B2B Marketing Growth Hacking: How to Fail Like a Hero

Shake things up! Use that big brain of yours to think your way out! Look for a new angle.

This quote didn’t come from a Growth Hacking* talk or a leadership seminar. It comes from Disney’s Big Hero 6, the lovable story of a plus-sized inflatable robot and a gang of teenage prodigy super-heroes with big hearts. Believe it or not, the movie can teach you a lot about growth hacking. Without giving away any spoilers, what else can we learn from this movie? Most importantly, that failing is unavoidable, but instead of letting failure get you down, you need to use it to look for a new angle. And, that’s what growth hacking is all about.

Unrealistic Expectations

Let’s start with the basics. The first requirement for your failure is setting unrealistic expectations. By expecting too much, you will not only feel disheartened, but you will not be able to logically analyse your performance and understand why you failed. As a B2B company, you need to keep in mind that your efforts won’t make it to BuzzFeed and you are very unlikely to make anything go viral. That’s not you, it’s the market.

Growth hacking is not a magical panacea that will solve all your marketing problems. B2B companies should use growth hacking to increase engagement and conversions for specific marketing campaigns. This is the major difference between inbound marketing and growth hacking: inbound is designed to support your on-going, long-term marketing needs. You don’t want to rely on a growth hacking strategy for the long-term.

Networking. Not

iStockphoto

Humans have always been defined as social animals, but for the first time in our history we are being social online. We have friends on Facebook, followers on Twitter, connections on LinkedIn and we put people in circles on G+ (yes, some of us still do it). Getting and staying in touch has never been so easy. So why not use the social web you have already spun?

EMAIL

At some point in our daily routine, we make time for cleaning up our Inbox, and the unwanted mail goes to the bin. How do you ensure that your marketing emails don’t suffer the same fate? Make it different. Check out HubSpot’s list of 12 Email Marketing Examples and get inspired.

SOCIAL

So many networks, so little time. Most B2B companies prefer to focus on LinkedIn and Twitter. It’s nearly impossible to target every social network, but try approaching a new one. Looking for that new angle, remember? Well, do you know you can follow them on Instagram? Who would’ve thought that people would like to follow Maersk, the Danish business conglomerate famous with activities in the transportation and energy sectors? Well, the over 11,000 followers of Maersk’s profile can’t be all wrong. Once you’ve made your choice, you need to focus on the technical decisions regarding your own product. For example, if you know that you will be using Twitter as a primary social network for inviting new users, you can allow Twitter profiles as your product login. Why? Fewer clicks makes access easier and increases desire to share.

Not Using Social

It’s not about the likes and the follows. It’s all about the audience being engaged with your content. One way to help spread your content is by allowing users to easily post about your product (enable tagging, make posts public, etc.). Furthermore, include social sharing buttons for every network available, not only for the ones you are present on. Use the special code snippets to make sharing as easy as possible so that you benefit from prominent displays on different social networks.

Keep in mind where is the natural source of your traffic. If it’s LinkedIn, don’t allow sharing only on Facebook. The more sharing options you give people, the more likely it is that they will share. And that’s how you get inbound visitors.

Don’t Give Incentives

Never underestimate the power of a free give away. Certain products make it easy to bring new people in with the promise of receiving something. Think Dropbox: incentives are offered to users for various actions they can take. If you can offer something that is low cost to you, but valued by your audience, just do it. Sometimes it is cheaper to give away something in order to get more leads/customers. To continue with the Dropbox example: for them storage is not expensive. For the users, storage space is valuable but contacts- not that much. Thus, users gladly exchange contacts for storage, at almost no expense for Dropbox. Note that Dropbox also gives incentives to users to learn how to use the product better. Educating your users pays off.

“We didn’t set out to be superheroes but life doesn’t always go as planned.”

By baymax and hero (disney channel) [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By baymax and hero (disney channel) [CC BY 4.0]

 

You don’t plan failure, but sometimes that’s what you need to make you a hero. Do you have what it takes to be a Growth Hacking superhero?

*Growth Hacking: in 2010 Sean Ellis defined a growth hacker as “a person whose true north is growth. Everything they do is scrutinized by its potential impact on scalable growth.” It is a low-cost and innovative marketing technique which uses creativity and analytical thinking to gain exposure. Read what Sean Ellis has to say about startups and smart marketers here.

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