How to Break Into: Growth Marketing

When the word ‘marketing’ gets thrown around, a lot of people first think about ‘advertising’. Maybe how it feels to chew 5 gum, Banana Boat *doo doo doo doo doo* or… Coles little red quote *cue traumatic flashbacks*.


I mean, fair. No surprises here. It’s the customer-facing slice of marketing we interact with every day, from Instagram sponsored posts to YouTube ads to billboards at the train station on your way to work.


Frankly, a lot of this can look like fluffy, handwavy work.


But dive beneath the surface and the marketing of today is moving further from art towards science.


The key ingredient?


The internet, and with it, the ability to promote and sell your products to people across the world. Oh, and a little thing called customer data.


With the ability to target potential customers so precisely and optimise for quantitative metrics around click-through rates, conversions, retention, churn, referrals, yada yada yada, we began to see the emergence of a new ‘flavour’ of marketing, if you will.


Tech marketer and founder Sean Ellis first coined the term ‘growth hacker’ in 2010, defining the role as "a person whose true north is growth” (sadly, I don’t believe he was referring to farmers).


And in the past decade, ‘growth marketing’ has since exploded as a startup buzzword that everyone seems to nod their heads at.


But what the hecc does this actually involve, and how do you land a role like this?

We got to chat with 3 growth marketers on the Sydney startup scene - Anna Cheng from Brighte, Dan Siepen from Wellshare and Bennie Liu from Earnd. Let’s see what they had to say 👇

Anna Cheng

Previously:

What are you working on these days?

I’m currently Growth Marketing Manager at Brighte and a Fellow at Afterwork Ventures. For those of you who don’t know what Brighte does - we offer Buy Now Pay Later for solar panels and home improvements. A big focus of our business right now is to improve our Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) by developing our home improvements arm. Naturally, this means my KPIs are aligned with bringing on board more home improvement tradies (who can offer Brighte finance plans to customers at point-of-sale) and driving existing customers to use Brighte to finance their next home renovation.


What does growth marketing mean to you?

Over the past decade, the way that we think about growing tech companies has experienced large foundational changes: unprecedented access to data, platforms with billions of users, and tech that can scale at an accelerating pace. This leads me to believe that there is a better, data-driven way to approach growing a company compared to how it has traditionally been executed in the past. However, moving from traditional marketing to ‘growth marketing’ is not just about new channels and tactics - it’s about a change in your mentality and the way you structure your team to accelerate learning.


Growth marketing teams pursue ‘growth’ as a holistic system and goal, and often sits at the intersection of marketing, data, engineering and product management. We deploy fast, data-driven experiments to figure out what works and what doesn’t. As an analogy - if you imagine a business as a bucket of water with holes in the bucket where water leaks out (i.e. where customers are churning), the role of Growth marketing is to patch up those holes and refill the water.


For a more extensive explanation, you can watch my talk for Textbook Ventures here.


Any tips to share with our readers who want to break into growth marketing?

Growth marketing is perfect for people who enjoy problem-solving and working in fast-paced environments. When I first started out, I loved reading case studies about Airbnb’s successful ‘growth hacks’, including their Craigslist scrape (which helped them get 1,000+ listings) and their Photography Program (which increased bookings by 2-3x!). If stories like this excite you too, then I think it’s worth giving growth marketing a serious go.


If you are still deciding between corporate and startup - your corporate career can wait. I deferred uni and quit my banking internship the day before I was meant to start to join Spaceship as their first Growth hire and third employee. I believe that, logically, it is safer to take more (calculated) risks at the start of your career than to feel the FOMO later down the track and make the change when you have more at stake. Startup experience is also highly regarded by corporate employers if you do decide it’s not for you.


To break into growth marketing, I would apply for a Growth Marketer role within a startup or start your own project so thIat you can apply your learnings right away. This is important as you will learn the fastest when you have an active feedback loop (i.e. build > measure > learn). Listen to growth talks/podcasts, get a coffee with people in growth and, if possible, find a mentor. Good luck!

Bennie Liu

  • Global Growth Lead at Earnd

Previously:

  • Business Development Manager at 2Hats

  • Community Manager at Perlin

What are you working on these days?

Growth at a fintech startup called Earnd! My day to day includes everything from demand generation (generating awareness and interest in our product) to the tech side of marketing (website and marketing automation). My specific focus at the moment is testing channels in our performance marketing mix to unlock new avenues for us to reach people who’d buy from us.


What does growth marketing mean to you?

To me, growth is deeply contextual. In a business-to-consumer context, Growth encapsulates the pirate metrics ( Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral and Revenue ) to drive full-funnel growth.


I like to think of growth as unclogging a system - the best way to do so is to identify bottlenecks and unclog them, so flow-through increases. In a business-to-business context, which I personally work in, growth is more focused around top-of-funnel acquisition (bringing in new business). This is more akin to traditional digital marketing, but we still keep track of the rest of the funnel.


Any tips to share with our readers who want to break into growth marketing?

I’m a firm believer that everything starts with fundamentals! Books that provide frameworks to understand growth include Traction by Gabriel Weinberg & Justin Mares and Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis.


After that, it’s time to brush up by reading some essays by the greats, Brain Balfour (ex-Hubspot) and Andrew Chen (ex-Uber). Their essays are available online for free and they break down their approach in an analytical fashion.


After you get a basic grasp of the concepts, it’s time to get your hands dirty. For myself, it was growing a side project (an Instagram handle) to 80K followers. Anything that’s a) interesting to you and b) you’d like to share with the world is a great first project for honing your skills.

Dan Siepen

Previously:

What are you working on these days?

I’m currently the Head of Growth & Marketing at an exciting health-focused startup called Wellshare. We’re a flex workspace solution for health practitioners, and I’m part of the team to help grow the property side of the business, as well as work on new D2C brands & other technology solutions.


I also advise & consult for a few eCommerce & startup companies on Growth Marketing.


Additionally, I also share some resources on my site such as my Growth Marketing Checklists.


What does growth marketing mean to you?

Growth marketing in my eyes, is about the mindset and tempo of experimentation and execution with data being the main driver for strategic decisions.


I think a key thing when it comes to becoming really good at growth marketing is ensuring you have a prioritisation framework.


There is so much that goes into growth marketing (the list is honestly endless), but it’s another skill set to focus on initiatives most likely to achieve sustainable and scalable growth and hit whatever the goals or KPI’s are both short and long term.


Any tips to share with our readers who want to break into growth marketing?

My advice would be not jumping straight into any paid course right away. To be honest there are too many courses out there.


If you were to choose any courses on growth marketing or growth hacking, my personal recommendations would be CXL’s Growth Marketing Mini Degree, Foundr’s Growth Hacking Course or Growthhackers.com Growth Hacking Course.


I think regardless of any course, you will need to go deeper in terms of channel specifics, marketing strategies, etc. The good thing about these courses is that they can help provide you structure, which I think is important to learning growth marketing.


In addition, I also recommend signing up to platforms like Growth Mentor. There are lots of growth experts on the platform and can help you connect with very smart marketers who can help mentor you on specific channels and strategy. Even for experienced people like myself, it helps to connect with someone super detailed and focused on a channel which I may be weaker in.


My final piece of advice is something I mentioned in the previous question, is about setting a framework for yourself around prioritisation. A famous framework in the Growth Hacking world is ICE. It has helped me a lot over the years with clients and startups I work for. As experience grows, I very much have my own version now which I’m sure you will find overtime as well.

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