Growth-Hacking Isn't Just For Startups

Apr 16 2014, 1:56pm CDT | by

This month, BrightTALK and I launched a new thought leadership video interview series.  In the “Disruptive Innovator Interviews with Christine Crandell” channel, I interview C-suite executives to discover their sales and marketing secrets, the emerging trends they’re following, and what advice they have for managers to build their own high-performing organizations.

The inaugural guest for the 30-minute video interview series was Greg Ott, vice president of marketing for IntuitQuickBooks, discussing the merits of Growth-Hacking.   A big-thinker, Ott has been on the forefront of building nimble organizations that drive growth.  The topic of growth-hacking was a perfect fit for him.

Uber, Airbnb and other shared economy companies are often cited as prime examples of Growth-Hacking where the product’s experience and design is the primary engine of growth; not traditional out- and in-bound marketing. Held as the new model for marketing or anti-marketing depending on which side of the camp you’re on, the common belief is that this is something just for start-ups.

According to Ott, Growth-Hacking is a new take on an old idea – simply put, it is about finding a better, more efficient way to drive growth.  Hacking is about rethinking whatever would be considered traditional approaches, and coming up with completely new ideas.  For smart marketers, hacking is still a means to an ends – a company’s best marketing is a great product with happy customers.  These are foundational concepts that now live in the social world. It’s no longer feasible for companies to have marketing programs that are decoupled from the core use of the product or activating customers as the brand’s most powerful advocates.   Marketers need to work more deeply with product teams, know their customers, and get very dirty playing with data and models to inspire new ideas.

On the surface that all sounds idyllic but in reality that means change and we all know how much each of us, personally, loves to embrace change we didn’t think up.  I asked Ott how companies get in front of change. His response wasn’t a litany of change management tactics but some very simple advice – “walk in the customers’ shoes”.  Once companies understand their customers, what’s relevant, how they make decisions and how your solution fits into their outcomes, then understanding change and the path through it becomes easy.

Yet companies give only lip service to knowing their customers to the level that Ott described.  In the companies that embrace Growth-Hacking, change becomes everyone’s job just as it is every role’s responsibility to sell and to market.   Companies with cultures that encourage employees to take risks because they know the customer intrinsically, don’t penalize or stigmatize failure as long as there is learning, develop leaders that inspire organizations and reward employees for acting “outside-in” and embrace change are today’s and tomorrow’s leaders.   These are the growth engines.

To hear the rest of this thought-provoking interview including Ott’s take on the role of technology in customer relationships, what Intuit is doing, and his advice for listeners, tune into the interview at the BrightTALK channel “Disruptive Innovator Interviews with Christine Crandell”.


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