What Makes The Perfect “Growth Hacking” Team?
I don’t always post on Twitter, but when I do, I use the shotgun approach.
Recently I started firing off questions and comments regarding the term “growth hacker.”
I’m not a huge fan of that label — I prefer “growth marketing” — but have made peace with its existence and usage.
In the age when a growth hacker is seen as leading the final frontier of marketing (with a serious case of the Hero Complex), and the spin-offs “Full-Stack Marketer” and “T-Shaped Marketer” are the cool new resume toppers, what’s often overlooked is that a growth hacker can only do so much alone.
There’s a limit to the growth hacker’s capacity that has, so far, been ignored.
What’s far better than a lone wolf is an effective growth hacking team (or growth marketing team, or growth team — my head hurts).
The idea of a growth team might seem only possible for an established business, and out of reach for a startup. After all, cashflow often prohibits you from adding bodies to chairs when you’re in startup mode.
But I’ll maintain that the sooner you can build a growth team, the better.
Start Your Growth Team With the End in Mind
Even if you can only afford to have one growth marketer onboard, you should create a clear team chart (the classic organization chart) that outlines roles and responsibilities.
This is how you position yourself for adding team members without breaking stride.
As Jonathan Raymond puts it in his article The Miraculous Healing Powers Of The Org Chart…
“[The org chart is] a management tool to flush out everyone’s issues around command and control.”
Here’s a guide that might help you. EMyth has some great tools and resources around building org charts, and I encourage you to explore the site for more information on this topic.
Growth hacking is not limited to the startup world. On the contrary, I’ve lost count of how many CMOs / Marketing Managers / Add Title Here I’ve spoken and consulted with at established companies and large organizations that have deployed growth tactics and strategies pulled from the startup world.
No matter what phase your business is in, you can benefit from building a growth team — and you should always start with the end in mind.
The Ideal Growth Team Structure
Having built a small marketing team for myself, I’ve been thinking more about what the most effective growth team would look like.
And, inspired by the potential content of the Unlocking Growth book by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown, I sent off a tweet in their general direction:
Perfect Growth Team? 1 person for each category: Strategy, Data, Tech is my vote #growthbook by @SeanEllis & @morganb http://t.co/HkqmbAy1WP— Samuel J. Woods (@heysamwoods) November 7, 2014
Of course, I didn’t even mention the category of “Creative,” which would include things like copywriting, design, UX, visuals (images, photos, etc) —all of which must be in service of conversion rate optimization (CRO).
(Side note: I know that growth hacking can be just as much about crafting your product as well, but whether or not this role is part of your growth team depends on what you’re doing growth hacking for: an established product that’s open for refinement or straight startup product.)
Below you’ll find my sketch and rough draft of what I think is needed for the ideal growth team.
You’ll notice that this takes the strongest elements from a traditional marketing team, but shifts the focus towards growth and growth hacking.
The Breakdown of Growth Team Roles
The chart above makes for a four-person team, with one role per category.
The Strategy person in this four-person growth team is also the team lead. They hold the responsibilities of decision-making, managing the processes of cycling and collecting growth experiments, drawing up marketing funnels to test, and maintaining the big-picture view of what’s going on with the company’s growth marketing.
You could pull together a team like this with a minimum of two people, if your budget won’t stretch to hire four. A startup might think they can only afford one person for the growth team, but in my experience, you should seriously consider starting with two — even if that’s a growth hacker plus a copywriter or data support contractor.
At the enterprise level, you should have a dedicated growth team that works alongside your CMO. Now you’re in a position to run 90-180-day sprints and experiment with growth marketing tactics in cycles.
Your Growth Team Is Your Success Linchpin
Many businesses — from startups to large companies, from SaaS to services, from B2B to B2C — make the mistake of believing that having marketing, sales and product teams is enough. But as any veteran business owner will tell you, those teams often silo themselves and fail to work together effectively.
A growth team isn’t just important for business growth, it’s a critical piece of the puzzle that helps all the teams work together more effectively and increase the rate of customer acquisition, monetization, and retention.
Not sure when to build your growth team, or how to do it? Start here.
What do you think of growth teams and growth marketing? Hit me up on Twitter (@heysamwoods) and let’s hash it out.
P.S: I asked this question over at GrowthHackers.com: What’s your dream team for growth marketing/hacking? The response was phenomenal. Go check it out.