4 keys to ‘growth stacking’

by 4 keys to ‘growth stacking’
on October 19

On September, 17 2018, I attended the Growth Stacking Summit, hosted by Dan Martell, who has successfully exited 3 companies and invested in over 40 startups. The audience was filled with 80+ startup founders in attendance ranging from pre-revenue to multi-million dollars in Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR).

We all were immersed in an Intensive 9 hours of coaching.

Each module throughout the day opened with a personal story sharing a challenge he faced in growing his business, and how he applied a framework to help overcome and then systematize the task. Dan’s authenticity and vulnerability in sharing his personal experiences drew the audience in, building trust while cultivating a loyal following.

After a day filled incredible content, here are three distilled takeaways.

Focus:  Scaling isn’t about the volume of activity, its using the right tactics in the right sequence. Focus was a recurring theme throughout the day – focus on one product, one problem, one customer, one route to market. As Dan says “startups die from indigestion, not starvation” meaning, they do too many things and aren’t going deep enough on any one. Simply, “Go Deep, Not Wide”.

I see a similar pattern when businesses aim to develop their narratives. They are often too many moving parts which in turn increases the complexity and decreases the resonance. One coaching client I work with was recently preparing to pitch to investors when we discovered their story was too complex. They were getting caught up in all the features of their product – how it worked, all the things it measured, the science and math that underpinned the technology. In an effort to try and share everything they were, in effect, were sharing nothing.

We scaled their story back to its essence. At its core, their product helps police departments reduce risk and increase public safety as marijuana is about to become legalized in Canada. As you refine a story to its’ essence, it gets faster. Build a razor sharp story by aiming to strip away, simplify and focus on one audience and one, highly impactful takeaway.

Fears. Frustrations. Wants and Needs: Dan uses a framework to map your avatar’s hot buttons and create a highly resonant messaging. Core to this framework is creating friction by setting up conflict between frustrations and wants as well as fears and aspirations. This friction creates contrast between what is today and what could be – a new world that the customer wants to reach.

As brand builders, we too need to use conflict and tension to keep our audience engaged and strike an emotional (vs. rational) chord. The key to doing this well is going deep on insight. Don’t settle for surface level frustrations but instead explore personal drivers on a fundamental human level.

Vidyard was the last startup I worked at and our product helped reveal video engagement analytics. Instead of stopping at “we help marketers show ROI on their videos,” we pushed further about what our company enabled at a human level. What we learned was that while many marketers are insecure, unable to show their impact on revenue relative to their sales counterparts, our customers said that we made them more confident when they sat down with their business leaders because they were better equipped to quantify their impact and prove their worth. That’s powerful.

Alignment: Another recurring theme of the day was ensuring your tactics are properly sequenced and aligned. One example of this is to make sure that your product story (the experience people have with your product) is aligned with your core values (the one thing your product does that makes your customer go ‘woah’).  This alignment is so critical because a slight tweak in your product story can have a huge impact on how customers perceive or interpret your value.

I experienced the impacts of this firsthand when I was leading marketing for BBM, the instant messaging platform that became popular on BlackBerry. Our core value was around being the fastest and most reliable way to communicate with the people you care most about. But our setup process was complex and involved too many steps.

So we re-worked the onboarding flow so that after you gave us your email address, the first thing we did was to help you find those people who meant the most to you by ingesting your address book. This resulted in users building their contact lists faster and realizing value in the product in less time. More users. Higher engagement. Less churn. This fit BlackBerry’s core mission, being one of the best technological providers of a wireless product.

Alignment is important in developing your brand and narrative, too. Your DNA and values need to be in sync with your north star (reason for existing). Your north star needs to be rooted in the experiences your brand and product delivers (what they buy into, not just what they buy). Experiences need to be underpinned by the intrinsic and extrinsic attributes of your product and company.

Living Your Brand Story: One thing I couldn’t help but notice throughout the day was how aligned Dan was as a brand. Dan uses the very techniques he teaches through the session (it’s pretty meta). And the persona he’s built through his YouTube videos carries into the event. For instance, Dan often posts about his daily workouts and focus on physical and mental wellness. Come break time, even the snacks aligned with his personal brand – the typical chips and carbs were nowhere in sight, swapped out instead for fruit, veg, juices and organic energy bars. Now that’s living your brand story.

To conclude, building a successful business needs a clear foundation. The story, simplification of your processes, and focus are instrumental in building a brand that lasts!

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