To come up with a growth strategy — to know what to work on first — you need to answer four questions. We literally ask these questions when we first meet a company:
- Who uses you?
- What were their bad alternatives?
- How did they hear about you? (And products like us?)
- What are your possible growth loops?
Then, based on the answers, we brainstorm ideas for how to get more users.
We’ll explain what these mean in more detail, but we want to give some examples so you have an intuitive sense of what we’re talking about.
These are based on real companies we’ve worked with.
Again, we may use some words you don’t know, but that’s OK. We just want to build your growth instincts.
Security Camera Company
This product was similar to Ring Doorbell. They captured video of your front porch to catch package thieves and other goings-on.
When they talked with their users (homeowners), they learned a bunch of people had seen crime footage from their cameras on the local news. After some false starts, they stumbled onto a growth loop: they made a system to filter their footage for eye-popping crimes, then emailed the crime video to journalists in cities close to where the crime happened, saying “Here’s a crime that happened near you. Just give us credit if you use the video.”
Then, the video would show up on local news stations. Residents would see the footage, hear about the company, and buy a security camera for themselves. They’d have their own crime footage, which would get on neighboring local stations…rinse, wash, repeat.
- Who uses us?
- Packages getting stolen.
- Using a security camera company they didn’t trust.
- Local news.
- See crime footage on TV → buy product → crime happens → send to local journalists → crime footage goes on TV
Virtual Event App
This product made virtual events more interactive and fun. The founders had recently graduated college, so they emailed a bunch of their professors showing off what they had built.
When COVID hit, these professors used the software to host academic conferences. It turns out people who attend academic conferences also host their own academic conferences, so after seeing how magical the experience was, they’d host a conference themselves, meaning other people would attend, they would host conferences…rinse, wash, repeat.
(We’ve seen this exact loop with multiple virtual events apps.)
- Who uses us?
- Boring virtual event platforms.
- Hosting a conference in person during COVID.
- Going to a conference.
- Attend a conference → Host a conference → Other people attend the conference.
Secondhand Clothing Marketplace
We worked with an app that let women (mostly college students) sell clothing they didn’t want to use anymore. They’d have to take pictures of their clothing to list it. The marketing team would repost these pictures to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
Because so many people uploaded dresses every day, they were able to post tons of images, some of which went viral.
- Who uses us?
- Female college students.
- Lending to friends.
- Donating the clothing away.
- Social media.
- See an Instagram post → join the app → post a photo → photo becomes an Instagram post
Now that you’re aware of the building blocks, you need to learn how to think about them like a growth marketer.