Carey joined our friends from Goodlawyer – Brett Colvin, CEO and Founder, and Grant Lahring, Head of Growth – to talk all things Growth Hacks. The sixth installment of the Goodlawyer Startup Series saw them dive into practical tips for sales, marketing, and startup growth!
First things first: Growth “Hacks” doesn’t mean that growth is easy! Especially as a startup. There’s no silver bullet. Effective growth means you need to roll up your sleeves and dig deep, so we’re going to give you 10 great tips to start driving growth.
#1 – Know who you’re targeting
Although this may seem easy, the two most common mistakes when startups envision their target audience is thinking either too broadly or too narrowly. An intentional approach to finding your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) is essential.
Understanding the difference between the User and the Buyer for your business will help you focus. While the User is the person interacting first-hand with your product or service, the Buyer could be someone else entirely. You want to be sure to target the Buyer in your sales and marketing efforts so you can get to the money!
#2 – Fundamentals first
Before you hit the gas, it’s essential to make sure that you’ve nailed your fundamentals and validated them! If not, you’ll risk overspending or see suboptimal results.
The fundamentals include figuring out your ICP, nailing down the problem you’re solving and whether your solution is beneficial enough to your customer to make them act on it, your value, positioning, and more.
Validation of these fundamentals is key. Do this with people who don’t already love you! Strangers are perfect for validation because they will be the most honest with you. Look for “radical candor” instead of feedback from your cheerleaders.
#3 – The buyer’s journey
Understanding the buyer journey is crucial when deciding on where to focus. Grant suggests making sure that you not only understand the whole buyer journey but that as many people as possible on your team also understand. That way, everyone is aligned on where marketing dollars should be spent, whether leads coming in are good or bad, and so on. Make sure to keep an eye on the specific activities of your buyer at each stage – there are some great clues to help you design better campaigns.
#4 – Focus: unit economics
We’ll be really clear here – unit economics is not accounting! It’s all about figuring out how much margin you make for every typical user or customer. If you haven’t figure out your unit economics or you’re way off base, you can end up accelerating negative financial outcomes for your business. For more on unit economics, check out a past Growth Snacks recap.
#5 – “Fish where the fish are”
Go where your customers are. This can be surprisingly difficult to figure out as a startup because you might not know exactly who your customer is. In this case, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid over-investing in too many different channels.
A great example of this is social media. Many startups like to be on every single social platform, however, if your ICP isn’t using TikTok there is no reason for you to be there. List all the social channels you think are worth putting your time into and challenge yourself to figure out whether your customers are there, and if so, how are they engaging there? If they’re not there or actively engaging, that may not be the social platform to focus your growth efforts on!
#6 – Be systematic in designing early experiments
Carey loves to say, “While interesting, your opinion is not relevant,” which applies well to growth efforts. Don’t let an opinion or a guess determine where your marketing dollars should be spent. Instead, be systematic in the experiments you design to collect the data you need to make informed decisions.
Instead of spending $3000 all at once on Facebook Ads that you aren’t sure will work, try spending $100 every month over a period of three months. If the ads work, then try spending $300 every month for another three months. If the ads don’t work after the first trial, spend $0 and move on (or better, iterate on your test – see #7 below).
Grant likes to do some quick ‘napkin math’ to assess what you think your experiment will do, how many leads it will generate, how many of those will convert, and then how much it will cost to try it. If you’re able to justify the cost, then give it a try!
#7 – Test (within reason)
Like #6, you want to start small and run one or two successful experiments that will give you useful data as opposed to 4 or 5 experiments and being overwhelmed with the results. If you run too many experiments at the same time, you may as well have run none at all.
In Carey’s experience, what wins here is designing fast, executing fast, and then leaving lots of time for optimization. If your first attempt didn’t work, adjust to try another solution – and then do it again, and again, and again. An easy example of this is sending different versions of emails to see which ones get more traction, then documenting the ones that worked to do again and the ones that didn’t, so you don’t repeat the same mistake.
#8 – Get the right tools
You want to make sure the tools you’re using to capture the data from your experiment or campaign will be effective and accurate. A spreadsheet can only do so much. Growth can be a nerdy math game, so make sure that you’re armed with the tools to play.
Pick the right tool for whatever stage your company is now and will grow to be within 18 months or so. Don’t pick a tool for 5 years down the road if it won’t help you achieve your growth goals now.
#9 – Get the right metrics
When you’re picking your metrics, make sure you understand what questions you’re trying to answer. Focus on metrics related to driving revenue and customer acquisition. Carey and Grant don’t focus on vanity metrics like page views or the numbers of followers because those don’t reveal much about whether your marketing is necessarily “working” well. If you want more info on metrics, check out our Growth Snacks blog.
#10 – Make growth a role
Lastly, every single person in your startup should have a mindset around driving revenue and customer acquisition. This growth lens needs to be set as a priority from the founders. Reinforce and reward growth behavior to make sure that everyone understands that everyone’s #1 priority is growth. Build your team with people who are curious, persistent, and comfortable with ambiguity – those are the people committed to growth.
Growth is tough – hopefully, these 10 tips will help. You can check out the full recording of Carey’s conversation with Grant and Brett on the Goodlawyer YouTube channel or register here for the final Startup Series about raising capital for startups happening on Jul 21st.