At your business, is your growth benchmark 20% or 2x? Are your marketing, sales and product teams working together or are they focussed on achieving their own goals?
I would have assumed the answer to the first question would have been 2x and 'working together' for the second one. However, a recent revelation has proved that this is not always true. We were shocked to find out about the approach used by one of Belgium's largest corporations.
The way they see their growth is to have a siloed approach. An approach where sales, marketing, and product teams have their own goals that they need to achieve by the end of their fiscal year. There is no communication, no coordination, and no collaboration.
Marketing teams generate leads. Sales teams contact these leads with no information of who they are and where they come from. Product teams deliver the results to the newly acquired customer.
This is a common practice seen amongst a lot of big corporates. The approach works, no doubt (otherwise the corporations wouldn't be able to survive). But the issue is that there is no experimentation, nothing new being tried.
Don't get me wrong. I am not saying these teams need to be replaced. They are there for a reason and they are doing a really good job. The idea is to rather complement it and use these people within the team and form a growth team.
When people hear about growth team, they often ask:
- What is a growth team?
- What does the growth team do?
- Aren't sales and marketing teams known as growth teams?
- If everybody in the company is working hard to grow their KPIs, then what makes the growth team different?
- What are the problems that a growth team faces? And how to fix them?
By the end of this article, you will have the answers to all of these questions and many more.
Let's start with the basics:
What is a growth team?
A growth team is a team of individuals from different departments such as sales, marketing, product and engineering departments that work together to increase the following key performance indicators of a business:
- Customer acquisition;
- Customer retention;
- Lead generation;
- Revenue growth;
- User acquisition.
They do so by the process of rapid experimentation across different marketing channels and product development to identify the most effective ways to grow a business.
The primary goal of growth teams is to conduct growth initiatives to turn first-time visitors into potential buyers. Or to influence the potential buyers to close the deal.
These growth experiments can vary in their duration. It could be an experiment ranging from several hours to several months.
Some of the examples of growth experiments are:
- Creating/ changing landing pages to maximize conversions by identifying the factors that drive traffic to the website.
- Creating the right content to generate inbound traffic.
- A/B testing creatives and making social media strategies.
- Exploring different ways of distributing on different channels.
For example, if the salespeople often get feedback from the leads that they couldn't find the product catalog and so they were not considering them. Then, the salesperson can try to experiment with an exit-intent strategy in which the potential customer gets a popup saying, "Hey, don't yet, have you checked out our new catalog yet?" They can then download the catalog in exchange for their email address.
Now, you not only have a lead to contact, but you also know where the lead comes from. Not only that, but you also know that the lead has already gone through the catalog, so you can talk directly about the specific product/service they might be interested in.
This way, the lead already knows you and to add icing on the cake, you know exactly what they are looking for. This makes the efforts much easier and the conversion rate is likely to be much higher.
What is growth marketing?
Growth marketing is a process of rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development to identify the most efficient ways to grow a business.
In a way, it’s an updated version of conventional marketing mixed with unconventional strategies, new technologies and data.
It adds new layers to traditional marketing models such as A/B testing, data-driven marketing campaigns, AI, automation, SEO optimization, analysis of user experience or dynamics ads and so on.
Traditional marketers are often master at one thing like copywriting, design or video marketing and so on. But growth marketers need to know more than one thing because they have to run a bunch of different experiments.
So they should be able to design the visual, write the copy, shoot a video, edit the video, set the Facebook ads, run the A/B test and then analyze the data of the ads to understand what happened.
Growth marketers are the swiss army knives of the new age:
Such marketers often focus on low-cost alternatives to traditional marketing. They use social media viral marketing or advertising instead of buying advertising through radio, television or newspaper.
Why are growth teams so effective?
- They can help you to outsmart your competitors instead of outspending them.
- They bring different kinds of profiles together. Leading to new and innovative solutions.
- They can generate a lot of data. This data allows you to learn more about your potential customers and what makes them tick.
But the biggest difference of growth marketing lies in its marketing funnel. Because it goes beyond awareness and acquisition with Pirate Funnel.
It’s called Pirate Funnel because of the initials (AAARRR).
As you see it’s an extensive funnel that attracts, acquires, engages, retains and eventually makes your customers brand advocates.
Now that you understand what is a growth team and what they do, let's understand the roles of the members of growth teams:
What are the essential roles of a growth team?
Just like any other team, a growth team also needs to have people with specific qualities. Missing even a single role can intervene with the process of rapid experimentation.
Typically, all members of growth teams are required to be T-Shaped marketers. This means all individuals muse have
- At least some knowledge and experience in all areas (mentioned in the T-shaped marketer image above)
- Be experts and have in-depth hands-on experience in specific domains.
Someone needs to be:
- A specialist in search engine optimization and content marketing,
- Someone else needs to be a master of technical stuff such as integration of all the tools used in the growth strategy,
- There needs to be a designer who turns all the ideas into visuals, etc.
Unlike traditional marketing/sales teams where all the members of the team have a similar background and similar skills. Instead, they all have different skills that complement one another. That is why T-shaped marketers are important so that members of the team can cover up for one another in case someone is not present.
Here are some of the necessary positions that every growth team should have:
By now, you are familiar with the idea that growth marketing involves rapid experimentation to understand what works and what doesn't.
Even if you are throwing darts on a board that is just 1m away, you won't have a 100% probability of getting the bullseye. It is possible that your hand will slip and you might not even land on the board.
The same holds true for growth marketing. Since these experiments need to be posted on different public channels of the business, it is important to have a decision-making manager in the team.
This manager must have the authority to approve or give feedback for improvements on which experiments are ready for launch and which ones still need improvements before reaching the audience.
Without involving such a manager in the team meetings, it can be a big hassle to get permissions. If it takes a week before the person with authority and willingness to experiment responds, then it beats the purpose of rapid experimentation.
A project manager in the growth team must be someone who is very well versed with your business growth goal. He is the one who takes the initiative to ensure that everyone in the team is working on their tasks and delivering their assigned projects.
This project manager is the person
- Who understands the team structure well;
- That outlines the experiments
- Who makes sure that everyone has their responsibilities
- That ensures that everything is executed
If you don't have that person, then in the collaborative meeting, you will have to divide the tasks amongst the team. But we see that in big corporates, it works the best if there's one person who takes the responsibility of being the growth manager.
And that's not the person that needs to have all the knowledge but he needs to know how to lead the process. Furthermore, it doesn't always have to be a separate person.
It can be the marketer, the sales guy, or even the technical specialist. Whatever it needs to be the person that says okay, guys, I'm going to be the one that is going to chase you if you're not doing your tasks
A creative person/designer
Ideally, all the members of the team should be creative enough to come up with new ideas. However, it is better to have a creative person who can execute all the unusual marketing strategies.
In addition to that, the creative person must be good at making graphic designs and copywriting. This is a good-to-have skill for all growth teams.
Digital marketing and advertising on social media involve the creation and distribution of numerous creatives and A/B testing of various designs.
This creative person must someone who understands the growth model of the company well and should have the skill sets to be able to make creatives that are a good fit for the current market.
A technical person
A technical person in the growth team is someone who has a good knowledge of the martech stack used by the company. This is the person who has lots of experience with testing tools.
The technical person should have a good understanding of the tools required for a specific growth strategy. S/he should:
- Know which growth goal requires what softwares;
- Understand how a specific growth strategy can be implemented using these different softwares;
- Have a good understanding of how they can gain a competitive advantage by integrating different tools;
- Have the knowledge of the target market and its growth process with a long term vision.
The sales team is the team that is in constant contact with the customers. They are the ones who are interacting with customers on a daily basis and should have a good understanding of the acquisition strategy That will have a higher conversion rate.
It is very important to take the customer's perspective and feedback into consideration while designing a growth strategy. A salesperson can provide valuable insights into this.
It is important that these different roles have their voice heard within those growth meetings and coming up with these experiments.
And we often see that these different people that might normally not do marketing, want to do this because they want to experiment with it and feel the impact of their hypotheses that they have and see what the influence would be on their closing rate.
Most companies already have these people. So bring them together in these squads, and make sure that they have time to experiment and make data-driven decisions.
What problems do growth teams face and how to address them?
Just like any other team, growth teams can also face problems. If you are planning to create a growth team for your business, just know that these problems are very common and can be addressed by having the right mindset.
Companies and big corporations often say that they want to experiment with growth marketing, but it's not that big of a priority for them. And it becomes something on top of the other tasks that the marketing team needs to do. This is something that's just done in between or after hours.
You don't want your growth strategy to be treated like that. If you want your team to succeed with growth marketing, you need to give them the time and space to experiment with this. So that's the first problem you should consider.
The second thing is that you need to be prepared to fail, failure is a part of the growth process. Since your growth team is going to execute innovative and thin budget ideas at breakneck speed, there will be wins and losses.
But even failures are extremely valuable for the growth team because of the reasons below.
- Your team is learning to work together across the different departments and doing stuff together. So that's, that's nice.
- Growth experiments are always measurable and trackable. So when a campaign fails, you’ll know what worked or not. These insights will help you understand your customers, platforms, or messaging better and eventually help you create better campaigns.
And if you learn something out of one of these experiments, then that is not yet a failure. So that's something that I see the expectation from management is it needs to give immediate results. But no, that's not how it works.
Even though the members of the different teams say that they're a growth team, the silos are still there. Sales are working in their silo, marketing is in their silo. And they have group meetings, but they're not talking to each other.
That's why it's good to have a growth manager who facilitates the growth meetings to make sure that information is flowing through all different departments, to all different stakeholders, and that they're exchanging information.
Oftentimes the projects can tend to lose speed. And with growth marketing it is important that you have rapid experimentation, that's really key in what growth teams do. They need to be able to experiment fast, learn fast, fail fast, iterate fast, and then scale fast.
If something is working, they should scale it up. And if they don't have that buy-in from management, they don't have that speed that they can have into the process, then it will take way too long before they see the impact of their growth experiments and growth trends.
Advice on how you can start your growth team
Two-word answer: Start small.
Just start with one small growth team that is going to run some experiments for two or three months. It can be a small team like one marketeer, one salesperson, one technical person, one customer success expert, and maybe one person from management.
These teams should have the freedom to experiment. As a business executive or the business owner, you can ask them to present their learnings and their experiments with the rest of the team during every sprint meeting.
By doing so, you want to activate the culture of experimentation. It shows them that it's not coming from someone pushing them to do something. Instead, the team must be intrinsically motivated to try out new experiments.
That is like a flower blooming within the organization.