Growth hacking — don’t let the name scare you. It doesn’t require you to learn to code, absorb a new set of complex information, sanction illegal corporate practices, or wear a mask like this guy:
Growth hacking is everywhere around you. Some of the things you already do to grow your business can be called growth hacking.
Sean Ellis who is the pioneer of growth hacking gives the best definition of a growth hacker.
A growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth,” he says.
While that provides a background to understand growth hacking, it doesn’t say much about what a growth hacker does, what growth hacking is or how it’s different from regular marketing.
Growth Hacking Vs. Marketing
Here is a quick and dirty from Neil Patel that I like a lot: A growth hacker is not a replacement for a marketer. A growth hacker is not better than a marketer. A growth hacker is just different than a marketer.
Marketing and growth-hacking are designed to grow your business, but the difference comes in scale, size and impact.
Traditional marketing requires a big team and budget to explore tried and tested customer acquisition channels.
On the other hand, growth hacking uses the least amount of money to pursue new, untried and even risky customer acquisition channels that promise enormous returns. It depends heavily on the creativity of the growth hacker (or Growth Team) and their ability to capitalize on analytics.
Traditional marketing has a broad focus which, though valuable, is not necessary for a new small business. It’s why growth hacking is perfect for an SME without a significant marketing budget.
Now that we have a top-level understanding of growth hacking, how can you growth hack your small Nigerian SME to get more customers and improve sales? Here:
1: Build a product/business people want
Growth hacking starts with the product.
If people don’t want your product, then people won’t buy. It’s like the proverbial pig. You can put a lipstick on it, but it’s still a pig.
You can growth-hack a bad or irrelevant product till you’re blue in the face, but it won’t change the truth that it’s a bad product nobody wants.
A good example of an obviously bad business is a pork shop in Northern Nigeria. It’s not only bad, it’s dangerous.
To make sure you are building a business that people want, start by asking questions about problems people face. In the case of our Northern Nigeria Pork shop, the owner would know the prevailing religious sentiment doesn’t allow people there eat pork if they’d asked questions.
2: Target only your core customers
If you managed to build a business that people want, the next hurdle is to figure out what sort of people you should be targeting with your growth hacking efforts.
The growth of every business runs through predefined clusters of users – Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority and Laggards. This trend is the Everett Rogers theory of diffusion of innovations.
At the beginning of your businesses, targeting “everyone” is almost as wasteful as boiling the Lagoon with a water heater.
For you to reach the majority of your users (the early majority and late majority), you need to get through the innovators and early adopters. Hence, focus on selling to the 15% first.
Because your focus is small and super-targeted, you can craft messages that resonate with that group of people. You can create an almost accurate persona and reach out in the best way possible.
What is a persona?
It’s the picture of your ideal customer. For example, the ideal customer of Inverter Co. (totally made up business), a company that builds and sells low-budget inverters in Lagos, could be:
“A 26-year old male, who earns between NGN80,000 and NGN150,000 a month, lives alone in a 2-room apartment on Lagos mainland, works late and freelances on weekends. He is in a serious relationship and spends a lot of time online.”
You have to be that clear about your early adopters and focus on winning them to your side with your growth hacking efforts.
3: Establish your growth goals
When you’ve nailed your core audience, it’s time to start setting growth goals for your business.
Goals give you a clear mental model for you and your team to think about your success or failure. Start by creating a single goal to be achieved within a realistic timeline.
For example, Inverter Co. could set these goals:
1: Draw 5,000 visitors to inverterco.ng (totally made up domain name) in 1 month.
2: Increase visits to our offline showroom by 20% in October.
3: Collect 150 emails and phone numbers from new customers before the end of October.
4: Generate 200 leads from influence marketing on Twitter and Facebook.
The idea is to set your most important goal for a period and have every member of your team commit to achieving that goal. The goal needs to be specific, bite-sized, achievable, ambitious and time-bound.
Setting a big and fuzzy goal like “have an Inverter Co. inverter in every home in Nigeria” is generally not a good form. Asides being difficult to track, a big goal like that can paralyze even the smartest members of your team.
4: Measure everything
Did you notice how the goals from Inverter Co. have specific numbers attached to them? – 200 leads? 5000 visitors? – It’s because those numbers are important for tracking. Growth hacking involves a lot of numbers.
Keeping track of the numbers allows you focus on your specific goals and pushes you to get creative when the numbers stop growing.
For your small business, you don’t need a data scientist to keep track of your numbers. Set up Google Analytics for your website as soon as it’s up to track activities on your website and get insight into data such as the demographics of people visiting your website, traffic sources, how long they spend on your website, specific actions they take on your website and more.
If Google Analytics appears a little too complicated, start with a business page on a local directory like VConnect. When you create a business page for your business, you get a Business Owner dashboardthat gives you insight into how many people visit your page and what they do there. You can also use the Dashboard to receive and respond to qualitative user feedback on your business.
5: Get creative with your product, message and customer acquisition
This is the hardest part for small businesses, but also the most rewarding. There is an inordinate amount of ways to acquire customers (from Content Marketing to Google Adwords and Affiliate Marketing), but these channels become ineffective too quickly. In the growth hacking circles, this phenomenon is called the Law of Shitty Clickthroughs.
“Over time, all marketing strategies result in shitty clickthrough rates.” – the Law of Shitty Clickthroughs
In simpler terms, nothing lasts forever. Every marketing strategy soon becomes saturated such that it doesnt provide any reasonable return on time and money invested.
For your business, this means you have to continually look for creative ways to reach your core audience.
A good growth hacking tactic might be to give discounts based on referrals. Another might be a lifestyle newsletter. Another could be a financing scheme with a sprightly bank like GTBank. The fact is, your business is your business. You will have an entirely different market and focus than another one. It’s possible none of the growth hacking techniques around will work for you. So you need to find what works.
For most business, basics such web presence, SEO best practices and experimentation with ads (Facebook and Google) are a good starting point. Dig deep and wide to find what really work for you.
6: Test everything and stick with what works
Remember when we said growth hacking is about numbers? This is why.
If the success indicators on a certain goal are not moving up and to the right, it means a growth hacking effort is not working. Measuring everything helps you figure out what works and abandon what doesn’t. Like we mentioned earlier, some channels will work while others won’t.
If you are not testing everything, you are leaving too many things to speculations. At VConnect, we are big on conducting small experiments before launching a new feature. Before you commit to any growth hacking strategy across the board, test if it works and commits to it only when you’ve seen its effectiveness on a small scale.
Growth hacking lets you do more with less. Its a more finely-tuned marketing that makes sure you are not throwing gobs of money into a bottomless untrackable ocean in the name of marketing. Don’t let the fancy name fool you, so long you are focused on growth with creative and trackable experiments, then you are growth hacking.
Do you have any questions? Are you hacking the growth of your SME? Let’s talk in the comment below.
Gbenga Onalaja is a Content Strategist at VConnectand blog.vconnect.com. He specializes in long-form content, email marketing, SEO, and reporting compelling brand stories. When he’s not pounding away at his beat-up ProBook, he is playing tennis, reading apocalyptic fiction or conducting one of his weird personal experiments.