Probably coming only second to “pivot”, “growth hacking” is one of the newest popular terms to be thrown into the ever-expanding startup vocabulary of jargon. Simply put, a growth-hack means to find quick ways to grow your market. While this seems logically beneficial, this should not be the focus of an early-stage startup until you can answer these 10 questions. 

“Growth hacking promises cheat code for scaling. Once cheat code expires, you still suck at the game”


Volta Lunch & Learn guest speaker, Greg Poirier, knocked the recent startup trend of “growth hacking”, calling it “bullshit”. He believes that there are many things, 10 to be precise, that companies need to figure out first.


*check out Greg’s full talk below


Greg has a specialty in digital sales and marketing. As a teacher, marketing manager, and now, owner of CloudKettle, he is well established in the industry, and has seen many trends come and go over the years.


Take a look at the 10 questions you should answer before growth hacking even enters your radar:


1. What is your value proposition?

You should be able to effectively tell your potential customers what your company does in 156 characters. 156 characters is the amount of characters that are shown on a google search description for your website. This should be enough to explain what you do, and subsequently draw potential customers in.


2. Who is your customer?

In one sentence, who is your target customer? This may change over time, but you should have a general idea of who will be buying your product.


3. Who might buy your product?

What types of businesses or people will your product benefit? Are there particular demographics that your product will appeal to most?


4. Who is your end user?

Your end user isn’t necessarily your customer. This is the person who ends up actually using the product.

For example: management may purchase a product for lower level employees to use. You need to be able to sell to management, while having a product that employees prefer to use.


5. What is their buying pattern?

Do they buy weekly, monthly or annually? Do they use credit cards? Do they tend to require purchase orders? What type of organizations are you selling to? These are all trends that you should keep track of. This can help you predict future purchases, especially big ones. This can also help shape your ideal customers and outline competition.


6. Who is your competition?

“If you don’t have competition…it means that people don’t have money to spend on thing you’re gonna do”

You may have a totally new idea, and don’t consider yourself to have direct competition, but there is always at least share of wallet competition, mind sharing competition and market share competition.


7. How much will your average sale be?

You obviously hope for this to go up over time, but you should have a general idea where you stand right now. How many sales do you need to make to reach your goals?


8. How long will your sales cycle be?

A sales cycle is the process of turning a lead into business. How long does this normally take your company to turn a first contact into a paying customer? When it comes to marketing campaigns, you should know how long to run ads for. As a startup, where money is tight and you are paying for ads…timing is everything.


9. How will potential customers hear about you?

Will they hear about you on social media? Via search engine? How about word of mouth? There has to be some wave of communication that tells potential customers what your company is all about.


10. How will potential customers hear from you?

Will you create first touch of contact through email? Phone? Or do you need to be in person to seal the deal? Are the types of sales that you are making small enough to go through something such as paypal?

Until you can answer these questions, try not to get sucked into the grabbing, attractive click bait headlines that read something like: “Get 10x the followers by…”


Without your key metrics and strategies in place, growth hacking provides no added value to your company. What good are new leads if you don’t have a sales strategy? How are you going to use those new followers to grow your business?


Focus on the fundamentals before you try to branch out. This will take planning and time, but for true growth-oriented success, this is what Greg recommends you do.


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