I run a growth consulting business. My team can either work standalone, or they can work alongside your existing marketing infrastructure. The commercials of the engagement change, but the objective remains the same — to help your business grow from point A to point B, with the constraints of time and resources you are facing. And, we are most frequently confused with a marketing agency. If someone is kind enough, they would call us a ‘performance marketing agency’. But the fact is, both those definitions miss the soft-spot by a mile.
Oh, and before I go any further, I think I should underscore something I tell any entrepreneur/startup I have ever advised/mentored:
Your customer doesn’t care about the subtle differences your product has. If there is a way for him to compare you to something else, he will!
And that is exactly what we face. Every. Single. Day.
And that is fine, or so I tell myself. But, at the same time, I would be amiss if I didn’t take a moment to explain why a growth consulting business is an altogether different beast. So, here we go.
WHAT EXACTLY IS GROWTH CONSULTING? OR, A GROWTH AGENCY?
To put it in very mild terms, it is aligned with your overall business objectives. Your business is always looking to grow. A growth consultant works with you to understand the path the business has been on, and where it needs to get to, and then he works on a plan to get it to that point — in the most efficient way possible.
A growth consultant is focused on helping your business grow, in a way that is healthy for the business.
WAIT, ISN’T THAT EXACTLY WHAT A MARKETING AGENCY DOES AS WELL?
To be honest, No!
I have worked with a lot of marketing agencies while I ran my startups, or while I was working with some of the biggest names in the Indian startup ecosystem. The common theme that emerged out of all the engagements I have seen was that your marketing agency is there to execute. That’s it.
Whether they are executing things the right way or not is a sleeping beast we will leave untouched for now, but yeah — they execute what you want to be executed.
You are looking for more customers, they will come up with a plan to help you get more customers. You are looking to drive the customer acquisition costs down? They will optimize your campaigns the best they can to ensure you are able to achieve that. You believe content marketing can help your business? They will put in place content creation bandwidth to fuel up your content funnel. No matter what your objectives are, they will try their best possible to fulfill those.
A growth consultant won’t!
The first thing a growth consultant would be focused on is getting a lay of the land. He/she will commit to understanding all that your business has been through.
What have you been doing so far?
Were there any particular reasons for you doing that or were you just winging it?
If there were reasons, what were they, and what were the basis/arguments behind those?
How have you been doing whatever you have been doing?
What have the results been like?
What did you expect your typical customer to be like? Has that hypothesis panned out? If not, what does your typical customer actually look like?
How happy are your customers with you? Why? If they are unhappy, what are the reasons behind that? Have you tried anything to change that? Are you in a position where you could do something to change that? If not, what else could turn things around?
These are just some of the questions your growth consultant would ask you. He isn’t so much interested in knowing about your CAC, as he is in knowing about your effective CAC, and to arrive at your effective CAC, he is going as far as factoring in your churn rate.
Because growth without retention is a fruitless exercise!
A marketing agency/consultant is focused on the mouth of the funnel. Getting more and more customers in, at any cost. A growth consultant is looking at the overall funnel, especially where the leaks are.
SO WHAT DOES A GROWTH AGENCY DO?
Let us try to summarize the personality of a growth consultant:
A. He is going to look at your entire customer lifecycle, and use that to come up with a strategy that will help your business get compounded returns over a period of time.
B. His prime focus isn’t getting more customers. His prime focus is in expanding on the base of more engaged customers, and helping them graduate to a point where they can become the champions of the business. New customers is most of the times a secondary objective.
C. Since traditional marketing activities are focused on the top of the funnel, their strategies are often designed to help you with short-term and immediate wins. A growth consultant has his eyes always set on the prize — the big picture. While he would put in place short-term strategies for immediate business growth, you would not find him ever compromising on long-term and sustainable winning strategies.
D. A growth consultant will work with almost everyone in your team. He would work with the product team to understand the user onboarding and how to improve that, he will work with the marketing team to come up with long-term strategies around user acquisition, with customer support team to understand your consumers’ concerns better, and with operations team to understand what goes on with the consumers every single day. While for a marketing consultant, the only focus is your business as a client, for a growth consultant, the only focus is on the customer and how can he help your business sweep the customers off their feet.
And that is the difference. If you engage a marketing agency, they will be able to give you a ‘plan’ at the get-go. They will tell you exactly what they will be doing, what all will they be doing in different action-items, with what frequency would they be doing so, what kind of resources would they allocate for the said activities, and how much would the running engagement cost you.
If you ask me how much engaging my team is going to cost you, or what all would we be doing for you, I wouldn’t know what to tell you.
Every two businesses are different, and what I can do for your business will very rarely be what your business needs at this stage.
And what your business needs at this stage, will be very different from what your business would need 6 months down the line. So, let’s keep our eyes set on growth, and growing the right way, and then, let us just do everything that needs to be done to get the business there.