L’UNION interviewed Jean-Christophe about growth hacking. He is the co-founder of MAD Kings, a growth marketing agency in Brussels. With their motto ‘Assumptions are dead’, they want to bring companies to the next level. Their methodology combines data, creative marketing and automation to unlock the true growth potential of companies.
WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
I’m Jean-Christophe. I’m the founder of Mad Kings, a growth hacking (soon to be growth marketing) agency in Brussels.
WHAT IS GROWTH HACKING?
Growth hacking is, first of all, a methodology. It’s a new way of doing marketing, more agile. You do more short cycles based on data and experiments. The goal is to make a maximum of small experiments and to verify them. The ones that work, you grow and the ones that don’t work, you stop. The goal of making all these experiments is to find all the ones that work well and to use them and spend more money on them. It’s also a system that uses the full funnel. The funnel goes from awareness when people know you, to the revenue when people buy from you and you try to fix every step of the funnel to make sure you have the maximum number of people who convert at the end.
WHERE DOES GROWTH HACKING COME FROM?
One of the first people to use the term growth hacking was Sean Ellis. He worked as a marketer in a big US company that he really helped to grow. It’s a methodology that is used by many big players in the USA like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tesla and also companies that are not mainly online. It’s really switching from marketing to growth. A business function that is becoming more common is ‘Head of Growth’. Because in the growth you include all the silos of the company and that’s why these kinds of companies have a better growth than others, because they really include everyone else. In the USA, it’s already more known as growth marketing and this will soon also be the standard in Europe.
ARE THERE CERTAIN COMPANIES YOU ADVICE TO USE GROWTH HACKING?
Growth hacking is for every company of every size. But the way we will manage growth hacking will differ based on your current stage. At Mad Kings we mostly work with corporate and big SME’s, because it’s a question of budget. It’s also better to really do the growth when you are a scale up. When you’re ready to grow and you have a clear product market fit. We had cases where companies working with us thought they had a product market fit, but actually they didn’t. The strategy that we would use really varies for them. For the startups it’s also possible to do growth hacking. It will be prospection growth hacking and the goal is to find if you have a problem/solution fit and a product market fit before investing to much money in advertising.
GROWTH HACKERS OR MARKETING COWBOYS?
There are more and more growth hackers and growth hacking agencies. It’s a bit like 10 years ago with the SEO agencies. You have the ones who know their business and who know how to do it, and then you have the ones who promise you anything and who use grey techniques like scrapping databases and promise you great results. Growth hacking is not a magic trick. It’s a methodology and you follow steps. It will not make you grow from zero to 100.000 users for no money. It will just help you to maximize the output of the money you put into marketing. So be careful when you think you’re doing growth hacking. It’s really the methodology and not the tips and tricks.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST MISTAKES THAT YOU MADE OR THAT OTHER COMPANIES MADE?
The biggest mistake we made was to work with companies that didn’t have the product market fit with the right strategy. We spent the first months experimenting with them and taking for granted that they had a good business plan, which was not the case. At the end, we told them to take another look at their business plan and then we could work with them.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST SUCCESS STORY SINCE YOU BEGAN?
Actually, we have a lot of success stories. One of them is not directly related to the KPI’s at the end. Our impact was more than just doing growth hacking and today it’s still changing the future of that company. In growth hacking we remove the silos between the sales, IT, marketing, the support, … and we managed to make them all work together. Someone even told us “At last, I will be able to tell the marketers what they are doing wrong”. That was a big success for us.
WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS AND HOPES FOR THE FUTURE?
We hope to educate the market, because it still needs a lot of education especially Belgium. We also hope to grow with our customers. We want to grow the team and be bigger in the market. We also want to grow internationally at least in Europe.
WHAT ARE THE EVOLUTIONS IN GROWTH HACKING?
Since the end of this year, there are more and more growth hacking agencies, more players, which is good. The thing is that the word growth hacking has a bad connotation. People directly tend to think that hackers are people who do black marketing or grey marketing, which is not correct. We are making the market evolve into a new name: growth marketing. It’s exactly the same as growth hacking, but without the bad connotation of hacking.