In this post, learn the following about a Marketing Growth-a-thon:
- Outcomes – Yes 32 Ideas (check the end of the write-up)
- Bonus – How to prioritize ideas based on scoring
If you’re in a marketing team, especially that of a start-up, there must have been many ideas you or your peers would have ‘slacked’ or mailed to your team, or the marketing head. No? Well, more often than not these are likely to be shot down, by the day to day micro tasks, CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost) or revenue targets. In the fast-moving start-up space, ideas and experiments often stay half-baked, which has happened with me and many in the marketing team at UpGrad too.
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So, what do you do? Forget about these experiments? Forget about non-linear growth?
NO! Start a Marketing Growth-a-thon!
(Yes, conceptually it is like a hack-a-thon. We DO owe it to the tech team *bows down*)
So, what’s the objective of a Growth-a-thon?
I don’t know for sure, but reverse engineering the process as a participant, I think it’s along the lines of:
- Discover the top “must haves” and “can haves” of a company’s growth from a marketing dimension
- Look for Sitting Ducks or low hanging fruits that require a sprinkle of innovation and intiative to test out
- Look for Logical Tangents or ideas that are out of the box but resonate with the brand objectives/goals
- Get some Free Pizza (Wait, No… scratch that!)
- IMPORTANT: Create a Template for experiments & growth, and plot these out on a “goal completion” vs “feasibility” quadrants.
How do you plan a Growth-a-thon? #NeedInitiative
First, set the date. We did it on a Friday, which did not impact regular workflow. We had some quarterly and yearly goals for marketing, like getting 1,00,000 visitors to the Blog or building our YouTube subscriber base to 10,000 and so on. This gave us some direction to cluster our ideas. We had around a week to simulate the experiment and hypothesis, make excel projections and finally bring it to critical mass!
Executing Phase 1: Marketing Growth-a-thon
Focus: Ideate, Brainstorm, Critique, Reality Checks & Validate
Even though before the growth-a-thon some of us had half-baked ideas, some what ifs and some were well-prepared; once we entered the room, we were all ready.
Creating a Structured Thought Process – #ThrustAreas
So, our marketing head, divided the whiteboard into quadrants, and labeled each one of these as –
- Reduce CAC
- Increase Direct & Organic Traffic
- Awareness & Reach
- Building Communities & Networks
P.S: These were our goals from an overall business perspective, (always important to be mindful of even while working within teams and not get stuck in a silo). However, UpGrad is an ed-tech company, it is possible that if you are working in E-commerce or BFSI industries, your quadrants may be different – but the process is key. Basis these thrust areas, we began our hunt… to the center of our brain.
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Putting on the Thinking Cap: Fill up the White-Board!
As we went from one idea to another, we realised that most were very high impact. Focus areas ranged from optimizing mobile landing pages to reducing performance marketing CAC by more than 30%, to more wild ideas like integrating with Uber or Airtel and package existing content for extremely top-level brand awareness.
There were product-centric ideas like building a career chat bot, to even hosting a viral video series for each of our learning segments like Data, Marketing, Product and Entrepreneurship.
While these ideas were plotted and creative juices flowed, some ideas went through a few iterations in real time – sharpened, aligned to the brand, our target audience, desired scale and efficiency of paid & organic/viral efforts.
Tip: As I kept crying out “implementation road-map,” I was told that,
‘let’s decide that part in the next phase, using a template.’
I realized that implementation or execution often limits our mindset.
Over the next 3 hours, we boxed ourselves in with out-of-the-box ideas and soon the board was filled. And yes, after that we did have pizza! 😀
Executing Phase 2: Marketing Growth-a-thon
Our marketing head collated all these ideas and shared them on an excel sheet with all of us. Every idea that made the cut (32) were sliced across the following dimensions:
- Resource (manpower)
- Cross team functionality or dependency
This sheet is now to be filled by all 10 team members. Each member was to assign a value to all these ideas across all the above parameters – values of high, medium & low; and ideas that would have the perfect fit, would be now chosen as quarterly projects.
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Executing Phase 3: Marketing Growth-a-thon
Once the projects are decided, the project owners will form teams. These 2-4 member teams would present a detailed step by step implementation plan with overall costs plotted against business goals.
The weekly progress of the projects will be evaluated, similar to sprints. The pilot would be evaluated and would require support from other teams like tech or video production and would be assessed before the project starts.
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Outcomes: 32 Marketing ideas you can also use
We’re now at a very interesting stage of the Growth-a-thon! We’ve compiled all the ideas and given our viewpoints. Sharing the list of ideas below..
Next steps? Prioritizing your growth projects based on scoring
If you remember the 6 constraints we spoke about earlier, you could float out an excel to all the team members who can rate ideas “Low,” “Medium” & “High” across these. These could all assume numeric values as 1,2 & 3. Once all the sheets are filled, you can simply add these and you will get a total score of each of the growth projects across these fields.
Example: Say “impact” as a metric is given 50% weightage, versus the other dimensions like “cross-functional dependency,” “time,” “resources” & “cost” which could be given weightage of 10%, 10%, 15% & 15% respectively. You can then subtract all the other scores from the impact score for each project and that would give you the final numeric value of the true priority.
Basis the final scores, the founders and heads can then take a call to either take a project further in the current quarter or in the next quarter. There could also be some projects which would not be taken forward, basis the scores.
A sample of what such an excel sheet could look like:
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Are there any growth hacking strategies for start-ups in 2021?
With so much competition out there, growing your start-up or business is the need of the hour.
There are various ways in which you can achieve this. To start with, create an email waiting list. You can create buzz around your product by sending your database pre-launch emails. Some start-ups even launch their products on third-party websites to give customers a glimpse of what the product is going to look like.
You can even leverage influencer marketing by getting bloggers and vloggers to review your product or service. Lastly, if you want to survive amidst the stiff competition, it is important to be aware of upcoming trends. This will help you up your marketing game.
What are the benefits of growth hacking?
As the term implies, growth hacking helps you achieve growth in anything. If you want your company to scale, you need to keep churning out new marketing ideas. Once you embrace a growth mentality, you will be in a better place to develop new business models and product ideas, discover data-driven strategies, build better products, create cost-effective strategies that will improve ROI and create goals that are measurable and actionable.
What is the difference between growth hacking and growth marketing?
Growth hacking is not to be confused with marketing. It simply aims at bridging the gap between your product and the market. It is a process of continuous experimentation. On the other hand, growth marketing comprises strategies that will help get the start-up on its feet. It focuses on brand awareness and connecting a product/service to an audience. The reason why growth hacking and growth marketing are often used interchangeably is because they both rely on similar goals, data, processes and a good product.