A response to the Intercom Post on Growth Hacking-
Firstly, if you have been following this blog you will know that I believe the term Startup to be Bullshit. For clarity’s sake I hope Intercom see’s themselves as a business at this stage growth is about revenue and most importantly profit. A commercial company exists to make money which I am sure the guys make lots of.
So the guys at intercom decided to write a post suggesting that Growth Hacking is bullshit, which obviously they are completely entitled to their opinion.
the article is here and worth a thought provoking read if you can spare 5 minutes.
“Real growth originates from the very first line of code, from a great product, and from the work of an entire team”.
I think this is the statement that I essentially disagree with. Growth might start here, but I think the whole point of growth hacking is that you only write a line of code when you know you have an idea that doesn’t suck, because if you have a rubbish product, you won’t grow, no matter what colour your buttons are.
Intercom landed on a superb product, from years of seeing and knowing their business and their market, they identified a super niche for themselves and they carved that out with micro and macro battles to deliver exponential growth. At least that’s what I can see from the outside looking in. I don’t know what process they applied of how they got their but they are bloody good and what they do which is great to see.
But lots of ideas are really crap and if intercom had been a crap idea, then using the principles behind an MVP (Minimum Viable Product), then they would have identified this before writing a single line of code. This to me is where my opinion differs from Ben Redmond of intercom.
Do I think Growth Hacking is bullshit? No, but I do agree that there are lots of bullshitters out there who don’t really get the basic fundamentals of the concept and how it can be applied successfully. There are lots of people floating about taking up growth hacking who have never once applied the basic principles to their business. They are the button colour people, that give it a bad name in my opinion. Growth hacking is far more dirty and far more hands on than that.
The key to a successful business through what might be an online product or an online journey is most definitely the sum of thousands of micro wins as described by intercom. These wins are what growth hacking is all about. It’s about iterative change that is measured, which then influences the next change. In the real world, this doesn’t look as pretty as the graphs online and in books you might read, but if taken as a principle to define change, it influences your product backlog and allows you to focus on the important stuff, not on the stuff you think will work. Obviously, what you think also comes into it but metrics are key to this process.
Red buttons and blue buttons is where the digital version of Red Top Headlines come in and where the consultants who want to charge a fortune make their money selling their services to senior executives who don’t get it. It’s perfect conference material to get attention from people who don’t know any better.
Have I ever split test the colour of a button? No. Why would I?
Will I ever? Probably not as there will always be something that will deliver more for me. But I will decide on an overall direction of a page or a customer funnel on the basis of the results I see from measuring engagement within a page or a journey.
So what then is growth hacking and why do I believe it is a real thing?
For me essentially it’s all about:
1. Creating/modifying an MVP – minimum viable product
2. Testing for Product Market Fit until you get it right
3. Scaling when when you are comfortable with you numbers and know that your idea isn’t bullshit.
4. Iterate and grow the idea once it returns a positive return on investment.
1. Find a theory or product your can test. If you happen to be a skilled coder, go ahead and build it. 1 in every 100 of you will build something that might be useful. If you are not a coder, test the theory. Surveys, graphics, one pager WordPress sites – Then Measure the response. That will tell you more faster than actually building a rubbish product
2. Test it out. Sell your wares, charge somebody something, give it away or do whatever it takes to see whether it sinks or swims.
3. If the product works – go ahead jump in.
3A – If it doesn’t – pivot idea and test it again or get back on another horse
Oh how I wish I was working for a company like intercom where everything I built was going to be amazing from the first line of code I wrote