Grow fast or die slow (Samir Patel) is the mantra of Growth Hacking. But, for corporate long timers like me, Jethro Tull’s Too old to Rock ‘n Roll, Too Young to Die sums things up more accurately. We feel that we are missing out on something exciting but we are not entirely sure what we are missing out on.
Not any more. Recently I went to an excellent seminar on Growth hacking by Vincent Dignan . (If you get the chance – go and see him!). I found it very inspiring and also full of great tips and advice to growth traffic and users and build your social media presence rapidly.
But what really stuck me was that, although, Growth Hacking is seen as mainly for startups there is a lot that Corporate marketing teams can learn.
So here’s my advice on Corporates could deploy these techniques..
It starts with the strategy
It was great to see that, even in the fast moving and murky world of growth-hacking, some universal truths apply. Namely that if you don’t have a clear strategy of who you are targeting, with what products and offerings, and know which channels to use … then you are likely to fail. Likewise if your products or services don’t deliver what your target customers want, then you are not going to be successful.
Or as Vincent put it in millenial-speak: “you need to know who your target is, where they hang out and what problems they have.”
Yet how often do organisations start with the tactics and then try to retro-fit a strategy ?
Plan to succeed but learn from your mistakes
One of the great things about the Growth Hacking movement is speed to market, and risk taking. In my earlier career I have been involved in guerilla marketing projects (we didn’t call it “growth hacking” back then) – these are great fun.
However for someone trained in the traditional CIM values of Segment / Target / Positioning it was reassuring to have so much emphasis in the seminar on planning. This came through in a number of ways..
- Plan your approach to your target audience
- Plan your onboarding strategy
- Plan how you will grow your traffic, through identifying which channels to use
I think the key thing here for Corporates is that you can manage the risk of trying new techniques and approaches, provided you have clear objectives of what you are trying to achieve. You have to be bold enough not just to try new things but also – the difficult bit – to admit to failures. I’ve certainly found in my career that I’ve learned a lot through mistakes.. As the old saying goes “nothing ventured, nothing gained”
And, when you find something that works – keep doing it: rinse and repeat !
Digital isn’t the only way to reach your audience
Digital may be what captures the attention of Corporate Marketers, but it’s not the only way to reach your audience. Remember that you need to get your messages to your target audience “where they hang out” – which may well mean offline.
So it’s no surprise that the leading digital brands are using more and more traditional – ie offline – media. In 2016 TV advertising revenue hit record levels of £5.27bn in 2015 as digital brands including Facebook, Google and Netflix become the second biggest investors in the medium.[Marketing Week]
Or a well crafted Direct Mail piece is a proven way to get attention and drive people on line.
Keep it simple: it’s the invisible things that will make a difference
OK you may have a fabulous website but how easy is it for your target audience to do the bread-and-butter things?
The key thing for me was that it’s not just about the website / app etc. The back-end processes – the ones that aren’t visible – that are just as important.
For instance, how easy is it find where to sign up, what happens when someone signs up – do they get a thank-you email ? Have you thought through the whole process of onboarding ?
I’m constantly surprised at how simple (and dare I say it obvious) things really make a difference… Like moving a paper-based system to an online one. Or using simple Marketing Automation to ensure that every new user or interaction gets a thank you.
Content: Weddings and Babies
It goes without saying that content is a key component of any Marketing activity. However in the crowded, fragmented world of the internet, it’s even more important to make your content stand out. As Vincent Dignan said, you need to make your content as interesting as Weddings or Babies.
Although the typical Corporate launching your new Widget 3000 isn’t trying to outcompete weddings and babies, the content still needs to be relevant, interesting and – ideally, depending on what you are selling – compelling.
Yet, according to the Havas’ latest Meaningful Brands survey, “60% of the content created by the world’s leading 1,500 brands is ‘just clutter’ that has little impact on consumers’ lives or business results”. [Marketing Week].
So here are some techniques for improving content…
Personalise your messages to your target segments. Again this may seem obvious but how often do you see Press Releases sent out as-is ? In my view Press Releases are formal documents, intended for Journalists and can very dull… If you’ve done your homework, you’ve identified your target market and their wants and needs. Use this information to point out to your audience WHY the content of the Press Release is relevant to them..
Call to action. Think what you want people to do when they read your content. When I was working in Marketing Communications in IBM we used to call it the “So What?” Test. In particular choose buttons for your website which actively encourage your users to take action…
And no, “Sign up for our Newsletter” does not appear !
And, last but not, least ..
“Don’t sweat the small things on day ONE”. In other words, it’s better to get your content out, than worry too much about presentation and design.
Innovate but don’t go over to the Dark Side
It’s not for nothing that it’s called Growth Hacking as some of the techniques that are used by Growth Hackers are, frankly, of questionable legality ! Scraping a competitor’s site to extract key information or gathering emails is probably a big no no for Corporates with a reputation to uphold.
However there’s nothing wrong with seeking out great models (including your competitors), and copying the best bits. Rather than reverse engineering growth (as the Growth Hackers say) or simply copying, I would find ways of improving on what your competitors are doing.
Which brings me on to my final point.
Growth Hacking is a state of mind
For me, Growth Hacking isn’t about techniques or strategies: it’s really a state of mind.
Vincent Dignan said in his seminar that, to be a good Growth Hacker, you need to be a “be a mixture of Mad Men and Math-Men”. What I took this to mean is a combination of the risk taking, can-do attitude of Mad Mean, with the level-headedness and focus of a strategic planner.
That’s why, for me, Growth Hacking and Social Media don’t have to be the Wild West anymore, even for Corporates.
Gone are the days of Social Not-working…. bring on the days of Sustainable Growth Hacking !
I’m a Freelance Marketing Consultant. Contact me to find out how I can help your transform your business for the digital world.