Growth Hacking: exponential growth with a little creativity

Aaron Blumenthal

Aaron Blumenthal, director of the global accelerator program within 500 Startups, Growth Hacker of Silicon Valley and self-described as “the one who knows how to fix that problem,” explains what this methodology is all about.

The term Growth Hacking was coined by Sean Ellis of, determining the growth style of companies with a momentary explosive boom. For Aaron, the difference with digital marketing lies in the question of focusing on economic growth. Growth Hacking is the ideal methodology when you have budget limitations, taking the skills and strengths in a creative way to boost the company. Blumenthal emphasizes that “it is not necessary to go to a specialized university, but rather to conceptualize the development and the problems in a peculiar way”.

There are many myths surrounding this methodology, the main one is to believe that it is necessary to be a “growth hacker” to be able to do it, when the only thing necessary is to be creative, ingenious and achieve something unexpected, a peculiar solution.

For Blumenthal, for example, SEO applied to advertising is a type of Growth Hacking: to be able to position oneself above the rest, one must constantly reinvent oneself in order to hack the barriers that Google proposes. The problem of applying this methodology by an agency is that it cannot be sustained in a staggered way, or it is done in a short way. Aaron’s recommendation for agencies is based on changing the thinking to a style similar to Growth Hacking, and start trying different mixes with the resources we know.  The best kept secret of SEO is that it is difficult; it does not cost much money to be the first option, if it costs a lot of time. That’s why the first thing to ask is: “Do I have the time to become the first option within a search?” And the second, and more substantial, thing is to determine what is the distinctive feature of my product or service that makes my page flooded with links in a natural way.

What if you don’t have the resources to apply SEO?

If the focus is to achieve a good positioning in the long term, one must be clear about the expectations of the client who is looking for something in Google: a cure for solutions or answers to his query. Then the important thing is to create content that people need, make it accessible to the user, and generate links that redirect there, so that Google itself knows of its existence. For example, MixPanel managed to improve its SEO through a modification in its price structure, which would allow a free trial premium to those who were interested. An event package was given away for free, simply by adding the company’s link to the home page of its users. This way they got many links to their service, at no cost to them or their clients, which managed to keep them in the first place of the analytics services. 

Summarized by Blumenthal: “They took a pricing strategy and transformed it into a SEO strategy, that’s the essence of the Growth Hack: thinking about how to get redirects to your page as a means of payment”.

Limited resources or poor use of the marketing budget?

Many people in the startup world tend to let someone else manage their budget. But for Aaron, no one is going to take better care of his own money than himself. The underlying problem of small and medium-sized businesses is that they don’t know how to describe in a concrete way the importance of their product to the consumer. For this reason, they do not achieve a good result when outsourcing advertising and marketing services. By not understanding what is being asked of the agency, they cannot corroborate whether the work is being done successfully or not. 

For large companies, the point at which the problem is perceived is the time it takes to be able to understand the large population segment of their customers and then transfer that knowledge to their company. It is at this point where the cost of not having a follow-up of the projects delivered and the lack of transparency in the traceability of hours stands out.

Growth Hacks for beginners

At its core, the Growth Hack is a short run, not a marathon. It is used when there is little time, little money, few human resources or insufficient work tools. It is about making the rules flexible, even the ethical ones, using in an ingenious and unconventional way the typical platforms of opportunity generation, or appropriating other services for this purpose.

The Silicon Valley expert gives us some insight into this mechanism.

    Business to Business. You know your client? Good! Now let’s find him and spam him. Identify the keywords that best describe him, use Google to find all the relevant profiles on LinkedIn, get the personal emails with tools like Lusha, ContactOut or Dataminer, and send emails or enter them in a drip campaign. The important thing is to get a reliable and good quality list of people who have a key role when deciding to purchase the product or service offered.

   Influence the clients, before establishing direct contact. Social networks can be used to show positive product information, before or during email marketing campaigns. Email addresses can be entered into Facebook to generate a personalized audience, and with redirection campaigns, expose blog and newspaper articles, or positive investor reviews, to expose brand-friendly content. Specifically, get positive product feedback while customers use their social networks.

How does Growth Hacking work within an organization?

If it is a large company, the responsibilities are distributed among many departments, but if it is a small or medium-sized company, the task is taken on by the entire organization. The focus to decide where to put the efforts, is to align the objectives of each area. If the product is not a solution or is not a necessity for the client, the development will not be sustained. A simple exercise to elucidate this point is to ask the clients to make a ranking or a selection of the services offered, so that the unarticulated request of the client can be clarified. In this way, information is obtained about the services most needed, those that can be charged best, and which areas should be developed. A good strategy to evaluate the development of an action is “I.C.E.”. 

Impact: how will the growth be thanks to this development.

Reliability: the security you have over that impact. Is it the right evaluation, is it the right customer segment to develop the company? Effort: the work needed to develop this product. Under these three axes is that it will be possible to reduce the hundreds of ideas proposed, being able to prioritize, to execute agile and to make possible a new evaluation.

Growth hacking: a constant or a long-term development?

The methodology for tackling development will depend on the resources available, as Aaron said: “It’s very easy to go from being a growth hacker to simply throwing money at a problem”. The shift from growth hacking to long-term development is not to depend on it entirely. While 80% of resources are used by hacking, the other 20% have to be dedicated to transforming it into a process that can be scaled. They work in a fast and precise way, the idea is to achieve a transformation of it into something sustainable in a longitudinal way. As we saw, there is no manual for this methodology but a creative and ingenious way to use tools and platforms with another perspective, based on the strongest areas and using the highest resources available.

Here is the information we named:
Aaron’s Presentation
Search for a person with a role or title that describes your ideal customer

Corporate email + phone numbers
Personal email  + phone numbers

You can see the entire Podcast here:

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