Why I decided to study growth marketing
When I was 7, I was employed by my father to put up posters for his second hand furniture shop. That was my first exposure to marketing and advertising. The posters I was responsible for were hand-drawn. Some did better than others depending on location, colour and copy. It was incredibly exciting trying to edit posters to improve effectiveness. I ended up with a lifelong interest in marketing leading to getting a degree in the subject. After college I embarked in a varied career both on the agency and client sides. After years in the trenches, I started to get uneasy at how we were going about our work. I wanted to get back to the experimentation, direct feedback and continuous learning that characterised marketing for me when I worked for my father. I think Growth Marketing can tickle that itch.
What Is Growth Marketing?
Let’s start with what its not. Traditional marketing focuses on building long term brand equity through awareness and brand reputation. Its a process that takes time and money. Growth marketing grew out of a need by start-ups with little cash to grow quickly and prove viability of the business. Growth marketers did not have the luxury that traditional marketers had to focus on long-term strategies that do not immediately add to the bottom line.
Growth marketing involves finding shortcuts, insights and actionable strategies to help a business grow. The accelerated growth of Internet businesses have validated this approach. Look at how fast Airbnb, Amazon etc have grown. A classic example is Hotmail email back in the day. The marketing message they used was a simple “PS: I love you. Get your free e-mail at Hotmail.” And with something as simple as this, they got spectacular results. Until that moment, Hotmail’s growth had been linear, but after they included that message their user base of 500,000 doubled to 1 million in just 6 months. Five weeks later, they had over 2 million users, achieving success beyond their wildest dreams.
I could have opted to study with other institutions but I settled for CXL because I believe they offer the best value. Other options I considered include:
- Reforge – Reforge an exclusive Growth Marketing course focuses on expanding the skills of industry professionals. I felt my digital marketing skills were not strong enough for me to enrol with them
- GrowthHackers – Ward van Gasteren offers a highly recommended growth hacking course but I didn’t think the depth of his course matches what CXL offers
- Growth Tribe Academy – Growth Tribe a highly regarded immersive course on growth marketing. I felt CXL offer more content than them.
I ended up choosing CXL because of the depth of their course (117 hours) and because their content is developed and delivered by leading industry practitioners.
Structure of The Minidegree
The minidegree consists of the following courses:
- Growth marketing foundations
- Running growth experiments
- Data and analytics
- Channel-specific growth skills
- Growth program management
- Final exam – growth marketing
CXL offers a modern and intuitive learning environment.
You get the main video on the right of the screen with a transcript of the video underneath. On the right is a list of topics for you to gauge your progress in the course. Its very intuitive and well laid out.
CXL offers membership to a community of fellow students and graduates on their site. I did not find the community particularly active. They also have a Facebook group which is not very active. Luckily I am an active member of several growth hacking communities where I can share my experience and learn from other professionals.
Week One of the Course
What is Growth Marketing
The course starts naturally with a definition of growth marketing. Its described as the deployment and review of the tools that a marketer can deploy to achieve growth. Growth marketing depends on collection of data and experimentation.
Traditional Marketing vs Growth Marketing
Traditional marketing focuses on awareness and acquisition stages of the funnel whereas Growth marketing focuses on the entire funnel.
Growth marketing depend on coming up with hypotheses that are tested against data. Traditional marketing depends on betting on long term strategies, measuring after a quarter or year. Growth marketers are therefore more nimble and flexible. Growth marketing methodologies derive from lean start-up principles.
Lean startup involves developing innovative products with emphasis on fast iterations of product development that is based on consumer insights.
In today’s economy, the question “can it be built?” is not crucial anymore for the reason that nearly any product may be created since there are sufficient means of the production available. More important questions in modern economy are whether a particular product must be built and whether it’s possible to build long-term sustainable business model around the products.
Manufacture capacities are bigger and more developed compared to the knowledge of what the market really wants. With the manufacturing capacities reaching the point where you can manufacture nearly anything you can think of, the question of whether you can make new services or products are not in the foreground anymore. Instead you should ask whether this makes sense to build this if it’s profitable.
For lean startups its crucial that they let go as soon as possible of wrong assumptions regarding the market, the customers and their problems. Only through trying, discovering, and measuring patterns with scientific methods can the business model be defined.
Growth marketing takes the same data based approach to marketing.
What Makes A Good Growth Marketer?
1. A bias for action: Growth marketers that succeed have a bias for action
2. Channel Knowledge: A good growth marketer will have good knowledge of a specific channel. This can be acquired. With a small budget one can run Facebook/Google ads for example to gain channel specific knowledge.
3. Analytical Ability: Growth marketing involves making sense of data and drawing actionable insights from data. This is a skill that can be refined with practice. Proficiency with SQL and Python can help but is not a prerequisite.
4. Strategic Thinking Ability: A good growth marketer understands how they contribute to a team, and to broader organizational goals. They have to be able to pick the right experiments, make maximum use of scarce resources and rally team members to their cause
5. Apply Growth Principles To Themselves: They have to approach their career and life with the same attitude for experimentation, intellectual curiosity and adaptability that they apply to their work
This post is part 1 of a 12 part review of CXL’s Growth Marketing minidegree. I am scholarship recipient of the program