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Thursday, 9 February 2017

Interview with a Growth Hacker - part 1






I am writing an article series about growth hacking and the first article received over 1.6 million readers.

The aim is to write follow-up articles about topics that have caused a discussion among readers. Unfortunately, most of the comments about my first article were sent to me as private messages, so they are unknown to most of the readers.

At the moment, there are many different topics to cover in the next article, but the most requested topic is the interview with an experienced growth hacker.

Luckily for us, I finally got the best growth
hacker I know to agree to be interviewed.

He has agreed to do the growth hacking interview in multiple parts, that way readers of this article series can also ask him questions, so don't worry, you'll get your chance to ask your question.


Let's start:


WHAT IS YOUR NAME AND AGE?
My name is Christian Dillstrom and I am 46 years old.


WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND?
I started coding from the age of 10 and I still code every day because I like to know what I am talking about. I am not the consulting type that has read about something and gives advice about it. I like to know exactly how things work before I talk about them.

I have founded and run three global startups as well as analyzed and consulted over 300 startups. I have also worked at an advertising agency and I have won six national advertising awards in a single year.

Besides startups and advertising, I have been working with Fortune500's, as well as in the finance sector, and with game and gambling companies.


HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN DOING GROWTH HACKING?
Over 7 years now.


HOW DID YOU GET STARTED WITH GROWTH HACKING?
Before I founded my second startup, I worked at an advertising agency for a few years, as well as at a bank and an insurance company. In those companies, there was absolutely no desire to grow, just to keep everything as it was.

That is totally against my nature.

I want to be part of something more,
I want to create explosive growth
- I have always been like that.

So, I started my second start-up, boutique social media agency, at the start of 2009, and once again, I was very lucky. I had quite a few contacts at Fortune500 companies because of my first start-up and .com boom, and when I started to call them and tell them what I do now, they wanted unique solutions to boost their sales.

We did not call it growth hacking back then, but that is what we really did. The term growth hacking started to appear here and there a few years ago, but outside of marketing departments at global brands, startups and marketing experts that term is still quite unknown.

Global brands only wanted unique solutions that gave them a competitive edge, so in the last 7 years I had to make over 100 marketing innovations.

So, that's how I got started with growth hacking.


WHERE DO YOU DO GROWTH HACKING?
Online and on-site globally. From my point of view, businesses have similar problems, but they need unique solutions to their problems.

Many businesses think the other way around; they think that their problems are unique, but solutions to these problems are common. They are surprised when the solution they read about in a magazine or hear about at a business event does not increase their sales.


WHAT IS GROWTH HACKING?
That is actually a very easy question - it is inventing new ways to make more money for your client. That's it.


WHY INVENTING?
Well, it depends on the client. Some clients are so leading edge in everything that you can only make them more money by inventing something totally new.

If there is room for growth, the first step is to improve everything that can be improved. After all, inventing, testing and coding something totally new is a big undertaking so you don't do it if you have other options available.


IS GROWTH HACKING EXPENSIVE?
No, it is not.

First of all, good growth hacking increases a client's sales and profit so much that its fees and costs become irrelevant.

Second of all, most customers pay a monthly fee based on what they need us to do. Very few startups or smaller businesses need globally executed tasks with millions of people participating, so their fee is of course very reasonable.


IS GROWTH HACKING ILLEGAL?
Good growth hackers do not do illegal things or cause negative reactions. The Brand is everything a client really has, so a growth hacker is not allowed to do anything that could cause harm to it! In fact, that is a big no-no.

Also, a growth hacker only does things that his client, either approves or asks him to do. He does not do things on his own as he works for his client.

In some cases, clients might request something that is not really a good idea. They might not understand all the possible dangers of their request; therefore, a good growth hacker has to understand when to say no.

After all, who would hire a growth hacker with a shady reputation?

Of course, there are growth hackers that do things they should not do and the clients that approve work they should not approve. A good growth hacker knows his limits and does a great job, without doing shady business.


WHY CAN'T COMPANIES DO GROWTH HACKING INTERNALLY?
For the same reasons companies hire management consultants and outside legal counsel; people within the company have limited knowledge about all the things going on in other companies and in the world generally.

Growth hackers focus only on increasing the sales of their clients. They usually have a lot of clients and therefore they gain a lot of experience by growth hacking different companies and industries.

Marketing and sales people inside a company do not have that experience. If they did, growth hackers would not be able to increase the sales of the company.


HOW DO YOU TYPICALLY HELP YOUR CUSTOMERS?
New big clients usually want to boost their new campaign or a campaign that is not going that well.

Monthly or annual fee paying big clients call and ask where they could find a 1% sales increase for this week. That's usually about finding new, better ways to spot sales obstacles, generate low-cost awareness and connect marketing with sales.

For smaller businesses and startups, it is about everything that deals with their potential customers; from an advertising message and media to sales and follow-up, which makes working for them very interesting.

Unfortunately, only a few startups or small businesses hire growth hacking agencies, since most companies have not yet realized that only successful marketing can achieve the growth that a company needs to get the next level.

They should ask themselves why leading companies in their industries put so much more effort into marketing and why they do not.


ISN'T HACKING / HACKER A NEGATIVE TERM IN GROWTH HACKING?
Yes, it is, but that is a good thing! Now it's time to start making more money in this company.

That is because normally marketing is not about generating sales, but rather about ”looking good” to win advertising industry awards. I was shocked to learn how little a client's sales increase meant when I worked in the adverting industry.

Also, how little sales cared about marketing.

In reality, without an effective marketing potential customers have no clue about the company, what it offers and why they should buy from it. A good marketing department fills the sales department with hot sales leads.

Both departments maximize the company's profit by
keeping their costs low while delivering the required sales.


IS GROWTH HACKING ONLY ABOUT THE ONLINE PART?
Not at all, as almost every company has an offline side too.

I have found that optimal results are
achieved by mixing offline and online.

Two examples:

Have live chat people at your website and landing pages and treat them as your sales assistants. This way they can channel hot sales leads instantly back to your sales people and increase your sales.

Also, a live chat persons will receive many more sales leads than a web site or a landing page without a live chat assistants.

People like people!


Or use real-time sales leads. These are the hottest possible sales leads that offline sales people will receive from online action. It tells salespeople what really interests potential customers right now.

No wonder the sales conversion of real-time sales leads is amazing.


CAN YOU NAME A FEW PUBLICLY KNOW GROWTH HACKS?
That is not an easy question as all of our clients require us to sign non-disclosure agreements. We can only do our work if we know how a client really operates.

But a good public example is the Obama-campaign, which changed a single word and increased donations by 60 million USD. That's a great example of growth hacking – change of a single word = $60 million increase.

Another good public example is AirBnB. They used an innovative growth hack to connect their users’ posts to Craig’s list and increase their awareness. Through this unique growth hack, they multiplied their user database and became a start-up with a net worth of about $25 billion.

Also, since you Bart, my client, are fine me telling this, your first and this second article are good examples of growth hacking. I made sure that the LinkedIn Pulse algorithm loves your articles so that it has promoted the titles to tens of millions of LinkedIn users. That is how your first article received 1.6 million business readers.

I am sure that readers of this article can mention many good growth hacks they know. Unfortunately, I do not want to mention hacks done by colleagues if they have not published them yet.


FINALLY, WHAT IS THE GROWTH HACK EVERY BUSINESS NEEDS?
That is a very easy question, it is cost-effective awareness marketing. The growth of every business, organization and professional person is limited to how many important people that are relevant to them, know about them, what they offer and how their offering is unique when compared to the competition.

If you figure out how to do awareness marketing without spending a fortune, and in a way, that makes it possible to scale it up when you need more of it – you will grow much faster.

Of course, that was a very simplified answer, but I have yet to meet a business, organization or business person who would not benefit from an increase of awareness marketing. Well, maybe prisoners and persons hiding from officials do not benefit from increased awareness....


So, that concludes the first part of this interview. Please comment and send questions for the next part of this interview.