A Growth Engine – how you build it with Growth Marketing

Have you ever heard of a perpetuum mobile? A machine that keeps itself running all the time.

This is probably what every business owner, entrepreneur as well as marketer is looking to build when setting up a venture. 

This article is giving you insights and tips on how to setup a growth engine. No fluff, the engine probably won’t be a perpetuum mobile, but when adjusted and cared, it will generate revenue big time.

If your business isn't growing...it's shrinking!

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What is a growth engine, and what can it do for your business

These days almost everyone has heard about Uber and their fabulous growth story within the mobility market. One reason for their constant growth, check the quarterly net revenues in the diagram, is that Uber managed to setup a growth engine from the very early years.

Uber Growth Revenue
Growth marketing can take your business marketing to a whole new level, and in this article, we are diving more into the growth engine phenomenon, which includes all of the growth hacking activities you conduct to drive exponential business growth. It enables you to view your company’s growth as a machine that can be sped up and slowed down, as needed. 
Set manageable targets and see what activities and growth hacks multiply your growth and revenues, and what activities are not so useful for your company’s growth. A growth engine involves many sets of activities that a growth hacker would conduct for your business.

How growth engines work around loopholes?

Growth engines are designed to work around loopholes that are less frequently traveled marketing routes by other companies. Growth marketing works on the formula of “thinking out of the box”, it requires unconventional and often risky ways of accelerating growth. It may or may not work, but something does click at the end of the day, and nothing goes in vain. A growth engine may involve any marketing activity that your marketing team deems suitable for your type of business; it could be simply using an AdWords campaign, Facebook ads campaign, Instagram ads, or simply blogging and putting up new and interesting content.

But while everyone is already trying these marketing strategies, growth marketers use a set of marketing hacks to drive traffic and gain results. All the steps are taken one at a time and there is usually no overlapping so that the marketing team can evaluate results and see what worked for their business, and what drove more results. In our article about Growth Hacking, we gave the example of how AirBnB, a successful startup, utilized the loophole, and by “reverse engineering” cross-posted on Craigslist, and hence became popular among users. This was a genius of their marketing team, and successful implementation of their growth marketing strategy.

Another example of utilizing loopholes and thinking out of the box is by the founder of the term “growth hacking”, Sean Ellis, as a growth hacker, he helped drive considerable and successful growth of file sharing service, “Dropbox”. One of the hacking tips that Sean’s team conceived and tried was, suggesting the subscribers and users refer someone they know and get more space in their Dropbox drive. And due to that successful referral system, Dropbox became quite successful in a short period of time, and all of this was possible, due to the implementation of a useful growth engine for that company.

The Growth Engine is just the beginning

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How You build a Growth Engine – in a Nutshell

  1. Attract the right customers
  2. Orchestrate the right marketing and traction channels
  3. Offer a Product that fulfills or over-delivers the value proposition
  4. Strengthen your competitive advantage
  5. Use an appealing storyline for your value proposition aka your promise

How growth marketers can help you speed up your growth engine

A growth hacker will have many tips and tricks up his sleeves, and that is why he is a “hacker”, who doesn’t go the conventional way of marketing. Only a successful growth hacker knows fully, what growth marketing is and how to use growth marketing for your business to make it grow, tremendously. For a startup, a growth hacker can make or break your business, they can take your business to new heights of success, instantly. The biggest limitation for a growth hacker is the constraining budget, most startups set aside a limited budget for marketing, and within this limited budget, the hacker has to make an impact.

The immediate attention of a growth hacker should be directed towards the existing tools and assets for marketing, and thinking of new ways, tips and tricks to speed up growth. A lot of reading and research is required in the beginning, and the marketing strategy would involve not only SEO, but high-quality content, AdWords, product marketing, happy customer base, and analysis. A growth marketer also looks at other competitors and studies their growth. A growth hacker tries tips and tricks to rope in “power users’ for your services, the ones that have subscribed and have become paid users of your app, or services.

It is very important to develop a full understanding of the user experience, you have to see what customers are looking for and how would they become power users. For example, if your blog metrics show that 10,000 people visited your blog in a month and 5,000 visited your homepage that shows a 50% conversion rate. However, if out of these 5,000, only 800 requested a service trial, it shows a 16% conversion rate, which is acceptable in the beginning. But, if you optimize your website better, you can increase the conversion rate, easily. It is important for a growth marketer to have everyone on board; designers, programmers, coders and traditional marketers of the company.

Growth engines work with a sellable product

It goes without saying if your product is sellable, unique, and it is what people are looking for, your company’s growth engine can make it successful. But if it’s not the right product, no amount of marketing can make it worthwhile. No growth hacker has a magic wand to make a useless product or service, successful. A growth marketer not only knows technology and marketing deeply, but he also has to understand the customer psychology. In order for a growth engine to deliver repeatedly, your growth engine should have three parts:

  • market the product on the right traction channels to the right customers,
  • tell a great story around your value proposition,
  • let the product fulfill the value proposition

A growth engine constitutes of both free and paid marketing channels; free ones include, blogging and social media, and paid marketing, such as partnerships, endorsements, print ads, and radio ads. The second aspect is the presentation of your product, it involves design, its concept, its usability, and its relevance. You have to see if your product creates an excitement, is it something unique, does it offer solutions, and why would anyone want to buy it from you. If it’s not what people are looking for, you need to redesign and remodel it or present it in a convincing way to enhance its appeal to the masses. The product eventually has to speak for itself and grow on its own. A product is marketed with the help of interactions with other powerhouses of the customer base.

YouTube, for example, lets you embed their video to another site, that’s how they reach more and more potential customers. Posting product videos on YouTube is a great way to market your product, and your videos are always there, so it is product marketing for a lifetime. “Quora” is another example, it lets you share the questions and answers posted on Quorato social media sites, and that is how they gain and retain users. Thus, product marketing always involves a call to action, whether it is signing up to the subscriber list, creating an account or sharing a post. Many startups fail, as they lack patience and ask too much from the user in the beginning. They price the services/product too high, before it has proved itself or delivered anything.

Can a growth engine fail?

Short answer: Yes. It is highly likely, growth marketing in b2b as well as in b2c could fail. As we have mentioned earlier, if it’s not a sellable product and has certain pitfalls, or you are asking the visitor too much, before they even put their trust in your product. As described, a growth engine has three parts: marketing or traction channels, product story, and the product being powerful enough to market for itself. This is a typical growth engine example if any aspect of this engine is weak, or the marketer hasn’t done his studying and research properly – a growth engine is likely to fail. But as a marketer and hacker, one has to keep trying and fail and rise again, one has to conduct different marketing experiments to be able to gain momentum and achieve what clicks through, and makes an impact.

A growth engine only fails, if proper research, as well as execution, hasn’t been conducted, a marketer is isolated from rest of the team, not everyone’s on board, product story is confusing, or finally, the product isn’t sellable, or requires a major overhaul. Take Coca-cola company, for example, its most successful product till date is Coca-cola beverage, though it has created other products; sprite, Fanta, and others, it still to date, prides itself and is recognized by that one beverage. Same way, not every product your company produces is going to work or strike a chord among the users.

Like a real engine, every part of your growth engine should be functional and working optimally. It is pertinent to take one step at a time, and not do too many things, all at once. A growth engine should be able to deliver real and sustainable growth; it should not only achieve short-term goals but with modifications over time, should be able to deliver a lasting performance.


About Me

As a growth marketing expert and customer developer, I experience every day how important a customer-centric corporate culture is. 

In combination with agile testing and optimization processes, you will bring your growth fully on course.


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