A true growth marketer can save your business. Period.
Hence, finding a so-called “true” growth marketer can be the difference between success and failure.
Below I will share my experiences on:
If you hire a marketer and tell them to execute “by the book” you will get average results. For startups, average is usually failure. — Danielle Morrill, CEO Mattermark
I am Head of Growth at Founders. I work on growing our tech companies every day. I am involved in growth at pleo.io, dixie.io, kontist.com, gobox.me and sonofatailor.com. Most relevant for this post, I have had 100+ interviews with growth marketers over the past year and hired 5.
A growth hacker. A distribution hacker. A product marketer. A hustler. This dear child has many names. All names for an emerging key profile on the A-team of a tech startup.
As with everything new, there are many opinions and prejudice as well as excitement and interest around this “new” role/definition; a growth marketer.
In my mind, there is no doubt. I see a point in naming this new discipline. A discipline that uniquely combines innovative response marketing and product-centered distribution. In parallel, it is key to recognize that it is not about a new hip name — it’s a change in mindset.
Call it growth, growth hacking, full stack marketing, technical marketing or whatever you want. Growth is, in my opinion, far less about the terminology or wording. It is more about a change in our mentality, process, and team structure of how we grow a technology company.- Brian Balfour, CMO at HubSpot
But I understand the skepticism. Because it is still quite undefined, a lot of short-term optimisers take this new and hyped term, “growth hacking”, hostage.
It (growth hacker) has become kind of like a negative symbol, because it (has been seen as) sort of like the next generation of consultants — that is kind of keywords and titles — versus how this stuff is really being done in the very the best good teams.- Andrew Chen, Growth at Uber
Exactly this combination of 1) being new, 2) defined by a mindset and 3) being exploited has created the perfect storm in regard to the task of hiring a genuine growth marketer. A challenge I will address in this post.
That there is an interest in the discipline and the role is not in question.
Further, there are indications that it is more than just a start-up fad. I believe that the growth marketer is also emerging as a key function in larger corporations.
Expect the Growth Manager to become a standard function in the coming years. As with many organizational innovations, what begins in startups migrates to larger organizations that wish to operate in an entrepreneurial fashion.- HBR
And yes, some might see it as a hyped phenomenon. But there are very experienced profiles that fully support the need for the mindset that identifies a growth marketer.
The number one reason we are passing on entrepreneurs we otherwise like to back is that they focus on product above everything else. Many entrepreneurs simply don’t have a good distribution….build products while testing traction channels in parallel. — Marc Andreessen
Why growth hackers are needed — Markets are not efficient or “fair” because people participating in the market are not rational actors. — Danielle Morrill, CEO Mattermark
Innovative products demand innovative distribution.
Where do I look? What education have these guys taken? What position in what types of companies have they typically had?
Not even here do you get help or any type of guidepost. There is no typical education. There is no standard position in certain companies that characterises the good growth marketers.
It’s a mindset. That is what makes it hard.
Okay, so why am I writing this?
What are your needs? Before you start looking, it is good to get your bearings and define what you are looking for. So, what, actually, is growth?
Important for you is to first recognise the difference between classic marketing and growth.
This is exactly a part of the difference in mindset that I am talking about. You need a person who recognises and understands this difference.
Next is to consider where in the funnel your growth marketer should have a spike for your business to benefit the most.
Are you in need for an expert with acquisition/awareness, activation/conversion or retention/revenue focus?
No, I didn’t forget the referral expert — they don’t exist. Anybody who tells you they are one is bullshitting and you should run.
A growth marketer should be able to work on all levels. Furthermore, she should be familiar with most disciplines or at least be a fast learner. In general, a good sign is some sort of spike — in other words, a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-one profile.
Best of all is that you are specific and explicit about your needs in regard to
The data nerd who makes decisions based on numbers (statistician, BI, etc.)
The Swiss Army knife who knows a bit of everything
The developer/designer turned growth marketer
In the job description for the Founders Growth Team, I underline that “You do. You don’t manage, outsource or advise”. I have too many times found that experienced marketing managers from high-profile companies have an “I am too senior to do operational stuff — I am better at managing” attitude. I would be very wary of such types.
Along with a new, hyped and undefined phenomenon often comes people trying to take advantage of the situation. They have read a few articles, know how to run Adwords, Facebook ads, etc., and that is about it. They are, though, often not particularly humble and gladly claim the role of a “growth hacker”. You may also hear them talk about a referral mechanism or a viral campaign. RUN.
In all sports, there are crooks who play dirty. Lance etc. Don’t get me wrong — growth hacking is all about trying out new, risky tactics and sometimes it takes a bit of off-piste skiing. But the big issue arrives if you don’t play long-term. You can’t build a business on illegal or unethical tactics.
Reading this post is a good start
Further, you should read/watch these key content pieces
My best advice is to look at how I describe the Growth Marketer position at Founders: https://founders.workable.com/jobs/21254
General points to underline in the job description
This is the process for how I run all Growth Marketer assessments.
The idea of sending specific questions before interviews originates from a post by Brad Feld called “Identify Leaders by Giving People Assignments”
The questions I request to get answered in writing before every first interview:
3. Look at ACME.com. For the purpose of optimisation, provide one idea for each of the following three funnel levels. Write down the objective, hypothesis, experiment design, expected costs and results. Keep it in bullet form. (We know you are limited by your lack of insights — we’d like to see how you think.)
4. Which topic do you currently focus on learning?
5. Where do you learn from? (Please name specific blogs, magazines, websites, etc.)
6. What was the last book you read?
7. Who is your idol?
Another great effect of asking these questions is that you get people to write things down. It is the oldest trick in the book, and it works like magic
So what is a good answer? Good question. I think there are many, and it’s up to you to decide what you find to be a good answer. A couple of things I look for:
I like to see one or more of the following to be mentioned in question 1
I like structure, so I look a lot for the applicant’s ability to follow the structure in the answer for question 3.
I think this is too subjective to give any advice on. Try various ways and find your own style.
But actually, there is one key element. Something I struggle a lot with myself. Shut up and let the applicant speak.
No matter how good your questions are, no matter how experienced you are at interviewing people, nothing beats working together to look for genuine proactivity, culture fit, actual operational skills, ability to focus, etc.
Never be afraid to ask an applicant to skip her job for a day or take a Saturday/Sunday.
Again, the best I can do here is to share how we do it at Founders. Obviously, you shouldn’t just copy; it must fit with your organisation, culture and values.
Forget about the list of tactics you put in your job description — the distribution hacker is not a marketing monkey and they crave just as much freedom to act and experiment as any software engineer. You’re going to have to give them some room to operate if you want to get the best results. — Danielle Morrill, CEO at Mattermark
This ours. Founders Growth Machine.
Make a logo. This is ours.
This is Founders Growth Team Island.
These are the tools we have build so far:
Growth Machine — Free access to the templates and process-guide for how we do growth in Founders
Hacks (under development) — Give 1, get 1000. Give 1 growth hack and get access to the cumulative list of growth hacks
The unofficial logo of Founders Growth Team made by Founders’ ever stylish design team
The true growth marketer can be the difference between success and failure.
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