Image by: Zack Shapphard
By Michael Sterling
Growth-hacking is a new term set to describe the methodolgy of some of the most innovative entrepreneurs in the 21st century. But what most people fail to realize is that it’s more than just a strategy, it’s a mindset. With so much technology brought to our attention in the last few years, old methods of how to run business has been thrown out the window.
As an online business owner, growth-hacking is the way of the future. Success is no longer based on how giant your corporation is, instead, it’s focused on much smaller things. To succeed in the 21st century, you need to put your thinking cap on and bend to the will of the new way to do business. Here are a few ways to get started:
#1) Make Stuff That People Want
Founder of the angel accelerator Y Combinator, Paul Graham, said to Medium.com when people ask him how to get users to try their company, he simply says: “Make stuff that people want.” This, in a nutshell, is the perfect description of how a growth-hacker thinks. When customers get exactly what they’re looking for, and they enjoy it, they will do the marketing for you.
As business owners, our egos can sometimes get in the way. We’re always going to think that people will love whatever it is we’re selling because our services are “that awesome.” This way of thinking makes us extremely closed-minded, and prevents us from hearing anything else. Never think your product is the best, becaus there’s always going to be something better.
#2) Users Over Advertisement
Instead of asking yourself how you can get advertisement for your company, you need to start asking yourself how you can get users. Throw away the traditional advertisement “rule book” you’ve used for decades and replace it with things you can test, track, and scale. This includes social media, emails, pay-per-click ads, blogs, and platform APIs instead of TV commercials or billboard ads.
All of these things are much more important in reaching your customers. Why? Because it’s where they are. The user is the most important piece of your entire business. The focus of growth should be on them, not how many TV or radio spots you can get.
#3) Have More Flexibility
If you try harder and harder at the same thing, and it never seems to work, you’re business isn’t going to last long. It’s important to keep a close watch with what’s happening on your sites through online tools like Qualaroo or SurveyMonkey. Without such help, it’s impossible to see where you can improve. Analytics can only do so much.
Instagram is a prime example of how being flexible works. Originally starting out as a geolocation service, it soon became clear that users were interested in pictures rather than what they offered. So what did they do? They completely changed their entire business, turned it into a photo app, and is now a billion dollar company – all because of listening to user feedback.
#4) Where Are Your Customers Going?
Stretch your ears, eyes, and arms to discover where your customers and potential customers are gathering. Whether it’s online or offline, if it’s an area or platform you can tap into via technology, you can increase chances of more traffic. EBay, Craigslist, Amazon, and other listing boards are great resources of outreach.
One of the things AirBnB did when they first started was cross-post their new listings on Craigslist after they realized a lot of their potential customers were using it as a secondary search tool. By going where their target market was gathering, they drove tons of traffic to their site and eventually gained a high following.
#5) Long-Term Value
The best growth-hackers know that it’s not about building the business. It’s about building loyalty. It’s better to have 250K users spending $10 – $15 each than 1 million users spending $1 each. As long as the customers you’ve built are happy and spending their money, they will feel like they’ve found their “secret” and what do people like to do when they found a good thing? They brag…
Sooner or later, customers will grow in numbers with little money spent on marketing. According to Bain & Company, a 5% increase in customer retention might mean a 30% increase in profitability for the company. The likelihood of selling to an existing customer is over 50% versus 5 – 20% from new ones, so long-term value is always going to be dependent on the loyalty of existing users. Always.