hand customer insight is undoubtedly a vital success factor to marketing, especially in growth marketing, thus, you’ll often find growth marketers on the phone with the end-users of the product or service they're promoting. Sound glamorous, right?

  • Product marketing 

Since growth marketers are adept experts in performing customer research, they’re the best at crafting product page copy, creating sales enablement materials or putting together high-intent Google Ads that speak the language of your target audience.

  • Brand marketing

Should your product or service offered be a brand-new one, your growth marketer team might opt for running awareness-building tactics -typically influencer marketing, organizing or sponsoring events, video marketing, or guest blogging.

In case your offering was launched into the market for a long time - the product is awesome but there doesn’t seem to be enough demand for it - it’s very likely that it’s suffering from a positioning problem, which a growth marketer is going to work on.

  • Content marketing

As content marketing campaigns are usually adopted for some typical purposes such as heightening brand awareness, generating organic traffic, converting more sales leads or communicating to the current customer base, there’s usually at least some element of content marketing in growth marketing.

  • Paid customer acquisition

In the early phase of your business growth, paid social and search engine marketing (SEM) are amongst the most important growth drivers. Thus, it’s a common practice that growth marketers will utilize such paid channels to test different messaging alternatives for the website or a new campaign.

  • Data analysis and reporting.

Besides some typical marketing communication tasks, growth marketers frequently find themselves shoulder-deep in quantitative marketing and customer data from a variety of sources, including web analytics and marketing automation platforms, customer relationship management (CRM), and the product backend. It's their job to transform such pieces of raw data into logical hypotheses and compelling stories.

  • Marketing automation

Being well-rounded growth marketers, they are also expected to get used to some basic routine tasks of marketing automation - to design, build, and optimize drip campaigns, automated onboarding email sequences, chatbots, lead capture forms, and workflows.

2. Key Personality Traits of An Outstanding Growth Marketer

First Stepping Stones Towards A Sound Growth Marketing Strategy - Fig 5
Image source: WeWork
  • Data-Driven Approach

Far gone are the days when decisions were made solely based on gut feeling or the HiPPO strategy (highest paid person’s opinion). In our ever-evolving business landscape, excellent growth marketers are those who dive deep into the data to figure out which specific strategies are working and are comfortable using all the tools that allow for such analysis.

  • Product-Focused Mindset

A simple principle of the marketing and sales world is that you can’t sell a product or service that you don’t understand. As growth marketers are also in the business of selling and evangelizing, the same rule applies.

It’s worth remembering that your goal is not to trick people into buying something they don’t want, but rather to elucidate them the core benefits of a valuable product that you truly believe will help people. This explains why thorough knowledge of the offered products/service is definitely a “must”.

 “Growth starts with a deep understanding of product value and is about moving new users to the Aha! moment as quickly as possible, measurable in seconds.”

Chamath Palihapitiya - CEO of Social Capital.

  • A Creative Frame of Mind

What makes one an outstanding growth marketer is, most of the time, his or her innovative thinking trait. Never does there exist in their mind the thought alike “it’s yet to be done before, so why try?”

No matter how unbelievable this seems to be, what some thought was crazy or unnecessary turned out to be a fantastic engine for driving their growth.

  • A Hacker Mentality

It is fair to say that a growth marketer needs to be a jack of all trades. On any given day you might be expected to create a video, optimize ad copy, implement a new A/B test, or even practice some coding. The more and varied the skill set you’ve managed to acquire, the more you can contribute to your business, especially at an early stage of its growth.

  • No Fear of Failure

Adept growth marketers hold an unshakable belief that a failed experiment is not a bad thing – rather, failure is the quickest way to obtain valuable information.  

Actually, no growth marketer is clairvoyant – you don’t seize the power to see or change the future. Rather than simply waiting for the best things to come, it’s a prerequisite that you are open to attempting anything and everything to see what works (of course, with a well-designed deployment plan). Eventually, you will hit on things that succeed, and then let’s optimize those and continue such a success-driven process.

  • Masterful Story-Telling Skill

All the data in the world are getting you nowhere without your invested efforts to figure out how to truly connect with your audience. Marketing success requires your ability to synthesize both quantitative and qualitative information into a compelling story that resonates with your potential customers.

 “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.”

Seth Godin - an American author and former dot com business executive.

First Stepping Stones Towards A Sound Growth Marketing Strategy - Fig 6
Image credit: Dove – “Real Beauty” Marketing Campaign
First Stepping Stones Towards A Sound Growth Marketing Strategy - Fig 7
Image credit: Dove – “Real Beauty” Marketing Campaign
  • Multi-Tasking Knack

A well-rounded growth marketer is considered to be a contradiction of sorts – one who can juggle multiple responsibilities.

You have to be details-obsessed but - at the same time - keeps the big picture in mind. You have to build a results-driven mindset but can also work comfortably with ambiguity. You have to thoroughly measure everything and trust the data but also greatly values human intuition.

Essential Preconditions for Growth Marketing

To craft a sound growth marketing plan that will truly work for your business, these remain three critical prerequisites to be met.

#1. A Solid Business Strategy in Place

The biggest bottleneck indicating your business’s unreadiness for growth marketing is the fact that that you are yet to map out a clear, documented business strategy for your team.

It’s never too early or too late to build your own plan. To keep this alive and kicking, it’s vital to first address these concerns on your plan.

  • Which and to whom are you selling?
  • What is your value positioning that distinguishes your business from the others?
  • What are your growth objectives, and where do you expect such growth to come from? (for instance, mainly due to new customer acquisition or up-selling to existing customers)

The truth is that without a clearly communicated vision on these strategic decisions, your growth marketing strategy will be nothing short of a shot in the dark.

#2. Unlimited Access to The Right Data

Not only does your growth marketing team need access to marketing metrics but also business metrics to plan out a working marketing tactic. Why?

Simply because it’s the only way to figure out where the biggest challenges to your growth are and which specific marketing channels, messages, and tactics are generating customers with the highest lifetime value.

#3. Agile Organizational Structure

First Stepping Stones Towards A Sound Growth Marketing Strategy - Fig 8
Image credit: Slido

No matter how fluffy this idea seems to be, it’s indeed a key ingredient of success.

So, how to consider whether a certain company structure is agile enough? Or, which specific qualities is a “so-called” agile business required to have? Let’s see!

  • There’s a clear chain of command, where everyone knows exactly who’s responsible for what and there aren't any unnecessary layers of bureaucracy
  • There are minimal silos among different teams or departments in the company, especially product, customer success, marketing, sales, and leadership
  • Decision-making is decentralized enough so that things can move forward quickly
  • There’s an open culture, where people on any level feel like they can point out potential issues or propose recommendations without the fear of being punished or ignored
  • Following the sprint schedule doesn’t cause any unbearable difficulties

The Bottom Lines

In such a crowded marketplace, it’s getting harder and harder for any business to stand out. In order to break through the noise, it’s become increasingly significant to map out a marketing tactic that is creative, iterative, and compelling. If you’re longing for a strategy that not only helps with customer acquisition but also fuels a sustainable organic growth for your business, then you’ve got a name: growth marketing.

Adopting a growth marketing strategy is already overwhelmed with several planning and communication activities but keeping your business image visible online is also crucial to ignite the profitability of your business. Should you need any help with a dedicated team to get your business exposed to the digital world, don’t hesitate to get an online presence manager.

This article is also credited to Pinja Virtanen, Drew Housman, and Matt Bilotti.

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