Recently I watched this  very interesting video from Sean Ellis the inventor of #GrowthHacking on YouTube:

Sean Ellis, CEO, Qualaroo, presents at DEMO Traction in San Francisco on April 22, 2015.

Growth hacking is described by Wikipedia as follows:
Growth hacking is a marketing technique developed by technology startups which uses creativity, analytical thinking, and social metrics to sell products and gain exposure.

To me growth hacking always seems to look like unstructured hacks for quick growth paths (but in a very positive way), but in the YouTube movie Sean Ellis made the structure very clear (maybe I would known better if I read some books about growth hacking before).

Anyway it also seems that growth hacking in contrast to #Traction (see book Traction) is more a sport you can use after reaching product market fit. As Sean used the hacks in companies like Dropbox and Eventbrite after they had an excellent product that clearly solved a problem for a certain audience.

In general I also think you can use this structured way of growth hacking also to find Customer-Problem fit.


Below I explain how you can use 10 Habits of High-Growth Startups to find Customer-Problem.

Habit 1: Put 1st things first
This is a good one, as Sean mentioned first you need to reach product-market fit. Anyway 1st things first before finding Product-Market fit is finding a Customer-Problem Fit. So in a way it is the same. First things 1st in the following order:

  1. Design a Customer-Problem Fit
  2. Design a Problem-Solution Fit
  3. Design your Profit Model
  4. Design your Growth Engine
  5. Put it all Together

Source: How to Design a Money Making Machine by @vladblagi

Habit 2: Curious about customers
This is also for finding Customer-Problem Fit very important, as you need to understand the problem of your potential client or user. Talking or other ways of communication with your potential clients or users is the method. You can use Customer Development methods for it. As soon you as you start experimenting with solutions, keep in contact with your “must-have” users or clients as Sean mentioned.

Habit 3: Instrument powerful analytics
In case you don’t have a solution to experiment with, also here it is important to base your decisions on data. For example during customer interviews you can use a system of points to rate the interviewee. See also my post Guide for customer interviews.
When you start experimenting with a solution you can use Pirate metrics as mentioned by Sean as AARRR from Dave McClure. AARRR stands for:

  1. Acquisition
  2. Activation
  3. Retention
  4. Referral
  5. Revenue

Habit 4: Conversion optimization
As long as you have no solution to offer, you can not optimize the conversions in the AARRR funnel. But as soon as you start testing a solution (also called the Minimal Viable Product), you can optimize the conversion. If you find good conversion somewhere in the funnel, you know that you are on the good way for Product-Market fit.

Habit 5: Threat growth as a team sport
This is about how to manage the growth. As Sean mentioned it is the best to include the whole company in the growth team. When you didn’t reach product market fit yet your team should be small so it is relative easy to include everybody with the growth from day 1. It is crucial also or better especially before reaching product market fit.

Habit 6: Experiment on ideas
Experimenting with idea’s there it is where it is about to find Customer-Problem fit. If the team includes the business people and the engineers together you create a nice mix of idea’s. An interesting way is the method of Lean Startup Machine (see my post: The Lean Startup Machine in Amsterdam and The Javelin Experiment Board)

Habit 7: Prioritize your growth resources
Before reaching Product Market fit all resources should be allocated to the growth team. Product development, so also the engineers are part of it. It is not about a nice product, it is about a “must have” product that solves a problem for an audience that is a base create a business on it.

Habit 8: Execute at high tempo
Speed of executing has many benefits. It is saving resources, you are earlier on the market and if you are on the market you have a machine to speed up faster then your competition if you can execute in a higher tempo.

Habit 9: Accountability for inputs
As Sean mentioned, it is nice to go for 20% growth but this is not what the team and its individuals can control. What they can control as a team is the execution of idea’s and as an individual the number of good idea’s generated. It is new for me but is sounds very logical and for I will test it in practice.

Habit 10: Double down on success
Besides celebrate success, also discover why things are working and distribute the knowledge over the company.

If you would like to share your thoughts about using structured Growth Hacking to reach Customer-Problem fit, feel free to drop a comment.

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