Hired as Marketer for Salesflare, an intelligent CRM that thinks and works for you, he quickly realized that traditional Marketing methods weren’t going to cut it on his tight Start-up budget. He got himself up to speed with the newest online marketing techniques and started executing, growing Salesflare ever since. This is the story of how Gilles De Clerck became a Growth Hacker and why you should visit him at the Growth Hacking Conference.
First of all, how would you explain Growth Hacking to your mom?
Growth hacking is a process where you figure out the fastest way to grow through creativity and high-paced testing. You design and run experiments to find out which path leads to optimization. This concept goes beyond marketing. You can apply it to practically anything in life, as well as to life itself.
Are you a solitary runner or do get more satisfaction from working out with friends in the gym? Are you more productive during the day when you drink coffee or tea in the morning? Maybe you have more energy when you cut meat out of your diet? Can’t sleep at night? Try reading before you go to sleep instead of watching tv.
Run experiments and observe the outcome.
If the outcome turns into a habit, your experiment is successful. But don’t stop there.
Just because option B beat option A, doesn’t mean option C wouldn’t beat option B. And then there’s still option D, E, F, G etc.
Let’s say you went two weeks without meat and felt better. You’re a vegetarian now. But maybe you’ll even feel better when you also cut dairy and become vegan. Or maybe there are other patterns you can adopt to feel even better.
You went with tea, but maybe lemon water is an even better to kickstart of the day.
You’re a runner now, but do you run in the morning or the evening? If you don’t know, you test it.
There’s never a winner. There’s always stuff you don’t know, there’s always margin to optimize and grow.
Pursuing that margin is growth hacking.
How did you end up becoming interested in growth hacking?
I didn’t, really.
I was hired by Salesflare for a marketing role. The team had spent about two years building the product and at that point needed one thing and one thing only: growth.
I got myself up to speed with the newest online marketing techniques and started executing, growing Salesflare ever since.
Before I knew what it was, people started calling me a growth hacker and now we’re here.
I don’t really care about the term.
I’m always looking for the best way to achieve a goal, taking into account speed and result. Getting there takes creativity and experimentation. This isn’t something I got from growth hacking, it’s always been me. Rather than growth hacking, I prefer ‘experiment-driven marketing’ or ‘creatively iterated growth’.
What’s the hack (or win) you’re most proud of so far?
My Growth Hacking Playbooks.
I wrote one on Product Hunt, Facebook, LinkedIn and Stealing Your Competitor’s Customers. I’ll be releasing a new on finding anyone’s email soon.
All 4 have been published as blog posts but could have easily been made into eBooks and traded in for email addresses.
These guides are full of actionable tactics readers can implement on the spot and fun to read by means of light language, memes and GIFs. People absolutely love them.
They’re my way of changing the content playing field game. Most often, B2B blog posts are generic, boring, vague and written for search engines rather than for people.
I want to give them stuff that helps them reach their goals.
These playbooks gained great buzz in the wonderful world of growth hacking.
They’re the main reason I made name for myself rather quickly in the global growth hacking community and got me featured twice in the BAMF Bible, an eBook collecting the very best growth hacks put together by Badass Marketers & Founders, the number #1 Facebook Group on Growth Hacking. That book is currently on its way to becoming the most upvoted book ever on Product Hunt.
I’m not a fella that gets proud, I don’t believe in feeling good about yourself. You should always keep your eyes on the ball. But when I daily get people connecting with me to say thanks for helping them out with my guides, I do get a warm feeling inside.
Why do you think companies are paying growth hackers and why do you think they are needed?
They hire growth hackers out of fear.
Fear of dying and fear of missing out.
Startups, in particular, die without growth. Fast.
Growth is what keeps startups relevant. As soon as it stagnates, skepticism about long-term viability breeds. Investors doubt and turn away. The oh so excited employees all of a sudden are not so sure they’re in the right place anymore.
For companies, in general, it’s fear of missing out.
Everyone’s talking about growth hacking, yet there’s still a lot of mystery to it.
Founders often lack marketing skills and think of growth hacking as some kind of wizardry. Everyone’s doing it, their competitors are doing and so they have to do it too.
The same goes for executives in bigger companies. They don’t want to miss the next big thing and jump right on it.
This fear makes both start-ups and bigger companies desperate for short-term wins and that’s where they go wrong. Growth is a long-term process, not a homerun.
Growth is a cross-functional idea that needs to be embedded in a company’s structure and culture. Rather than some quick wins, you need a paradigm shift that blends marketing, UX, engineering and data science. The idea of growth needs to flow throughout the whole organization.
An external growth hacker can pull some tricks for you. They can get your hype going, but that little flame will die as soon as they’re out the door and you will have internalized nothing that can help you do it yourself.
Am I saying you should never hire an agency? No, I’m saying you should never outsource growth indefinitely. Hire an agency to accelerate the process of internalizing the growth mindset within your company so it becomes part of how you operate and you can take over yourself.
This should be your focus when looking to get external help. Don’t be mistaken, a lot of agencies out there are in it just to pull some tricks that blow your mind to then take your money and leave you in the exact same spot you were before. They can get away with this because of your fear and because you may not fully understand what it is they do. That being said, a lot of agencies aren’t even capable of giving you long-term value. Be sure to pick one that can.
No company survived jumping from hype to hype. You need sustainable growth processes built on your product-market fit that you can scale and predict.
I recommend startups to train their own in-house growth hacker. All you need is a curious kid with common sense who knows his way around a computer wanting to crush it. That was me at the beginning of the year. The beauty of growth hacking is that it’s a mindset. You can literally growth hack your growth hacking skills.
To move fast, combine both: accelerate your growth hacker’s growth by having him team up with an agency. This is the best way to make the growth mindset core of your young company’s DNA.
For corporates the problem is structural. Traditional company infrastructure doesn’t allow for rapid experimentation and knowledge sharing. Skills are divided into departments that mind their own business and are tied to a 9-to-5 life. Rather than specialists that are very good at one thing, you need problem solvers: hustlers that combine knowledge from different places to come up with new, creative ideas that will set you apart from your competition. This again requires a shift in both structure and culture. If that sounds like a tough project to pull off, that’s because it is. But growth will stack up over time because of it and nothing worth doing is ever easy.
Growth hacks evolve, just like the methods but what is in your eyes a great growth hacker?
Someone who’s always looking to learn and get better, even if things are going great.
Someone who ignores praise and keeps the focus on improving the weak links in the chain.
Someone who relentlessly and unconditionally pursues growth at all times and at every step.
Someone who approaches success as an opportunity to figure out the next ways to knock it out of the park.
We seem to live in a world where everyone always knows the answer.
Great growth hackers are aware of the fact that as humans our brains are limited and that we can never know the full truth.
They embrace uncertainty as a tool for growth and better decision making.
There’s always something out there that can be optimised for growth.
There’s no silver bullet until you fire one.
Why would somebody that doesn’t know anything about growth hacking, come to the conference?
Come and see what the fuss is all about.
A lot of people hear the word ‘hacking’ to then sigh and turn their heads away. They think of Russians sitting in a dark room pulling of sneaky stuff that is borderline illegal. We’re here to tell you that it is about figuring out the fastest ways to bring the best value to the right people.
Growth hacking is here to stay.
Just look at the recent presidential elections in France. Emmanuel Macron’s political party didn’t exist one and a half year ago but he still beat Le Pen by a landslide. How did he pull that off? He used growth hacking.
Marketing has always been about winning over people’s mind for a cause, a product, a brand.
The idea of growth is to spread the purpose out on every single aspect of a company and product. Not just the copy on the ads, not just the promotion channels, but also the signup button on your website can make a difference between more or less growth for your company.
We are trying to win customers with the tiniest details you can think of. It is this that makes it so fascinating as a profession because the possibilities are infinite and you can always change the game, even if you’re a newbie. No one is stopping you from gaining height quickly.
Other than that: we’re a bunch of fuck-ups, always in for a party. You won’t be bored.
Growth Hacking is known for using lots of tools, which one would you recommend to the attendees?
Because of its power to have your set of productivity apps work together autonomously.
At Salesflare we’ve automatically generated leads pushed to our email automation tool. If prospects reply to that email, they automatically get pushed in Salesflare’s pipeline for us to nurture them up to the deal. When they sign up for a trial, we get notified in Slack. When they sign up, we get notified in Slack.
Automating flows like this frees up time and energy to come create value and come up with new ideas.
Quote: Why would people come to see your talk at the Growth Hacking Conference?
I’m the guy who will tell you how to become magnetic in an era where everyone is screaming for attention.