Today, tech giants rule a large portion of the web. Alphabet Inc. (Google’s parent company) and Facebook combined are worth more than 1 trillion dollars.
In the face of such dominance, small businesses have been forced to find innovative ways to break into saturated markets and rapidly scale.
These strategies, known as “growth hacks” have generated a lot of buzz in recent years as more companies develop creative methods for marketing their products, scaling their brand and ultimately, increasing their bottom line.
While many brands and businesses have admirably hacked their way to tremendous levels of success in recent years, three of these companies stand head and shoulders above the rest.
Here are three growth hacking lessons from some of the fastest growing companies in the world.
How “unboxing” videos helped Loot Crate become the fastest growing company in America
Over the past two decades, many companies have made huge profits by capitalizing on the growing acceptance of “geek culture.” But none of them have done so quite as effectively as Loot Crate, a subscription service that sends their 650,000 customers monthly boxes filled to the brim with geeky goodness.
Launched in 2012, Loot Crate was named Inc. 500’s fastest growing company of 2016 after it generated over $116 million in revenue and grew nearly 66,000 percent.
To elicit this kind of explosive growth, the team at Loot Crate had to find innovative ways to market its products during the low budget startup phase of the company.
The solution? Unboxing videos.
While they are simple in principle, unboxing videos provide an avenue for “looters” from around the world to share their passion and enthusiasm and celebrate the arrival of their new boxes together.
Building social media groups around the unboxing experience, Loot Crate created a company tradition that not only increased customer retention (a huge problem in the subscription box industry) but also helped boost word of mouth marketing.
Regardless of your industry, I recommend that all of you take a page from the Loot Crate manual and seek out innovative ways that you can build a community experience around your offer.
Doing things that don’t scale by “de-risking”
In the 21st century, it’s hard to find a more competitive or risky market than the Software as a Service (or SaaS) industry.
With the hefty startup costs and the inherent risks associated with software companies (e.g. free trials requiring expensive setup fees), it’s rare to find entrepreneurs who can even fund their SaaS company, let alone scale it.
Bounce Exchange, an automatic behavioral marketing tool, is one of those rare finds.
Not only did the company blast through the funding phase of its startup (raising over $8 million) but it was also able to increase company revenue by over 14,000 percent, and earn a spot on the Inc. 500’s fastest growing company list.
In order to achieve such shocking growth rates, the team at BounceX employed a growth hack known as “de-risking” to ensure the long-term success of the company.
As BounceX gained more traction and developed a positive reputation in the industry, the team began implementing strategies to mitigate the inherent risk of SaaS startups to ensure they could generate a long-term profit.
One such tactic Bounce Exchange implements is charging a large setup fee and requesting multi-year contracts.
Since the company had proven the value of its service, they knew that they had earned the right to charge hefty sums of money for installation and setup and remove earlier offers like free trials and 50 percent off enterprise pricing.
The Penny Hoarder
Hiring 52 new employees in only 18 months
One of the biggest challenges faced by startup businesses in 2017 is learning how to master the art of hiring new employees. Few companies have been more successful in overcoming this challenge than the world’s fastest growing blog, The Penny Hoarder.
In only 18 short months, the blog went from three employees to a whopping 52 through some intelligent hiring practices and growth hacks.
The Penny Hoarder’s Alexis Grant shared a few ways that the company was able to hack the hiring process and achieve such phenomenal results in such a short amount of time. The first step in the hiring process is simply finding potential hires in the first place!
In order to do this effectively, the team at The Penny Hoarder employed two simple tactics: First, they offered all current employees a $500 bonus for new hires that resulted from one of their references. More surprisingly, however, they used a wide variety of Facebook groups to track down the best candidates for each position.
With the new candidates lined up, they utilized a candidate-tracking software in order to streamline the hiring process and organize applications for vetting.
To vet potential employees, The Penny Hoarder used a simple checklist that looked like this:
- Rate candidate based on application
- Interview with hiring lead
- Interview with employee or two who will be on their team
- Check social media profiles and Google for red flags
- Reference check
With the basic checklist in place, the next step in the process is to have candidates demonstrate their skills and abilities with a simple trial delivery.
While this is relatively simple if you are hiring a copywriter, web designer or some similar position, it can become a challenge whenever you are looking to hire employees with skills that aren’t as obviously demonstrable.
In instances like with the team at The Penny Hoarder, Grant recommends that you ask the question, “What might you create that shows us you’re the right person for this position?”
At this point, I hope I’ve triggered your creative juices and given you frameworks to replicate these companies’ results and elicit explosive growth in your own business.
Who knows? If you play your cards right, you might find your business getting listed in one of the slots on the Inc. 500 list.
Do you have any questions about how to get started with growth hacking? Any examples you’d love to share? Let me know in the comments below.