When you type “Growth Marketing” in search engines, the list of results makes you think that this strategy is meant only for startups and small businesses. While in fact, the growth marketing strategy can be adopted no matter the size or the industry of a business.
Just to put this into perspective:
One day, Warren Buffett, the world’s third richest man, bought Bill Gates lunch at Mcdonald’s with… Coupons!
Yes, you read it right. A simple move to manage lunch budget in a more efficient way.
And no, it’s not greed.
“But he’s so rich, why would he even care about the cost of a lunch?” you may wonder. Well, just because someone has a lot of money, doesn’t mean they should spend it in a recklessly extravagant way.
This isn’t the idea per se. However, what I am highlighting here is that life hacks are not only for poor and medium class people, the same way growth marketing isn’t only for startups and small businesses. Laorganizationstions have a wealth of knowledge to uncover by taking notice of the strategies of startups when it comes to growth marketing. The reason is, lack of resources is often the biggest challenge to many small businesses, but is also the starting point of success and survival.
If your large company has a big budget, resist the urge to use it for a traditional launch.
Why, you ask? Why shouldn’t we use our assets to our advantage?
Because new products don’t always have the functionality that customers want, andthey rarely reach the target. Wouldn’t it be better to get an initial version of a product out there, gather feedback, and then build adequate functionalities based on feedback and data?
Now that we’re on the same page, I will explain to you how larger companies can get started with growth Marketing.
But first, let me put in words what growth marketing is, and share with you some principles to establish in your company before starting with it.
1- What growth Marketing is and what it is not:
As explained in one of our articles, Growth Marketing is a process of rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development to determine the best practices for growing a business. In fact, growth marketing is most performant when experiments can provide rapid feedback. So, while it’s not exclusive to, it’s most suited in digital businesses.
However, don’t confuse growth marketing with digital marketing or “growth hacking”. The former is certainly used by growth marketers, but it’s done in a way that features relevant content from the product. The latter lately developed a bad connotation, considered as a practice of customer acquisition through unconventional means.
Growth marketing is where all the people in your company focus on making the numbers go up. From sales to design to products, everyone can impact growth. – Neil Patel
2- Principles to establish in your organization before starting with Growth Marketing:
Think of failure as part of the process:
The ability to fail leads to innovation. However failure itself doesn’t lead to innovation, it’s how you deal with it that matters most. If your corporate hierarchy doesn’t let you fail fast and small, you are missing the most important component of growth marketing.
Not embracing failure is a trap many corporates fall into, and obviously, this is when the competitive advantages slip from their hands and fall right back into the arms of startups that have replaced ‘failure is not an option’ with ‘if you’re going to fail, fail fast’.
In this context, we can bring up the example of Business disruption of Airbnb to the hotel industry. The startup has certainly failed many times before becoming a go-to service for homestays, but look where they are today! While Airbnb is data-driven, they don’t let data push them around. Instead of developing reactively to metrics, the team often starts with a creative hypothesis, implements a change, reviews how it impacts the business and then repeats. And in the process, there is a lot of failures.
Experiment at high speed
Experimentation is the core of growth marketing, The startup world is obsessed with optimizing by means of experimentation, and large organizations need to adopt a similar mindset.
Corporates spend way too much time planning, checking, designing and building the perfect product, which can give them the illusion that “experimenting” is not necessary. Startups, on the other hand, have the ability to move faster. By the time the corporate have just finished modeling a strategy, the startup has already launched several MVPs (minimum viable products), pivoted, relaunched, experimented, collected real customer feedback, relaunched again and delivered the product.
Download this free corporate experimentation playbook for inspiring content :
Build cross-skilled teams
When you have different people from different backgrounds and areas of expertise working in synergy on a project, a new form of collective knowledge rises.
Of course, each team member is familiar with their own department, but do you realize how fruitful it would be to have, for instance, a marketing guy and an IT guy come together to rock a project. What if your marketing guy has some cool coding tricks that he picked up in his night school classes? What if the IT guy has some amazing ideas on marketing that he recently read in a book?
Everyone has a different way of doing things and a different work process to follow; and that is indeed a great playground for experimentation: trying new processes. When everyone brings their best practices to the table, the best outcome can be expected.
Large companies need to break down silos because they separate product development teams from marketing teams so that engineers and marketing analysts rarely speak to one another. This is partly a consequence of functional budgets and functional politics in bigger companies. Growth marketing’s approach of rapid iteration requires all these groups to work in close collaboration.
“Sustainable growth comes from different departments and levels in a company”
And our favorite: Rather ask for forgiveness than permission.
A team member has an idea in mind? Let them test it, the worst thing that can happen is learning. Encourage your team to act and get things done, because forgiveness comes after action whereas permission comes before. By asking for permission, employees are transferring the responsibility to the manager, the colleague, the CEO (and so on). That person might decline just to avoid being held responsible for the result, in case of failure.
Forget the corporate system where an employee is appreciated only through the quantity of results he can provide and the ROI, because most growth marketing activities may not bring in any immediate results to the key business objectives.
By now, I’m sure you are eager to know how a big company can get started with growth marketing so here you go:
3-How to get started with growth marketing for big corporates:
Non-obligatory growth workshop with the right people:
A golden rule to get the ideas flowing is to get your “new club” started with a non-obligatory meeting with people from different departments. This way you make sure everyone is equally involved and eager to bring new ideas to the table.
As the famous adage goes “Less is more” and it is indeed. So keep your workshops focused because nothing great ever comes from forcing your employees to do something they are not really interested in.
Growth Marketing Canvas
The growth Marketing Canvas is similar to the Business Model Canvas and Lean Canvas, they consist of 10 building blocks that each intersects with one another.
These tools are a simple language through which the growth team can understand and evaluate their growth marketing activities and bring innovation into their work. It allows them to have a clear structure of the growth process and helps your growth team to stay focused on the tasks that require more attention.
Your growth team can make their own canvas, or simply download ours for free here.
Try to do one experiment to get started
Large companies rely on planning and budgeting quite a lot, with the foolish belief that they can predict the future. Whereas today’s business environment is reaching a whole new level of complexity that made predictions less and less accurate.
It’s now time to stop planning and start experimenting instead. Experiment to improve your products, your service, or your way of working. Try to leave aside the “we’ve always done it this way” mindset, because it seriously kills innovation.
Google is one of the companies who already realized the value of experimentation, and is devoting 20% of their working time experimenting. (See examples of some big companies here)
So to get started, gather your team, brainstorm your craziest ideas, prioritize them and run one experiment at least.
Try to work in sprints: Iterate fast.
-What is a sprint?
It’s a two-week process that helps teams focus on one big goal and move from idea to prototype to customer research in that short span of time. The idea is to fast-forward a project, so you can see what the end result might look like and how the market will react.
-Why should you run them?
Sprints help you get started: By gathering a team, clearing the calendar and scheduling customer interviews, it gets easier to commit to solving a problem and making progress.
Sprints keep you focused on what’s important: While there can be so much noise and distractions in a corporate environment, it’s almost impossible to see which issues are really the most critical. That’s why sprints matter.
Sprints move you from abstract to concrete: Instead of running right and left, jumping from one task to the other and ending up with nothing concrete, sprints allow you to break loose from the universe of endless theories and debates.
Sprints encourage fast follow-up: It helps you draw a fine line between what really matters and what doesn’t. It also keeps you updated on the progress you make.
-How to organize them?
Every sprint starts with figuring out what the problem is. After that, there’s a considerable amount of work that must be done in preparation before getting started. First, you have to set the right team from different area of expertise
Second, you should determine the logistics, methodology, process, and tools the team will be using. You also have to check if there are any hardware, software, or specific environments to provide. Moreover, try to make sure your team is properly staffed and equipped.
-How to run them?
There are 5 main stages you should complete while running a sprint: mapping, sketching, deciding, creating a prototype, and testing. It sounds pretty easy, right? Let me just explain what every phase is all about:
-Map: The first phase of the process focuses on understanding the issue and starting from the end in order to agree on the long-term goal. By setting up a map of the actors (affected by the print), the enablers and the end goal, you get to see the overall picture of your sprint.
-Sketch: This stage is about turning ideas into solutions and you have to do it in the easiest and fastest way. During this phase team members are given the time and space to come up with ideas of their own. Expanding on these ideas as a team will follow later on.
-Decide: Decisions, decisions, decisions. After all the individual ideas are presented, the team has to choose which ideas are feasible and should be prototyped. There’s a variety of methods that can help your team reach common ground and pick the best idea. From voting to grading or using a Decision Matrix, you can try it all.
– Prototype: In the context of Design Sprint, building a prototype refers more to the facade. It is not about building the nicest product and spending a lot of time and resources on it. Instead, the focus is on the user experience, on how users will interact with your product. Basically, the prototype is just the execution of the experience you envisioned in the sketch phase.
-Test: The last phase represents the moment of truth. The validation/invalidation of your ideas and assumptions. Now, you and your team are able to see how the users react to your idea and get valuable feedback. Everyone on the team should be present and observe this stage.
4- Tips to follow and traps to avoid:
After running over 150 projects, I asked our growth consultants at The Growth Revolution to provide me with a list of tips that a corporate should follow while adopting the growth marketing mindset, and here is what I got for you:
- Create an open workspace (no IT-restrictions, separate budget, freedom to experiment, etc.) and set up a data environment from the start (Google Data Studio, Klipfolio, Geckoboard, …).
- Don’t try to reach too many people at the same time, remember that consistent and transparent communication is golden in driving stakeholders alignment.
- Be Specific with the problem you want to solve, and be fast with execution: no 3 weeks of waiting time for a code snippet on the website.
- Avoid false causality bias by preaching hypothesis-driven testing in growth projects.
- Forget A/B testing, for it is old-fashioned, long live A/E testing (multivariate testing).
- If you think your experiment is too minimalistic, try to google Facebook’s first homepage.
- Understand that growth marketing is daring to go the extra mile. It is doing smart marketing with Tech and automation.
- Always look at the potential impact vs cost and effort when you run an experiment. But don’t focus on results or ROI too early, focus on learnings instead.
- Accept the fact that growth marketing is a team sport, not for solo players.
- Run small experiments to learn and Iterate fast.
- And last but not least, remember that experiments don’t fail, you always learn something from them.