Growth Marketing Behooves a Cultural Shift As a Unique Marketing Paradigm

Growth Marketing

I’ve been a marketer for more than 20 years, and I have to say that my life was much easier back when I entered the field. I didn’t have to worry about big words like A/B testing, data analysis, buyer persona, etc in growth marketing. I just had to make sure that the advertisements were good enough and that they reached the maximum number of people. On the upside, it has allowed me to learn and grow constantly. The downside is that I can no longer pretend to be Don Draper. 

Today, we’re in the age of Web 3.0, and marketing is a whole different ball game. That’s the thing about marketing; it changes as time, people, culture, and technologies change. ‘Growth Marketing‘ is the latest term marketers use to flex their marketing muscles. The term has more to it than what meets the eye. It represents a cultural shift in the world of marketing. Let’s see how!

The Emergence of Startups & Need for Rapid Growth

Rapid Growth

In 2021 investors nearly doubled the amount they handed out to start-ups reaching $621 billion worldwide and breaking the previous record set in 2018, as per new figures from the research company CB Insights.

What does that mean? 

In the context of this blog post, it means two things. Firstly, these companies are under tremendous pressure to perform, scale and turn profitable. Secondly, there is a neck-to-neck competition to capture the market in the shortest possible time. 

The way these companies operate couldn’t be more different to Fortune 500 companies that are happy with year-on-year growth of a few percentages. For many of these startups, achieving anything less than 5x is often a failure. Plus, they don’t have millions of dollars to spend on advertisements. 

So, how do you achieve multifold growth with a limited marketing budget and resources while focusing on a hundred other things? Well, Don Draper is not the answer.

Why Conventional Marketing Falls Short of Current Ecosystem

To give you a simple understanding of evolution in marketing, I’ve defined it in three phases: marketing 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0. 

Marketing 1.0: 

Marketing 1.0

The pre-internet era of marketing was about advertisements, TV, newspapers, or billboards. In other words, you throw the money, and you hope to get the results. Thus, the customer cycle had only two stages: prospects and customers. The results depended on the quality of ads and their reach.

Marketing 2.0: The second phase of marketing began with the .com bubble. People spend a lot of time on their computers and mobile phone screens later on. This made marketers focus on Google AdWords campaigns, email blasts, holding virtual sales, etc. This could produce some results, but they decrease over time as customers get ‘ad fatigue.’ 

Marketing 2.0 employs different techniques, but its principles remain the same for the most part. For instance, both rely heavily on ads and are top-of-the-funnel approaches. This worked well for some years but didn’t yield the rapid growth that today’s start-ups require.

Below are some of the characteristics of traditional marketing that become its most significant drawbacks:

  • Top of the funnel approach: As discussed, conventional marketing has two stages in the customer journey (prospects and customers.) It doesn’t engage with people who’re somewhere in between. For instance, there is no provision for interaction with someone who’s seen your ad, like your product but has yet to make their mind up.
  • Intuition & experience-driven: Let’s say you ran an ad on national television. You might know how many people watched that channel, but you can’t say how many paid attention. Thus, there is no actual data to understand the effectiveness of a campaign. Therefore, ultimately, most companies look at the most experienced head in their team and ask for their view about the success or failure of a campaign. 
  • ‘Set it and forget it’ approach: As traditional marketing has only two stages, you can’t do anything other than waiting once you start the campaign. For instance, once you create and start a Google AdWords campaign, you can’t do much in between till you get the results. Conventional marketing is a ‘sit back and wait’ approach; the urgency is often lacking.
  • Slow and one-dimensional: The marketing methods we just discussed might give you short-term results, but they rarely produce the multifold growth that today’s start-ups aspire to. Plus, companies often rely on one or two marketing methods and don’t look at things with a ‘hacker’ mentality.

Growth Marketing: Why It’s Marketing 3.0

Growth marketers are like Sherlock Holmes of Marketing. The way Sherlock is always restless looking to solve a mystery, growth marketers always looking to solve a puzzle that is growth. Be it marketing, sales, engineering, PR or any avenue, they don’t sit idle till they find ideas that help scale a company.

Growth marketing isn’t a marketing method, as there’s no “method” to it. It’s all about constant marketing methods and product development experimentation to achieve rapid growth in the shortest possible time frame. 

A growth marketer not only looks to achieve growth through marketing channels, but they also look to improve other aspects of business such as product development, sales, support, etc. They’re always looking to identify avenues of growth. 

You must note here that growth marketing doesn’t eliminate conventional marketing methods. Instead, it tries to combine them with new-age techniques such as A/B testing, automation, AI, data analysis, etc. 

Be it copywriting, data analysis, video making, SEO or other marketing channels, growth marketers are jack of all trades. That’s what gives them the power to experiment and identify pockets of opportunities across the channels.

Although growth marketing is a vast field that’s expanding its horizons, it can be defined by three main characteristics as described below:

Growth Mindset as the Engine

Everything a growth marketer does is done with the sole purpose of growth. They don’t care about anything else if it’s not contributing to the growth of a business. 

Growth Marketing MindsetFixed Marketing Mindset
1. Growth mindset people are always looking for new opportunities within the organization.1. Fixed marketing people tend to think in the confines of conventional marketing.
2. They see growth as the collective effort of all business divisions.2. They see marketing as the only channel for growth.
3. Their aim is to grow multifold in a short timeframe. 3. They often look for steady growth and aren’t as persuasive. 
4. They won’t be afraid to experiment with crazy (and sometimes stupid) ideas.4. They will stay in their comfort zone and avoid trying new things.
5. They fail and succeed frequently.5. They show little growth and tend to grow organically.
6. They are almost always ahead of the curve.6. They are followers and could become outdated.
7. They make informed decisions based on hardcore data.7. They often make decisions based solely on their gut and experience.
8. They are marketing rockstars.8. They are “marketers.”

AAARRR Growth Marketing Pirate Funnel

As we discussed, traditional marketing is limited to two stages during the customer journey. Growth marketing, however, focuses more on the entire customer journey by engaging customers at every stage. This marketing funnel, called ‘AAARRR’, represents the initials of each stage’s goal.

AAARRR Growth Marketing Funnel

Image Source:

Let’s unravel what AAARRR actually means:

  • Awareness: Making people aware that your brand, product, and/or service exists.
  • Acquisition: Acquiring customer details to generate leads.
  • Activation – Users are given a first-hand user experience once they have signed up.
  • Retention: To engage and bring back customers with new offers, services, features, etc.
  • Revenue: Increasing revenue through upselling or cross-selling.
  • Referral: Incentivize current customers to refer your product or service through referral programs

Driven by Data

If the growth mindset is the engine of growth marketing, data is the fuel. Unlike conventional marketing, growth marketing is not driven by ‘gut’ or the most experienced head in the team. In other words, growth marketers don’t shoot with their eyes closed. Data is all that matters, be it testing, analysis or running experiments.

Data-driven growth marketing helps companies improve ROI by shortening buying cycles, increasing customer lifetime value, and reducing their marketing costs. Growth marketers use the data to illustrate customer behaviour, thus allowing us to get a 360-degree understanding and not fall into the biases that trap us later.

Marketers derive data from the following sources to take data-based decisions:

  • Customer feedback
  • Data analytics
  • Social media
  • Lead generation
  • Customer content interaction
  • Email marketing statistics

Growth Marketing: Attitude, Not a Technique

Buffer's T-Shaped Marketer Framework

Caption: Buffer’s T-Shaped Marketer Framework

To call growth marketing a method, channel, or any such thing doesn’t do justice to its essence. In my eyes, growth marketing is all about having that constant drive to discover ways and experiment with them to scale a company. It’s an attitude to do what seems impossible to most. It’s madness with a touch of reality!

Here’s what defines a great growth marketer:

  • Growth Mindset: There’s no word such as ‘settled’ in the dictionary of growth marketers. No matter how great the results are, they always look for ways for improvement.
  • They fail and rise (till the end of time): Wanting to achieve the impossible involves doing crazy things, most of which are bound to fail. A growth marketer isn’t afraid of it as they keep trying till things start falling in place.
  • Fast decision making: They don’t believe in waiting for long meetings, discussions, review meetings that last for hours and days. They realize that the most important part of their job is to make quick decisions.
  • 360-degree visibility: What to do if the company isn’t generating enough leads? A typical marketer would look at the email copy, marketing content, website design, etc. 

A growth marketer, on the other hand, will look at everything – that includes content, sales, support, UI/UX, product offerings, etc. to get to the root of the problem and try to solve it to achieve the results. In other words, it’s a 360-degree approach to achieving growth.

  • Creative and results-driven: Growth marketers are a rare breed as they combine two aspects that are often considered to be in the opposite camps: data and creativity. 

Note here that creativity means finding the best solutions to uplift a business; it doesn’t necessarily mean writing the best copies or preparing sparkling designs. It often involves taking simple steps that take the business to the next level. 

PayPal, a leading name in online payments, achieved remarkable growth by doing a totally out of the box growth hack. They created a referral program in which they paid $10 to you and your friend for each referral. This helped them achieve 10% daily growth and acquire over 100 million users. This is what it means to be ‘creative’ in a growth hacker’s dictionary.

  • Agile approach: If you belong to the technology domain, you must be familiar with the agile application development approach. Well, the same methodology applies to growth marketing as well, in a different way. 

Great growth marketers are not few-trick ponies as they’re always looking for new ways to grow. They’re quite flexible as they keep questioning their beliefs and approaches. In other words, they don’t get emotionally attached to their ideas. As soon as they realize something’s not working, they get to the root of it and don’t give much thought, even if they have to bin the whole idea.

Honesty matters: Don’t fake it till you make it

Many resorts to tricks and dishonest approaches in the quest to scale a business in a short time. Some of them include buying email lists, over-selling features, duping users with click baits, etc. These tricks might give you instant results, but they’ll do more harm than good in the long run. 

People who employ such tactics don’t realize that the essence of growth marketing is to build a relationship with customers at each stage of the customer journey cycle. You cannot do it by sending random emails or duping customers. You have to be honest and transparent with them.

I see marketing as a medium to bridge the trust gap between an entity and people. Be it your products, services, sales, support, or marketing content; every customer interaction must work towards it. For instance, even if a customer posts a bad review, you must get to the root of the problem and apologize if it’s genuine feedback.

Here’s what you can do to build a growth marketing strategy that’s based on honesty:

  • Create a satisfying user experience
  • Sell your expertise, but don’t boast it (no need to call yourself the best at anything)
  • Set realistic expectations
  • Apologize for mistakes or defects
  • Create a supportive sales and support team
  • Ensure honest and transparent communication 

LeanSummits: A Modern-Day Growth Marketing Agency

I, along with my partners, started LeanSummits with a passion for helping businesses realize the power of growth marketing. We collaborate with business leaders to help them address their most pressing business needs and seize the most promising business solutions. We take pride in being an innovator in business strategy and believe in personalized approaches.

Whether you are launching a new business or you are expanding the horizon and limits of your current one. We believe in nurturing your potential through the journey toward success by providing you with the right tools and guidance.

We provide you with new profit growth strategies so you can become a leader in your field. We achieve that through unique, custom-tailored solutions developed just for your business.

Schedule a free consultation to take your business to new heights.