17 Growth Hacking Principles for Startups

17 Growth Hacking Principles for Startups

Growth Hacking for StartupsI‘ve been doing content marketing full-time since 2006. Before that, I did it part-time for a few years. I’ve heard about growth hacking, but I never really studied its principles. That is, until now.

Udemy was running a special on courses and I just happened to find one titled “Hypebomb: Growth Hacking for Startups.” The instructor is veteran startup growth hacker Doug Logue. Each video in the series–there are 18 of them–is less than 10 minutes long (some of them are under 2 minutes) and are packed full of useful insights, wisdom on how to create startup buzz, and real-world examples of companies who have done it. I learned a lot, and I’ll likely go through the videos again.

Why I Decided to Enroll in Growth Hacking for Startups

Before I get into the particulars of the course, and the 17 principles of growth hacking (and I promise not to deliver the entire course out of respect to Doug Logue), I want to make a short statement about why I thought this course would improve my business. Since I specialize in fintech and next-generation technology companies, a good number of my customers (most of them) are startups. They are in the startup stage of the business life cycle. Some of them may be in the early growth stage, or even late growth stage or early expansion stage. But it hasn’t been long since they were in the startup business phase.

That’s important because startups generally don’t have a lot of capital lying around. They have a need to reach their audience, but they aren’t rich in capital. That means they must get creative in how they approach marketing. That’s why growth hacking is such an important principle, and it’s a way for startups to create some buzz about their products and services without breaking the bank.

Even if a startup has received a good purse on the funding circuit, be it from venture capital, a crowdfunding campaign, or from another capital source, they still have to spread that money around to cover all of their business expenses. That includes operations, technology, marketing, product and service development, and human resources assets. So, even a well-funded startup might have a smaller marketing budget, and a small percentage of that will be for content creation. I’m very conscious of that as I communicate my value to prospects.

What Growth Hacking Can Do For a Startup

Growth hacking is important because the idea is to create buzz around a specific meme that represents a company’s brand or its products and services. For instance, if you go to SoFi’s website, you’ll see the big header that reads “Welcome to a new kind of finance company.” This is what Doug Logue calls a meme. It’s an idea that captures the essence of what SoFi is all about. As SoFi goes about prospecting and reaching out to potential clients, they have to think up creative and inexpensive ways to get that message across so that their ideal clients know what they’re talking about, see the value, and sign up to do business. That’s what growth hacking is all about.

How Growth Hacking is Done in the Real World

Without knowing it, a lot of what I’ve been doing for 11 years is growth hacking. Not all of it, but a large part of it could be described as growth hacking. Once you understand the 17 principles of growth hacking, it’s easy to see how it fits into the content marketing strategy of a startup business.

Below are the 17 principles that Doug Logue shares in his video course on growth hacking, which you can find at Udemy.
(Note: I am not using affiliate links.)

  1. Growth hacking is for hustlers: In a nutshell, what Doug is saying is, you have to work at it. Growth hacking is not for slackers.
  2. Buzz is cheap: Like Wal-Mart toys, it doesn’t cost much to create a lot of buzz. That’s good news for startups.
  3. Only memes are remembered: Like SoFi’s header, they distilled the big idea of their business into one meme. It’s easy to remember. It’s much harder to do.
  4. Good copywriting is a drug: People thrive on it, and almost feel compelled to do exactly what the copywriter wants them to do because good copywriting creates an addiction.
  5. Design is social proof: In other words, how you design your website is itself a way to prove that your startup has mojo.
  6. Data kills the story: It’s easy to do, throw out numbers you hope will impress your audience. The fact is, your story has more magic than your data.
  7. Email addresses lead to profits: Once you get an email address, you have what you need to continue marketing to potential customers until they buy, die, or unsubscribe.
  8. Virality is predictable: Doug Logue calls it an equation. Even if you’re not good at math, you can plan virality.
  9. No one wants to be alone: A simple principle, but people like to know they aren’t the only ones who think an idea is a good one. Create your social proof, and use it to draw in more users.
  10. Your gut is a liar: Don’t rely on your instinct. Trust in your metrics.
  11. Quit chasing awareness: Don’t advertise for awareness. Buy clicks, not impressions.
  12. Write your own algorithms for ad buys: This was easily one of the best tips Doug shared in his video series and the price of admission is worth this video alone. And you don’t even have to know code.
  13. Unsolicited email is not illegal: Journalists love them.
  14. It’s easier to hijack an audience than create one: Believe me, I’ve learned this the hard way.
  15. Arsonists get the attention: Don’t do anything unethical or illegal, but feel free to start a fire.
  16. Form simple and creative partnerships: I love partnerships.
  17. Perceived ubiquity is a great illusion: Make ’em think you’re everywhere.

Obviously, I didn’t go into nearly as much detail about each of these principles as Doug Logue does in his video course, and I’ve tried to put these into my own words as much as possible. If you’re a business startup in any niche, but in particular, if you’re a fintech startup, then these growth hacking principles are for you. I encourage you to enroll in Doug’s course. And if you need any copywriting, you know where to find me.

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Allen Taylor
Allen Taylor
Allen Taylor is a freelance writer, content strategist, and award-winning journalist. He is the author of "E-book Publishing: Create Your Own Brand of Digital Books," available in the Kindle, ePub, iBooks, and PDF formats.

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