December 22

What Can B2B Marketers Gain from Growth Hacking?

Marketing Strategy


What can you gain from growth hacking and how can you develop a mindset to be better at B2B marketing?

To help answer this question, I interviewed Neil Patel (@neilpatel), co-founder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, and KISSmetrics. He also helps companies like Amazon, NBC, GM, HP, and Viacom grow their revenue.

As marketers, we can reject having a growth mindset without realizing it. Here’s why.

First, marketers generally follow this approach: We plan, then, we execute.

Do you see what’s missing?

We’re missing a test stage in the middle.

Second, we expect peak performance from ourselves (and others) while attempting new things and having little time to practice. I don’t know about you, but when I try something new, I don’t do as well the first time.

Consider professional athletes for a moment. They have time to train and practice before the season starts. They practice during the season, and they even get an offseason.

As a marketing pro, do you get an offseason? Heck no.

Finally, I find marketers struggle with perfectionism or fear of failure. This challenge can get in the way of your growth too. Personally, I struggle with perfectionism more than I’d like to admit. As I talk with other marketers, I know I’m not alone.

So, what can you do?

Start with a Growth Mindset

According to Chip Heath and Dan Heath in their best-selling book, Switch, “The answer may sound strange: You need to create the expectation of failure- not the failure of the mission itself, but failure en route.”

“Think like a software developer – build, test then iterate,” said Martin Jones, Senior Marketing Manager at Cox Communications.

You need to create the expectation that failure is part of the marketing process. And you need to test. Instead of building campaigns where everything relies on a single successful launch. You need to adopt a more agile approach.

Traditional Marketing vs. Growth Hacking?

There’s still some confusion about the difference between marketing and growth hacking. I think following infographic is helpful.

Source: Traditional marketing vs. Growth Hacking – Infographic

The phrase, “Make people want the product vs. Make a product people want,” sums it up well.

It all starts with how we think and that’s why having a growth mindset is important.

Interview with Neil Patel on Growth Hacking

I interviewed Neil Patel a while back to get his insights on growth hacking because he’s rapidly grown several multimillion dollar companies and he’s written the definitive guide on the subject.

Author’s Note: This transcript was edited for publication.

Brian: What do marketers need to know about growth hacking and what makes it different? 

Neil: The big difference in growth hacking, to some extent, is an evolution of marketing. And marketing used just to be, “Hey, I’m a person who’s going to acquire traffic, and maybe I can make it convert.” Right? Now I’m converting whether it’s AdWords, or Facebook ads or even SEO.

With growth hacking, it’s not just about, ‘Hey, can I get traffic from SEO or paid advertising?’ A lot of it is that can you leverage your existing community members (customers), and your product itself.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Growth Hacking uses the product itself as a distribution channel @neilpatel @brianjcarroll” quote=”Growth Hacking uses the product itself as a distribution channel @neilpatel”]

Dropbox is one of those cornerstone examples of growth hacking, right? Refer friends and get more space. Tweet about it, get more space. Connect a device to multiple devices and get more space.

And the funny thing is, most people don’t see connecting the device to multiple devices and giving free space a technique to grow the business, but it is because if something gets linked to multiple devices, it makes the product stickier for Dropbox. The unit increases, the storage use increases, and that increase the likelihood of that customer willing to pay for the service later down the road.

Brian: So, it’s about looking creatively at ways of seeing your customer relationships and how you can leverage the relationships you already have in a way that benefits the customer and helps growth?

Neil: Yep.

How to start to use a hacker mindset

Neil: You’ve got to start thinking outside the box. Don’t just stick to conventional channels. Try to tap into your creativity. What could you do creatively with the product, the design, your sales, etc.? Right? You can grow a business in many ways. It’s not just driving traffic.

Who are some examples of companies that use growth hacking? 

Uber’s doing well. Sidekick from Hubspot has done well. Those are all creative companies that are marketing growth hacking.

Authors note: check out HubSpot – How to Grow a Billion Dollar B2B Growth Engine

What gets in the way of growth hacking?

Neil: You need a lot of people, team members, a company behind it. Growth hacking doesn’t happen just with one person. You need people from different teams involved to do it.

Brian: Okay. I’m a customer of Buffer, and they seem like they’ve been growth hacking.

Neil: I would say Buffer’s using a lot of growth stuff, right? Just look at their homepage. They use lots of education. It actually helps create sign-ups.

What advice would you give to marketers to start?

Yeah. I would say with growth hacking, what ends up happening is when you get a few people doing it within an organization, it just starts happening right? You don’t have to really get everyone in the group involved. You want a team that could feed off a pizza. If it takes more than one pie, you have too many people. When Facebook does a lot of changes, it’s not a big team. It’s usually like a team that eats off one pizza.

Resources for marketers to learn more about growth hacking?

You can check out I don’t contribute much to it, but I know that’s a great resource.

Is there anything else you wanted to share with readers? 

Neil: The big thing that I would focus on is creativity. The opportunity lies in what people aren’t tapping into already. I don’t believe that channels like Google, Facebook, or SEO, video, etc. are going to be the end all be all. And I always believe there are new opportunities and channels out there and creative ways to grow a business. You’ve just got to continually think of them.

Brian: In some cases, I’m hearing that could be alternative channels, or it could be putting a twist on or looking at existing channels in a different way that others might not be seeing.

Neil: Yes. Like looking at new channels that people aren’t seeing. I’m just saying try to think outside the box.


As you can see, growth hacking isn’t a fixed strategy. It’s a mindset. Thinking this way, and adopting lessons from growth hacking, you’ll achieve more and dwell less on failure. Also, you’ll focus more on your customer’s motivation (with empathy) running tests, and iterate quickly.

People with a growth mindset- those who stretch themselves, take risks, accept feedback, and take the long-term view- can’t help but progress in their lives and careers  – Chip Heath and Dan Heath

How will growth hacking as a mindset benefit you and your company?

You may also like:

2 Tips to connect and build rapport immediately

4 Steps to Do Lead Nurturing That Helps More Customers Buy

Why Customer Advocacy Should Be at The Heart of Your Marketing

Bring more innovation to your demand generation now

About the author 

Brian Carroll

Brian Carroll is the CEO and founder of markempa, helping companies to convert more customers with empathy-based marketing.

He is the author of the bestseller, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale and founded B2B Lead Roundtable LinkedIn Group with 20,301+ members.

  1. Great Stuff Brian! Especially the info-graphics expressing a lot, as a b2b marketer it helps me to understand the concept of growth hacking. As you can see, every company following the data driven decisions in the business process. More helpful for me, here i can develop a mindset to become a better b2b marketer.

  2. Great read Brian! I’m fairly new to the concept of growth hacking so reading the infographic was very helpful for conceptualizing it. What other companies would you say embody growth hacking?

    1. Hi Kate, here are some other companies that are growth hacking and what they are doing

      Linkedin – SEO and viral acquisition users
      DropBox – Content Marketing and Viral Acquisition
      Facebook – SEO and viral user acquisition
      Pinterest – viral user acquisition
      HubSpot – landing page optimization and content
      Kissmetrics – content marketing and landing page optimization

  3. Thanks Brian for expressing Neil’s thoughts on growth hacking. I just want to ask you that what changes may happen in search engine optimization process in 2017?

Comments are closed.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Related Posts