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As VP New Product Growth, Greg is responsible for building growth into Hootsuite’s overall business strategy. He leads teams which drive innovative projects within the company and into the marketplace, including Podium, Hootsuite’s new education product and brand. Delivering free social media education and industry certifications, Podium is focused on empowering social media practitioners to advance their skills and accelerate their careers.

One of Hootsuite’s first 15 employees, Greg has headed up some of its key teams in his previous role as VP Business Development including sales, platform & new business, throughout the company’s explosive growth to date.

At its current stage of growth—Greg ensures that Hootsuite continues to strike a healthy balance between innovation and sustainable business growth and strategy. He sits at the pivotal intersection of innovation, growth, and collaboration at Hootsuite.

His passion for people, technology and data has driven his career towards developing successful SaaS business solutions where the three intersect.

Prior to Hootsuite, Greg worked in leadership roles with a number of startups, and has extensive experience in developing amazing ideas into business reality. His areas of special expertise include digital strategy, online commerce and hybrid business models, GTM, product incubation.

  • HQ

    Hila Qu

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hi Greg,

    Thanks very much for the AMA.

    The growthhackers team compiled 3 must-ask questions representing the interests of our community members, and we will post them for each AMA guest. Look forward to seeing your insight on these questions:)

    GH Must-Ask 1)
    From your own experience, what is your one piece of career advice for:
    a) A newbie who’s interested in a career in growth?
    b) For an experienced growth professional who’s looking to advance their career?

    • GG

      Greg Gunn

      almost 4 years ago #

      For a college student, I would say gain some deep experience in one of the following 5 areas: UI/UX Design, Data Analysis, Product Management, Tactical Marketing and/or Full-Stack Engineering. By their nature Growth teams are usually very lean, so it is important to have a hard skill you can contribute.

      For folks already in the Growth space, first identify: Do you want to be a ‘guru’? Or a leader? (More here: http://blog.hootsuite.com/not-the-manager-type-maybe-youre-a-guru/ )

      The day-to-day of an elite PM or senior growth team member looks very different and requires a totally different skillset than that of a Head of Growth or VP Growth. You have to decide on what your goal is, and then relentlessly work to close the gaps in your skillset.

      Or put another way, figure out your career north star and start hacking your way there ;)

      7 Share
    • RN

      Rob N.

      almost 4 years ago #

      Than's for the AMA, Greg! My question is:

      What advice would you give someone when they are looking at finding a market which has a lot of potential in which to build a strong community (not necessarily profit)?

  • GG

    Greg Gunn

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hello GrowthHackers! First let me kick this off by saying I’m honoured to be here, and will try to be as helpful as possible with my answers.

    I head up New Product Growth (NPG) at Hootsuite, and I absolutely love my job! I get to work with amazing entrepreneurs that are obsessed with building new offerings aimed at solving problems for our users- you can think of NPG like an incubator within a larger company.

    Right now, I oversee 3 products: Hootsuite Ads, Hootsuite Campaigns, & our Online Education product, Podium - all of which launched this year.

  • ML

    Miranda Lievers

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hey Greg!

    I'm with Thinkific, the course delivery platform that Podium is built on. It's been fantastic working with the Hootsuite team the last few months on the project, and exciting to watch the growth from this side!

    I'm curious about your use of education for growth. To what extent are you looking to Podium to reach new customers vs. re-engaging and deepening your relationship with existing customers?

    • GG

      Greg Gunn

      almost 4 years ago #

      Hi @mirandal!

      For Hootsuite, Podium is a stand alone business opportunity designed to serve professionals who are looking to either take their first step as social media practitioners or level up their expertise.

      The goal of Podium is to educate one million users by 2017 - and the majority of them will be completely new to Hootsuite. This is an exciting opportunity to reach out to a new market of folks that are not ready for a tool as sophisticated as Hootsuite - yet.

      • ML

        Miranda Lievers

        almost 4 years ago #

        Awesome - it's been really exciting helping your team with the project. From a growth perspective, very cool that the majority will be new to Hootsuite.

        Thanks for the AMA!

  • SP

    Steven Pesavento

    almost 4 years ago #

    Greg, thanks so much for joining us on GrowthHackers.

    I know you're early in the process of building Podium, but in your research & planning to build this tool, what are some of the advantages of using education as a growth lever?

    What advice would you give when considering this strategy?

    • GG

      Greg Gunn

      almost 4 years ago #

      Investing in education is a long term growth play for Hootsuite.

      Our industry is relatively new and has now started to reach a critical mass of professionals. We are seeing a flood of enthusiastic novices moving into social and they are hungry for knowledge. Being generous with a high-quality, free product enables us to execute on 3 key strategies with this market segment:

      - Growing the pie: The more people that we educate, the bigger the market is for tools like Hootsuite. There is a ton of value every business can get from social, and our job to to help activate the next wave of adoption.

      - First handshake: Education allows us to reach our future customers further up-funnel. Some business owners might not need robust social media management today, but they do need to know how to get started with social & hopefully our software can be an option when they become more sophisticated.

      - Strategic Positioning: If done well, education contributes to your position as industry leader & helps you enter new markets that you might not have had a presence in before.

      7 Share
      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        almost 4 years ago #

        This last bit about strategic positioning is especially great.

        Are there specific examples of others you could point to that have been able to pull off entering markets where they didn't have a presence before due to an education based strategy?

        • GG

          Greg Gunn

          almost 4 years ago #

          Good question.

          For us the first one that comes to mind is our strategic education partnership with the Mayo Clinic. This has really helped us expand our footprint into the healthcare industry.

      • SP

        Steven Pesavento

        almost 4 years ago #

        Thanks for the thorough answer. These are super good reasons that business should focus on educating potential users. Super helpful!

  • HQ

    Hila Qu

    almost 4 years ago #

    GH Must-Ask 3)
    What are some things you do/ places you check out outside of work, to get inspirations for growth and work?

    • GG

      Greg Gunn

      almost 4 years ago #

      Travel. Every year I make a point of traveling & disconnecting for at least a week - ideally two. This year I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

      There are a lot of benefits that come from disconnecting and exposing yourself to completely new environments. In relation to growth, when we start new roles or embark on new growth ventures, we tend to spend a lot of time looking at the forest. Then, we get busy with execution and your mind shifts to the details. Traveling - especially to destinations with different cultures - helps reset your perspective.

      3 Share
  • JN

    Javier Nanni

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hi Greg, thanks for taking the time to do this.

    What are your thoughts about structuring a growth team (the team itself, and the team and its place within the company)?

    In your experience, what does the most sense, and why especially in a smaller startup (50-150 employees):
    1) An autonomous growth team (or lead), reporting directly to CEO
    2) Growth team/lead is part of marketing team
    3) Growth team/lead is part of product team
    4) Growth team/lead is part of biz dev team
    ??

    • GG

      Greg Gunn

      almost 4 years ago #

      It obviously depends on the situation, but I like option #1 here. The CEO is ultimately the head of growth and if they are serious about growth they should have the team report directly to him/her. The CEO defines the north star for the entire company and needs to be disciplined enough to hold the entire company accountable to this goal.

      From a structure standpoint, it is ideal to have an independant x-functional team that is obsessed with achieving this north star. The core competencies of a well rounded growth team include:
      - UI/UX Design
      - Data Analysis
      - Product Management
      - Tactical Marketing
      - Full-Stack Engineering

      5 Share
  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    almost 4 years ago #

    Bonjour Greg,

    Thanks for this AMA on GH.

    How did you validate product-market fit at Hootsuite?

    • GG

      Greg Gunn

      almost 4 years ago #

      Thanks @renaissance17. Love the welcoming community here.

      We built Hootsuite primarily to solve our own problems. Hootsuite came out of Invoke, a digital agency, where we were managing several clients social networks at a time. Our pain point was having to log in and out of multiple accounts, several times a day.

      So, we built a lean solution (Hootsuite) and invited several of our friends in the industry to try it out. We gathered their feedback and iterated quickly, which was key to building the amazing online community we have today.

      Looking back, there are two key takeaways when validating product-market fit for Hootsuite:

      - We scratched our own itch. Solving a problem for yourself ensures that you are as close as possible to your target market.

      - We relied on organic growth. A lot of companies will mask a shitty product by throwing marketing dollars at it. When you don’t have money to throw at a problem, you have the luxury of having to focus even harder on the market and the problem you are solving.

      5 Share
      • MD

        Matt Diederichs

        almost 4 years ago #

        To add, when you're throwing $$ on user acquisition for a shitty product, your CAC starts high and gets higher. It speaks to product/market fit a product can grow (in this case to >1m users) without paid acquisition. You burn through $$ acquiring users that ultimately churn out. Product/market fit allows us to start with a (fairly) low CAC, and drive it even lower.

      • AL

        Arsene Lavaux

        almost 4 years ago #

        Thank you for this inspiring answer @GregGunn

        It makes a lot of sense. Starting from the core pain point to solve with a core product incorporating early feedback.

        Out of curiosity, how long were you able to solely rely on organic growth?

        • GG

          Greg Gunn

          almost 4 years ago #

          A lot longer than you would think.

          This is primarily due to two macro-trends:

          - Rapid Industry Growth: Five years ago, social media was still in its infancy. This allowed us to build for a small, but rapidly growing set of passionate users.

          - Freemium Business Model: Adopting this model lowered the barrier to entry, drastically reducing our cost of customer acquisition, and allowed us to invest in product development rather than paid user acquisition.

  • AM

    Akhil MK

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hi Greg,
    When pitching a growth plan internally , how would you create conviction when you have don't have much historical data to support ?

    • GG

      Greg Gunn

      almost 4 years ago #

      That is a tough one. If you don't have any data from your personal experience, I would say research sites like Quora, Hacker News or GrowthHackers (subtle plug) for other folks’ experiences here.

      Ultimately, this needs to be a top-down initiative where the CEO is driving this for the entire company. If the CEO is not buying into the idea of having a team dedicated to investing in future growth, then you might want to consider finding another company to apply your skills at.

      3 Share
  • DG

    Dr Geoffrey

    almost 4 years ago #

    Isn't the true secret and mystical power of growth hacking contained in your beard? Isn't that really the root of everything?

    • GG

      Greg Gunn

      almost 4 years ago #

      Close, but not quite.

      While I have a whole set of principles for Beard Growth Hacking, it is not a necessary condition to being a world-class digital marketer :)

  • YS

    yassin shaar

    almost 4 years ago #

    Greg, thank you for doing this and looking forward to the AMA.

    When it comes to your $21/month Hootsuite training product, what are the growth levers you focus on to drive retention & renewal?

    Thank you!

    • GG

      Greg Gunn

      almost 4 years ago #

      Hootsuite University has been a great learning experience for us. To be honest, this was a big area of learning for the team. From a modeling perspective - a monthly subscription model just doesn’t work for corporate universities. It works for online education companies that offer courses on a breadth of subjects (like PluralSight and Lynda.com); but a monthly subscription model puts you in the position where you need to add content on a consistent basis - and what you end up with is unnecessary content bloat.

      Podium’s model is an iteration on this, taking learnings from both HSU + Hootsuite’s Freemium model. Serve people by making content free, but keep it sustainable by selling certification & moving to an annualized membership model (membership = listing in directory, employment opportunities, discounts on future certifications, etc).

      2 Share
  • PS

    peter sandor

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hi Greg,

    Thanks so much for your time. What would you say are the key factors to qualify a growth team lead? Since this field is still in its infancy, we have found it difficult to gauge who is right/wrong for our organization.

    • GG

      Greg Gunn

      almost 4 years ago #

      This is difficult as it’s very x-functional role. From my experience, there are two main competencies that stick out as a good qualities in a growth team lead: Strong quantitative skills, and even stronger communication skills.

      Personally, I would look for a product centric leader with some strong experience with building and launching early stage products. Someone who likes to move fast, iterate continuously, and flat out hustle.

      Finally, communication skills are absolutely essential as this leader needs to be able to communicate with and drive a very broad set of team members. Someone that is able to cut through the BS and distill a complex problem down to its core essence while also maintaining a high degree of optimism is ideal in my book.

      5 Share
  • AF

    Arran Ferguson

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hi Greg,

    Just want to say, Podium is one the best sites i've seen for free and informative knowledge on social media. It's helped broaden my knowledge a lot.

    With that in mind, is there any other resources or books you can recommend for accurate marketing knowledge?

    Thanks for reading

    • GG

      Greg Gunn

      almost 4 years ago #

      There are standard ones:
      - Traction: by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares
      - Zero to One: by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters
      - The Hard Things about Hard Things: by Ben Horowitz
      - Ogilvy on Advertising: by David Ogilvy

      BONUS WILDCARD - Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. While it is obviously not a marketing book, I learned a lot about the roots & history around cognitive development of humans. Super helpful if your target audience happens to also be a human :)

      4 Share
  • YS

    yassin shaar

    almost 4 years ago #

    Another question :)

    Have you been in situations were you were working on increasing retention, but you had little amount of data to work with (small user base) which made it hard for you to run A/B tests? What did you do?

    IF you haven't, I would be interested in your answer in how you would approach this?

    Thank you

    • GG

      Greg Gunn

      almost 4 years ago #

      Frankly, the #1 job of any PM is to talk to customers and build product. So if you have a small user base, you should focus your time reaching out to people that already love what you are doing.

      To ruthlessly prioritize, don’t focus on people that don’t stick with your product. It is much more valuable to have 100 people that love your product, rather than a million people that kind of like

  • TH

    Tom Hardy

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hi Greg,
    Allow me to ask a tactical question.
    What is/are the top thing(s) youwould try first if you saw good open rates on tyour emails but terrible click through's/conversions?

    • GG

      Greg Gunn

      almost 4 years ago #

      If the problem is CTR, I’d look at:
      - Content: Does the copy resonate with your audience?
      - Length: Is it possible to make the copy shorter & more succinct?
      - CTA: Make it easy and have one CTA. Anymore can overwhelm them into inaction.

      3 Share
  • AG

    Amol Ghemud

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hi Greg,

    Thanks very much for the AMA.

    1) Is Podium a growth hack for Hootsuite?
    2) How do you ensure continuous flow of ideas for growth?
    3) What process you follow to craft and fine tune growth ideas?

  • KS

    Kamil Szybalski

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hey Greg,

    What books are you currently reading and/or what's on your bookshelf.

    Sidenote: Check out our app - http://Shelfie.com Maybe even take a #Shelfie.

    • GG

      Greg Gunn

      almost 4 years ago #

      Hey Brother! Threw a few book recommendations in a previous answer, but the one I am currently digging into is “Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!”. It has been a strong reminder to me that curiosity and problem solving are muscles that need to be constantly worked.

      Congrats on your new project, gonna download it now!

      • KS

        Kamil Szybalski

        almost 4 years ago #

        Thanks Greg, feedback always encouraged!

      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        almost 4 years ago #

        The Feynman book was a life changer for me for exactly the reason you mentioned. I think everyone should read and internalize it's core message.

  • HQ

    Hila Qu

    almost 4 years ago #

    GH Must-Ask 2)
    From past or current teams, do you have a particular growth experiment that was either a big win or a big learning experience that you can share with us?

    • GG

      Greg Gunn

      almost 4 years ago #

      There are so many learning experiences, but one that sticks out to me was when we were first developed our Ads product. We actually started developing the integration into our Publisher tool before we had fully developed the stand-alone Ads solution.

      When you have 12m+ users, there is a huge temptation to try to leverage them as much as possible when building a new product. Unfortunately, when you start with an integration instead of a stand-alone solution, it prevents you from getting close to the specific customers that you are solving problems for.

      In the end, we put a pause on our integration work, went back to the defining the core audience & problem we are solving for and put our heads down on building and launching our core Ads product. That was 8 months ago, and only now are we re-approaching the integration into our publisher tool.

      That was definitely something I wish I had a time-machine for :)

      2 Share
      • HQ

        Hila Qu

        almost 4 years ago #

        It will be too boring if we were always right the 1st time, thanks for sharing :)

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hey Greg
    Very excited to have you on!

    Are there any Hootsuite features that:
    a. you love a lot but don't see others take advantage of as much as they should and/or
    b. you feel aren't exploited to their full potential even today by most users

    • GG

      Greg Gunn

      almost 4 years ago #

      A - Lists - Hootsuite Mobile is pretty much the only mobile app for managing lists right now. Twitter is all about lists for me (and a lot of other power users), so that’s pretty huge.
      B - Freemium Campaigns - this one is a bit of a shameless plug because we just launched this on Tuesday, but over the last year we have been working closely with some of the biggest brands that are using our Enterprise Campaigns product to drive engagement and leads from social, and with Freemium Campaigns we are now able to provide that functionality to our entire userbase.

      Go check it out and let me know what you think! https://hootsuite.com/products/campaigns

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