Growth hacking in the real world

by Promotoon August 18, 2015

Growth Hacking? Never heard of it?  Then you’ve been missing out.

Growth Hacking is a relatively new term, which is used to describe the process of making a business go viral.  

The end goal of every growth hacker is to build a self-perpetuating marketing machine that reaches millions by itself.” – Aaron Ginn

Did you know Hotmail reached 30 million users in 30 months? – that’s less than 3 years!  Hotmail was sold for $400 million dollars and reached virality because of a simple trick that we now deem as one of the pioneering growth hacks.  When the owners of Hotmail were trying to boost users, Tim Draper, the famous VC, suggested they put a little memo at the bottom of every email sent which said “PS. I Love you – Get your free e-mail at Hotmail”.  So one person sent an email to their 10 friends, who emailed a further 10 friends to have 100 Hotmail accounts.  100 becomes 1,000, which becomes 100,000 and then.. congratulations sir, you have growth hacked your company. There are plenty of stories like these and if you want to read more, AppVirality put a great list together of some of the best examples. 

Reading these stories however led me to believe this was only for the tech companies.  Although the term “growth hacking” definitely lends itself towards a tech company, I wanted to come up with other options for any small, medium or big business to grow their business using simple, easy, growth hacks. So here goes!

Here are are my 5 ideas to help your business get a taste of virality…

1) Give it away

“Give away something for free? Are you crazy, I’m trying to make money not spend it”.  I agree.  So find something that is of low cost to you and valuable to others… But wait, there’s more!

If you read the Dropbox example in the link above, they gave away 500MB of extra storage but only when users recommended a friend to sign-up and use their service.  Your one customer that you already have might share your business or promotion with ten people they know (that’s potential customers, to you!). These people could share again and your potential customer reach and growth is suddenly exponential. The types of giveaways should reflect your business and how it runs. For example; a builder might be able to afford to give away $10,000 in kitchen finishings, because the exposure they gain from people wanting to win it will pay it back ten fold. A small bar on the other hand, might be better to stick to a free drink for every friend an existing customer brings along.  The possibilities are endless but just remember, find something that costs you as little as possible, but is appealing and valuable to others. Get creative! It might just be a clever offer of your time!

2) Ask for reviews

Social proof is a powerful phenomenon. People will do things simply because the guy next to them did it!  In Robert Cialdini’s book, he documents some interesting examples; 

“ one experiment, one or more confederates would look up into the sky; bystanders would then look up into the sky to see what they were seeing. At one point this experiment aborted, as so many people were looking up that they stopped traffic.”

So how can you use social proof in your business?  Reviews are one of the best ways to leverage social proof.  You know you offer a great product or service, and your customers do too, so just ask them if they can leave a review on one of your pages. Of course, you won’t have a 100% success rate with this, but it’s a numbers game – the more people you ask for reviews, the more reviews you are likely to get.   Facebook, Google+, Yelp, Yellow Pages and many more, offer opportunities for your customers to leave a review. Potential customers can then see that your business is used and liked by other people and, *cue social proof*, be more likely to become a paying customer themselves. 

3) Get on Google

The second biggest but one of the unknown social media platforms offers one of the best growth hacks.  Google is like every other business and needs customers so of course it’s going to reward businesses who use their own social media platform.  The more reviews your business has on Google +, the more Google will push your ranking up in their search engine.  

Here’s what you need to do: set up a Google My Business Page and ensure your listing is completed and verified.  You will then have a Google+ Page which you use to profile your business and receive reviews.  Then, whether it be in-store with a sign, through email, mail or text message, you can ask your customers for their reviews of your business by sending them a link to your Google+ Page. Not everyone is willing to spend their time writing up a review so often you need to provide an incentive. Try offering 10% off their future purchase, or free postage on their next order – something that won’t dramatically cut your bottom line but gives the customer a token in return for their time and thoughts.

4) Build your address book

Often considered one of the ‘cheaper’ tactics in marketing, email should never be ignored as one of the most powerful tools to reach your customers. I remember starting out in business with only 10 people to email and thought; what is the point!?  The aim is however, to turn your original number – even it its one – into a valuable list of customers who you can contact at the click of a mouse.

Every person you meet, every business card, every Facebook friend, every Twitter follower and every single person that comes to your website should eventually make it on your email list.  Soon enough, your list of 10 will be 100.  That’s 100 people you can be in contact with every day/week/month, to whom you can offer great advice, deals, and specials.  Remember – people buy from people that they trust – so give them a reason to trust you in every contact you have.

5) Explain through video

This is a tricky one, but this list would be seriously lacking if I didn’t mention it.  Explainer videos are short videos used to describe your product or service. When done well, they are an easy to digest, informative and attention-grabbing way to share your message.  The Dollar Shave Club is a phenomenal example of how powerful these videos can be – check out this video.

The result? Dollar Shave Club went from 0 to 50,000 sales in one night and is now worth over $100 million.  How’s that for growth hacking?!  The video was funny, witty, and clearly addressed the problem many men face; having great razors, consistently delivered without the hassle of going to shops.  Easy as!  Of course, this video would have come with a production price given the quality it was made with but hey, call up that friend with a great camera, think of an idea to present your idea and boom, start filming!

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