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  • Chris Sheng

Chapter 2: What is Growth Marketing?

June 24, 2020

Growth Marketing is a term frequently thrown around in today's industry. But what exactly does it mean?

Ultimately, growth marketing is a term synonymous with its more widely known counterpart, growth hacking. To define it, growth marketing/ hacking is the process of designing and conducting experiments to enhance and better the results of any given area. Don’t be confused with this definition. You aren't actually “hacking” anything to figure out what’s wrong with your product. You’re not using some easy shortcuts to find the faults in your product. This idea of hacking. I don't like it. I don't believe in it. There is no shortcut that is “one size fits all”. But there are different processes that suit everyone, to help a specific company discover what hack(s) will work for them.

Growth marketing works wonders for companies in their early stages when they are juggling limited resources and cannot necessarily hire professionals for different departments. It works around the entire funnel of the customer lifecycle, and not just in terms of awareness and acquisition. In growth marketing, we understand the value of consumers and help with consumer retention, revenue, and understanding the consumer’s perspective. It helps in having long-term wins and bonds with your customer unlike general marketing today. Whereas general marketing focuses on the appearance of big brand companies to the general market, growth marketing tends to work with new companies that have no brand trust behind them and helps build up these small, new companies fast.

To get a better idea of this, say you have a good idea that has shown promise with a small group of individuals. However, as you put it on the market, your sales aren't what they should be, even for a beginning business. You realize that your marketing strategies aren't the best they could be, hindering your product sales. So you use growth marketing to “test” out different marketing tactics to see which forms can improve your sales and similarly, which ones are holding you back. Think of yourself as a scientist here, testing out different hypotheses on what you think could be wrong and how you could potentially correct them.

It's all about being creative with your experiments as it relates to your: audience, messaging, and channels which I will further explain below.

Growth marketing achieves success by optimizing these three variables.

Target Audience

Startups or businesses often come up with products or services because they themselves at one point faced a similar problem. Is your idea a manifestation of an issue you’ve faced before? Every business has an area where they excel, whether it be in food products, clothing, or electronics, and they seek to counter the pain points or problems in their given market.

The biggest challenge of growth marketers is to bring down the walls of potential clients, metaphorically speaking. What I mean by this is getting people to put their guard down long enough to hear out your idea and to let you know whether the pain you're “solving” is big enough for someone to invest in. Are they willing to pay X amount to solve it? Maybe the pain point is not such a big issue for them, and they don’t require any solution.

For example, you are launching a new shoe brand. The first exercise would be getting to know who your target audience is. Surveys work the best; you can start by categorizing your audience.

A) Athlete or power runners with a major focus on the functionality of the shoes.

B) Males and females between 18-25 with a focus on fashion statements.

C) Weekend warriors’ males and females between 25-35.

Your audience each holds traits that impact their purchase decisions, and you want to try and narrow down what those traits are. As a “hack” to find these traits, you can use websites such as Facebook and Linkedin, which have filter fields that help define your audience. An example is included in the link below.


Remember our lesson from the last chapter? Ask don’t guess.

If you know who your audience is, start reaching out to them in the most guerrilla tactic methodology. An example would be literally picking up a phone book and dialing people in your potential audience. Do research for emails within your target group. Reach out to your clientele base through DM. Anything in order to learn what form of messaging works best with your target audience. You want to get the audience to tell you how they would word the pain you are solving for.

As you’re contacting these people, you should bring up this idea- “Do you deal with this (insert problem here)” or “Do you experience (XYZ)?”. Ask this group how big the pain or issue is on a scale of 1-5. For those that answer a 4 or 5 - ask them to describe in more detail what they hate about that pain (people love to complain). The more recurring words or phrases you hear in these responses, will provide the foundation for your message. Make sure you are noting all your responses and are connecting the similarities between people.

Your end goal is to display a message with a clear “pain” that you know a high percentage of a specific audience will agree on or at least take notice of.

For example, you can ask questions like “What do you look for in running shoes?” or “What is your biggest complaint with the existing running shoes?” to group A. To group B you can ask questions in a way that would help you better understand their perception of fashionable shoes. An example of this would be, “Do you focus more on a shoes design or it’s function when choosing a pair of shoes?”.


Channels are the different, creative ways to get your message in front of your audience. Think of this in both situations online and offline. Where is your target audience living, sleeping, breathing, and eating in mass - both online and offline. This goes way beyond social media, email, phone, and SMS. Think of every nook and cranny you can find your audience in, not only in the digital world but the physical world as well. Are there associations that cater to your audience? Trade shows, forums, or groups that they congregate at. Where are their communities?

It becomes important to know who your consumers are and where they are. Once you figure out where you can find them, there is always going to be a way to reach them.

Once you start finding repetitive channels where you’re finding your audience, you want to think about how to get your messages out into these channels.

For example, are there certain Instagram pages that group A follows regarding marathons or running events?

Does group B have a certain store or boutique they like to purchase their shoes from?

Getting your channel(s) right is as important as targeting the right audience. There are millions of ways to reach your consumers. It just takes a bit of time and exploration.

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