Isn’t All Marketing Growth Marketing?
“Growth Marketing” is a term that seems so self-explanatory that it’s kind of confusing. I mean, isn’t all marketing done for growth? Isn’t that like saying “Marketing Marketing?”
But growth marketing actually means something pretty different from traditional marketing. And if you’re looking to scale your business - particularly in the fast and frenzied world of online sales - you’ll want to hold tight to this concept.
Growth marketing is a strategy that emphasizes the long-term client relationship, rather than the smash-and-grab tactics of traditional advertising campaigns.
With growth marketing, you plan your strategies according to hard data. You nurture brand loyalty by knowing what people truly respond to. Most of all, you prioritize client retention over acquisition.
Growth marketing is heavy on testing. Heavy on analytics. And it thrives in the spirited back-and-forth conversations that you can have with an online community.
In this blog, I’m going to make the case for growth marketing, because I think you should try it. I’ll talk about what it means, and how to do it.
I’ll even introduce you to one very unexpected bonus - if you're willing to set aside your “gut instincts” once in a while, in favor of a little research.
Your Gut Isn’t a Yardstick
Look, I know you love going with your gut instincts. Me too. But… sometimes the marketplace doesn’t care about your gut.
And our biases can make us think we know things we don’t really know. With growth marketing, you create a stream of real information.
Through testing and re-testing, you can actually get in touch with what your people want and build solutions around their needs - instead of trying to convince them to want what you sell.
“This full-funnel, scalable method of marketing is beneficial for both the company and the consumer,” Forbes.com glows, “The company can make informed decisions on a larger scale and at a faster rate, and the consumer is presented with a comprehensive product that’s been designed for them.”
This might seem exhausting. I promise you - it’s not that bad. And it’ll keep risk and costs low while providing you with a ton of elasticity in your planning.
How Do You Become a Growth Marketer?
It’s time to put your white coat on. Think of yourself as a scientist, a scientist for your particular brand. You are now entering the lab of a growth marketer.
Start with a question. Not about your service. About your clients.
For example: Which of my clients aren’t coming back? Who’s falling off?
The question should lead to a sort of "guesstimate," a hypothesis.
For instance: It’s women from a corporate background that don’t seem to stay with me. Am I not speaking to them? Do I need more images of women on my page? Do I need to put more professional messaging out?
From that guess, you’ll create a test to find out the truth. From that test, you’ll get your data. Analyze it, create a new strategy, and look at the new impact.
Ask a question.
Make a guesstimate
Create a test for your guesstimate
Look at the data
Create a new strategy based on the data
Assess the new impact
Growth marketing is a curiosity-based approach. Testing will get more natural the more you use it. And your responses to clients are going to get more nuanced.
A great method of quick, clear feedback is A/B testing. You can do A/B Testing for an email campaign, a landing page, a call-to-action button, whatever.
Wait. Do we all know what A/B Testing is? No? That’s totally fine. I’m going to tell you. Or rather, I’m going to borrow a great definition from Harvard Business Review.
A/B testing is basically “a way to compare two versions of something to figure out which performs better.”
You run an experiment by creating two almost identical versions of something with one key element altered. Then you send both versions out into the world and see how they perform.
A/B testing is a great tool for growth marketing because it gives immediate and concrete feedback.
“By using controlled tests and gathering empirical data,” says marketing superhero Neil Patel, “you can figure out exactly which marketing strategies work best for your company and your product.”
The main thing is to build a habit of experimentation with all your communications. That’s at the core of growth marketing.
It’s by becoming a bit of a mad marketing scientist that you can get in tune with what your people really want. Not just what you think they want.
Failure as Data
Growth marketing has big bonuses attached to it. It’s super scalable and nimble, thanks to patterns revealing themselves in the data. It’s concrete and measurable. And it really cultivates a meaningful link between your offers and your clients.
But I think there’s one side effect that doesn’t get talked about enough. Growth marketing converts the concept of Failure into Data. It normalizes it. It changes your relationship with it.
See, scientists understand failure.
When they run an experiment in the lab, they never feel embarrassed by the results. It’s all info. That’s all it is. Just data. And thanks to that data, they now know something they didn’t know before.
People in business are less great at this. Yeah, sure, the concept of failure has been getting a makeover lately, but…the experience of failure in business - that's another story.
Growth marketing has a way of teaching you to be good, even energized, by failure as data.
When you create, say, an email campaign as an experiment. You run it as a test and then harvest the results. This process creates a cycle of excitement and possibility. Even when the experiment flops.
Over and over, growth marketing brings home the gifts of failing.
Using the "failure" so immediately and concretely can really increase your risk tolerance and deflate the judgment around not hitting a home run every time.
We all know failure is part of any success. You have to get good at it.
Thought leader and author Ryan Holiday told Psychology Today, “ It is only in exposing ourselves to failure that our sense of failure and anxiety can dissipate.”
Engaging in growth marketing is a weird and wonderful way to create a willingness to fail that’s synonymous with successful habits.
While you build a brand that answers a real need in the lives of clients, your experimentation builds your comfort with getting things wrong sometimes.
Real Deal Success
Growth marketing can feel a little bit overwhelming at first. Just the words “data analysis” make me want to break out in hives.
If you’re like me - a person who kind of loves winging it - I understand that resistance. But this is part of being a grown-up business owner. Learning new skills. Building new habits.
And no matter how great your gut instincts are, they’re nothing without a little real feedback from your ideal clients. Growth marketing is a way of creating a trail of bread crumbs to find and keep the clients you most value.
You don’t have to be an expert in analytics. You just need to ask questions. Learn to listen more than you talk. Start with small experiments. Get used to implementing what you learn.
Even if you do it clumsily, you’ll learn something new every time. Eventually, your clients are going to notice how much you get them. They’re going to feel seen by the work that you do.
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