In this post you’re going to learn all the key aspects of growth hacking that don’t involve coding or using data tools like Google Analytics.
When I first started growth hacking, my entire IT skillset consisted of Excel and some basic design software…. I was not exactly an expert in “software engineering & automation”.
Thankfully, in the last years, I have become comfortable navigating a website’s code, understanding analytics and running A/B tests. It is worth noting, however, that there is a lot you can already do without these skills.
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A formidable percentage of my workday as a growth hacker is actually spent on the creative marketing side of things. In addition to that, my personal favorite part of the job: consumer behavior & psychology.
In this post, you’re going to learn all the key aspects of growth hacking that don’t involve coding or using data tools like Google Analytics.
When it comes to growth hacking, it is truly your mindset that matters most.
Mindset, Mindset, Mindset
It cannot be repeated enough (and if you’ve been reading our blog, you’ve probably heard it a thousand times), growth hacking starts with a mindset. It is about a willingness to push the boundaries of what marketing is and trying things that you might not have learned in the textbooks.
It is about the willingness to follow the data wherever it leads as you relentlessly experiment with products and marketing channels until the most effective and efficient methods for gaining and retaining high-value customers are found.
It is also all about thinking in terms of cause and effect systems. Learning to understand the systems that drive behavior and results is not as difficult as it sounds. By using systems and standard procedures you can hack your OWN growth and become more productive in all you do.
And finally, it’s about switching away from the traditional marketing thinking that you should launch every campaign with a bang, attracting millions of people, and instead of being willing to focus all your efforts on the right people--those that will buy your product.
Because in the end, it doesn’t matter how many people know of you, but how many will buy.
Who Are You Talking To?
“Some of my customers are young and want to be addressed informally but I don’t want to offend the older audience...”
This was a worry one of our clients expressed, and we get it. You have different customers and you want to speak to all of them. You want every person, near or far, to hear about your product and have it say something to them.
Sadly… this is not realistic.
If you want to grow, instead of trying to appeal to everyone, you need to focus on the segments that actually buy your product; your best customers, the ones who buy the most or the ones with the highest potential lifetime value.
You can’t appeal to everyone, but you can learn to speak the language of your real target audience. Better to be loved by that group than to receive a collective “meh” from a wider audience.
Get In Their Heads
Once you know who your key customer is, the next step is getting into their head (and we’re not talking about brain surgery… and it has nothing to do with the Matrix… or Inception).
Entrepreneurs often fail because they assume. They think they know what their customer feels and thinks. They build a product based on what they themselves would want.
Don’t make this mistake too.
Start with a minimum viable product and then listen to what your customers say about it. Start making adjustments and improvements. With this process, you can eventually customize your product offers and website perfectly to what your customers want.
Part of what makes growth hackers so effective is that they span the boundaries between marketing and product development. They are thus able to employ a constant feedback loop by collecting data about their customers and using it to fine-tune their product--all at a rapid pace.
The trick is knowing how to listen. If you know how to listen, you can figure out people’s deepest desires, greatest fears, and biggest struggles--and then you can address those.
But to do this effectively, it will probably involve more than what you learned in marketing class.
Learning To Listen
When you think of growth hacking, statistics and technical tools tend to come to mind. But when we say we base everything on data we mean qualitative data too.
Actually, some of the best insights I ever gained for a client came from testing their product with just one customer. There is plenty you can already learn and do without even looking at the stats.
Customer desire maps are a fantastic qualitative tool for really examining your customer’s head… (that sounds weird, doesn’t it?) You basically want to know the following:
- Hopes & Dreams: What does your customer want to attain or achieve above all else?
- Pains & Fears: What are your customers eager to avoid or get away from?
- Barriers & Uncertainties: What is preventing them from moving forward, or getting in the way of what they want?
If you can accurately answer these questions, it will not only enable you to offer products your customers can’t live without, but it will allow you to market them like a pro.
Traditional market research techniques are useful for this, but you might want to try some of these more savvy methods as well:
- Go through Amazon reviews of books related to your topic. People love to express themselves with reviews. You’ll find all kinds of real, honest opinions here.
- Browse through discussion forums on topics related to your business. Places like Quora and Reddit are rich with questions that real people are asking (and answering).
Speak To The Primary Desires (Nobody Else Is Listening)
Every time I explain these at a conference or workshop, people get the giggles. I can’t blame them, it sounds silly. But the reality is that every product and service is built around one or more of these five primary desires. They are:
- Getting paid
- Losing weight
- Looking great
- Feeling great
- Getting laid
Why is it important to know which one(s) of these desires your product is meant to fulfill? Because then you can adjust all your copy and advertising to speak to those desires.
People respond when you tickle their primary desires, it's as simple as that.
Craft Your Product Market Fit
Every growth hacker you meet will tell you excitedly about the magical idea of Product Market Fit (PMF). How could they not? It’s the foundation for all growth! I could write a whole article about it... but for your sake, I’ll keep it brief.
Product market fit can be explained like this: When more than 40% of your customers report that they would be very disappointed could they no longer use your product or service, you probably have PMF.
Spending on marketing before you have PMF is like pouring water into a bucket with holes. (meaning it’s not such a great idea ;-)
There is no point in driving a ton of traffic to your website only to have customers bugger off immediately with a “meh, not interested”.
You want your customers to be enthralled within the first 8 seconds of encountering your product! You want them to say, “where has this been all my life? How did I get by without it?”
Growth can only start once you have product market fit. And PMF only comes through paying careful attention to what your customers are asking for.
Here’s another harsh reality: I know you think you have PMF already. Actually, everyone I talk to thinks they have it. There’s that four-letter word “assumption” again! (yeah, okay I realize it has 10 letters)
Just because you think your product is amazing, doesn’t mean your target audience does too. The only way to know is by doing some serious research. You need to honestly ask your customers. You will probably be amazed and maybe even shocked when you do. But you will gain insights.
How do you test for Product Market Fit?
Start with the following two very simple questions:
1. How disappointed would you be if you could no longer use [product/service] of [business]
- Very disappointed
- Somewhat disappointed
- Not disappointed
- I no longer use [product/service] of [business]
2. Why did you choose this answer?
The why is the key part. It will help you get to the real reasons people do (or don’t) love your products.
- Are people reporting that they would be very disappointed? Great! Now use this info! The “why’s” here are your key unique selling points. Use them in your copy!
- Are people reporting that they would only be somewhat disappointed? These customers could love your product but, well, they just don’t quite yet. Here, the “why’s” will tell you the exact features your product is lacking.
- Are people reporting that they would not be disappointed or that they are no longer using your product? The “why’s” will tell you what you are doing wrong. These could be major issues like defects or bad service… or it could just mean that you have a product for which there is no market.
If that is the case, you need to be willing to take your product back to the drawing board.
Back to the drawing board
The whole process of listening and understand your market is completely pointless if you are not willing to swallow your pride and go back to the drawing board.
One of the main differences between growth hacking and traditional marketing is that growth hackers are typically deeply involved in product management. They are constantly able to feed the data they collect back into the design process.
Your product may not be right the first, second or third time around but through constant improvement you can get there!
That is why it pays to start with a minimum viable product and make constant iterations--rather than beginning with a “finished” product and then giving it a big marketing push like so many companies are used to.
Through constant feedback, adjustments, improvements and customizations, the goal is to eventually get your customers to love your product so much that they sell it for you. (we call that building growth into the product)
The Bottom Line
You don’t need to be a techie to start implementing growth hacking principles.
Primarily, it is about adopting a new mindset where growth is paramount, data drives decision making, and you’re always willing to reinvent your offerings.
Getting into your customer’s head really doesn’t require a lot of tools or coding (nor does it require surgery...). It mostly just requires a lot of paying attention.
Companies can no longer afford to have product teams create stuff in a vacuum and then expect marketers to sell whatever comes out. These things need to be integrated. Companies that learn to harness customer data to design their offerings are the ones that will be around and growing for years to come.
So stop Googling for “growth hacking quick wins” and instead use the most important source of information that is already right in front of you: your customer.
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