Chapter 14: Embrace the unconventional

This growth marketing mindset links directly to marketing execution.

When you embrace the unconventional, you start:

  1. Exploring channels other marketers haven’t explored
  2. Finding alternative ways to find your target audience
  3. Using tools for alternative users than what they’re designed to be used for
  4. Finding creative platforms to run marketing campaigns on
  5. Finding offbeat channels that are still not popular

It is said that “Marketers ruin everything”.

As marketers over-utilize channels, they become saturated.

This is where going unconventional helps.

As a growth marketer, there are two golden areas of opportunities:

  1. When you run conventional experiments on unconventional channels
  2. When you use unconventional experiments on conventional channels

While this may sound confusing at first, let’s clarify further with examples.

Example 1: Using conventional experiments on unconventional channels

One conventional experiment is to run ads for traffic or clicks. You can run this experiment on unconventional channels like a new mobile app that is getting popular with your target audience and thus find that golden opportunity of cutting costs and improving results.

The experiment is still conventional and not a very creative idea i.e. ads for clicks. However, the channel is one that most marketers aren’t using.

Example 2: Using unconventional experiments on conventional channels.

Let’s say we head to Google search. This is a very conventional channel for organic search traffic. But instead of optimizing our website for certain keywords, we create google business listings and work on optimizing google maps listing for the keyword – with the listing linking to our website.

Eventually, we start showing up on the featured google map snippet on search results for a local target audience. This would be an uncoventional way to drive traffic and visibility – on a conventional channel.

This makes it easier to target the first position (or zero’th position as I call it) on the featured snippet cutting away the competition that exists on trying to rank on organic results or the budget required to bid for the first position on the ads.

Start looking for experiments that fall into one of the above categories to get more ROI from your marketing.

You can also try unconventional experiments on unconventional channels 🙂

The key mindset is to embrace the unconventional.

And not to get emotional about certain channels or experiments.

This will give you the ability to expand your ideation as well as execution process.

You can also think unconventional when it comes to the marketing tools that you use. To do this, always ask the following questions about any digital marketing or growth marketing tool you come across:

  1. How can I fit this tool into the current experiments I’m running (straight forward approach)
  2. How can I use this tool to design new marketing experiments around it (great way to add ideas)
  3. How else can I use this tool apart from what it’s intended to do (going unconventional with the tool)

Remember: The unconventional fuels growth faster, better, and cheaper than the conventional.

All the best!

Chapter 13: Think Agile & Lean

The lean mindset will give you a systems view of things and eliminate waste while the agile mindset will make you execute in shorter cycles to deliver more value faster. Both of these are complementary mindsets and hence clubbed together as one.

With the lean mindset, we take a systems view of things and focus on eliminating waste from our growth marketing experiments, and with the agile mindset, we focus on delivering more value to our target audience faster by executing our marketing experiments in shorter cycles.

lean and agile marketing

How to build this mindset:

  • Start looking at everything as a system and find opportunities to eliminate waste to build the lean mindset.
  • Start ideating small implementations to deliver the most value in a shorter time to build an agile mindset.

Both of these are complementary mindsets and hence often clubbed together as one when we discuss the mindsets required for a growth marketer.

Now that you understand both lean and agile, and also the major difference between both these principles, let’s deep dive into more specific differences that’ll make it clear how you can apply these principles to your growth marketing experiments and process.

While the title of the post mentioned the ‘Differences between lean and agile’, I want you to think of these principles as best friends in how they can improve our campaigns. So, now we’re going to shift our way of thinking and see how they work together so well:

How lean and agile complement each other

  1. While lean focuses on the marketing process, agile also includes the end-user.
  2. Lean helps us reduce waste within our marketing system, agile helps us reduce uncertainty by testing delivery faster.
  3. Lean helps us cut costs of the system itself, and with agile, we can avoid costs by avoiding heavy budgets before testing the market.
  4. You can use lean to reduce waste in a campaign you’re already working on for a long time, while you should use agile to try new experiments you haven’t tested before.
  5. Lean focuses on improving the system as a whole and agile focuses on letting the target audience decide how the execution should progress.

Those are the key ways in which both principles differ. Now, since we’re growth marketers, we must get our hands dirty to really understand what’s happening here!

So let’s consider a real business situation and a growth marketing experiment and apply both lean and agile to this marketing experiment together.

Lean and Agile In A Real Marketing Example

You are a growth marketer. You’ve got a new client for growth consulting. Your client is a SaaS company that lets their customers invest in big real estate deals by investing very small amounts – like a Kickstarter for real estate.

Here’s what you do:

You ideate an experiment where you’d build a marketing funnel that’ll generate traffic via Facebook Ads to a landing page, register the leads to an automated email drip campaign explaining the real estate market and how micro-investing can get big property deals to anyone including college students, and then you will call them to sell them your investment plan.

How to apply ‘agile’ to this real marketing situation

You realize while you can set up the landing page pretty quickly by using a proven template that has worked for you before, but creating the 7 email drip sequence might take a long time.

So you decide to set up the ads and landing page, and the first 2 emailers of the sequence and test run it with a small budget of $10 on Facebook. Now, you will have data from 100 people if they really click through and sign up and open your first 2 emails.

And as they sign up, you can even start adding the next emails to your sequence before they get to the 2nd one as now you’ll have already tested the offer by delivering it to your audience faster.

Congratulations – You just applied agile principles to your growth marketing successfully. And you can do this for all your growth marketing experiments. I take the example of Ad funnels as most of you will understand it easily.

You can also start to see how agile in software development works and how we apply it to marketing in the above example.

How to apply ‘lean’ to this real marketing situation

Your agile marketing experiment was a success! You’re now getting a lot of leads from the email drip and your sales team is calling the leads. Like any sales funnel, a few people are interested in your offer out of all the calls, and this is what a funnel should be like.

However, your sales team is also your account management team and now, they have less time to call the actual customers. This means you add a few more people to the team to increase the call volume.

But wait! Then, you meet Mr. Lean!

So you “think lean” and come up with a better solution: You apply the soft sell and the hard sell within the email drip sequence that’s already going out to the leads. And you keep only the final follow up conversation for the call.

Since the audience is already engaged with your funnel, you set up rules to send the sales pitch to those you’ve opened your emails, you sit back and relax!

Congratulations – You just applied lean to eliminate waste, save resources, and cut costs in this campaign (system).

So that’s how you really apply agile and lean to your marketing and how both principles differ and also complement each other so well.

Chapter 12: Trust the Process

One common myth about growth is that it seems to be promoted as “all about the hacks”. There are often case studies published of startups achieving growth from one specific hack.

This presents a very distorted image of what’s really happening. Presenting growth case studies in this way might be good for click-throughs but hides the process the startup team has really followed to get there.

As we’ve already seen in Chapter 3, The process involves 4 stages:

  1. PHASE 1: Research Phase
  2. PHASE 2: Ideation Phase
  3. PHASE 3: Experimentation Phase
  4. PHASE 4: Integration Phase

This means, that to reach any level of growth, a startup team much:

  1. Gather a lot of data
  2. Target metrics that really matter
  3. Generate a lot of ideas to improve the metric
  4. Fail multiple times in the process of experimentation
  5. Deploy various tools and resources to implement the experiments
  6. Try out various marketing “hacks”, tools, workflows, to find what fits the process the best.
  7. Upgrade and change the hacks, tools, and workflows based on the evolution of the campaigns.

The only thing that doesn’t change when we move from one startup to another and look at all their growth studies is the PROCESS.

That’s the common factor among all startups.

Those who followed the process, knowingly or unknowingly, got the growth they wanted.

Morever, there are many examples of “one-hack-wonder startups” that got some success with an experiment and could never repeat the results in future due to lack of process.

Most growth marketers don’t have a solid process they follow – and I mean even the most experienced ones. I’ve spoken to many of them personally.

These are the same marketers who say “growth marketing hacks” are short-lived which is 100% BS and I can tell you that because I focus on growth marketing process integration.

So now that we’ve established the importance of the process, let’s learn to build this as a mindset.

How to build this mindset:

  • Start by finding systems that have transformed many people or businesses and have proven to work for them
  • Once you’re sure you have a blueprint, stop thinking about new input or even process improvements (initially) and just stick to the process. This can be applied to your personal life, health goals, and any other activity.
  • For example, If you’d like to lose weight or gain muscle, you already know the process. You don’t need more information about it. You just need to trust the process and follow the steps and you’ll definitely get the results you want.
  • This will start making you more “process-oriented” which will help you build and scale growth campaigns with ease.

Chapter 11: Focus on your north star

You might be a perfectionist or something who gets into fixing every small issue they find. Or you might just have too much on your plate, trying to improve many things at the same time. Neither of these approaches is ideal.

If you really want to get into the mindset of a growth marketer, you must be able to focus (without getting distracted by issues and vanity metrics) on a single most important metric, called the north star metric or the OMTM (the one metric that matters)

Each growth experiment you design should have one focus metric you’re trying to improve.

Remember to keep the focus on the most important metric of your experiment rather than trying to improve everything with a single experiment.

You can adopt this mindset in life by narrowing down to the key aspects of life itself.

Here’s how to build this mindset:

  • Start by really writing down all the metrics that are important to you in all aspects of your life
  • Example: Think about “What is the most important metric to measure the quality of my friendships?”
  • OR “What is the most important use of my time right now?”
  • OR “What would I work on today if I could only work one day this week?”
  • This will start making you more focused as you go through life as well as through our growth marketing experiments.

You can also narrow down further by thinking:

  • What is the main goal of the next 30 minutes I spend?
  • What is the main goal of today’s workout session?
  • If I can improve any one thing about my relationship or friendship this month, what would it be?
  • What is the one thing I can improve to be a better friend/son/daughter/husband/wife this month?

Focusing on one thing at a time gives the right kind of time and energy to it as it deserves. This is why it’s important to choose the right metric to focus on.

You can also notice how, in the above examples, I’ve limited the time duration of tracking the metric by adding “this month” etc. This is to give a time-bound experimentation to improve the metric.

Thinking in time-bound, experimental loops, will also help you develop the mindset of a growth marketer.

In this chapter, we will limit our discussion to the mindset-building questions.

We will discuss more on what the right metrics are to measure for different startups and businesses in the further chapters in this book that deal with the growth marketing funnel and the growth marketing metrics.

Chapter 10: Always be Experimenting

If there’s one thing you should be doing all the time as a growth marketer or to become a better growth marketer, it is to experiment.

Experiments lead to failures (and some successes), and in either case, a lot of learnings! The growth experiment loop is the growth marketer’s biggest teacher.

Also remember, from a mindset-building perspective, that everything is just an experiment. This includes anything you do in your personal life as well – and life itself.

It’s good to plan your growth marketing ideas well but don’t get entangled in the brainstorming and frameworks too much because everything is an experiment and you can stop an experiment whenever you think it’s not working.

How to build this mindset:

  • Start thinking of small things you try as experiments and then apply them to bigger things
  • Example: Think about “Should I experiment with this new way of eating?” OR “Let’s try this new workout as an experiment today” OR “Let’s cook something new as an experiment today”.
  • Eventually, you’ll realize all of life is nothing but an experiment and you can try things out you always wanted to.

When you have a process for experimentation, you can easily repeat what works and scale what works the best.

This is the entire essence of growth in life and business.

The reason why I include the word “ALWAYS” in the chapter title and this mental model is because many entreprenuers and marketers stop experimenting when:

  1. They find something that works
  2. They get emotional about a channel
  3. They try to use the same strategy that worked for them in the past everywhere
  4. They get lazy once a process in place is working
  5. They don’t think it’s required to experiment once a sales funnel is automated
  6. They think they’ve tried everything
  7. They’ve failed in all the past experiments

Unfortunately, the last 2 are more common than the first 5. Nonetheless, All of the above points are a trap to keep you away from success.

Remember: You are ALWAYS just one experiment away from taking the business to the next level.

This is true all the time. You are just one experiment away right now to completely transforming your business or startup.

It’s just about trying different things and finding those winner experiments that will help you get there.

And apply this to life as well.

Just like an entrepreneur or marketer may stop experimenting due to all the above reasons I’ve listed, a regular human would stop experimenting way earlier once they’ve accepted the standard path of life provided by their peers and society as theirs.

Instead, experimenting different ways to living life and then pick the one that works the best for you.

Always be experimenting.

Chapter 9: Always Doubt the Default

Doubting the default is the first step to be able to think outside of the most common and saturated set of channels and marketing methods.

It is also a way to think offbeat and be able to come up with new ideas – for channels, growth hacks, platforms, and tools – outside of the default set of ways to do marketing.

How to build this mindset:

Start doubting the default way you do anything.

Apply this to personal life as much as to work and marketing experiments.

For Example: Think about “While most startups look for funding, is it really the right path for me? or “Is marriage really the best option for everyone?” or “Do we really need to go to an office to be able to work?”.

Doubt the default but don’t necessarily go against it – until you have sufficient data.

Make your decisions based on data after you’ve tested alternative ways of doing things.

How this mindset helps in growth marketing:

You must have heard that “marketers ruin everything”.

Most popular channels become expensive – as more budgets start flowing into the same limited channels.

High budget campaigns saturate audiences – as the same audience sees enough of a campaign.

Digital entrepreneurs and marketers copy and steal – and the users mostly understand the same content or service and can even identify marketing campaigns sales strategies after becoming used to them.

Most importantly, the most popular routes are often NOT the lowest cost and fastest.

Just by talking the alternative path, you might reach the top faster and with lower budgets in terms of time, money, and resources.

This is exactly what doubting the default allows you to go: it allows you to find alternative paths to your goal metrics.

Rather than following the same marketing strategy all other marketers are following, you can explore a better way to achieving business goals.

Chapter 8: The Growth Marketing Mindset

In Unit 2, we explored the growth marketing process.

To put the growth marketing process in place, we need a growth team with the ‘right mindset’.

In this chapter, we will define what the growth marketing mindset comprises of.

And it’s not just one mindset.

A lot of blogs and books talk about the “growth mindset” which should not be confused with the mindset needed for “growth marketing” or the “growth marketing mindset”.

While the growth mindset itself is a great way of thinking – which lets you believe that you can change and be dynamic in your talents, skills, way of thinking, and so on rather than being “fixed” in most things since birth.

However, the growth marketing mindset requires much more than that.

In fact, it’s a whole new way of thinking which can be developed by incorporating the following 6 brain tattoos:

  1. Always Doubt the Default
  2. Everything is an Experiment
  3. Focus on your North Star
  4. Trust the process
  5. Think Lean and Agile
  6. Embrace the unconventional

In the next 6 chapters, we will go through each of the above in detail.

I will also give you some questions to ask yourself to help develop this way of thinking.

The best way of develop a new mindset is to apply it in different areas of your life.

That’s the good thing about developing mindsets over learning tools and hacks.

A single new mindset will improve multiple areas of your life.

While learning and exploring tools and hacks are important, they’re only stable buildings when the foundational mindset is solid.

So let’s deep dive into each mindset one by one.

See you in the next chapter!