Want to make sure you never miss a monthly growth goal? Perhaps you need a boost right now to get the month moving in the right direction?
Then you’ve come to the right place. Big companies like Facebook and HubSpot have lofty growth goals and continue to meet them every month.
But how do they do it exactly?
Planning of course!
That is, consistently planning ahead to meet their goals and then planning for the occasional situation when they need to scrape together their resources and make ends meet.
I call this having an ace in the hole.
This is my go-to backup plan, my in-emergencies-only plan, or my plan C.
This is the card you play when the boss says “Let’s hit 100,000 users by the end of the month to celebrate our 3-year anniversary.”
My ace in the hole is not just one option; it’s a list of options that I keep in Trello to turn to whenever I need to boost a metric.
For example, when we needed to hit a number of new users for the month at Inbound.org, I would work to get multiple experts to host Ask Me Anythings (AMAs) on the site. Then I promoted them extensively to encourage people to comment (they needed to sign up to do this).
At the time, I knew that bringing in an expert meant they would let their followers know. And with the right expert, we didn’t need a lot of time to schedule it. They just had to be available.
This was only one of the many ways I could bring in results within a week or even a few days on top of everything else we were doing, and it’s become a major part of my planning for hitting goals – no matter who I’m working with or what I’m working on.
Today, I’m going to help you do the same.
Strategizing Your Ace in the Hole
To start, I always ask myself: What can I do if I’m in a pinch? What options are available to me that are easy to set up and guarantee big results?
What do I absolutely know works to get attention and bring in new users?
How can I replicate that?
- Sponsor a major newsletter like Pocket
- Get listed on Product Hunt or BetaList
- Have the CEO give an AMA at Inbound, Growth Hackers, Product Hunt, Reddit
- Publish an awesome piece of content (like the Google Spammer on Inbound) AKA (Brian Dean, 10X Content, Ultimate Guide to Remarkable Content)
- Write a major press release or campaign around new features or release
- Arrange a public speaking gig
What have I seen work in the past, in other positions, or for other companies?
What resources do I have to make this work?
- A large email list
- A decent budget for Facebook Ads
- Co-founders or CEO who can participate in an event
- A compelling offer
What does the industry love for events and content?
Who does the industry love? Can I get them to participate?
- Live webinars
- Online summits
- Blog Roundups
- Free Tools
There are dozens of ideas to choose from, but the point is to get you brainstorming these methods so you can have them on hand when you need them. I suggest putting them in a Trello board that you can easily access when you have something to add.
For instance, my own Trello board looks like this:
It’s a bit messy, but it helps me generate ideas, and I always have a method to pull out and use to meet my goals. On the left, you’ll see a list titled “Small.” This is for activities that I expect to have a small impact, and thus I might need to do several of them to meet a goal.
The size of impact goes up as you move to other lists. Then I have an “Industry Opportunities” list and an example list of activities I pulled when “At Inbound.org.”
I’ve used the questions above and several other lists from other growth experts to identify methods that will quickly help me reach my goals.
Some other places to find growth methods:
- At this extensive growth list by Ladder.io https://ladder.io/playbook
- In Sujan Patel’s ebook 100 Days of Growth
- In Top 100 Growth Hacks by Aladdin Happy
- At Rocketship, growth hacks sourcebook https://rocketshp.com/ultimate-growth-hacking-sourcebook/
Need a Fast-Acting Method Right Now?
I assume you clicked on this post because you need a method right now to ensure you reach your goals. Let’s go through a few:
1. Creatively Email Your List
Options: Email to reactivate old users, email to get free users to upgrade to a paid account, email users to try a new feature.
Think about your goal, what do you need to accomplish?
More weekly active users? Email inactive users to share news and features. Write the email in a tone that is helpful and beneficial for them rather than boastful of the company.
More monthly recurring revenue? Email free trial members who have never upgraded and offer a free month of service for signing up to the paid level right now.
No list? Ask a colleague at another software or service to swap email lists and send an offer for each other. You’ll have to choose a complimentary product, but it could be the boost you need. Or, cold email companies you find through BuiltWith, a tool that tells you what sites are using popular products like HubSpot, Marketo, etc. Here are a few ideas you can run with:
- Price Increase or Notice of Price Increase coming
- Send an email, text, or show it right inside your app: “End Trial Now – Get 1 Month Free. This special offer expires in 19:59 minutes (countdown)”
- Check out these inquisitive subject lines for standing out in an inbox
In this list of Best Email Campaigns on HubSpot, you’ll find several ideas you can use to put your email list to work. Examples range from custom transactional emails to thank you emails (for being a long-time subscriber). There is an unlimited number of choices.
Harrod Horticultural Gets 47% Sale Rate Through Email
One company who has used their email list to create more sales, and undoubtedly meet goals, is Harrod Horticultural. They started sending a yearly reminder to purchase a natural slug killer to their former buyers and received a 47% click-to-sale rate. It just proves that the right message at the right time is sometimes all you need. Here is a view of their email:
2. Hold a One-Time Event with a Special Offer
You could: Teach a class complimentary to your product; for instance, “writing the perfect email” if you work at a marketing automation company. Or “selling more b2b software” where you and sales reps from your team host impromptu practice calls with each other to teach others to improve their skill.
Ask yourself: What do our customers need to learn? How can we teach them and share our product as a helpful service in their endeavor?
How do you pull this off? Brainstorm ideas immediately and plan out an outline. Pick a time and date on the calendar. Start promoting ASAP – send emails, put ads on Facebook, put a notice on your site, and add an in-app message to all your users.
Other options: Have your CEO or CMO host the class, have them hold a Facebook live session, host the class with an expert guest speaker, or hold a live AMA on video.
An example of this is Dr. Axe, a wellness expert. He holds Facebook live sessions about different health issues like IBS, Diabetes, Cancer, etc.
During the session, he teaches how wellness might affect these issues and then sells his supplements and essential oils in addition to sharing the information.
3. Activate Your Evangelists
Recently, ConvertKit got their evangelists motivated to help promote the email service tool. I haven’t seen results from the company, but I came across multiple people working on their behalf to share their excitement and love. Done right, this type of campaign can bring in thousands of new users.
To do this, sign up at Referral Candy and build a campaign. Get your users to share their experiences (which you can later use for case studies), ask them to share their links and your product with their followers, and offer an incentive for their time.
Here’s how Sujan Patel recommends running a referral campaign.
Incentives can include:
- Free months of service
- Prize package of books
- Access to pro features
Convert Users to Evangelists Like ConvertKit
Here is just one of the emails I received about ConvertKit from one of their evangelists during their recent promotion.
4. Run New Facebook Ad Campaigns
If you don’t have your own experience to draw from, PPC or Facebook Ads could be your best bet, as the traffic is immediate and there are several ways to increase the effectiveness, not to mention optimize the ads for cheap traffic.
The following are a few links to Ladder.io’s growth tests to help you get impressive results from your experiments:
If you are just starting your Facebook ads journey, target your market as specifically as possible, test for a couple of days, and scale when it makes sense. This may leave less time for results, but it’s haphazard to jump in with your entire budget because it can disappear in minutes.
Even when working on a new campaign of $10k a month, we’ve started by spending hundreds a day in the first week to test for scaling.
Some ideas for your Facebook campaign might include:
- New discount offer
- Free trial offer
- Different ad campaigns for different markets
Get the Most of Your Ace in the Hole Activities
There are a few ways to optimize your ace in the hole activities. Here’s what I’ve learned:
- Be specific about the metrics you are trying to meet. Focus on just one metric, such as monthly recurring revenue, traffic, new users, weekly active users.
- Choose your methods based on the questions you’ve answered in one day (remember you don’t have a lot of time). What seems most promising?
- Estimate the result you can expect from each method, so you can accurately decide how many activities you need.
- Research each step of the method before working on it. For example, with an email campaign, research the best subject titles, how to increase click-through rates, etc. This is easy using a few Google searches.
And last but not least, do a better job of planning your marketing/growth calendar ahead of time for the next month.
High-growth companies rarely stumble upon growth by accident; it almost always requires careful, specific, even meticulous planning. An “ace in the hole” is just one of the steps in carefully planning for growth. The other 6 are included in my 7 Steps to Crush Growth Goals Every Time available for download at www.mary-green.com/goals-plan.