1. Not Being Afraid of Big, Bold Changes, Risks or Failure
If you want big results, you need to be willing to take big risks. I’m not saying your marketing organization should be run like the wild west. Order and consistency is key to building a foundation for sustainable growth. But being super conservative all the time is not going to open the growth hacking flood gates.
Sometimes it takes a little calculated chaos and willingness to step out of your comfort zone in order to make real progress.
Learn from your mistakes, try not to make the same ones twice. But you need to be prepared to fail. Again. And again.
In my opinion, it’s not about making change for the sake of change, and just throwing absolutely everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. The big risks you take should be justified by a strong hypothesis, data, or analysis. And occasionally, you just have to trust your gut.
As they say, if you play with fire at some point you’re bound to get burned. But hey, that’s the price you pay for the chance of creating a spark that could ignite an organization.
Of course, you’ll hopefully be testing and monitoring every experiment, so you will always be able to quantify and minimize the damage.
2. The Google 10X Mindset
Google CEO Larry Page is famous for his philosophy that instead of focusing on ideas that can grow a business 10%, focus on the ones could grow a business 10x.
Sure, this mindset can be viewed as extreme, and perhaps not attainable or realistic from a goal-setting standpoint in many cases.
But in general, I think it’s good to at least keep that 10X in the back of your mind.
Whether the goal be revenue, leads, conversion rates, or whatever KPI you are trying to impact, if you’re always keeping your eyes open for those 10X ideas and opportunities, and taking a step back every once and a while to scan the big picture for them, at least you’re giving yourself a chance to spot any bottle-rocket opportunities that may appear.
3. Cultivating a Culture of Testing to Drive Innovation
Ability to identify and understand important problems, and the levers and variables with potential to impact results and outcomes. Steady and organic flow of ideas in an open environment that allows those ideas to integrate and evolve
Constant experimentation and testing of hypotheses to enable constant learning and improvement
Getting a team into “test-mode” and encouraging a steady idea flow isn’t always easy, but in my experience, often #1 is the key to success for #2 and #3, and can be a greater challenge for a team.
For example, let’s say your team is all gung-ho about A/B testing and is peppering the wall with a million ideas. WOOP! That’s super awesome. In growth hacking marketing, I think you need a balance of both incremental and “revolutionary” tests. But you’re certainly not going to get rocket ship level growth with just the incremental one
4. The 1920s Paris Cafe: Establishing an Idea Incubator
Ideas belong on the wall, but not all of them will stick (and that’s OK.) Many ideas you throw out there probably aren’t going to stick right away (or at all), and it’s important to create an environment where people feel comfortable with that and do not take it personally.
Start with a problem. Whenever possible, make sure to start with a specific problem first. Be careful to avoid people coming up with ideas for solutions to problems that don’t exist or aren’t a priority. This wastes time, of which we have little to gamble with when in growth hacking marketing mode.
Focus and prioritization. It’s also important to make sure ideation stays aligned with key goals, objectives and problems, that new ideas are being prioritized and weighed against existing initiatives and commitments, and you’re not trying to focus in too many different areas at once. This could be overwhelming for both employees and employers if you’re being drafted into too many areas at once. To organize any goals or objectives that your business has set in an effective way, and in a system that is easy to understand, incorporating OKR software from somewhere like Profit, can help you to clearly establish the goals that you have set yourself in an efficient manner, so they can be successfully achieved. It could help to make a difference.
Clarity on ideas versus action items. Whenever you are talking about ideas, make sure it is clear to everyone involved that they are just ideas until they become formally designated as action items.
5. Knowing When to Press the Abort or Reset Buttons
Whether it be an experiment, project, strategy, process, team, anything – there are going to be times when something just isn’t working for a while, or you find yourself going too far down the wrong path, or see a more lucrative alternative path to long-term success.
When these things happen, you have to be open to the idea of aborting the mission, or just pressing reset and starting from scratch.
You hopefully won’t have to press it often, but in the world of growth hacking marketing, there’s no time to waste when there is action to be taken.
6. Taking an Agile Marketing Approach
For growth hacking marketing teams whose approach is centered around rapid change, adaptibility, and experimentation, the ability for the organization to stay flexible and nimble is a must.
More traditional, “waterfall” methodologies that favor rigid, long-term planning simply won’t work to support a growth hacking marketing style.
Rather, the practice of agile marketing, with the advantages of focusing on executing rapid, short-term, iterative work cycles called “sprints,” is an ideal format for a growth hacking marketing team.
Taking a look at the 7 core values of the agile marketing manifesto, it’s easy to see how perfectly these align with the growth hacker marketer mentality and approach.
7. The Long-Term Innovation Plateau: Overcoming the Internal Status Quo
Fast forward a couple of years. Your growth hacking marketing team and organization has been running on full cylinders for while. All the critical pieces and moving parts are in place, effective systems, processes, programs and strategies well-established, evolved and “perfected.” Most of the kinks have been worked out and rough edges smoothed. You’ve had many failures and successes and lessons learned along the way. Made tons of incremental optimizations. Your hacking experiments and innovative ideas have lead to big results. You’ve achieved a baseline of predictable, sustainable growth.
And now you are starting to see the innovation beginning to level off.
First of all, if that is the case, it might be time to revisit a Larry Page-esque 10X mindset to rally the team. There is always more room for innovation and improvement. It’s impossible for a digital marketer or team to ever be finished.
Second, now that we’ve finally gotten to this place, and this certain way of doing things has worked for us for a while, things can start to get set in stone and become common practice, standard operating procedure. “The way we do things.”
In other words, we’ve created our own internal status quo.
Any challengers or newcomers with prying questions or ideas, are often met with a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude.
After all, it took a lot of hard work and smart people to get to this point, and many complex problems that have been thought through and solved.
As the protector of the status quo, you have every right and reason to defend the existing “way of things” you have in place. You’ve put in the sweat, blood and tears, learned the painful lessons first hand, seen what has worked and what hasn’t, and experienced the evolution of how we got to now.
So when your internal status quo is challenged, often you may be correct in defending the current approach. Maybe you’ll be right in saying it ain’t broken. You probably will be a lot of the time.
But then again, it might not be broken, but maybe it’s starting to crack. Maybe it has been for a while. Maybe your solution had only been a temporary fix. Maybe, just maybe, there had been a better way to approach it all along that you just hadn’t thought of. Maybe there’s a way to improve results 10X again. Maybe it’s time to press the reset button.