I am currently working at OCTO Technology as a Rails developer. But what this has to do with the Growth Hacking you may say? Simply because at OCTO, we have a very good saying: “You say it, you own it”. There is something that bothers you in your daily life? Something you could change and that would benefit Octos? Hmm… OK, do it!
I am interested in growth hacking since I tried to set up my own business four years ago. With videos of TheFamily , articles here and there by Andrew Chen (Uber growth team) and by Brian Balfour (HubSpot growth team), I realize the importance of having people who have a mindset focused on growth in a company (in addition to founders 😉).
And it happens that in OCTO it’s a subject which is dealt with very little.
Before I share my learning on the subject with you, I think it’s important that I bring to some a few elements on the subject of growth hacking. For experts you can scroll ⬇️.
The term growth hacking has become a buzzword in late 2012. This is like the Lean Startup of Eric Ries except that here it’s about Sean Ellis .
However this is not a term that is known or understood by everyone…
Let’s simplify. The growth hacking is about modern marketing. Today, with the diversity of communication channels, the explosion of data is a hyper turbulent market, in analytics we find ourselves more and more in an ecosystem of uncertainty. We need the « build, test and learn » or « test, analyze and learn ».
Startups LOVE the growth hacking because it’s a way for them to have the traction for a cheap price. I admit… it’s still tempting. But beware of language abuse!
Do not confuse the Growth Marketing and Growth Hacking.
I agree to say that the growth hacking is in the idea of launching actions that are out of the ordinary (whence the “hacking”), which we set up quickly and which have a significant impact on your traction.
However the growth hacking is not enough if you want to have this splendid growth curve:
You will … need … “Growth Marketing”!
Indeed, it’s nice to have a peak of traction. But it’s way better to have a sustainable growth. The principle simply consists on establishing two things: a strategy and a process. (Isn’t that innovative? 😮)
In the strategy you will simply define your growth goals and your key metrics over a given period. For the process, it’s about finding opportunities for growth, prioritize, initiate the experiments, analyze and highlight the learning.
Important thing: a mindset focused on growth.
When we are in the development of a product, we tend to think that marketing comes next. Yet, a “perfect” product without users is useless and the users will not come by ✨ magic ✨.
If we want a product to have an impact, it’s necessary to think of the traction, distribution and growth. Therefore it’s important to have that growth marketer mindset.
The minute has passed; let’s get to the heart of the subject.
Therefore i wanted to make an experience feedback to Octos by writing this article. Nevertheless, I did not want to write an nth theoretical chapter on growth hacking. I wanted something concrete, true, an experience. This would be the opportunity for me to learn a lot more and to understand.
So i suggested to my manager the idea of supporting a company to help them accelerate their growth.
I have chosen Rice Trotters a restaurant near my place of work that i like very much. They have as a mission to make you travel through the originality of their dishes around the rice. Created in late 2014, the restaurant today hosts on average more than 700 people a week. Do they have a growth problem? I don’t think so. Do they have this growth curve you saw just before? I don’t think so either. My point is that I will not help them to solve the problems of growth, but accelerate all that.
At the beginning of April, the adventure began.
Psst psst… How about setting up a growth machine for your restaurant? 😏
When I say “growth machine” I refer to the article by Brian Balfour. He inspired me a lot when he said:
“Stop looking for tactics first, and start focusing on establishing a growth process.”
A process that would take the form of a framework and which would allow Rice Trotters to make decisions, understand and solve problems, evaluate its performance and improve itself.
My mission basically: set up this growth machine at Rice Trotters in 3 to 4 months. Good. How to tell you that I quickly realized that it was unrealistic? Unrealistic because we don’t set up a process that takes a minimum of culture change in 3 months.
My mission then: sensitizing the team on issues related to growth and initiating a change in habits. Why being data-driven? How to identify and prioritize opportunities? How to test and effectively measure ideas? To do so, helping them on a practical case of the process progress is a good bet.
What learning then emerges from this approach? I’ll talk about three key points that helped me to grow on the subject:
- Product manager VS Growth manager
- How to be data-driven without data? Uh….
- Merging the existing and the new growth hacking ideas
#1 Product Manager VS Growth Manager
For this mission I decided to assume thoroughly the role of “growth manager”. The latter consisted on guiding them through the process and to make sure we go after each step carefully and that it is understood by the team. Specifically I had to help them identify areas of opportunities for growth, prioritize them, identify growth objectives and to set up a backlog of ideas to achieve these goals.
The growth hacking comes to mingle marketing to the product. Then we can see the growth manager’s role such as the product manager. With Rice Trotters, I came to realize the difference in these two jobs.
A product manager has a focus on user’s needs. He must ensure that the product still delivers more value. While the growth manager will have a focus on growth opportunities in order to bring more users to capture the value of the product.
A growth opportunity does not necessarily correspond to a need. These are two different things that also prioritize differently. If a product manager will prioritize further actions that have an impact on the user experience, the growth manager will look after the impact on the growth. Concretely, a classic product manager will use complexity scoring while a growth manager, ICE (impact, confidence, ease) scoring.
I realized that when the manager of the restaurant, Benjamin, told me : “How are you going to solve my problems with the queue?”. For sure it was a BIG problem for him and his team but before we act on this priority we admit that there was another point more important (more impactful and EASIER to test): price/market fit.
#2 No digital, no data. No data… no data 🙁
One of the first things to do before embarking on the experiment of ideas is to make an inventory. To effectively run these tests, we need an adequate field play. The advantages of a brick and mortar (location, products, service…) represented a challenge for me (not in line with my skills).
When I say “no digital, no data” I exaggerate of course. If we start digging, we will find data. But are they really usable? Do they allow us to accurately measure our experiences? The concern is also located upstream. No one in the team of Rice Trotters is dedicated neither to develop an online strategy nor to care full-time of tools that would produce data today (the website or social media).
However, to continue to be effective in my approach I decided to not take it as blocking thing. We have no email addresses? OK. We have no analytical? OK. We can’t measure the retention? Never mind! Let’s identify the areas of opportunities for growth and we’ll see.
After a lengthy exchange with the manager and spotted these opportunities areas we prioritized them.
Sorry for the non french readers. In short, we list these opportunities:
– The queue problem between 12pm and 1:30pm
– Digitalization the communication with consumers
– Add new products to the menu
– Work on the price/market fit
– Work on analytics to know more about consumers
We use the ICE (impact, confidence, ease) scoring to prioritize.
L, B, J : Laurianne, the founder; Benjamin, the manager, and J for Julien
After that, we draw a line in the sand setting a goal of growth through OKR (Objectives Key Results) methodology:
“Improving the supply relative to the market.”
Duration: 3 months
KR #1 Elaborating a market survey and 10 interviews
KR #2 Increase the CA by 7%
KR #3 Increase the CA by 30%
A methodology to set qualitative and quantitative goals in parallel, in order to know if we hit our goal and how we did it, we define quantitative objectives through the Key Results. Each KR is like levels where the KR#1 has 90% chances to be reached, the KR#2 50% and the KR#3 10%. In addition to being data driven in our follow-up, this leads us to be ambitious.
We then built a backlog of ideas and prioritized actions that would give us more visibility on customer and market (cf these famous data that we didn’t have).
Finally, we were ready to get into the action! 🍾
#3 Merge the existing and the “growth hacking” ideas
By taking a look back at what happened during 4 months, I tell myself I would’ve change my way of integrating an approach of “growth hacking” within a company.
Wanting to set up a growth machine is in the majority of cases a change of culture. By culture change, I intend to adopt a culture of experimentation. We need to get people to be sensitive to the impact of their actions on growth and for that being data driven helps.
When I started to deploy my process at Rice Trotters, I didn’t really realized that it would take the team a long time. At time to understand, time to contribute and time to be operational. Besides that, we need to run Rice Trotters, launch other projects which were already planned before I arrive, managing the team, the unexpected…Short.
Conclusion, there is no need to add a layer. In my opinion, one of the first things to understand: when we want to make a growth management for a business already in place, we must not see this as a separate project. It is important to take into account current or future actions (i.e. the habits in place). Indeed, before placing a process in a vacuum with the identification of growth opportunities and the brainstorming of future actions, I will start with three simple questions: “What are your current or future projects? How have you used to initiate and manage these projects? “Where do you want to have an impact?” We can thus identify the project with the highest potential of impact on growth and start to initiate this mindset change.
It’s easier to accelerate growth by relying on existing habits rather than creating new ones.
« Yeah baby, I’m a growth hacker! 👻 »
After this beautiful adventure, I understand that making “growth hacking” is far from what they tell you in some articles. Sometimes I see people who call themselves growth hackers just because they brought followers on Twitter or they found a new hack with PokemonGO. It’s great to have this creativity and it’s needed I think if we want to accelerate a business growth.
However, before reaching to hack anything we must be realistic and understand its context. Having patience and not jumping on the first thing to test. Prioritize well, measure and learn well. Easier said than done, but it works 💪
The data ❤️
Come on! A bit of data on these 4 months (with a rhythm of ~2h/week):
- More than 100 completed questionnaires
- 14h of face to face exchange (in OCTO or in Rice Trotters)
- More than 10 business menus for me
- 0 kg gained… 🙈
Specifically, the team and I have set up a backlog of ideas, prioritized these ideas, defined a goal, have set up a Trello to follow our actions, scrapped the opinions of consumers online, made and distributed a questionnaire, prepared one to one interviews…
Compared to the metrics (the KR#) of the central goal, we didn’t set up actions with a direct effect on the CA. The manager made a day of observation to see what’s happening around. As a result of the questionnaire, the one-to-one interviews are in progress.
Personally I think that the team has managed to have this data-driven mindset which greatly facilitates things. However, in order to keep discipline in execution of experiments and data analysis I highly recommend having a person dedicated to this.
I am delighted to have the opportunity to live this and to meet new people. I strongly advise those who have the soul of a growth hacker to do it (if it’s not already done). I would also like to thank:
– Pierre Fares, my manager for pushing me in my approach,
– Laurianne, the Manager of Rice Trotters who has managed to remain available for 4 months so that everything goes well
– Benjamin, manager in Rice Trotters for its investment and motivation during our exchanges
– Anthony Miossec , of the team Rice Trotters for his support and professionalism,
– The whole Rice Trotters team for the hospitality,
– Pauline Fumeron, Growth manager in Appaloosa Store for challenging me on the subject of growth hacking
– OCTO for this amazing culture!
Thank you for reading this article to the end ❤ ️
I hope you maybe learned a thing or two from my experiences. As always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions! You can find me on Julien Collet Twitter. I’ll shortly share 2 new experiences: one about “As a Growth Marketer, how I work with a Product Owner? Roles and responsibilities.” and the other “How in 4 months I switched from dev to growth hacker?”.
A few sources of inspiration