Startup founders often find themselves overwhelmed. They need workable solutions to their thousands of questions. One of the most important issues that all startups face is how to growth hack the business. In other words, how can a startup start generating revenue as soon as possible.
There is no definite formula, since in the business world, one plus one may not equal two. It can be any number from zero to infinity. You’d need to be aware of all the possibilities, which would affect how you think in the long run. The following eight ways to growth hack can be further elaborated into a book of 400 pages. However, these are the simplified and concise version.
First, think for the long run, but act one day at a time.
This is the underlying principle that you must return to from time to time whenever you hit a wall. Reframe your mind whenever a problem arises. Solve it as fast as and as detailed as you can, because if you need to fail, it’s better to fail now —while it’s in still in early stage of the business— than later. And you must execute with detailed precision, not merely having a “big picture” or an “idea” of a product or a business.
Second, learn as much as you can about the ins and outs of your and your competitors’ products and the industry.
Those with full stack mentality are likely aware of both the back and front-end of a business, which is a great start. You just need to dig slightly deeper and wider to understand how competitors think and the industry behave. The collected data would be valuable for making technical and management decisions. Use micro, meso, and macro perspectives when making decisions and executing ideas.
Third, create a system of lead magnets, so you wouldn’t run out of leads.
It’s common nowadays to see a subscription box that says, “download an ebook if you subscribe to our newsletter.” An email address in exchange of an information is a good barter, especially since you can unsubscribe immediately, which is unlikely.
If you’re selling an offline product, consider giving away an information, a bottle of sample, or a free trial of your service for an exchange of an email address or a contact information. And don’t forget to ask walk-in browsers to sign a guestbook, if possible. These are “lead magnets.” Be creative with the system and adopt several strategies.
Fourth, implement a funnel marketing system, where a lead is turned into a customer with irresistible offers.
Start with a “one dollar for first try” or something of that sort. I’ve come across a business adviser who gave away his consulting services for only a dollar plus some voluntary tips. Nail salons, for instance, often give huge discount for new customers.
Fifth, the products sold should cover both your “core” products and non-core products that would sell with different frequency and in different price ranges.
Whether you’re in the initial MVP (Minimum Viable Product) or the second “fully branded” stage, it’s good to test out which non-core products that would generate more profits by themselves or generating more leads for the core products.
A Starbucks outlet, for instance, sells hundreds or even thousands of cups of coffee per day but probably only sells several expensive coffee makers that retail for a few hundred dollars. Their sale amount can bring about a few extra thousand dollars per day.
Sixth, maximize your profits with several revenue models.
In general, there are five popular revenue models: per product or service, per licensed product sold, by commission, by advertising, and by subscription. Combine them whenever possible.
For instance, if you’re selling massage services, you can sell per visit and by monthly membership for unlimited services. If you’re selling a book, you can sell the book per unit purchased, per licensed product sold based on the characters or content of the book (think Harry Potter), by advertising (think FedEx product placement in the latest Captain America movie), and by subscription (think future installments of the book series or fan club membership).
Seventh, create a system for repeat customers.
Monthly subscription is a good model, which is adopted by The Honest Company, which was founded by Jessica Alba. Subscription boxes are all the rage recently, which is another excellent model. A good follow-up system would be great as well.
Dental offices are known for their good follow-up system. The key is never let your customers feel left out. Connect yourself and your business to them. Build an ever extending bridge to make them feel close to you. Today, most businesses grow their online mailing list to send out coupons, vouchers, rebates, and gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, and others.
Eighth, always open yourself for win-win collaborations.
Network professionally by always being present everywhere. It’s the key of being an “influencer.”Richard Branson, Mark Cuban, and Seth Godin are everywhere. They write for prestigious magazines, appear on TV shows and movies, be interviewed by bloggers, tweet, blog, and influence people on all kinds of platform. They open various channels of collaboration and make good us of them to maintain their profile in the media.
Growth hacking both a science and an art. In the end, how your image and your product make people feel is what matters. And you want others to feel good.