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Lucas HamonMay 24, 2024 5:05:34 PM8 min read

What is Growth Marketing?

What is Growth Marketing?
10:44

What is Growth Marketing?

Growth Marketing is a philosophical and systematic approach to growing your business using the apparatus of Marketing. It's strategic, balanced between vision and science, experimental, and Agile.

In this article, we explore the definition of growth marketing and its primary goal of driving sustainable business growth. We share its benefits, core principles, and typical challenges associated with investing in it. We finish with tools and tips for transforming your marketing investments into Growth.

Definition and Purpose

Growth is the latest buzzword in marketing. It's easy to get lost in the hype, as for many agencies and providers, that's all it is--hype

Growth is a very specific set of beliefs and methods.

Success in Growth comes from a full embrace of those beliefs and methods. That means adhering to all of its core principles, not just the ones that seem easy or convenient.

And, while it includes the word "marketing," Growth Marketing is not actually about marketing.

Growth is about ONE thing--and that's your North Star Metric (NSM). Everything Growth touches is related to achieving more of the only metric that really matters at the end of the day. That includes the things Marketing is typically expected to influence, but also Sales, Customer Service, and even product development.

The North Star is the repeatable metric that all efforts of any kind must lead to.

It's an all-in approach to growing a business that leaves nothing to chance.

Benefits of Growth Marketing

The benefits of Growth Marketing are many. Here's how it compares to more traditional marketing methods that focus on KPIs rather than your North Star:

    • Strategic
    • Your real problems get exposed
    • You learn in real-time
    • Disruptions are easier to predict and navigate
    • Major business decisions are more informed
    • Marketing impact is easier to measure and understand 
    • ... it's also more likely to occur

Core Principles

The core principles that guide growth marketing strategies are the rigid methods, processes, and structures that make Agile possible.  

North Stars, not vanity

The only metric that really matters is your North Star Metric (NSM). NSMs are defined by the intersect of value that occurs between your business and its customers. Your NSM is the measurable reason why your company exists.

While that may seem like a simple concept at first, it's usually misused, abused, or neglected altogether. When that happens, the NSM loses all value as a directional tool for your company, making it easy to get distracted by shiny objects and impossible standards of perfection. CLICK HERE to learn more about the North Star Metric (NSM)

Strategic means all-encompassing

Nobody puts baby in the corner, and nobody confines Growth to the top of the funnel.

A tell-tale sign that you're not making strategic investments in Sales, Marketing, and/or Service is if you consider their strategies to be separate. 

"Strategy" is all-encompassing. The customer sees your business as a single entity, so why wouldn't you? What you do in Sales is the benchmark for everything else. Over-promise and under-deliver, you're sure to have retention issues. Under-promise, and you're sure to have sales issues.

You may find that the shortest path to growth doesn't involve the top-of-funnel initiatives you typically hire marketing for. And, the problems you solve today are likely to create problems for tomorrow. So, having visibility and control over the entire customer journey is not only good for growth, it's imperative.

Collaborative means parity

Growth Marketers don't use the many various channels and tactics to acquire new customers alone. It's a joint effort involving Sales and Service at a minimum.

That means Marketing, Sales, and Service are separate but equal, and should be equally involved in the planning and execution of Growth Marketing.

We break down how to immerse Growth into your company in our free lesson Roles & Responsibilities.

Balanced

Visionary and data-driven decision-making often feel at odds, but in Growth Marketing, they're partners. The idea is to translate vision into action and be hyper-efficient about where that energy is applied in the process. Data is the compass (pointing toward you North Star). And, your vision is used to determine how to react to it.

Balance is everywhere. 

Agile means reactive

Content calendars tend to lead us astray because they don't force the issue of analytics often enough. A 2-week Sprint cycle, however, means you're analyzing outcomes every 2-weeks at minimum, and in response, applying that knowledge to the next 2-week sprint.

The idea with Agile is to move with velocity and momentum... bringing the knowledge gained from experimentation to the forefront of the next big ideas, and doing it in real-time so the data is still relevant.

Time. Kills. All. Things.

That includes your brilliant ideas for marketing.

Challenges and Considerations

The benefits of Growth Marketing are many, but they don't always outweigh the costs--or at least, historically, the services and products available haven't always outweighed the costs. This is particularly true for solopreneurs, bootstrapping startups, and marketing teams of 1. For those of you with budgets, other challenges become a lot bigger, such as change management and collaboration.

Growth Disrupts the Status Quo

Growth Marketing is going to rock the boat. It's transformative, so it should be expected that there will be casualties along the way. That doesn't mean you can't steer it in a way that minimizes stress and turnover. The point is that change management shouldn't be taken lightly or added later as a "we didn't see this coming" reaction.

Change is good, but people struggle with it, especially when they're left in the dark and ordered to embrace something they're completely oblivious to.

Cultural

A Growth Marketing mindset is the single most important factor in whether you'll succeed with any investments you make in Growth.

70% of all business transformations fail, and the overwhelming reason why (more than every other reason combined) is culture. (Source: McKinsey & Company)

Growth is transformative. If you don't tackle culture, just assume it will fail... because the odds are against you.

Culture takes work to effectuate, and it doesn't happen overnight.

To make this easier, we created an entire lesson around what it is and how to achieve it.

Collaboration is Hard

Let's face it--Sales and Marketing need help when it comes to getting them to cooperate with one another. But failure here is not an option. Collaboration is required since it involves all aspects of your business (even with teams of 1).

The keys to successful collaboration are:

    • Sales and Service have a seat at the planning table from day 1
    • Instilling Growth Culture
    • Ideas and people are never shot down
    • Accountability standards are synergistic

Egos are fragile and also POWERFUL. That's a tricky combination. So, it's important that your different players don't feel like an afterthought. 

They should be heard but not in absolute control, and they should be given the chance to understand the full picture, not just the little piece they may be responsible for. That's where having tools like a North Star Metric is really handy.

I also suggestion getting an SLA together that they all sign off on, describing the roles and responsibilities of all parties, and a RACI matrix to spell out task delegation and hierarchy.

You can also check out our (currently free) lesson on how to assign roles and responsibilities in Growth

Team of 1

With the advent of AI, Growth Marketing has never been more accessible than it is today. The reaction for many is to scale back on marketing investments because AI does such a good job of increasing overall efficiency. 

While that makes sense intuitively, it's creating a visionary-vacuum. AI is also not as efficient as I think most companies are suggesting by their reaction to scale back.

Scaling back also creates MASSIVE opportunities for businesses looking at AI as a way to do MORE, not the same.

You may find yourself in a position where collaboration isn't possible because there's nobody to collaborate with.

That's why we created Connector, a first-of-its-kind Marketing collaborative. We put like-minded entrepreneurs and marketing leaders in a room together and teach everybody how to launch and run successful growth campaigns. For the times they need a team to collaborate with, there we are!

Structure, Output, & Cadence

Growth marketing campaigns involve a lot of moving parts, people, and touches. It's easy to lose momentum without the proper structures, expectations, and cycles in place.

For structure, you need a project management tool like Monday.com or Basecamp. We built our entire launch and experiment cycle sequence into a Basecamp template that you can purchase HERE

For output expectations, you should focus on experiment counts, not the number of blog posts or content offers that are published. This will ensure you remember to review outcomes and react later. It also ensures you're not wasting your time on contextually-pointless endeavors.

Prioritizing

Growth marketing planning is exciting because you get to test out all of the things you've been thinking about, but haven't had a vehicle to deploy in the past. The challenge is typically less about having enough ideas and more about having too many. 

So, you need a system to ensure you don't distract yourself with shiny objects when you're mid-stream with experiment planning or development.

A common tool in Growth is ICE. It stands for Impact, Confidence, and Ease of Execution. By assigning point values to each category for every experiment idea, you ground yourself in reality and make better choices about how to spend your time.

CLICK here for our free lesson on ICE Scoring

What if I need help?

Growth Marketing is big and leverages a wide array of skills and talents. If you need help, there are three different ways we can support you, not just full-menu growth marketing services (although we can help with that too):

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Lucas Hamon

Over 10 years of B2B sales experience in staffing, software, consulting, & tax advisory. Today, as CEO, Lucas obsesses over inbound, helping businesses grow! Husband. Father. Beachgoer. Wearer of plunging v-necks.

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