Few teams will have as much impact on your marketing as sales as a Growth Team will.

If you want to see exponential and predictable results from your marketing, you need one.

Getting that is more about timing and context than anything else.

For that, your team will make it or break it.

So, how and when do you build one?

Given that tempo and circumstance are mostly overlooked, here’s why they matter:

Too fast, and you’ll lack the systems to be able to fully capitalize on channel hacks.

Too slow, and you’ll miss the rising tide and trends that could’ve brought you exponential results.

Your Growth Team is the linchpin that will help you pinpoint where you are (context) and when you are (timing).

And then execute the right leverage points to catapult you forward.

As soon as you’ve educated yourself on “Growth Hacking”, the next step is always:

“How and when do we build a Growth Team?”

But to answer that, you have to take just one step back so you can race forward.

See, part of that question assumes a lot, and is missing another crucial element:

“What marketing should we prioritize? We’re at X phase and are not sure”

The ‘X phase’, of course, is the phase your business finds itself in.

Now, you may recall that your business and products/services aren’t exactly on a linear “lifecycle” of change.

Instead, think of the “lifecycles” as various “states” and “phases.

Your marketing systems and team absolutely have to be agile.

Here’s a key idea from the first part on when to build a growth team:

For you, this means that each “state” represents your attempts to most effectively match internal capacity and process with external customer or market demand.

So, whenever you’re asking yourself what marketing you should deploy and when you should build a “growth team”, you always need to consider three things:

  1. What “phase” is your business in?
  2. What are you trying to accomplish?
  3. What are you existing capabilities?

Only when you know this do you consider the next step.

In the previous post, I briefly outlined what to do in each major phase.

But I’ve made it easier and simpler:

I’ve created this helpful selection tool, which tells you what you need based on your phase:

Business Phase & Marketing Alignment

In this Phase, you need:
Traction Marketing and small Growth Team

You need Traction Marketing. This is marketing focused exclusively on customer acquisition within channels, characterized by experimentation, funnel tests, channel spread, messaging testing and more.


Your Growth Team: You start with a team of 1 who will wear a couple of different hats to start, but not for too long. Have this person focused on strategy and analyzing experiments and use contractors for specialized roles at the first sign of traction in various channels. You can then add team members according to traction. Focus on documentation and organization learning to capture knowledge and procedures. If you are funded, then build a core team of 3, of which one is lead and the other specialist and analyst.

In this Phase, you need:
Growth Marketing and expanding Growth Team

You need Growth Marketing: At this point, your Traction Marketing should have identified 1-3 channels that are generating acquisitions for you. Now it's time to turn on the faucets and "growth hack" your way to exponential results. Marketing here is focused on making the most out of each channel, continue testing and experimentation, and focus on results. Don't engage in brand marketing here.


Your Growth Team: You hire team members full-time and keep a few contractors if necessary. Hire for specialization and roles, while your team leader continues the lead on strategy and direction. Ideally, your time has: 1 team lead, 1 data and analytics, 2-3 channel specialists. You only have a dedicated team.

In this Phase, you need:
Brand Response Marketing and Growth + Traditional Team

You need Brand Response Marketing: When you have established growth in 2-4 channels, you expand by adding "Brand Response" Marketing. This is a blend of branding and growth hacking. You don't abandon one for the other. You can use more long-term campaigns aimed at promoting market authority and leadership (brand) while still maintaining campaigns for growth.


Your Growth Team: Add full-time team members for branding. Focus on crafting and implementing systems based on what you've learned. It's vital that you expand on your processes documentation and shift focus towards "systems thinking", where you see your team and activities a system. You could potentially have 2 team leads, but the "Growth Marketer" should always have the final word. Maintain focus on growth.

In this Phase, you need:
Brand Response Marketing and Growth + Traditional Team

You need Growth Marketing again: While you maintain and expand "Brand Response" marketing, you implement cycles of growth for the objectives (launching new product or service, expanding into a new market, etc.) Any "new" marketing should always be focused on using growth systems and processes. Treat the marketing like startup marketing.


Your Growth Team: Use a dedicated team for this. It'll either be a Growth Marketer + 1-3 team members or using contractors again.

In this Phase, you need:
Brand Corporate Marketing and Growth + Traditional Team

You need Brand Corporate Marketing: These are "traditional" campaigns, such as TV ads, brand-focused advertisement, thought-leadership, and primarily about branding. Implementation of specific Growth Marketing would be if there's a new initiative for products, services, or expanding market. However, you should still engage in Growth Marketing within new channels and platforms.


Your Growth Team: Keep a dedicated team (apart from your traditional team) that maintains experimentation and testing on any new channels or platforms that are created. It's vital for the continued success for you to keep trying new avenues for acquisition and capturing market share. If you go stale, you will lose to competitors.

That makes it easy, right?

Let’s get into more details below.

In The The Seed / Startup Phase, You Need: Traction Marketing

If you’re a Startup who’s not yet reached sustainable Product/Market Fit, you need to executive on Traction Marketing strategies only and find those customers or users fast.

Your whole team might only consist of just one “growth hacker”, along with any creative or data support in the form of contractors.

You should take a look at the Growth Hacking Sourcebook, and especially the section on Growth Hacking case studies to start.

There are also plenty of other resources and articles on achieving Traction and lists for where you can validate your ideas.

Startup, Seed Phase Growth Marketing and Team

If You’ve Found Product + Market Fit, Then You Need: Growth Marketing + Build Growth Team

When you’ve hit Product/Market Fit, you double-down on high-velocity strategies focused on capitalizing on the channels you’ve uncovered.

Here’s where you’ll find most “growth hacking” to happen. The idea is to discover tactics for acquisition through experimentation. Your Growth Marketing consists of focused campaigns that tend to bias Acquisition, Activation and Retention more than anything else.

As for your Growth Team, it’s still mostly your “growth hacker” or “growth marketer as team lead. But, now is the time to capture knowledge and put in place systems, as well as making your first full team member hire.

There are some great examples and case studies here that you can take a look at.

Growth, Build Phase Growth Marketing and Team

If You’re Achieving Growth, Then You Need: Brand Response Marketing

With growth already established in a few key channels, and you’re consistently generating new users and customers, now and only now do you add “brand marketing” elements to the mix.

But it’s important to maintain the “growth mindset” for every campaign you run. You’re using more creative alongside expanding into traditional tactics and channels – but you never lose sight of tracking, data, and analytics.

You can now add team members for traditional marketing to your Growth Team. I would caution against “silo-ing” and splitting teams up. It’s much better to foster a “culture of growth hacking” in your growing marketing department.

At this point, Uber is doing this right.

Build, Established Phase Growth Marketing and Team

In The Expansion And/Or New Product Marketing Phase, You Need: Growth Marketing & Team

For established companies, you’re not always looking to capture market share through marketing but it can certainly be a help.

Alongside your traditional marketing, you should still deploy Growth Marketing focused campaigns. The same systems and processes as earlier apply but you can take a cyclical approach and run 90-180 day sprints on particular campaigns.

In this phase, your business is best served by using Growth Marketing for expansion projects and/or a new product.

For your Growth Team, this should be a separate, dedicated team consisting of 2-4 specialized team members who are exclusively focused on these activities.

Expansion Phase Growth Marketing and Team

If You’ve Reached A Maturity Phase, Then You Need: Brand Corporate Marketing

You need Brand Corporate Marketing, which are “traditional” campaigns, such as TV ads, brand-focused advertisement, thought-leadership, and primarily about branding.

Implementation of specific Growth Marketing would be if there’s a new initiative for products, services, or expanding market.

However, you should still engage in Growth Marketing within new channels and platforms.

Your Growth Team? Keep a dedicated team (apart from your traditional team) that maintains experimentation and testing on any new channels or platforms that are created.

It’s vital for the continued success for you to keep trying new avenues for acquisition and capturing market share. If you go stale, you will lose to competitors.

Maintain, Maturity Phase Growth Marketing and Team

Building A Growth Team At The Right Time, For The Right Reasons

Getting your Growth Team right is more about timing and context than anything else.

Timing, in that you understand what trajectory your company is on, and what the trends are.

Signs of traction are encouraging but if you pull the trigger too soon, you end up with a bloated team that’s failing to execute and pull through on results.

Without a temp shift towards Growth in the Building or Expansion Phase, you’re also going to lose out.

Context, as in having an astute awareness of what phase your business is in.

Failure to recognize that you’re in a Traction phase will result in missed channel opportunities. Likewise, if you’re not building a team during the Growth / Build Phase, you won’t have robust yet agile systems and processes in place – you end up with random experiments and a lot of waste.

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About Samuel J. Woods

I'm a Conversion Copywriter and Growth Consultant. My clients work with me to build and optimize their growth systems for customer acquisition and monetization.