Organisations that grow the fastest are filled with talented A Players; always striving to execute at the highest quality and eager to learn as fast as they can. But how to build such a team still remains a mystery for many organisations.
That’s why we picked this subject for our presentation during Digital Elite Camp 2018. We revealed our secrets on how to step-by-step build a top 1% growth team 3x faster than your competitors. Now I want to share it with you.
Did you see Chris’ talk at Digital Elite Camp 2018? Great! In this post, I’ll add more spicy details and tips on how to implement our tactics in your organisation.
Let’s get started!
What happens in the most distant room in your office...
“This is the only meeting we have where we are all in one room”.
When my client said this after our first growth meeting, I was absolutely dumbfounded.
“You all work on the same websites and apps every day, but you never sit together at one table with all the people involved in the project?”
Sadly, that’s the case too often. You have a team of brilliant developers building an amazing product (usually somewhere in the darkest and the most distant room in the building!) The rest of the organisation only discovers this when the product is finished. In the meantime, sales is busy working on, well… sales. Marketing is preparing a promotion strategy for a product they have never seen. And support is dealing with customers who have tons of complaints about your previous product.
If this looks familiar, then I am sorry to say, your company has a problem with working in silos. What are the consequences?
- Different KPIs per department resulting in a focus on each department instead of a united goal.
- Conflicts between departments for time and resources.
- Continuous communication issues due to a lack of focus on working together.
How to break the silo and transform your organisation into a growth machine
So how do you solve this? Well, I gave that away already: lock your team up together in one room and make sure they are all focused on one united goal. This should be your One Metric That Matters (OMTM). Only when you’ve achieved this you can let them out.
Let me explain to you how it actually looks like in practice. Your growth team will continuously work through the following steps:
Analyse the full customer journey and see where the biggest bottlenecks are to reaching your OMTM.
Generate ideas on how to overcome the obstacles
Each idea needs to be based on a strong clear hypothesis
- Ideas need to be discussed and prioritised to make decisions on what to test.
Run tests to validate the hypothesis
- Repeat the loop:
Analyse what worked and what didn’t, document your learnings and start the process all over again.
Who do you need in your dream growth team?
It’s not easy and the process alone will not help you grow. It requires a kickass cross-functional growth team to execute your strategy. The growth team roles will be slightly different depending on the type of business (yes, the horrible, it depends!).
- Growth Lead
- UX Designer
- Marketing Specialist
- Other various key departments, e.g. sales, customer support
- If possible / relevant:
- Compliance Expert
Such a setup is an investment, so focus on showing the improvement against your bottom line as a result of the experimentation. Remember, the power is not just in the winning experiments, but also in the activities you halt because you identify they have no impact.
How to turn your team into a top-class growth team?
Ok, you’ve got a growth team? Terrific! Do they know what your One Metric That Matters is and have they started experimenting in order to reach it? Excellent! You are definitely in the top 5% of growth teams. Let me be honest with you, most of the businesses have not even got this far. They are still in an internal warfare about resources! To be in the top 1% you need to take a step further. You need a team that will make people at Spotify tip their hats to you!
So how do you get there? It comes down to two key elements: system and culture.
Growth “system” Hacking - Create a System For Optimizing Your Systems
As Chris points out, growth hacking should rather be called growth “system” hacking. But why? Well, simply because a hack is nothing more than finding a weak spot in the system and exploiting its weaknesses. A top 1% growth team is constantly looking for those opportunities and ways to optimise them. Thus, they do not just execute a growth hacking process and run experiments. They also come together regularly to discuss the bottlenecks in the systems of the organisation. That’s why top-class growth hackers take businesses above and beyond leaving the competition behind.
At RockBoost, our entire growth hacking team gets together every month and critically analyzes our own processes. We make sure we adjust the existing processes and figure out which 20% of optimisations will have 80% of the impact on our efficiency.
For example, we noticed that new team members did not have enough SEO knowledge. We realised they needed to recognise basic issues so they could call in a specialist when needed. This way our SEO mastermind doesn’t get overwhelmed with smaller issues junior members could easily solve.
Thus, during our monthly meeting, we decided everyone should follow an SEO course on CXL Institute to get a high-level understanding. We also worked with our SEO specialist to setup simple checks so they’d know when his expertise was required.
This methodology of taking a step back regularly to re-evaluate your processes and way of working gives people the chance to express their doubts or concerns. To keep it structured and get to the point, the meeting should revolve around these 3 questions:
- What should we keep doing?
- What should we stop doing?
- What should we start doing?
This is the key to improving your use of resources and knowing what to optimise and why.
Another secret weapon we use to evaluate and improve our systems is monthly check-ins; one-on-one with every team member. There’s nothing better than an honest chat one-on-one with your team about what frustrates and motivates them. Only then can you get that priceless constructive feedback. (More on this subject further in this post).
Empower the right people to solve the right problems
The second element of a top 1% growth team is the culture. I know, “culture” is a super broad word. We want to focus on growth as a company-wide focus point. By having everyone focused on growth, and then empowering them to solve the issues themselves is when you have a culture that can drive that sought-after hockey stick growth.
Sean Ellis, the father of growth hacking, went as far as to refine his own Product/Market Fit model to reflect the importance of culture. Look at the top two levels of the model:
- Level 4: Align team/ testing around high impact opportunities.
- Level 5: Company-wide growth mindset and culture.
Sean realised the importance of integrating a company-wide focus on growth. By having the OMTM top of mind, everyone can contribute to growth by indicating pain points in the organisation. Or in Sean’s more positively phrased term “high impact opportunities.” I believe this model only works if everyone in the organisation is empowered to contribute and choose what to test.
“It is about empowering people who are the closest to the problem to solve it themselves.”
This culture of authorizing the right people to solve the right issues is the secret speed driver behind the growth process.
All right, just to make sure you don’t get me wrong - by “empowering people” I don’t mean “give them ideas and tell them to execute them”. Instead, empower your team to be in charge of the experiments and give them total freedom to provide relevant input. This is where the most powerful ideas come from.
Time To Step On The Gas: How Do You Build Your Growth Team 3x Faster Than Your Competitors?
This all sounds really promising, right? But it can take a while before your glorious growth team is up and running. Now, I’m going to reveal the secret on how to make it happen faster. So bear with me.
Let’s take a step deeper. Time to upgrade to a whole new set of armour. You need to know what “armour” each of your current team members is wearing. Which areas are their expertise and in which fields do they have just general knowledge? Usually, this “armour” comes in the form of a T-shape:
A t-shape is simply where your team member’s broad and deep knowledge is. They might know a lot about many different topics and have deep knowledge of one or two areas, e.g. PPC and SEO.
Get your team to sketch this out for themselves. Make sure they are specific.
Don’t accept this as an answer:
“My deep knowledge is in digital marketing.”
Then find the kinks in the armour. Look at the following:
- What do your clients / you need to grow?
- What does our team know?
- Where is the knowledge gap to make more impact?
This way you can define a list of soft and hard skill requirements for each profile within the team i.e. where they need to polish and upgrade their armour.
But telling your team to learn is not enough. You need to provide them with the right resources. At RockBoost each growth hacker has full access to CXL Institute. They can find a very broad range of courses for all areas of CRO / Analytics / Marketing:
We keep track of the learning progress of our team in a spreadsheet. You can take our learning plan as an example but remember to adjust it to your needs.
With soft skills, it’s a bit tricky. At RockBoost, we noticed that monthly check-ins are key to improve soft skills of your team. Every month, I sit down with each one of my team members individually for half an hour and discuss the following:
- What is your happiness score (1-10)
- What can we do to get you to a 10?
- What can you do to get you to a 10?
- What soft skills are you trying to improve?
- Create action points for how to improve this
- What hard skills are you trying to improve?
- Define clear goals for the coming month
- Is your learning fast enough? How can we improve it?
- Is your T-Shape still in line with what is needed to reach the OMTM?
- Is your T-Shape still in line with clients’ needs? (only relevant if you’re an agency like us)
Steal this structure for your own team. This commitment ensures they actually use the resources you’ve provided. It also gives you brilliant insights on where your organisation needs optimisation.
You’re almost set. But there is still one thing missing. Something we always think we don’t have enough of. It's time. I hope you didn’t expect you can force your growth hackers to spend their private time on that. Nevertheless, you should motivate them to do so. What works best is a fixed learning time each week when everybody can fully focus on their courses. At RockBoost it’s every Tuesday morning. Each RockBooster has a learning block of 1.5 hours scheduled on their agenda.
This time is holy. No meetings are allowed. It’s the only way you can motivate your employees to learn. That is how we continuously optimise the T-shapes of our growth hackers.
Let’s talk about the results
Individual learning has a ripple effect. Team members focus on lessons that can help them with issues they are currently facing. Based on the lessons they follow, our processes are updated and improved. We get a ton of new ideas for growth from what we are learning!
This whole system is quite an investment; I’m not going to lie. Roughly speaking you have the costs of the resources, the learning time, and the extra check-ins. As an agency, this amounts to 20-30 less billable hours a week; an opportunity cost of about €10.000 a month.
Is it worth all that?
Within the first 2-3 weeks, we found a hack that delivered €35.000 value for our customers. It’s super simple. Usually, we set up event tracking for clients extensively because we need this real-time data to analyse where we can drive impact. However, we learned in CXL about using one event to recognise all different clicks. Setting this up using far less customised tracking gave us the same data in 4x less time. This saves so many hours of setting up measurement systems for clients meaning we can drive value sooner and within fewer hours. Now multiply those saved hours by 40+ clients. That’s how we saved €35.000 worth of hours in setting up measurement systems. And now we use this time to drive value instead.
If you have a strong system for building and optimising your processes, as well as for growth development, and t-shape hacking, then you are well on your way to creating a top 1% growth team 3x faster than your competitors.
Does it feel overwhelming? Totally understandable! It took us 4 years to work out the recipe for a top-class growth team. Now, we’re sharing this precious knowledge with our clients so they can do it faster than we did and than their competitors do. We’ve already helped a great number of companies build their own growth teams. Because the growth hacking world doesn’t revolve only around running loads of experiments…
Now it’s your turn! Grab the following sheet and score yourself from 1-10 on every 3 parts. Define what the next step in development is. Don’t wait, this takes just five minutes to start building that kickass growth team. Take a critical look at it every week and reflect on this:
That’s your “homework” for the coming quarter. Implement all the action points in this blog post to your organisation and track your progress. In just a few months from now, you will be a proud leader of a kick-ass growth hacking team with the potential to bring jaw-dropping results. If you encounter any obstacles in the meantime - don’t hesitate to reach us. We’d be delighted to give you some guidance.