Any profitable business can grow. But what if you wanted to grow fast? What can I do to grow even faster?

Growth hacking is the art and science of accelerating a product’s growth. Any successful product has some potential for organic growth, but growth hacking is may be the key to unlock the extra mile of success. Impact Hub Belgrade invited Damian Damjanovski, a seasoned marketer and growth strategist, to talk to startups about the basic principles behind growth hacking.

Know your consumer.

As marketers and businesses, we often try to analyze our consumers by placing them into demographic categories. But categorizing people by their gender, age, or income level doesn’t give insight into the complex motivations behind their behaviours.

For example, a 25-year-old, professional woman might be fascinated by high heels while the second woman of the exact same demographic will never give a second glance. The first woman is a short and single fashionista who is conscious about her height, while the second woman is an overworked worker who values comfort most during her long office hours.

To grow fast and avoid wasting marketing dollars, you have to make sure that your product design and marketing are only targeting the people who want your product. Look beyond demographic labels and research what motivates people to behave a certain way. When you know what the conscious and subconscious desires of your consumers are, and then you can put the right product on the right person’s doorstep.

Know your product.

Know your category.

If your product is trying to fulfill a crucial need, the chances are that someone or something is fulfilling at least a part of that need already. Soap and water did the job before household detergents came into the market. Carrier pigeons delivered messages before the telegraph was invented. The direct competitor of your coffee shop may be the café next door, but the neighbourhood park may be the real threat that is syphoning customers away from you. After all, it also offers a place outside of the home or the office for people to have a pleasant conversation. Once you identify who else is fulfilling the needs of your customers, then you can better explain to the customers why your product is better than the competitors. For example, your café has air conditioning, stable wi-fi, and seats that are more comfortable than park benches.

Money vs. Risks

Growing by traditional or digital marketing is a given. Google Keywords and Facebook Ads are the standard way to attract customers — and so it wouldn’t be growth hacking. Remember, growth hacking is about accelerating what would be your normal speed of growth. To reap amazing results, there are always costs. One way could be to pay big bucks (purchase a television ad before a popular show, hire the most famous influencers…) or to take on big risks. Since startups often don’t have the luxury of high marketing budgets, they often have no choice but to choose the second option. By taking the risk and choosing an unconventional move, you can make sure that your product can stand out from the crowd… when the retail market is overflowing with similar products:

Damian told stories of startups that became profitable from high-risk strategies; one attention-grabbing stunts eventually had major press cover the product as a news story. In another story, Damian talked about directly reaching out to the consumer for pre-sale, and then using this social validation from pre-sales to attract more people. If 100,000 other people bought it, then it must be worth something, right?

There’s no perfect way to do growth hacking.

I wish I had a simple principle I could offer to every startup for the actual growth hacking strategy… but the truth is that there isn’t one. Each product is in a unique market with unique challenges and requires unique approaches. There may also be a time where financial investment is not only beneficial but the only way to break through the clutter. Know when to take risks and when to invest money.

But remember: the best marketing strategy in the world can’t sell for a useless product that doesn’t solve anybody’s problem. For the long-run growth, your startup needs to understand what you are creating, who you are creating for, and who else is also doing the same thing.

Originally published at on September 14, 2018.

An unlikely adventurer and ex- digital nomad. Discovering self in the great outdoors.