How to Run a Growth Team (Includes Free Download)

A look at how to run a growth team with frameworks from Sean Ellis and the book Lean Analytics. Includes free download with templates.

Growth is flatlining. Ads are dipping. Your growth team isn’t getting results. 

Yup, I’ve been there.

I’m currently leading growth at an ecommerce startup. As our marketing team grew, the results started to stall.

It’s not that we weren’t working hard, it’s because we weren’t focused.

via GIPHY

That’s when I dove into these resources — Hacking Growth, Lean Analytics and Rob Sobers’ blog for guidance. If I was going to scale a startup the right way then I needed to apply the framework used by companies like Dropbox and Airbnb.

Here’s a look at the process I used to run my growth team and scale a startup to over half a million dollars per month.

Start With The End In Mind

What is your business objective? For our ecommerce company, it’s pretty simple – we care about revenue growth.  To unpack that further, we want a conversion rate over 4% and a 7% week-over-week user growth, with a customer acquisition cost (CAC) that’s under $30.

But, what should we focus on right now?  The key word here is focus.  We can work on our conversion rate and our user acquisition strategy at the same time.  But, can we do both of them extremely well at the same time?  For smaller growth teams, the answer is no.  That’s why focus is so important.

Brian Balfour, former Head of Growth at Hubspot, makes a strong case for focus in the following illustration.

How to Run Growth

One Metric Should Drive Your Actions

The goal is growth, but what is the one metric we should be focused on? With the ecommerce company, it’s about conversion rate.  Before we increased our ad spend or invested in content marketing to get people to our site, we wanted to hit our conversion rate goal of above 4%.  This way, we would be prepared for an increase in traffic volume.

We picked our metric, and, most importantly, set our goal.  This is the number the entire team has written down as the number we want to hit.  The best part about this decision is that it helps us determine the actions of everyone on the team.  From the developer to the designer, we’re all focused on moving this single metric.

Another example of how one metric drives a team’s actions is Moz, a SEO toolkit. They determined that their one metric was net adds.  Below is a graph from Lean Analytics on how this metric drove the actions at Moz:

One Metric That Matters Moz

How can you determine your one key metric or your north star?  Lean Analytics explains how  you can figure it out based on two things: your industry and your stage of businesses.  Here is a graph that shows you the one KPI you should focus on based on your business vertical and stage:

Lean Analytics Book

Your one key metric might not be on this graph, but it could directly impact one of the metrics on the above graph.  It could be a micro-conversion of one of these metrics. Here is an example of how Airbnb used one micro-conversion metric to scale their growth to a $24 billion valuation.

In the first three years, Airbnb really struggled to get any traction with their product.  They had a small group of users that loved their product but they couldn’t break through to a big audience.  They built up the supply side with listings and started to get potential renters to the site but they struggled to convert them. Their conversion rate was below average and they couldn’t figure out why.  After going through the user flow, the CEO didn’t like the feel of the product.  That’s when he decided to test professional photography on the site instead of user generated photos of listings. They tested this idea in the NYC market by sending out a professional photographer to the listings and the results were staggering.  The NYC conversion rate outperformed every other market they were in.  That’s when they decided to launch professional photography in every market.  Their metric ended up being the percentage of listings with professional photography.  Their founders still credit this move with the main catalyst for their success.  Here is a breakdown of how they ran the process:

STEP 1: Use Your Gut Instinct to Create an Experiment
Professional Photography = More Bookings

STEP 2: Test with a Clear Goal (Increase # of nights booked)
Sent 20 Photographers to Photograph NYC Listings

STEP 3: Measure Results
Professionally Photographed Listings > Other Listings

STEP 4: Data-Driven Decision
Launched Photography as a New Feature (Percentage of listings with professional photos)

How to Run Your Growth Team

You’ve determined your main business objective and the one metric to focus on.  Now, what do you do to impact that number?  How do you maximize your resources to have the biggest impact. How do you run your growth team?

First, lets look at your options. Below are two charts that show almost everything you can do as a marketer to grow.  The first chart is from the book Hacking Growth and shows 27 growth experiments to run.  The second chart is from the book Traction and it lays out the 19 channels you can use to get traction.  Think of this as your Denny’s menu for growth.

27 Growth Experiments
(Source is the book Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown)

VIRAL / WORD OF MOUTH

ORGANIC

PAID

Social Media Search Engine Optimization Online Ads
Embeddable Widget PR & Speaking Affiliate Advertising
Friend Referral Program Content Marketing Influencer Campaigns
Online Video App Store Optimization Retargeting
Community Engagement Free Tools Ad Networks
Giveaways & Contests Email Marketing Sponsorships (Blogs, Podcast)
Platform Integrations Community Building Native Content Ads
Crowdfunding Strategic Partnerships Content Syndication
Games, Quizzes Contributed Articles
Website Merchandising

19 Traction Channels
(Source is the book Traction by Gabriel Weinberg)

1.Viral Marketing
2.PR
3.Unconventional PR
4.SEM
5.Social & Display Ads
6.Offline Ads
7.SEO
8.Content Marketing
9.Email Marketing
10.Engineering as Marketing
11.Targeting Blogs
12.Existing Platforms
13.Business Development
14.Affiliate Programs
15.Trade Shows
16.Community Building
17.Sales
18.Offline Events
19.Speaking Engagements

You might be thinking these are great resources but where the heck do I start?  How do I know the main thing to focus on right now?  Instead of trying to guess which ones will impact your one key metric, you can use a quantitative process to decide for you.  List the top 10 experiments you’re excited to run to impact your key metric.  Next, give those experiments a score (1 to 5) based on the level of impact, and then another score (1 to 5) based on ease of implementation. For impact, 1 means low impact and 5 means high impact.  For ease of implementation, 1 means hard to implement and 5 means easy to implement.  Finally, add up those numbers to determine what to focus on right now.  Below is a template to use when scoring your experiments.

Growth Team Scorecard

How to Implement This Process at Your Company

It’s not easy to introduce a new process. Here are some resources to help you do it with confidence.  Below are guides on how to implement this at your company.  I’ve broken it down into four deliverables to guide you.  Also, you can reference them in this Google Sheet for your own use.

  • The growth process
  • How to structure your team
  • How to structure your meetings
  • How to structure your week

The growth process for your team:

      1. Identify Business Objectives: Why do we exist and what are we trying to accomplish? EX: Increase customers.
      2. Set Goals for Each Objective: What does success look like? What is the outcome? EX: 5% increase in new customer emails per week
      3. Establish KPIs: What are the numbers that tell you if you’re successful or not? EX: Email Conversion Rate
      4. Create Targets: What is the expected or desired result for the KPI? EX: Conversion Rate of 7%
      5. Build Segments: What will we analyze to see if we’re successful or not? EX: Visitors by Social, Search, Referral, Direct and Paid Traffic

How to structure your growth team:

  • Growth Lead / Product Manager: Owns the meeting objective and the OMTM (One Metric That Matters).
  • Marketing Specialist: Marketing professional that specializes in the vertical (SEO, Copywriter, CRO, Social Media Manager)
  • Data Analyst: Collects and organizes the data. Builds dashboard.
  • Software Engineers: Technical person who can execute on the digital marketing experiments.
  • Product Designer(s): Designer that can execute on the digital marketing experiments.

How to structure your meetings:

15 Minutes: Metrics Review & Update Focus Area

          • Review data around the OMTM
          • Positive factors vs. negative factors
          • What to focus on now (short term and long term)

10 Minutes: Review Last Week’s Tests

          • Number of tests and what we learned

15 Minutes: Key Lessons Learned for Experiments

          • Positive vs. Negative (Embrace the failures)

15 Minutes: What to Focus on in this Cycle

          • Take growth idea nominations from the group based on ease of implementation and impact

5 Minutes: Growth Check of Idea Pipeline

How to structure your week thanks to the growth team at Ladder.io:

MONDAYS = Analysis
Track your OMTM, Measure Experiment, Spot trends, Performance vs. goals

TUESDAYS = Planning
What experiments can you run to hit your business objectives? Manage experiments pipeline

WEDNESDAYS = Approval
CEO/Management Approval on executing experiments and update

THURSDAYS = Execution
Implement experiments and based on data driven ideas

FRIDAYS = Learn
Continued learning of customers, industry, and competitors

To manage the meetings, I am a big fan of Trello. Rob Sobers, Head of Growth at Varonis, created a Trello template for running growth that I use for all of my clients.

Did you find this post helpful? Want to dive deeper into setting goals, hiring, and running a growth team? Check out my in-person workshop, Mastering Growth, that I teach along with  Rob Sobers, Varonis Marketing Executive.

The TechStars Startups to Watch in 2017

We just had our Mentor Madness session with the 2017 TechStars IOT (Internet of things ) batch.  This is where we chat with founders about how to grow their businesses.

It’s fun for us because these are IOT startups. That means drones, smart homes, hardware and one company that’s making their own Alexa for Cars.

Just wanted to pass along these 12 businesses so you can find some inspiration for your own projects within one of these sites. Also, check out Jenny Fielding’s blog – she’s the TechStars Managing Director in NYC and is a must-read if up a great weekly newsletter.

As usual, here are five articles that got my attention this week:

(1) 5 Steps to Create a Killer Instagram Ad Strategy for eCommerce Products

(2) How to Grow Your Business to $1 Million — and Beyond

(3) SEO for Copywriters: Tips on Measuring SEO Impact – Next Level

(4) 6 Must Reads for Scaling Yourself as a Leader

(5) Startups are cheaper to build, but more expensive to grow – here’s why

I will be teaching or speaking in the next few months. Here are the dates:

– 8/15: Digital Marketing Workshop in Seattle, WA
– 8/23: Marketing Talk in NY, NY
– 8/14: Data Talk in San Francisco, CA
2/22: Growth Marketing in LA, CA

Cheers!

Jim Huffman
Co-Founder & CEO
GrowthHit

Newsletter: How to Create a Data-Driven Social Media Strategy

Snapchat. Instagram. Facebook. Twitter. Linkedin. Quora. Reddit. Pinterest.

The list of social channels goes on and on. But should your company be on every channel? Or just one?

And how do you know if you’re focused on the best social channel for you?

Well, I worked with MediaBistro to come up with a Data-Driven Social Media Strategy. Read it here.

As usual, here are five articles that got my attention this week:

(1) Facebook Metrics: New Ways to Measure Ad and Page Engagement

(2) How to Get Your Emails Delivered to the Gmail Primary Tab Easily

(3) Our 6 Must Reads On Pricing a Product

(4) 17 Obscure Persuasion Techniques for Conversion Optimization

(5) The Road to a $100M Company Doesn’t Start with Product

I will be teaching or speaking in the next few months. Here are the dates:

– 8/15: Digital Marketing Workshop in Seattle, WA
– 8/23: Marketing Talk in NY, NY
– 8/14: Data Talk in San Francisco, CA
2/22: Growth Marketing in LA, CA

Cheers!

Jim Huffman
Co-Founder & CEO
GrowthHit

Newsletter: How to NOT Become an Outdated Marketer

As a marketer, how do you stay on top of everything?

It’s really hard to know what’s trending in the digital space. The landscape moves so fast. It’s overwhelming. And it’s just annoying.

Translation: it’s easy for your marketing skills to become outdated.

But, I’ve found a few go-to sources that help me stay in the know.

Actually, they help me stay ahead of most other marketers.  I am able to browse these sources in 10 minutes and learn a little something every single day.  If anything, they help me identify trends of where the market is going.  Here is a quick list by vertical.

For Facebook ads, I use this blog and I do a call with my Facebook ad rep once a month. Their blog is good as well – boring, but good.

For conversion tips, conversionXL is hard to beat.

For SEO tips, Search Engine Land, MOZ and the Google Analytics blog will cover 99% of what you want.  (Brian Dean’s blog is worth a shout out.)

For growth case studies, these guys are the main hub and I love the Sumo blog.

For social media, the team at Buffer constantly churns out great case studies.

For product inspiration, I reference the Product Hunt App at least once a day.

For design inspiration, I am not a designer but I like to be in the know. I check out Dribble’s top list and I look at the top apps in the app store once a week. Optimizely provides great case studies as well.

I use Feedly’s RSS feed to pull in most of these feeds.

Disclaimer: I’m kind of obsessed with basketball so here are my other must-read resources for staying in the know as a die-hard hoops fan.

For basketball season, I toss on another 10 minutes of reading here and . . . here.  Oh, and I may or may not watch the locker room speech from Hoosiers before big meetings.

As usual, here are five articles that got my attention this week:

(1) 7 Facebook Headline Hacks to drive clicks through the roof

(2) How to Turn Your (Boring and Generic) Emails Into Emails that Convert

(3) 3 Ways To Drive Visitors To Your Latest Blog Post

(4) Funnel Analysis: Finding and Fixing Conversion Problems with Google Analytics

(5) Why Product Market Fit Isn’t Enough

I will be teaching or speaking in the next few months. Here are the dates:

– 7/17: Digital Marketing Workshop in Seattle, WA
– 8/15: Digital Marketing Workshop in Seattle, WA
– 8/23: Marketing Talk in NY, NY
– 8/14: Data Talk in San Francisco, CA
2/22: Growth Marketing in LA, CA

Cheers!

Jim Huffman
Co-Founder & CEO
GrowthHit

Newsletter: 23 Things I Learned from Spending $100,000 on Facebook Ads

So, you want to scale your Facebook ads?

You want to go from spending, say $5 per day to something like $30,000 every month?

Great! But, hold onto your wallet.  Let’s cover some basics.

This past year, we took on two tasks: mastering the always evolving Facebook ad platform, and scaling a budget for Facebook ads from $20 a day to $50,000 a month.

Here’s what we learned about Scaling Facebook Ads along the way.

As usual, here are five articles that got my attention this week:

(1) How to Launch a New Website When You Have Zero Experience

(2) 16 Genius Ideas for Your Facebook Ad A/B Testing

(3) Finding and Fixing Conversion Problems with Google Analytics

(4) CASE STUDY: The Pre-launch Strategy That Built MeetEdgar a 100k List

(5) The Hypergrowth Curve: How to Navigate the 3 Stages of Massive Growth

I will be teaching or speaking in the next few months. Here are the dates:

– 6/8: Data Talk in San Francisco, CA
– 6/13: Marketing Plan Workshop an Online Webinar
– 7/24: Digital Marketing Workshop in Seattle, WA
– 8/23: Marketing Talk in NY, NY

Cheers!

Jim Huffman
Co-Founder & CEO
GrowthHIt

6/23/2017 Newsletter: Thank you for Downloading Our Alexa App

I just want to give a quick thank you.

My co-founder and I truly thank you for downloading and supporting our Growth Hacker Alexa App.  We’re approaching 5,000 plays and our team is working hard to curate content just for you.  To date, here is the most popular growth hacking tip:

“Tweet and Like buttons isn’t word of mouth marketing. Rather, word of mouth comes from content, thoughtfulness, solved problems, and ease of use—in short, the whole experience of a product or service.” – Sean Ellis, Former Head of Growth at Dropbox and GrowthHackers CEO

Again, thank you for your support. We’ll continue to bring you more products and services. Like this one.

As usual, here are five articles that got my attention this week:

(1) 5 Facebook Ad Optimization Rules to Steal (And 5 Reasons Why You Need Them)

(2) If You Had 24 Hours to Improve Revenue, What Would You Do?  Top Growth Hackers Respond

(3) How to Write Sales Copy for Your Emails to Get Results?

(4) 162 Best Ecommerce Site Designs of 2017

(5) How to Get Your Medium Stories to Rank on The Front Page of Google

I will be teaching or speaking in the next few months. Here are the dates:

– 7/17: Digital Marketing Workshop in Seattle, WA
– 8/15: Digital Marketing Workshop in Seattle, WA
– 8/23: Marketing Talk in NY, NY
– 8/14: Data Talk in San Francisco, CA
2/22: Growth Marketing in LA, CA

Cheers!

Jim Huffman
Co-Founder & CEO
GrowthHIt

How to Become an Experienced Growth Marketer When No One Will Hire You

Here is a guide on how to get experience as a growth marketer without having a job.

Students in my General Assembly digital marketing class constantly ask me one question about getting a job in growth marketing or digital marketing.

For a while, I didn’t know how to answer it.  This question is the main reason most of them don’t break into a career in digital marketing or growth hacking. The question:

How to get experience as a digital marketer when no one will hire you?

Not having experience is the main reason they think they are unable to start a career in growth marketing. These are smart people asking this question. The digital marketing class at General Assembly is usually filled with young professionals looking to get a digital marketing gig, experienced professionals looking to make a career change or veteran marketers from the print world wanting relevant skills to become more marketable.

It’s possible to get experience without having a job title of growth marketer or digital marketer because that’s how I started.

I have broken down my answer into two parts below. The answer involves rolling up your sleeves and relentlessly pursuing this career path by targeting early stage companies or getting experience on your own. Here are the steps I would take if I were starting today.

STEP 1: READ
Read. Read every book or blog you can find about growth hacking, technical marketing or digital marketing.

So what to read . . .

STEP 2: TEST
Get any experience you can growing companies by applying what you’ve been reading. If you don’t have a growth/marketing job — offer to work for free. If they won’t hire you then launch a side project on the cheap with WordPress, Shopify or even just a social account. The key is testing the different growth ideas you’re reading about. Test driving traffic and then converting that traffic.

Then once you have learned a few interesting things find companies that could benefit from this new found knowledge. Reach out to these companies and demonstrate the experience you have and pitch how they could apply it to their business. Seriously, this strategy works — Neil Patel has made his best hires from cold pitches like this.

Okay, so how to get experience applying what you learned from reading . . .

  • Look for growth jobs on Angellist, Growthhackers.com/jobs and Linkedin.
  • Launch a side project and try to grow it. Embrace your failures. Some half-baked ideas:
  • Witty Shirts on TeeSpring
  • A travel blog on WordPress
  • An affiliate site that sells Nerd Mugs
  • An Instagram account for foodies

What to test:

  • Running email capture tools like Sumo
  • Setting up Google Analytics
  • Setting up Facebook lookalike audiences
  • A/B testing landings pages with Unbounce
  • Optimizing for search with 3rd party tools like Yoast and SEMrush
  • Building digital tools to generate users or leads
  • Creating a content strategy based on Buzzsumo’s results

Thanks to Youtube, Google and Podcasts you can learn as much as you want for free. Then you can actually test these ideas for as little as it cost to buy a web domain. You can do it. I credit this self-taught approach to everything I know in digital marketing.

Want to learn more? Check out our guide to making a marketing plan in 2017.

This was originally posted on Growthhit.

My Four Years in New York City

I hate it when people in NYC talk about how they couldn’t live anywhere else. Warning: this post is one of those.

Why is New York City so hard to leave?

The streets are gross. Rent is too damn high. And you have to wear a puffer jacket in April.

Three strikes right there.

Plus, it’s a humbling place to be.  Humility is a good thing, but to a point.  I’m a married 30-something and my wife and I have good jobs.

But we live in a 358 square foot apartment in the West Village. No dishwasher. No washer/dryer. And we’re in a 4-year war against cockroaches and mice.

Our place is so small and outdated that when our families come to visit, they take a look around and ask us if we need money. Not the best feeling for a husband. Sigh.

Maybe it’s the energy of the city?

As an Oklahoma kid from the burbs, NYC is the ultimate playground.  The restaurants. The bars. The shows. The people watching.  And it’s happening all around you.

I’ve stumbled upon a Nike-sponsored basketball tournament at Rucker Park with Kevin Durant playing. We saw Amy Schemer and Judd Apatow pop into the Comedy Cellar for an impromptu show.  For me, those last two things are my heaven.

KD warming up at Rucker …. It’s about to go down

A photo posted by Jim Huffman (@jimwhuffman) on

But let’s be real, we don’t take advantage of the city every weekend.  More often than not we’re hitting our local spots (shout out to The Grey Dog and Tartine) and then retiring to our home with a bottle of wine and Game of Thrones.

Is it the people?

I think this is it.  I’ve created post-college relationships with some fascinating people.  New York City is filled with so many inspiring individuals who (wholeheartedly) follow their passions.  It’s energizing and contagious.  It’s those relationships that lead to the most exciting opportunities.

But these people don’t just exist in NYC. They’re everywhere. You just have to be willing to connect with others wherever you go. I’ve realized I was lazy about expanding my network before I moved here. I didn’t branch out from my immediate friend group.

Is it the NYC dream? (Spoiler: the NYC dream is a lie.)

First off, everything I thought of NYC growing up turned out to be a lie.  Carrie Bradshaw could never afford her $25 million West Village townhouse as a fashion writer. Jerry should never have left his door unlocked for a neighbor like Kramer to pop in. And the coffee shops never have local musicians playing Smelly Cat – just long bathroom lines and overpriced gluten-free scones.

Kick’n it at Jerry’s. #seinfeldapartment #hulu #KyleWasGeorge #ThesePretzelsAreMakingMeThirsty

A photo posted by Jim Huffman (@jimwhuffman) on

Second, winter last way too long in NYC.  You basically live in your warmest wool coat for 6 months.  That beautiful fall foliage you see in the movies is true but for three weeks, maybe five weeks. Lies. Lots of lies.

A tough trek to breakfast today #GreyDog #stormjonas

A video posted by Jim Huffman (@jimwhuffman) on

Growing up, I didn’t really dream of living in NYC.  I didn’t dream of living anywhere.  As an average white kid from middle America, I assumed I would play in the NBA for a few years, travel around the country and settle down in a place like Dallas.  That dream came to a quick end when I realized that the NBA scouts looked beyond the OKC Catholic League for potential draft picks.

I didn’t visit NYC until my senior year of college.  I came up here to visit my sister and I was blown away.  I had never been in a city with so much happening.  I was hooked. (Maybe a little drunk.) But I wanted to live here.

I love the energy and the attitude of the city.  It’s the reality of the city that gives it character and gives it soul.  It’s the attitude that was lacking from the shopping centers I was used to in the 73120 zip code.  (No offense to the Chilis, Best Buy and Big Lots.)

I didn’t make it here after of college.  I took the long route by going through Dallas with a few stops at KPMG and a small investment bank.  My opportunity came along after I cold-called a NYC-startup that was hiring in Dallas.  I jumped on the opportunity because they said if I did well then I would get to move to the headquarters in Manhattan. I was in.

The transition from finance to a small startup wasn’t pretty.  But in January of 2012, they asked me to move to NYC in 6 months.  Game on!  That same month I met a girl.  And after our fourth date, I asked her to quit her job and move to NYC with me.  Little did I know that having your best friend in NYC is what makes the NYC moments so sweet.

Alright, about these NYC moments.  Here are a few of my that come to mind:

A One Way Ticket
There is something terrifyingly energizing about buying a one way tick to NYC.  It’s like saying, “Crap, I guess we’re doing this.”  Then you find yourself in the taxi line with 171 pounds of luggage and a stupid smile on your face. (I was in my late 20s but felt like it was my first day of college.)

Well here we go. 171 pounds of luggage. $150 in baggage fees. And crashing with @kaydeebird and @rhbennett1

A photo posted by Jim Huffman (@jimwhuffman) on

The Apartment Hunt
I moved to NYC first. My girlfriend (now wife) was a month after me.  Our budget was $2k a month and we wanted a one bedroom apartment in Chelsea. After looking at 7 apartments, we realized we had to raise our budget to even get a studio in the city.  Every apartment had its “catch.”  Great location. Great price. But it’s a 5th floor walkup with a window facing a wall.

After seeing about 30 apartments, we finally found “the one” (translation: we were desperate and it was livable). Fortunately, we were the first two people to walk in, with several others close behind who had checks in hand. We had to make our decision within 7 minutes of seeing the place.   It was tiny, but right in the middle of the West Village and it had a window that didn’t face a brick wall. (#win) It would be our home for the next 4 years.

The Week of Sandy
We had been in NYC for just 5 days when hurricane Sandy hit.  We had no power in our apartment for 7 days and only cold water.  We would walk to Time Square (they still had power) and work from the Marriott Lobby Bar and then walk home to a pitch black West Village.  Luckily, our local bar would open at night, well lit by hundreds of candles.  Police officers would drive by every 5 minutes so the streets had light. It was a little scary but comforting to see how everyone in the neighborhood was helping each other out.

Our Refugee Camp.

A photo posted by Jim Huffman (@jimwhuffman) on

A Roommate. A Proposal. A Wedding
I proposed to my wife in this city.  We got married in this city. See the photo below – isn’t it pretty? What our wedding photo doesn’t tell you is that it was 95 degrees on that day in early September and I was sweating so bad I couldn’t keep my eyes open to look at my beautiful bride. But we had a blast!

The Perfect Day #hufflovin #100degreeIdos

A photo posted by Jim Huffman (@jimwhuffman) on

Living through the “NYC Struggle”
Now let’s be real.  My NYC struggle is a joke.  No dishwasher.  No washer/dryer. A painful (and disgusting) subway system.  These are first-world problems. But hey, it’s all relative.  These were our problems.  Not having a dishwasher means I had to hand wash every stupid dish, bowl, pan, fork and spoon. Why? It wasn’t to make my wife happy.  It’s because if I didn’t I would wake up to a squad of cockroaches chill’n on our skillet.  This would be immediately followed by my wife screaming, a cockroach blood bath, 17 Bounty sheets, 2 toilet flushes and a 911 call to our cleaning lady, Jackie.  Ah, thank God for Jackie. That’s my NYC struggle. And it was real.

Jonas in Central Park
The day after Storm Jonas might be my favorite NYC memory of all because I’d never seen Central Park so electric.  Snow ball fights. Kids sledding down the stairs at Bethesda fountain.  And strangers handing out hot chocolate (and not knowing if it was spiked or not).  It was like NYC was one big elementary school that was let our for a snow day.  Below is a video of Kyle sledding, Not pictured: me breaking the snow disc with my ass on the next run. That was fun.

Date Night in the Village
The West Village in September is so special.  On Friday evenings, we would walk up West 4th to Tartine and pass the local the cellist playing on the street corner, and a local painter, Kaz, sketching the stunning townhomes on Perry street. It’s one of those moments in time the city is bursting with so much cuteness and charm.

West village

Yep, it’s the moments.

NYC is so unpredictable. It’s a place where you can turn one corner and get flashed by a homeless person and then turn the next and physically bump into the most beautiful women you’ve ever seen.  (My wife, of course.) You go from “Good f*?!*# god” to “Good god!!!”.

I am not a New Yorker.  I only made it 4 years here. Maybe that counts as a NYC bachelor’s degree or something.  This is just a small stop along the way.  But it feels deeper than that.  I grew up here.  I married my best friend here.

So as I turn the lights off on my little studio apartment one last time I am not happy to leave.  I am sad.  Your 30s are some formative years. But no one warns you about them.  I heard about high school.  I heard about college.  But what about 10 years after that?

We worked so hard to get here and now we’re choosing to leave.  It feels like we’re leaving too early – like it’s 11:57pm at a house party and they’ve just dimmed the lights and started playing Prince. We can’t leave now!

I guess if you don’t measure life in time but moments then you might like NYC.  Love it or hate it, Manhattan forces you to have these memorable moments.

And I’m happy to have the ones I do.  Especially when those moments, good and bad, were with my best friend.

But I’ll continue to hate those dumb posts about not being able to live anywhere else.

My Digital Marketing Presentation at TechStars

My Techstars Presentation on Digital Marketing and Growing Startups.

This past month I did a presentation at Techstars NYC on growth marketing for their 2016 Internet of Things batch.

As a growth mentor, I was asked to tailor my talk to B2B businesses to match most of the startups in their IOT startup batch.  It was a blast and we got to talk about marketing for drones, 3D printers and electric car chargers.  Instead of letting this deck collect dust, I thought I would share it.  Here is what to expect:

We went through everything from how to run your growth process and the fundamentals of growth hacking to best practices for SEO (search engine optimization) and Facebook retargeting ads. Also, I laid out how to set up your technical marketing infrastructure.

I am starting to work with a few of the startups and look forward sharing their success stories.  See the full deck below:

How Noah Kagan Changed Our Growth Model

A look at Noah Kagan’s growth model and how we put it into practice.

The other day I was cruising through my RSS feed (#Feedly) when I got sucked into the following TechCrunch Headline:

You’re Still Modeling Growth Incorrectly

And I was sure I would be able to disprove it

I do marketing for a living — I got this.

As I started to read, the first few paragraphs, I realized that this was pretty good and I was wrong, very wrong.  This method is exactly how a startup should model out their growth strategy.

The article was written by Noah Kagan and the guy knows a thing of two about growing startups  — just read it for yourself here. Or check out his bio.

At Mint.com, Noah was tasked with getting the first 100,000 users. Lots of people would approach this task with the model seen below.

You know this model.

The one where you pull a number out of the sky, multiple that number by a growth rate and, boom, you hit 100,000 users. The problem is the growth rate. You don’t just pick a rate.  No, you have to pick what you work on — your inputs. Noah references’s Andrew Chen’s article about this common forecasting mistake.

Instead of modeling off of a growth rate you should model off of your inputs and your goals. Mint’s goal was 100,000 users so he found enough inputs to get to hit his goal. check out his growth model below that involves converting traffic into users from press, google ads, his network and more:

Noah Kagan's Growth Model

That’s when I created our own traffic model based on Noah’s framework. Since we’re dealing we reoccurring traffic and existing users we added some variations.

First, we have a “baseline” of traffic from our existing practices — basically our average monthly traffic if we do business as usual. Second, we added what I’m calling traffic “drivers”. Drivers are the things that we can control to grow traffic: increase email sends, ad spend by platform, new partnerships, etc. Email send frequency is a powerful one because we’re building up a significant email list. By doubling our email sends we can double our email traffic. (Well, assuming we’re not abusing this channel.)

Also, we’ve determined our acquisition costs on Facebook, Pinterest & AdWords so we know how to turn the knob on the paid channels if necessary.

Here is a basic template with the traffic drivers. (I tossed in some dummy data for this example.)

Noah Kagan Growth Model Example

This model has drivers you control to help you back into your traffic goals. This model increases the email campaigns by 4x, has two partnerships and increases the total paid traffic spend from $0 to $800. As a result, you hit over 500,000 sessions with a 42% monthly grow rate.

Yes, you could stick with the model driven by growth rates – they look pretty as charts.  However, this model is driven by you.  That means that you have complete control over your traffic so it’s not a guessing game. It’s a bottoms up growth roadmap that helps you hit those lofty growth projections.

We should probably buy Noah a beer (or some tacos) for this model.