The 5 Rules of Growth Marketing

If you’re like me, you enjoy having some kind of framework for getting things done, especially when it comes to complex topics like marketing.

That’s why I created these 5 guiding principles for launching successful marketing campaigns. I was fed up with feeling overwhelmed by all of the marketing gurus touting their “exclusive” systems which ended up just rehashing the same old stuff over and over.

So, when I thought about everything I’ve learned over the last 11+ years working on literally 1000s of marketing campaigns, the same 5 things kept coming up.

Almost every big win could be attributed to one or more of these rules.

And when I looked at the biggest failures of my marketing career thus far, whether it was a personal project—like that time I unsuccessfully tried to launch an app for barbershops with $50,000 in venture funding 🙈—or the client projects that just didn’t take off as I had hoped, it usually came down to these rules not being followed.

I share all of that so that you understand that the rules you’re about to read weren’t just created off the cuff to get more clicks on this blog post. No, they have been proven again and again over the years, and finally, I’m writing them down so you can leverage the rules too.

But enough about the backstory. Let’s get to the good stuff.

Here are the 5 growth marketing rules that can help you launch successful marketing campaigns time and time again.

1. Give people what they want

This one sounds like a no-brainer, but hear me out. Every great marketing campaign starts with an amazing product, service, or offer at its core. In other words, great marketing won’t fix crappy products.

Furthermore, a great product that nobody actually wants won’t help you either.

Example: Fax machines were truly amazing pieces of technology at one point in time. You could literally send documents through the air, instantly. It was magic.

But do you want one today? Of course not. There are better ways to accomplish the same thing. So while a fax machine was once a marvel of technological achievement, nobody wants one anymore.

Don’t build something great if nobody wants it or needs it.

In order to give people what they want, you need to first understand who you’re trying to reach. That’s where your target audience and target persona come in. I’ll certainly cover these topics in more detail in future posts, but for now, HubSpot has some excellent resources to help you create your own.

And your product, service, or offer better be freakin’ awesome. Don’t sell crap. In fact, don’t even try to give away crap for free.

Yes, I’m looking at all of you folks who peddle “free ebooks” that are really just rehashed blog posts in a PDF format. 🧐 Nobody wants that. Be original.

2. Continually improve your messaging

Okay, so you have a great product, service, or offer, but how do you get people to understand it? That’s where your message comes in.

When we think of messaging, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the copy surrounding your ads, landing pages, emails, and website. And yes, that is primarily where your messaging lives.

But don’t forget about the other elements of your messaging too such as your brand identity, the overall design of your pages and emails, your social channels, and the tone and content of what you and your team say to people when speaking one-on-one with potential buyers and customers alike.

And when it comes to messaging, most brands miss the mark here because their messaging is either too confusing, too self-centered, too inconsistent, or too sparse.

If you want to learn more about simplifying your messaging and bringing clarity to the minds of your potential leads and buyers, I recommend reading Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller. He’s the king of clarifying your message. 👑


3. Experiment with your traffic sources

Another huge problem I see with marketing campaigns is that some brands spend all their effort building a great product with great messaging, but when it came time to launch, all they heard were crickets. 🦗

Yup, no traffic.

Expecting people to just suddenly become aware of what you’re offering without any real traffic acquisition strategy is not a strategy at all. So don’t do it.

Put just as much time into your traffic strategy as you do into the other steps mentioned throughout this article.

And if you’re still confused as to what I mean by “traffic strategy,” I’m talking about how you plan on attracting visitors, leads, and customers.

Your options these days are plentiful. You could invest in “free” traffic from Google by building a robust SEO strategy. Or, if you’re impatient like me, you can deploy a paid traffic strategy using Facebook Ads or Google Ads.

Heck, you could even try influencer marketing as a traffic strategy. Or cold email outreach. Or referral marketing. Or content marketing (that’s what this is by the way).

The opportunities for acquiring traffic in 2020 and beyond are limitless. 📈

Just remember that not all traffic is equal and no traffic source is truly free, not even SEO. You either pay with your time and effort or your pay for ads.

Eventually, you’ll find one or more traffic sources that work really well for you and consistently deliver a positive return on investment. Those are the channels you should scale.

4. Reduce friction and increase motivation

Ah, this might be my favorite rule of all. Why? Because I’ve always been fascinated with buyer behavior and marketing psychology.

In fact, if you were to ask me what type of marketing I specialize in, I’d say conversion optimization, which is what we’re going to talk about now.

Conversion optimization is just a fancy way of saying reduce friction and increase motivation for your visitors, leads, and potential customers.

It all comes down to psychology and influencing behavior.

In fact, the book that really popularized this stuff is called Influence. Go figure. And yes, you should read it. It’s my #2 most recommended marketing book.

So how does one influence behavior? I’ve already told you… by reducing friction and increasing motivation!

But what does that mean?!

Let me give you an example.

If I’m on your landing page and I’m interested in buying one of your widgets, but in order to buy it I have to go through a 17-step form and I’m on my mobile device and the form is not easy to navigate, you’ve lost me.

I was motivated to buy, but the complexity of the form caused too much friction.

On the other hand, if you simplify the form and make it super usable (even on mobile), but the actual widgets you’re selling are just run-of-the-mill average widgets that aren’t any better than your competitor’s widgets (which are cheaper too), then I don’t have enough motivation to make the purchase.

See how motivation and friction go hand in hand? You need to constantly think about both of these things throughout your entire marketing funnel.

Reduce friction and increase motivation. Maybe that can become your new marketing mantra. 😋

5. Let the data guide your decisions

Ah, we’ve made it to the 5th and final growth marketing rule. And this is another really important one.

Data is the fuel of every great growth marketer. ⛽️

It’s what sets growth marketing apart from brand marketing. Data can make or break your campaign. It can turn around a losing campaign. It can help you pick your biggest winners.

It’s pretty much the best thing to happen to marketing since, well… since Google Ads were invented.

And you’re lucky, because as a modern growth marketer, you have access to so much data at your fingertips.

It wasn’t always this way. You may have seen this famous quote from over 100 years ago:

Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.

John Wanamaker

You and I don’t have this problem any more thanks to data. We know where our traffic is coming from, which campaigns are producing the best results, what our return on investment is, what our customer lifetime value is, and so much more.

Growth marketers are data-rich… however, many of them don’t realize it.

They’re not taking advantage of the data that is available. They’re squandering it. Letting it sit in silos like Google Analytics without taking more than a casual glance every now and then in order to be able to tell the boss what the bounce rate is (which is a confusing metric anyway).

Ideally, you should be continually gathering and analyzing all sorts of data—both quantitative and qualitative data—so you can make better decisions as to what you need to do more of, what you need to do less of, and what you need to test next.

Almost every question a growth marketer has can be answered with data.

Need to know how to improve your messaging? Conduct user research interviews and leverage the words and phrases of your target audience.

Need to know which traffic sources to scale up? Look at the data and see what is converting.

I could go on, but you get the point.

Putting it all together

Whew. That was a lot to cover, I know.

These 5 rules are serious stuff. They can really change the way you think about growth marketing. Just writing them down—finally—has helped me understand how everything works together to ultimately bring greater results to a growth marketing campaign.

And I hope they will do the same for you.

Now, before you go, can I ask you for one simple favor?

If you liked this article and got any value out of it at all, will you share it? You can use this pre-written tweet or come up with one of your own.

Heck, you could even send it to your colleagues on Slack. They might even thank you.

And if you want more marketing tips like this, you’d get A LOT of value out of my once-per-week newsletter called GrowthMarketer Weekly. Every Thursday I send one short email with the best growth marketing news, tools, and insights to help you become the smartest marketer in the room.

Sign up for the newsletter here. It’s the best, I promise. 🔥

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