September 9, 2021
7 Min Read
However, many founders find themselves under such immense pressure to drive growth that they rush into hiring without understanding the growth process. This can lead to wasted time, budget, resources and ultimately slower more inefficient growth.
In this article, I’ll expand on the growth process and help you lay the foundations for a flexible and adaptable growth marketing team.
If you’re looking to hire pre-vetted freelance growth talent, you can do it for free using Traktion. Connect with the world’s best and brightest marketers through our easy-to-use platform.
A growth team’s job is to efficiently grow the value of — and customer base for — a product or service. A good growth team does this via carefully considered strategies, tactics, and experiments, each heavily underpinned by data.
This experimental data-driven approach is important to note because the term “growth marketing” is sometimes used as a loose synonym for online marketing. They should not be confused. Online marketing does not necessarily need to be data driven or experimental. Growth marketing does.
Let’s clarify why you need a specific team to scale your business.
In Andrew Chen’s influential article “How to build a growth team – lessons from Uber, Hubspot, and others” he explains that many of the key skills required to increase growth can often sit outside the wheelhouse of existing teams.
That’s why, to support and drive growth, you need to bring in a multi-disciplinary group of experts with a clear remit to enhance a product’s value and user base.
However, many startups are blind to this need. This sees them make the same mistake in pursuit of growth, rushing headlong into paid media, hiring people to run ads and chase new customers without a plan — or even a vague idea of what they hope to achieve.
So, before you hire anyone, you first have to understand the growth process.
In his article, Andrew Chen highlights the cyclical nature of this process, which begins with understanding the available data (whether that’s first, second, or third party data), before creating hypotheses around certain marketing channels. Here are a few examples:
What follows is the prioritisation of those tests in terms of budget, time, and audience; experimentation (testing your message, creative, or offer, for example), and analysis to learn and improve for next time.
To identify which channels and tactics are going to be your priority it is always wise to start with the customer experience, building your testing plan from the customer out.
As a founder, you should know your product, target market and personas. Using this knowledge as a jumping-off point, you can identify the most efficient way to grow, matching your audience profile, behaviour and needs to those channels and experiments therein.
For instance, if search is super critical to your audience journey — and prospects already understand your category or product (i.e you don’t need to educate them) — you may want to prioritise search. Within search you will then need to balance paid search experiments alongside search engine optimisation tests.
Conversely, if you’re in an emerging category, you may need to raise awareness and educate your audience. That requires a higher investment in content and reach based ads, before capturing interest with search and other discovery strategies.
With a rough idea of the channels you want to target, you might be tempted to push ahead and hire for each one individually. But that would be a mistake. This could lead to individuals working in silos without any cohesion or direction.
Instead, you need to figure out the prioritisation of your channels by determining, among other things, how competitive the channel is and how long it will take to deliver results. And to do this effectively, you need a growth marketing plan — and someone to help drive it.
You can take it as read that, as a founder, you have to wear all sorts of hats at any given time. But identifying marketing hypotheses, testing them, and analysing the results is a time-intensive and detail-oriented process. You need to relinquish that hat to someone with the expertise to develop and oversee your growth activities.
You need a Head of Growth.
Often T-shaped, creative, and analytical, this is the person you’ll want by your side to build out your plan and source and manage each of the disciplines and specialisms you need to hire.
It’s only once you’ve gone through that planning exercise with your Head of Growth, and you understand the relative cost and speed of these channels, that you’ll arrive at a growth strategy.
Then (and only then) should you hire, based on the strategy.
Your Head of Growth (sometimes referred to as a “Growth Lead”) will also be responsible for leading your growth team, setting the metrics, and monitoring performance. They are, by their nature, outcome-focused rather than channel-focused and will help you steer clear of putting all of your eggs in a single channel, for example.
Unfortunately, most people don’t do this. They assume they need channel X and immediately hire for that channel without considering cost, time, performance and resource.
With your Head of Growth in place, you can now begin to build specialist capabilities and organise the team around those capabilities. Each business is different but the majority will need a combination of the following 4 skills and functions to drive growth.
Let’s recap. Many founders and startups are making the same mistake, conflating growth marketing with more Facebook ads or increasing their PPC spend. This can lead to a rush on hiring without first understanding the growth process.
Before hiring a team of specialists start with a head of growth. Find yourself someone who is channel agnostic, can build you a growth plan, and can manage a team of specialists.
Make sure you have data sat at the centre of your growth team. Every decision, test or conversation, should be rooted in data.
Organise expertise based on acquisition, activation, retention to ensure that your growth team is generating maximum value across the entire user journey.
Ready to hire pre-vetted freelance growth talent? Go to Traktion.