Pierre is the founder of Startup Friendly. He helps SaaS companies build high-performance growth teams, implement growth processes and run experiments. On September 26th, 2017 we had an exclusive #ama session with Pierre in our Slack community on how to build a process for growth experiments.
Here’s the transcript:
Pierre Lechelle [4:51 PM]
Hey, Everyone! I’m glad to be here.
Carsten Pleiser [4:52 PM]
Let’s wait just a few more minutes before we start. Thanks, Pierre, for joining us today.
F&C Member [4:53 PM]
Great to have you here Pierre, thanks for taking some time out to speak with everyone
Carsten Pleiser [5:01 PM]
What do you think most founders get wrong about the notion of ‘growth hacking’?
Pierre Lechelle [5:02 PM]
It’s not only founders but it’s everyone in the industry. Most people look at “Growth Hacking” as a set of tactics to implement so that they can drive growth. It’s the wrong way to look at it. “Growth Marketing” is more about looking where it hurts and experimenting to solve a specific bottleneck. It’s not about “tactics”, they only work for one business, it’s about the entire process. I think there is also a huge issue in terms of naming. “Growth Hacking” is the only thing that we have. Some people now talk about “Growth Marketing” or simply “Growth”. But they all say different things to different people.
Carsten Pleiser [5:03 PM]
When you first meet with a client, how do you uncover “where it hurts”?
Pierre Lechelle [5:04 PM]
We do a full-day face-to-day workshop where we audit the business and find what we call a focus area (= “where it hurts”). It’s mainly about looking at data and finding where we can have the biggest impact.
Carsten Pleiser [5:04 PM]
Okay, that makes sense.
Pierre Lechelle [5:05 PM]
It’s the first step to start. It’s also the first step to start educating the client about the entire process. Which we want to do because we don’t want the client to work with us for 12 years. We want them to, someday, become the owner of this entire strategy.
Carsten Pleiser [5:06 PM]
How should a growth marketing consultant or how do you deal with building a culture of experimentation within a company that has never had that approach? I imagine it to be quite hard. They expect wonders, no?
Pierre Lechelle [5:08 PM]
That’s a great question. It’s definitely a lot of work… We educated them not to expect wonders. We make them “believe in the process”, it’s all about learning (not winning) which we try to do as fast as possible. We send them a lot of content on the subject and we’re thinking about creating a weekly (maybe daily) newsletter to keep educating them through the entire process.
F&C Member [5:10 PM]
Can I ask something that is maybe a little selfish but I think will help a number of people in this channel?
So I am looking after the growth of a SaaS tool in the UK and I am the only person in the UK. There are a million different things to focus on and so many things to do I know the answer may be different for everyone but what tips can you give for someone building from the ground up. Where should they focus their attention?
Pierre Lechelle [5:11 PM]
Sure! Where are you in terms of MRR? How many leads do you get in a given month?
F&C Member [5:12 PM]
We’re currently sitting at $138k MRR. To give some context, about 10% of our customers are here in the UK. But I’m the first person on the ground here whose entire focus is the UK market. I think the advice you give here will be helpful for everyone too.
Pierre Lechelle [5:13 PM]
Okay. What’s your process to onboard clients? Are you self-serve or do you have a sales team?
F&C Member [5:15 PM]
We have no outbound sales team, we rely heavily on an inbound marketing approach. We have a pretty solid automation programme in place for onboarding customers. The only time we get involved is with a ‘free 30-minute training’ we offer to accounts that have matched a certain criterion. This has improved our conversion rate significantly.
Pierre Lechelle [5:15 PM]
So most of your leads are self-serve?
F&C Member [5:15 PM]
Pierre Lechelle [5:20 PM]
Ok. The first thing to consider is the Go-To-Market strategy of the UK market. You’re already in other countries. How did you approach them? Could you replicate that to the UK?
On the other hand, is the value of these big accounts enough to create a sales team focused on the UK? Sometimes it’s best to start with 20% of the clients generating 80% of the value. In that case, you’d focus on big accounts but you’d be able to sign much more MRR, much more quickly, than if you decided to go “Inbound”.
To answer the question directly: Then it depends on how many visitors/leads/customers do you have in a specific country. I’d start by looking at the AARRR (Editor Note: Acquisition, Activation, Revenue, Referral, Retention) funnel and look where the biggest opportunity is. I’m thinking that you probably don’t have enough traffic/leads in the UK. Which is probably where you’d need to focus.
If that’s the case, I’d brainstorm experiments based on the other geographies and prioritize the ones that worked really well. Then start running through these to see what works and what doesn’t. Does that make sense?
Carsten Pleiser [5:21 PM]
How do you brainstorm experiments with your team, how do you generate ideas? (edited)
F&C Member [5:21 PM]
Perfect sense, thanks, Pierre. Hopefully, this will really help a few people in the group.
Pierre Lechelle [5:22 PM]
We don’t really do team brainstorms (maybe we should) but we basically do two things:
1. We gather quantitative data to see where do we have drop-offs.
2. We gather qualitative data (e.g. discussions, surveys) to see *why* people drop-off.
Once we have all that data, it becomes fairly easy to generate ideas.
Everyone has access (in the entire company) to the idea board so they can add ideas whenever they want.
Carsten Pleiser [5:24 PM]
Let’s imagine you have plenty of ideas? Do you have a method for prioritising them? (edited)
F&C Member [5:24 PM]
How do you charge for your services? How do you determine price? Do you have any guarantees on KPI performance?
Pierre Lechelle [5:25 PM]
We create an ICE score that stands for Impact, Confidence and Ease. We score all the ideas on these three metrics and then average the entire score. The highest the better :slightly_smiling_face:
Regarding the price of our services, all companies and needs are different so there is no way that I can give a price tag w/o more details about the specific project. Just to give you an example of the variance between projects: Do we implement ourselves or do we just coach a team?
F&C Member [5:27 PM]
Implement yourself. High and low. Is it hourly? Per experiment? KPI? Monthly retainer?
Pierre Lechelle [5:29 PM]
If we implement, then it depends on the experiment that we need to implement. We have a monthly retainer price + a price attached to all experiments. But again, it depends on the needs.
F&C Member [5:29 PM]
What’s the minimum project size you would take up in terms of cost to make this whole experimentation viable?
Pierre Lechelle [5:29 PM]
We try to make it as seamless as possible when it comes to the pricing. If you have a specific need in mind, would love to have a chat someday.
I think it’s more in terms of “Where you are today” and “Where you want to go”. If you’re in the right place, and we’re confident that we can bring you to where you want to go, we’ll make the pricing work. It’s flexible.
F&C Member [5:31 PM]
How much of the work is outsourced or done in-house?
Pierre Lechelle [5:31 PM]
Strategic work and Instrumentation / Analysis is fully in-house. Dev work is fully outsourced (although we prefer working with your own devs)
F&C Member [5:32 PM]
Going back to the ICE score – what’s the benchmark to determine Confidence and Ease?
Pierre Lechelle [5:33 PM]
That’s where it gets interesting. It’s going to be your own experience. The more you score ideas, the better you’ll become at scoring ideas. At first, you’ll be way off, but it’s part of the entire process
F&C Member [5:34 PM]
Is Confidence based on statistics or based on typically the resources available at that point? Example if there’s a marketing person who’s very confident in the approach- so he gets to score it higher?
Pierre Lechelle [5:35 PM]
Ease = “How easy it is to implement?” (including resources). Confidence is going to be “How much do we believe in this idea”. Yes, he does. He’s confident in the idea and the approach. He thinks he can implement it quickly. He’s gonna git it a high score (at least on confidence & ease). Does that make sense?
F&C Member [5:35 PM]
I see. It does – that sounds like it’s flexible. I can see it going both ways – with existing resources or knowledge of a resource, so that can come under confidence, too.
Pierre Lechelle [5:36 PM]
It is. Scores are actually open to discussion. The “Idea Owner” will generally score it first but if we see an idea rank as a “9” when it should be a “3”, we can have a chat about it. In the end, the Growth Master decides what we should run but everyone in the meeting should agree on what to launch.
F&C Member [5:37 PM]
How would you decide who’s the idea owner?
Pierre Lechelle [5:37 PM]
The one who created the idea. We want someone who says “I want this to work”, not someone who says “Oh, Pierre submitted this idea and I think it’s bad”. So the main candidate is definitely the owner the idea.
F&C Member [5:38 PM]
What’s your favourite software to use to help you growth market?
Carsten Pleiser [5:38 PM]
What’s one actionable advice you would give founder without a large team could do today to identify any issues/drop-offs and start experimenting?
Pierre Lechelle [5:38 PM]
I’ve none. It usually depends on the focus area. Hull.io is awesome for instrumentation. Customer.io is great for emails…
F&C Member [5:39 PM]
I have a question about the audit process – do you have a framework for the process? Example specific people you talk to and like a list of questions to ask?
Pierre Lechelle [5:39 PM]
Get your analytics right. See what are the different steps in your funnel. Put numbers behind them. Think about “Where you can have a true impact”. If the area is “Let’s get more visitors”. Then let’s do it. Don’t be shy with where you are. It’s a little outdated now but I wrote an article on the subject. (Link in resources)
Carsten Pleiser [5:41 PM]
“Where someone can have a true impact” – you mean someone should figure out their growth equation and then focus their effort on one key metric instead of several? Is this what you would suggest.
Pierre Lechelle [5:43 PM]
Yes. If you launch things on Acquisition, then Retention, then Onboarding. You’ll never know “enough” about a specific area to really drive growth (the more you fail on an area, the more you learn, the more you progress). If you can’t experiment on these areas (> certain number of people coming in and out), then you should be focused on Acquiring more traffic (which can also be done through the same process)
F&C Member [5:44 PM]
Do you decide on a timeframe in advance if the experiment should be stopped if it’s not working?
Carsten Pleiser [5:45 PM]
Guess this also depends on traffic numbers, especially if you run activation experiments for conversion.
Pierre Lechelle [5:45 PM]
We usually say “Let’s do that for X weeks” just to have a time-frame. But we found it hard to stop when we really worked on an idea + some ideas yield results after a certain time frame. So to answer the question: It really depends on the type of ideas we run.
F&C Member [5:46 PM]
Is there a daily review process or weekly review to gauge the progress?
Pierre Lechelle [5:47 PM]
We usually do things through a 2-weeks Sprint. At the beginning of the sprint meeting, we review numbers and explain “*Why* experiments worked or didn’t”, then we decide on what we’ll launch next. Sprints will last for 2-weeks and we’ll experiment on a specific focus area for 60-90 days.
F&C Member [5:49 PM]
If content marketing is part of the experiments, who creates that content?
Pierre Lechelle [5:50 PM]
Yourself. We don’t know anything about your client or your industry. We can’t create appealing content. Actually, no one external to your business (and often the founder, early-stage) can create content that drives results.
F&C Member [5:52 PM]
Typically for the clients who approach you- are they typically the founder or?
Pierre Lechelle [5:52 PM]
Generally Founder or CMO.
F&C Member [5:53 PM]
So typically is the whole company on board when you join?
Pierre Lechelle [5:53 PM]
We’ve worked in the past with internal champions though (like a product guy who just want to do well)
F&C Member [5:53 PM]
I’m wondering about how fast/quick the culture can be built and if it depends on the role of the initator?
*growth culture specifically
Pierre Lechelle [5:53 PM]
We try to get everyone onboard because otherwise it’s going to be hard to get them to trust the process and they’ll try to fail everything
Carsten Pleiser [5:54 PM]
How do you do that practically? Do you jump on a 1:1 call with every individual, do you have a kick-off meeting on-site? A TelCo?
Pierre Lechelle [5:54 PM]
It takes time. Too much time if you asks me. Actually, the biggest “cultural change” will happen once you start showing results. When you send a company email and say “Look, we’ve failed 9 times but got up again. Our numbers are up by XX% thanks to this ~tactic~ *process*”, people usually start to get interested. It’s basically about showing results as fast as possible. Otherwise it’s about training / coaching (sometimes even 1:1) but it really depends on the company and where do we need to experiment (sometimes we focus on an area like Acquisition and Marketing is already sold on “Growth”, so we don’t have to educate all the rest of the company to start launching things successfully)
F&C Member [5:56 PM]
Does the client typically have the understanding that the results for one company doesn’t necessarily work for another?
Pierre Lechelle [5:56 PM]
They might not when they reach out, but they will after our first call.
F&C Member [5:57 PM]
How do you convince them during that call?
Pierre Lechelle [5:57 PM]
We can’t promise results. We’re fans of “methodologies” and “processes”. We control “how things get done”, not the inputs, nor the output. We aren’t “Growth Gods” unfortunately. I don’t convince anyone of anything. I explain the process, make sure they understand what it entails, if they think it’s interesting, we can further the discussion. If they think it won’t help them grow their business, then we can stop the conversation and I’ll generally propose that they get on my newsletter.
Carsten Pleiser [5:59 PM]
Great process here ^^ Nice, we’re coming to an end already.
Pierre Lechelle [5:59 PM]
Thanks for all your questions everyone. Really enjoyed doing that.
Carsten Pleiser [6:00 PM]
Thank you, Pierre, that was great. What’s the best way of contacting you in the future?
Pierre Lechelle [6:00 PM]
You can either message me here or send me an email if you have questions (I answer to every email, even if they don’t lead to paid engagements).
F&C Member [6:01 PM]
Thanks, Pierre and Carsten !! It’s been a very good session !!
Carsten Pleiser [6:01 PM]
Thank you, everyone @here for all your questions and participation.
Pierre Lechelle [6:01 PM]
Thanks, everyone. I gotta go but I’ll be back tomorrow!
Carsten Pleiser [6:02 PM]
Take care, Pierre – Have a good evening
F&C Member [6:02 PM]
Thanks all, hugely appreciate the input.
- Pierre’s SaaS Marketing & Growth Blog
- How to perform a growth audit?
- Founders & Creators Slack Community
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