The Alternative to a Growth Hacker

Starting a new venture is undoubtedly a challenging task. An entrepreneur needs courage, dedication and patience to face the daily challenges while persisting in the dream of making a product that meets a need in the market. However, making that product is not the end. The old adage: ‘If you build it, they will come,’ doesn’t hold true anymore.

You have the product, what’s next?

Simply building a product is a Herculean task, but then comes the part when you have to find people who want to use it, and then keep finding more. This is the point at which most teams flounder, and start burning cash in an attempt to acquire users. This might work at first, but it soon becomes obviously unsustainable. And then the search begins to find a person who can help them grow, a person who knows how to bring in users with a minimum of investment. Unfortunately, finding a good growth hacker is an even bigger challenge than running a startup. This article from Startup Marketing might help.

So what’s the alternative?

Have you heard of outsourcing? Yes, you can do it in this case too. Not every startup team has the time or resources to find a growth hacker. A smart option is to use a growth hacking agency instead.

Not only does an agency take care of the growth aspect, they can also patch up any leaking holes in your product.

Let’s look at some of the advantages of hiring a growth hacking agency:

1. Acts as the spine of your startup

  • You want to prepare a good drip campaign, but don’t know what works best.
  • You have no idea about the built-in referral system in your product.
  • You are you losing a lot of the visitors that come to your website.

A growth hacking agency can help with all of these issues, because their teams include technical as well as marketing people who know how to work together to get the best results.

Let’s look at some examples of how syncing technical and marketing aspect can generate phenomenal results:

  • A well-known example is the way that Airbnb hacked growth by leveraging Craiglist.
  • Using APIs to retrieve or post information. Like using the Mailchimp API to automatically add a subscriber from your blog to your Mailchimp list and then sending him an automated email.
  • Building scrapers to scrape data from web pages that can be analysed to form data-driven marketing strategies.

2. Experience cuts your experimenting time

Not every marketing channel is a potential growth lever for your product. Depending on your product’s niche, a particular channel might work better for you than others. For example, an online security product for professionals will get a better response on platforms like LinkedIn than on Facebook.

Growth hacking agencies work with a variety of clients, so they have a broad understanding of the effectiveness of different channels for different niches. This saves time and resources that you might otherwise waste on basic experimentation.

3. Startups move faster with a team

Hiring an individual growth hacker is not only tough, it’s also time consuming. Deciding on the skillset you need for your particular product is challenging, and many startups don’t have the experience to frame this correctly – all they know is that they ‘need a growth hacker.’ A startup that hasn’t experienced growth problems before certainly won’t have a solution to growth problems.

Some of the cons of hiring an individual growth hacker:

  • It is super hard to find a single person with all the right skills.
  • Even if you find someone who is a good programmer, marketer and designer, one person won’t be able to work effectively on all of these aspects at the same time – external help will still be needed.
  • The productivity and effectiveness of an individual who does works on all these aspects at the same time will suffer.

A growth hacking agency, on the other hand, provides a complete package that includes programmers, designers and data-driven marketers. They know how to work together to sync all these aspects with the product to ensure there are no leaky funnels. Working with a growth team reduces the time required to implement a growth strategy tremendously, so your core team can concentrate on what they do best – building the product.

Finding the right fit?

This isn’t easy either. Here are few questions to ask when you are thinking about hiring a growth hacking agency:

  • What, exactly, is the GH agency going to take care of? Which parts of the funnel?
  • Which technology stack has the agency’s programmers worked on before?
  • How favourable were the results they achieved for previous clients. (Ask for references or testimonials)
  • How much of your core team’s time and resources will be required to enable the growth team to function?
  • How strong is each of the agency’s team members in their respective domains?
  • If the growth agency has a small team, will they be working exclusively with you, or with multiple clients? How will they manage their resources if they are working with multiple clients?

If you’re satisfied with the answers to these questions, you can be reasonably sure you’re hiring the right team. Be sure that the agency understands your product/approach well and that you understand the plan they propose. Most importantly, agree which KPI you want the agency to focus on above all others.

If you’ve worked with an external growth hacking agency, tell me about your experiences in the comments. What were your impressions?

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