Learn Growth Hacking from award-winning marketing leader Siddharth Venkataraman

Growth hacking is definitely not just about clever marketing. I would say it is much more than marketing which includes elements and processes that help with the creation of an amazing customer experience that users long for. – Siddharth Venkataraman

Siddharth is an award-winning marketing leader, growth hacker, trainer, and coach. With over more than 15 years of experience, Siddharth has been helping both B2B and B2C organizations in sales and marketing and transforming customers’ experiences. 

In this article, we talked to him about him and growth hacking. Read on to learn growth hacking techniques, funnel management strategies and more. 

1. Tell us about your life journey, Siddharth?

Having been born as one of a twin – (I have a twin sister) – who was always better than me be it in Studies, Sports, or extracurriculars, I have always had the need to go the extra mile to prove myself and deflect the noise from Friends and teachers on “How I should be like her”. 

I guess my skills in finding “out of the box” techniques started there. From self learning cartooning to designing book covers to writing my own book @21. The book I wrote was my first tryst with growth hacking. 

I would say – generating something out of Nothing and I did it all to get people to buy the book – and obviously, that was not the Digital marketing era and I was still a student and so no money to run flashy ads.

I did everything from getting organic coverage in newspapers through my college, local newspaper write-ups, User-generated reviews and Word of mouth marketing, which included getting experts to give their quotes – I sold 1000 Copies which was a BIG achievement for me at that time.

In my career, I have always taken up roles that needed me to set up something from scratch or bring about a dynamic shift and in most places, the marketing budgets were very low which meant I always had to bootstrap or find methods that could deliver very high ROI.

Also, this meant I had to set processes in place to scale while keeping costs low. All this put together I can say is what shaped me as a marketer and a growth hacker.

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2. Is growth hacking really just clever marketing, what are your thoughts?

Growth hacking is definitely not just about clever marketing. I would say it is much more than marketing which includes elements and processes that help with the creation of an amazing customer experience that users long for. 

If we take a traditional marketer their goals can range cutting across the entire customer experience lifecycle or sales funnel – It could be about Brand awareness, adoption, engagement, lead generation, Closures, upsell/cross sell, as well as loyalty brand reputation scores. 

But growth hackers have a single goal which is delivering business growth in the most cost effective way possible with huge ROIs. In short growth hacking is delivering growth in a business- adopting methodologies not native to it but will results in exponential growth while being lean.

Growth hackers thrive on doing what traditional sales & marketers would write off saying this wouldn’t work and in that process creating something from almost nothing.

In traditional organizations – in industries where marketing and sales are not seamless, growth hacking could be seen as a huge change management exercise that would lead to transforming the way these units work together supported by Digital solutions, in delivering exponential growth & enhanced customer experience.

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3. What is your favorite growth hacking technique companies have adopted in the past?

The term growth hacking was first born in the start-up ecosystem & at that point of time hugely relevant to products that aren’t necessarily physical – eg. Software products.

The best example of growth hacking in the purest sense is how products sell themselves. Eg. Get someone to sign up for a product and get an extended subscription. 

Moving away from that some of the other great growth hacks:

  • 1. During the COVID times one of the major hotel chains has announced pre-booking at phenomenal discounts which are valid for one year.
  • Air Deccan when launched as a budget airline by doing away with frills and offering great rates.
  • Paypal – when they started (which is now adopted by many) – introduced the referral system- Refer a friend to subscribe and both get paid a small amount – which when compared to the lifetime value of the customer is negligible
  • From my experience in B2B – industrial products (construction machine) Setting up an operator training school along with the Ministry of Small & Medium enterprise to provide training and certification. The people who completed it could either get themselves employed as an operator elsewhere or buy a machine and become an entrepreneur. Exciting loans were made available and several of them chose to become entrepreneurs by buying the machines and in turn got several more to go thro’ the training school and purchase them. It was an emotional need and a rationale need that was satisfied which led to Word of mouth and referrals.

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4. What are the most effective funnel management strategies?

1.Start providing value right at the top of the funnel – Gone are those days when you could wait for your prospect or lead to reach the sales stage of the funnel and then provide value. The sales cycles are becoming more and more non-linear which means we need to start providing value right from the first touch.

This could be free Learning materials, DIY guides, Toolkits, or something which helps them see some results even before they sign you on. Customers need to develop trust in the word GO.

2. Talk ESP along with USP – Understand the emotional gratification that a customer gets and talk that language.

3. User generated Content – Reviews, Testimonials and case stories is becoming all the more critical when people want to take highly informed decisions. The advocacy stage of the funnel has become more important than ever now.

4. Chatbot integrated advertising to decrease CPAs and Chatbots to drive sign-Ups and registrations

5. Social media automation

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5. What is the thing about marketing leadership that most marketers just fail to understand?

Marketing is such a broad term that it is often open to misrepresentation. With stress on the T- shaped marketer and Full stack marketer in order to optimize costs at times quality goes down. I always say marketing is a combination of Customer, Creative, Channel, Technology & Analytics

(Customer Value maximizing(CVM) elements) – all held together by a very strong process. Marketers need to take ownership of the entire customer experience lifecycle and not just stick to the top 2 to 3 rungs of the funnel. Marketers need to focus on all elements of CVM and all stages of the funnel. When this multi-dimensional focus is ignored results suffer.

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