How many startups launched last year? How many of them succeeded?
Some data suggests that up to 95 percent of startups fail, but it’s difficult to exactly pinpoint why it happens. Some of them fail simply because they didn’t create something people want, while great many vanish due to the wrong execution of their growth and marketing.
Growth is key, yet growing a startup is really hard and most founders struggle with it.
What makes it even harder is the overwhelming amount of tactics and the “one size fits all” hacks that dictate how we should be running our own growth and marketing efforts.
Usually these tips are meant to be an inspiration, but a lot of founders take them too seriously and apply them directly — regardless of the context of their product or customers.
I think this happens because many founders love “short-cuts” and fantasize about hockey-stick curves. Stories we’ve heard about Dropbox, Airbnb or other unicorns have led us to believe that growth is about chasing this one silver bullet that will magically change the course of our history.
However, we forget that what these startups actually did was to ask a single question: “What marketing channel(s) will help us find our dream customers?” This led them to establish a growth process that involved lots of experimentation, measurement and learning to get their growth machine up and running.
It might seem easy and appealing to talk about building a growth machine, but how can you start this process from scratch? These are the five lessons I have learned:
1) Don’t take hacks out of their context
One thing is clear, there is no silver bullet. No unicorn you’ve ever heard of made it overnight.
Dropbox was doing Google AdWords before introducing the “Refer a friend for more space”.
Hotmail was considering billboards and doing Radio ads (yes, believe me!) before introducing their wildly glorified viral loop “P.S. I love you, get your free email…