Has your company’s quest for greater success in a rapidly changing marketplace reached a plateau? One of the biggest dangers a business faces is not staying vigilant so that they can nimbly respond to changes in the market climate. It may be a refusal to address a new competitor, an inability to recognize product or market staleness, or failure to embrace essential technology.
In their book, Hacking Growth: How Today’s Fastest Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success, Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown discuss the concept of growth stalls, which stem from a lack of innovation and evolution in the face of competition. Overcoming this involves harnessing the power of customer data and proactive conversion testing. Maintaining the status quo will no longer suffice in today’s environment. Like certain sharks that must constantly move to survive, your organization’s teams must always be surveying and examining customers and their data, and be eager to act on those insights.
What Causes Growth Stalls?
Growth stalls don’t always occur due to a major innovation (such as smartphones) or a strong competitor suddenly appearing on the scene. A company simply might not be paying close attention to its customers and their growing dissatisfaction. They may have been slowly losing customer loyalty over the years, but don’t realize it until the point of no return.
But it isn’t just a matter of staying connected to customers. If a company has focused its marketing efforts on just a few channels, such as email and social, this siloed approach might start to lose its effectiveness over time. It may be due to competition, changes in the channels themselves or a technology-inspired shift in consumer behavior (like with mobile devices).
Threats to Growth:
- Changing market conditions
- Competitor innovation
- Product staleness
- Eroding customer loyalty
- Overreliance on a limited number of marketing channels
- Lack of detailed customer data
- Unwillingness to experiment with new strategies
BuzzFeed and Upworthy are given as examples of organizations that relied heavily on Facebook’s News Feed. Whenever a change was made to the algorithm that dictated how the News Feed worked, it had a powerful effect on their readership. Video app company Viddy was so dependent on Facebook that changes in the News Feed rules reduced their user base from 50 million to 500,000, and they were forced to shut down.
How Can a Company Stay Ahead?
While Data Scientist might no longer be “the sexiest job of the 21st century,” today’s cloud storage industry, sophisticated algorithms and advanced data mining allow smaller companies looking to compete with large corporations to do so on a more level field.
Practical Steps for Hacking Growth
- The Battleship Approach – The team tries various approaches until a “hit” is scored, and then hones in like a heat-seeking missile for even greater results.
- Data Mining for Deeply Buried Gold – If you think you’ve reached the limit of results from a data set, invest in a larger data bank and ramp up your analytics.
- Review Customers’ Tasks and Pathways to Product Awareness – Identify data gaps and work to fill them to better understand customer behavior. Determine if your company has the necessary analytical skills on-board to get the maximum results from your data. Consider hiring a dedicated data scientist or data analyst.
- Add New Channels and Experiment – Don’t limit your company to just 1 or 2 marketing channels to acquire new customers. Be nimble enough to jump into new channels if older channels suddenly change the rules.
- Cross-Fertilize for New Ideas – Holistically bring together developers, engineers, product managers, designers and others in your company for maximum marketing innovation.
- Take Moonshots – Have the courage to break out of outdated processes. Start by optimizing and then testing redesigns of products or marketing. Incrementally optimize big changes. Schedule bold experiments that lead to innovation to push beyond a successful plateau of a “local maximum” for enormous leaps forward.
The Key to Survival: Keep Swimming
This means continuous customer surveying, full immersion in customer data and enthusiastic experimentation for fast results. Growth hacking isn’t just a business strategy. It’s a game-changing philosophy that can transform your business.
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