The work of fabled growth teams of the web giants, all solely focus on optimization. They don’t really work on sourcing more people to the top of the funnel, rather they optimize the funnel by examining user behavior and building re-engagement features. The work of these growth teams is interesting and invaluable, but pretty much inapplicable to any startup that does not have a massive amount of traction.
So why are growth talks like the Growth Hacking Conference being marketed to startups?
When I looked at the line up of speakers, stacked with notable names from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, I guessed 99% of the conference to be about internal product optimizations. Basically, the speakers would be talking about retention and rengagement more than about how to get more users.
… and I was right.
The speakers extolled the virtues of their 50+ employee growth teams that had project managers, developers, designers and data scientists. They talked about how these teams crunched massive amounts of user data to move buttons, redesign flows and build re-engagement features that led to 10x growth on some high level metric.
Well what the fuck can 3 person startups take from talks like that?
True startups lack not only the resources, but the users to execute on anything the speakers touched on.
What startups need are more talks like those at the Growthathon. Udemy co-founder and Growth Hacking conference organizer Gagan Biyani spoke at the Growthathon about hiring workers in the Philippines off of Elance.com and paying them $5 an hour to scour the web and solicit teachers to post courses on Udemy. It’s unorthodox tactics like that are going to get startups their first 100,000 users. Unfortunately, such scrappy user acquisition tactics were nowhere to be found at the conference.
If are looking to grow your newly founded startup, ignore all the hot talks on funnel optimization driven growth because it doesn’t apply to you. Stick to the blog posts on how to get your 1,000 users, or better yet, explore the tactics of the affiliate marketing world where cold user acquisition is the way of life.
For future growth talks to be applicable to startups, there needs to be a shift to cheap, scalable and trackable user acquisition tactics.
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