You’ll Get Sick When You See How Growth Hacking Works!

Blue He Man

Apparently he wanted one of these

This is the first of three posts.

When Kieran Flanagan was 8 years old, he wanted a blue He -Man (the yoke on the right in the picture).

Now HubSpot’s EMEA Marketing Director, the kid back then was short on funds.

So, he came up with a plan to draw on his available resources and run a campaign.

Armed with a large, empty Coke bottle and free toys from cereal boxes, Flanagan held a competition.

Neighborhood kids paid him to see who could drink the most water out of his bottle and win the plastic Kellog’s toy.

It turned out that local kids were really compeititve and would guzzle water until they got sick. Flanagan reduced the bottle size to prevent illness and kept collecting funds.

“That was my first taste of really being successful,” he told the Dublin chapter of Growth Hackers. He was one of three hugely successful entrepreneurs to share their secrets on the night.

Digging deeper, what Flanagan realized he came up with a three-step process:

  1. Have a clear goal
  2. Know your levers
  3. Experiment until you get it right

Once described — and relishing it — as ” a highly motivated marketing geek high on data crack,” Flanagan laid out a very organized approach to marketing.

But behind it all was a “scrappiness” and a desire to hustle. “That’s my big thing in marketing,” he told the audience.

Another big thing is data, Flanagan said.This is used to perfect marketing messages based on the feedback they receive.

He cited the example of Upworthy which writes 25 different headlines for each article before A-B testing the final two in different American cities.

Even taken to its extreme, testing proves useful, Flanagan said. Asked about the huge effort sunk in to inventing the light bulb, Edison replied, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10000 ways that won’t work.”

“It’s the way you should think about your marketing,” Flanagan said.


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  1. Pingback: Beating the Startup Drum | John P. Muldoon

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