What is a Growth Team and How to Build One8 min read
The momentum for growth teams is big. Facebook, Uber, Twitter, Spotify, Google and all the big guys have incorporated growth teams into their organizations, often from the very start. The rest are in a hurry to follow.
Success & cross-disciplinary growth teams – is there a correlation? We’ll let you connect the dots…
What is a Growth Team
As Brian Balfour puts it, “a growth team is a small, versatile, focused, data driven and aggressive group of unique individuals, who are constantly pushing themselves to learn and execute new growth strategies, tactics, and techniques. The growth team blends people with engineering, design, product, and marketing backgrounds in one cohesive unit to work in quick iterative experiment cycles aimed at increasing growth rate.”
However, before you start building your growth team, you should ask yourself 3 questions:
- What “phase” is my business in?
- What am I trying to accomplish?
- What are my existing capabilities?
According to Samuel J Woods, the perfect timing to build a growth team is when you’re at Product/Market Fit.
Once you’ve reached that point, your goal is to discover new acquisition tactics and conversion funnel optimisation through experimentation.
That’s when the growth team steps in.
What does the ultimate Growth Team look like?
First things first.
You need a Head of Growth.
He’s a risk taker, analytical, creative and a bit of a villain. A T-shaped player. That’s what you need.
With skills ranging from full-stack development to persuasive copywriting and data mining. As James Scherer puts it, the lead growth hacker makes sure that the experiment driven growth process is implemented and learnings are captured, maintains a fast-paced schedule and calls the shots on strategy implementation.
The Head of Growth’s right hand is an amazing coder. He’s a full-stack developer who executes fast and is not afraid to build something that might break.
Just like the Head of Growth, he loves data, is fairly creative and subscribes to the “build now, fix later” dogma.
Their left hand is the UI/ UX designer or front-end developer. His role is to use behavioral psychology and have customer empathy to run UX related experiments.
Usually this type of profile is somebody who won’t stress about the color of the CTA button, but will ship the final product as fast as possible and adjust later, if needed.
Finally, there’s the data analyst. He understands data – both large and small amounts of it.
He loves soft data (qualitative information that explains the “why” of the hard data) and is able to find actionable insights within it.
He’s very knowledgeable about analytics and back-end development that allows him to pull insights from databases. He also works closely with every person within the growth hacking team.
It’s crucial to find the right people for your team, because, as Sean Ellis puts it, “The right growth hacker will have a burning desire to connect your target market with your must have solution. They must have the creativity to figure out unique ways of driving growth in addition to testing/evolving the techniques proven by other companies.”
Now that you have an amazing growth team, what’s next?
While you’re still a small company (less than 10 people), you have to keep a tight focus on the whole Pirate Funnel and your company’s main KPIs. Abiding by Alistair Croll’s notion of the One Metric That Matters (OMTM) is a highly effective way of focusing on one metric at a time.
As for assigning people to this metric, here is a very simplified but useful decision tree. Obviously, real life is a bit more complex, so it’s important to adapt this model to your contextual needs:
Once you start gaining momentum though, expanding your business and, subsequently, your team (more than 15 people), you should start breaking the team up in clusters and setting specific OMTMs for each of them.
You can organise these clusters around stages in the Pirate Funnel, specific Flows and Features (i.e. signups, onboarding, notifications) or even segment them by device (one team focusing on mobile activation, and another on desktop).
Conclusion: Successful Growth Teams
In the end it all comes down to your own objectives and which metric you find most valuable for your company.
A growth team can become your secret weapon. After all, as we like to say, growth is nothing, if not a team effort. So instead of jumping onto every growth hack you become aware of, identify the metric that matters to you most, invest in building a powerful growth team and entrust them in driving your business to heights you’ve never seen before.
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