Fantastic “Intro to Growth Hacking” video by Nick Berry, data scientist and growth hacker at Facebook.
So lets say you built an app and your app is free. Not only is it free, it doesn’t truly have a profit model that goes beyond simple mobile advertising. (Consider a content provider or aggregator for the purpose of this lesson). As mobile advertising becomes more efficient and more lucrative in 2014, the way it is bought and sold will change. Cost Per Engagement (CPE) and Cost Per View (CPV) will become the main purchasing models with Cost Per Mille (CPM) fading into the background, as advertisers increasingly realize it’s the quality of the view that counts, not quantity.
However, there is still huge value to be had for many startups that in lieu of generating income are focusing on the all mighty size of their community, email list or audience that uses their product daily. (Take Zite, who sold to CNN for 20M as an example). The general problem here is you end up with many mobile products intrusively adding “Would you care to like us on Facebook?” popping up at the beginning or end of the user experience. Instead, I urge you to find a more creative way to get users to share the love. How? Consider items that you may simply assume to be just another free benefit and allow those to be “purchased” with a like or a tweet.
”Like us for free customization.” or “Like us to unlock the ability to personalize your xyz.” or even in some cases, “Like us to remove ads.” if your model focuses entirely on the user growth. This benefit would cause an appeal to many users in their “Whats in it for me” consciousness and in the meanwhile, you are gaining exposure to their generally like-minded audiences.
As in most cases with growing startups, its worth the test.
edit: March 3rd exhibit A: WhatsApp? 19B
Startup culture is different. Depending on the CEO, it can be a lot different. If you’re arriving fresh out of college you may be in luck, because it will be more similar to that environment than it will be to a stuffy corporate 9-5’er.
"Thats not my job" is a death sentence. It screams that you don’t know what you’re doing, that you’re not a team player and you’re not helping pull the proverbial rope. Yes, there will be times that you are doing things that you’re not the best at. Yes, your skill-set may be stretched and molded into something unrecognizable. Consider a football team. (Or if you’re a software engineer, Google “football team”). When your team mate has the ball, you block. You didn’t sign up to be a lineman, but you block.
"Overtime" is another one. Look, I know that working too much sucks but I will say this: If the team is right, and the job is right, being there some additional time at the end of the day isn’t as bad. Startups can become like families and being there a ton is part of the job. At the early stages especially, you are expected to live, eat, and breathe for that initial product.
"I’m just a manager" This one gets me really worked up. It usually works like this: the CEO or C-Level is the person who saw the opportunity and put a lot of work into creating the initial product, bringing it to market and raising capital. Now that he has a decent salary and people working hard for him, he thinks its time to sit on his ass. Absolutely not. Anyone who only works with the staff and doesn’t get other goals and milestones completed is a time vacuum at a startup. Not only is he prohibiting him/herself from adding value, he is wasting other peoples time with pow-wows and sit-downs.
"I need an office." or "I need a bigger office." For what? If you’re having clients over (and why would you be?) and you don’t have a conference room, then take them somewhere nice because chances are your early stage digs aren’t going to cut it anyway.
"Keep the equity. I want more salary." You’re telling your boss (and everyone else) that you’re in it for the short game and that you don’t truly believe in what is being built. You’re not only spitting on your own efforts but also the efforts of everyone else. Considering that most startups fail you are taking a gamble that because of your help, you are increasing the likelihood of it not happening to you.
"Our users are stupid." It’s more likely that your product sucks, your navigation sucks or your offering sucks. Yes, you can of course take the easy way out and settle beside your heuristic of “sheeple” but for the most part, and especially early adopters, they know what they’re doing and what they want. Be thankful that they gave feedback in the first place.
"I need a better title." Chances are, your title is already inflated well beyond the scope of the rest of the workforce. If you’re a Director, you will likely be a Manager somewhere else and so on. Do you think most startup CEOs can become Fortune 500 CEOs if their company fails? Not a chance.
I’m going to give a quick & dirty beginners course on how to listen to what is being said online in order to provoke your research & development efforts.
Growing up I was a huge Jeep fan. I’ve owned several Jeeps even attended a few of their Jeep Jamboree & Camp Jeep off-roading events. When the 2014 Jeep Cherokee (KL) was announced I was kinda psyched, until I saw it.
I was floored at how hideous this thing is but I thought … maybe my taste is just changing? I’m not a sixteen year old kid with hair to my shoulders, sporting fresh pair of Doc Martins and bumping the new Ruff Ryders CD on repeat anymore, right? (I was the effing man. Don’t question it.)
SO, I immediately took to the internets and wanted to hear what other people had to say about it. Hi, social media? Search.twitter.com please. Bam. Immediately plowed in the face by how many people took the time to talk about it. (AND ITS STILL HAPPENING) At this point, Chrysler obviously knew they had a problem but …
So I’m thinking … they are an enormous corporation. Surely the will come to their senses, see the public outcry and pull the release. They have Radian6 or something right? There is still time to change !? No. Here is why: only startups have the foresight & ability these days to run a test of a product or service, see how it fairs and scale up from there. That my friends, is agility. No red tape. Small investments. Test until it is proven.
Time goes on. Maybe people have warmed up to it. Maybe its just me? Time for some searching. Google: "2014" "Jeep Cherokee" and "so ugly" … 33,000 results.
A few things to consider. Each one of these results is a mouth-piece. Every mouth-piece varies in degrees of exposure and surely some are massive publications that are completely marring your product and some are lowly basement dwellers that have a limited broadcast. HOWEVER, little ears reach big ears eventually and vice versa.
Your choices here are to either A, make an immediate pivot when people react this badly and for this long or B, have the intelligence and foresight to get opinion of the product prior to making such a bad mistake.
Ultimately, this vehicle may still sell well but the lasting brand impact that remains on such a die-hard group of “Jeepsters” could potentially last for a brands lifetime. Lesson learned? Class dismissed.
I subscribe to a service called BarkBox, where every month my dog, Raya, receives a few toys, treats and other useful items via mail.
I was already extremely satisfied with the service. From a professional and personal level I was hugely impressed with how this startup operates. Recently, when I went to renew my service for another 6 months, I was accidentally billed twice and received a double shipment of boxes for two months.
After contacting BarkBox, they rapidly responded, corrected the issue and refunded my card. I was already impressed but here is where they took it to the next level. When I asked them if they would like for me to return the extra “boxes” they replied “We ask that you would instead donate them to a local shelter or a dog in need of finding his or her forever home." Mind blown? Yes.
Add this to the fact that 10% off all of their profits go to supporting rescue groups and they now not only have a customer for life, but an advocate of their vision and growth.
Consider this story and take your customer service initiatives under the microscope. Of course not all companies (most specifically SaaS comes to mind) are able to offer this level but if you think hard enough I’m sure everyone has an opportunity to step it up.
A million guys walk into a Silicon Valley bar. None of them buy anything. The bar is declared a rousing success.
No idea where I heard it first.
Our brain is designed to experience anxiety in short bursts, not the prolonged foamy lathers of duress your neuroses seem to enjoy. It’s why you feel as though a lion were on the verge of devouring you.
Dr. Hannibal Lecter
When people ask me what I do, I always say “I help startups you’ve never heard of become companies you know.” Its a trained response. In fact, it should be also seen about 5 to 6 inches above this post in the sub-heading. However, it wasn’t always this way. I wasn’t always the guy that helped startups grow into profitable companies. Years ago, I was once the guy that helped startups listen online and built a consultancy in Online Brand Reputation Management (before it was called that). Once I learned more. I provided more services. I pivoted. It was a great decision.