By Siobhan Gallagher, SaaS sales leader with over 20 years experience – passionate about tech, all things InfoSec and growth-hacking. Involved in OWASP Chapter Leader, Belfast (Open Web Application Security Project), AppSecEU Conference, Young Enterprise NI and on the Executive of Women in Technology. Siobhan attended and reviewed the recent Growth Hacking event by Rockboost, to see more about their events see here.

We may find it hard to believe but there was a time when no-one had heard of Facebook, Airbnb or Uber.  Let alone use them.  So how did these giants of business get from being unheard of upstarts to the massive money-making machines they are now?  Growth hacking, that’s how.  What is it and what can it do for your business?  Well, read on …

Growth hacking is a methodology started by Sean Ellis, who has been at the forefront of this new movement.  Sean helped Dropbox achieve massive uptake by combining the latest cutting edge technology with a process for hacking growth and turbo-boosting sales and users.  Businesses who have signed up to the growth hacking mindset have been able to power-vault over those who are still siloed in the traditional methods of fulfilling product development, marketing, sales and operations.  Usually with little or no interaction between them.

Which brings us to today, and Dublin.  I was lucky enough to get a ticket to see Europe’s foremost growth hackers, Rockboost, give us a whirlwind one day introduction to the ‘7 Pillars of Growth Hacking’.

The session was led by Chris Out, a rockstar growth hacker from the Netherlands who has personally worked with Sean Ellis.  Chris was accompanied by local man, Ben O’Loughlin, who now lives in Holland, working with him to spread the growth-hacking message.

The first thing we learnt was that Rockboost prefer to call it a growth system hacking. They’ve created a system for hacking the most growth from whichever company they work with.  Chris characterised the system as finding a weakness and then exploiting that weakness.   He used the example of Airbnb who when they first started, faced slow take-up of their service.  As a small start-up, funds were limited and they had to get creative in order to attract hosts to sign-up.  What they did next was growth hacking gold. They went where their prospective hosts where already advertising, to Craigslist, the leading American classified advertising site and the go-to site for people advertising accommodation.  Able to develop a hack that would allow hosts to post on Airbnb and Craigslist, they attracted more and more sign-ups. Then they hacked Craigslist to find who was  advertising on it but not on Airbnb.  As they say, the rest is history …

Pillar 1: Mindset!  Think of who else has your customer base and how can you hack it.  Like the Pixar movies advertised all over McDonalds’ Happy Meals, getting in the faces literally, of a shared customer base, you need to think outside the box.

The next step in this growth hacking masterclass was something that set this workshop apart from every other I’ve attended. Chris asked us to get out our phones.  We were going to contact a supplier we were signed up to and ask them for a discount.  We had a goal to beat from the previous class.   But Chris didn’t have to worry.  Despite being slow to warm-up, we managed to achieve massive shared discounts of €17,841 in total between 10 of us.  I personally shaved almost €400 off my broadband bill.  Another lesson learnt – if you don’t ask, you don’t get a discount.  This workshop was saving me money as well as being fun!

Pillar 2 covered Teams and what it took to implement growth hacking in an organisation.  My take-home, it needs to be an ‘all in’ decision.  You can’t have one department such as Marketing, implement the methodology if buy-in doesn’t include C’ Level involvement and a total organisational commitment to the system.  The number one reason why growth hacking fails is down to broken silos and a lack of buy-in.

You can’t manage what you can’t measure and Pillar 3 echoed Peter Drucker’s words with measurement at it’s core.  Whether it’s Uber using the number of rides as a measurement of Long Term Value (LTV) or Airbnb measuring the number of beds booked, organisations need to work out which measurement demonstrates repeat business. Growth hacking means focusing on a value that truly reflects your long-term growth potential, rather than just revenue.

We covered funnel management.  Chris talked us through reverse engineering our business successes, to be able to better analyse what works and what doesn’t work.  Next up was Product Market Fit which lies at the core of growth hacking.  If you can’t create a product or service that people want to use, day in day out, that you would have to find a replacement for if it were to disappear, there is no point in launching a business.  If you’re in a business that’s currently struggling, now might be the time to start employing growth hacking methodology.  Or even better, attend the next Rockboost seminar, to see first hand how it can work for you.

We were given Action Worksheets at the start of the session which we completed at the end of each growth hacking Pillar. We were asked to note down our biggest insight;  one thing we will implement tomorrow and what the Euro value will be for our business if we implement this successfully.  Once again we were able to transmit the lessons learnt to our everyday life, leaving the workshop with action points and strategies we can use immediately.

Growth hacking may not have caught on yet in Ireland, but you can bet the successful start-ups that are emerging are using some form of it.  This was definitely the most useful workshop I’ve attended, packed with advice and insights.  My growth hacking tip – get along to the next Rockboost seminar and see for yourself!

For further information check out: http://get.rockboost.com/growth-hacking-ireland/

Edited and prepared by Oscar Michel, Masters in Journalism, DCU


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