How to Set up a Growth Team at your Company: 8 Steps
You’ve heard the buzz. You know you need a growth team. But where do you even start? There are so many things to think about, from how to divide your time and resources between product and marketing, to what metrics really matter when it comes down to measuring success.
Luckily for founders everywhere, there are some tried-and-true best practices that will help set up your future growth team on the right track from day one – like these 8 ways below:
1) Ensure cross functional alignment
Any growth team will need to have buy-in from across the company in order to succeed. That means everyone needs to be aligned on growth being the main focus of their business – and that means both product and marketing. If you try to set up a growth team without having this alignment, you’ll end up with silos within your organization where no one wants to share data or ideas. And when there is no cross-functional alignment, growth teams tend to fail because they don’t have all the resources they need at their fingertips.
Who owns growth? It should be obvious by now: it’s everyone’s job! I firmly believe that growth affects every single decision in the startup world. Every product decision, marketing decision, growth decision – growth is at the core of it all.
2) Define KPIs for growth
KPIs are growth metrics that represent the goals your growth team is working towards. They should reflect growth goals for every department within your company – Marketing, Product, Sales, and more.
When setting up growth KPIs, it’s important to choose a few tiered goals that will help you to prioritize which ones you target first. For example: if you can demonstrate user growth month over month with numbers to back up that growth (i.e., “we hit 100 users in our first month of launch”), then this makes accelerating user growth a higher priority than gaining PR or investment attention right out the gate.
(individual score card example. Source)
To ensure success, make sure everyone on the growth team has their own specific scorecards – and that these KPIs are aligned with the growth goals of your company. That way, growth team members know how they’ll be measured against other growth teams within the organization – which keeps everyone accountable to growth in an environment where there can be a lack of accountability when it comes to marketing or growth.
3) Make sure your execs buy in growth
This is a step that many growth teams forget about – probably because growth is usually the last thing execs think about when they’re focusing on product, sales, and revenue. Yet growth leaders can often be at risk of being seen as just another marketing or growth team without buy-in from above. And if growth doesn’t have strong executive support, growth will always come under fire whenever it needs more resources, or has to make difficult decisions like firing employees or cutting an unprofitable project.
There are two ways you can ensure your growth team gets the attention of executives: firstly, by making sure your growth goals align with their business goals (see #2): if growth helps other departments reach their KPIs, growth is much more likely to get the attention it deserves from your executive team.
Secondly, growth teams can show growth metrics publicly within their company – as part of a regular growth report or growth presentation. If execs see that this growth team has led to success for other departments in the company, growth will be seen as an asset rather than a liability. Without these clear connections between growth and business goals, growth leaders can fall prey to political decisions that stop growth initiatives in their tracks.
4) Hire growth skillsets
When growth teams are first starting out, growth team members often come from different departments and have varied backgrounds. A growth team that starts with a competitive intelligence analyst might also include an engineer or two (often data scientists), but growth leaders will eventually need to make sure they have specific growth skillsets on board. In practice, this means growth in the skillsets necessary to build growth-oriented products – like marketing automation software, growth hacking content creation, and so forth.
Now is the time to hire people from adjacent areas of your company who can bring new skills into the fold. Growth teams do best when these growth skillsets can be found within their own team: for example, if you’re building a growth product for your startup, growth team members should ideally be able to have a hand in product design and marketing so that growth goals can be better optimized in every department.
5) Build growth tools
The growth team is also responsible for using the tools necessary to support growth within your company. This means setting up analytics, marketing automation, and all core growth functions – from webinars to newsletters, social media monitoring software , etc.
You’ll want your team to use popular tools already available for faster growth. For example:
– Optimizely for growth tests on website, landing pages and blog content
– Intercom for growth inbound messaging software
– Hubspot or Pardot for growth email marketing automation (including lead generation forms)
You’ll also want your growth team to build one-off or proprietary tools. The best tools have development-centric interfaces that allow engineers and developers to log in with their company credentials and start working on the kind of technology they know how to use. As well as making sure you have good back end support for your growth team, this also makes growth tools easier to use and optimize.
For example, growth leaders at Stripe built their own internal growth tools because they knew the best way to optimize growth was through a growth-centric platform, not generic CRM or marketing platforms.
6) Create growth processes
Growth teams also set growth processes for marketing and growth initiatives across the company. For example, growth leaders at Intercom decided to create a growth process template for growth teams inside their company – this allowed other growth teams within Intercom to learn from each others’ successes and mistakes.
Growth processes vary from company to company. What growth process can and should there be for growth-oriented products? How much freedom does the growth team have in deciding how growth initiatives are run across the whole company? By creating growth processes, growth teams clearly communicate what growth means within your organization – giving growth more weight and credibility.
7) Get external input from customers
Growth teams should also reach out to customers and potential customers on growth opportunities. This can take many forms, from usability testing growth website to finding growth customer support information for products. Learning where growth opportunities lie is a crucial step in growth hacking because growth teams then have the expertise to find new opportunities within their services or products – even if they haven’t been identified yet by other departments (this happens frequently).
Get external input on growth through:
– Growth hackathons and competitions
– User research and growth from usability tests
– Customer Feedback tools
8 ) Develop strong relationships with other growth teams & startups
Growth teams should also build strong growth partnerships outside their company. This networking can take many forms: from content creation to product integrations with other companies.
Here are some resources and ideas where you can find other growth hackers:
– GrowthHackers.com – an online community of growth hackers; learning from each others’ successes and failures through case studies
– Meetup groups like SF Mozdev (a meetup group specifically for growth professionals) – growth teams can come together to share growth advice and learn from each others’ growth projects.
– Third party growth tools – growth teams can connect their services with third party growth tools that help scale customer acquisition or marketing efforts.
There’s no single right way to build a growth team at your company; if you follow the steps above and develop good relationships with other companies and startups, you should be able to create a great growth team inside your company too!