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Hi, I'm Chris Out, managing partner and lead growth hacker at RockBoost, the first growth hacking agency in The Netherlands. We've created the 7 pillars of growth hacking and have implemented it in business all across Europe. I also teach at a variety of business schools here in the Netherlands.

Together with our Digital Creative Agency DotControl, we have over 70+ team members in 4 offices.

We work on the growth of hundreds of companies and recently won a Golden Dutch Interactive Award for the growth of one of our B2B clients. 

My real passion is the world of personal development. I re-invest 20% of my income into personal development like books, courses and events. 

Ask me anything about building top growth teams, how to get a culture of experimentation, hacking the world of public speaking, hacking your T-Shape, how to build and scale an agency and anything else to related personal and business growth.

I send out a free growth hack every day to thousands of people with the latest processes, hacks and tools to grow even faster.

  • DJ

    Duncan Jones

    3 months ago #

    Hey Chris,

    I subscribe to your daily growth hacks and they’re awesome! Just wondering if you could outline more about your growth hacking agencies own marketing strategy and how you get clients?

    Thanks,
    - Duncan

    • CO

      Chris Out

      2 months ago #

      Hi Duncan,

      Great to hear from you!

      Our current engagements are over 50k+ per year and doing marketing for these type of engagements is different compared to selling shoes online.

      It’s a journey with a lot of different touch points with different stakeholders. I recall that you guys at Web Profits have also blogged about this.

      We have divided our marketing into 2 layers:

      1. The first point of contact
      2. Always on

      The first point of contact mostly comes from speaking, referrals in our network, some paid aids and content marketing. These are all things that we do to get people on our email list.

      In our always-on layer, we send people a daily growth tip through an autoresponder which currently consists of over 400 emails. Based on engagement with our emails and potential fit we do outreach and get meetings. We also post a lot on Linkedin and we engage with people who comment or like those posts.

      We also do our marketing according to the process we also sell to our clients. This means that we have meetings where I’m sitting as “the client” and we follow the exact same methodology with a head of growth.

      In this way, I can also see where we need to improve in our own processes. There is still a lot that we want to improve, but since we’re doing this process, it has brought us a significant amount of growth.

      Looking forward to seeing you again at a next event Duncan!

      2 Share
  • MS

    Martijn Scheijbeler

    3 months ago #

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for doing this! It's still awesome to see you give away so much amazing content.
    Questions:
    - What was the biggest learning in setting up Rockboost itself?
    - You hire a ton of people, how do you all train them in the same mindset and make them exceptional at 1 or multiple areas within Growth?

    • CO

      Chris Out

      2 months ago #

      Hi Martijn,

      Great to hear from you. I hope that everything is fine in San Fran.

      Looking back I have a ton of learnings, but I think 3 of them are really important:

      1. Hire senior people as fast as possible when you have an agency

      2. Standardize your service as fast as possible and become really good at 1 thing. Build good case studies because those will help you sell like crazy and spread word of mouth.

      3. Marketing for an agency takes time and client purchasing cycles are long. We now get clients in who we first spoke in 2016. Not everybody is ready to buy, so try to understand as fast as possible who has the ability and willingness to pay for your services at this moment.

      2 Share
    • CO

      Chris Out

      2 months ago #

      We train our team in several ways. We have our own education program and a very detailed onboarding process.

      We also try to hack the T-Shapes of people. I talked about this at Digital Elite Camp and we also wrote a blog post about

      1 Share
      • CO

        Chris Out

        2 months ago #

        T-Shape hacking which you can find on our blog. It's called: How To Build A Top 1% Growth Team 3x Faster Than Your Competitors

  • CO

    Chris Out

    2 months ago #

    FREE 1 Hour Growth Call: I will give away a 1-hour call with me to one of the people who asks a question on this thread. In this call, you will get personalized advice from me on how to grow your business even faster.

    So ask your question now :)

  • AF

    Alexander Friese

    3 months ago #

    In terms of growing an agency. Which type of clients are the best to target? Is it hard to convince "non-tech" companies or more established companies to the process and to maybe leave their large agencies behind? How difficult is Growth Hacking as an agency for companies, because very often you have a lot of complex situations, especially with large clients?

    Focus on small companies with small budgets or on large companies with more budget and ressources?

    • CO

      Chris Out

      2 months ago #

      Thanks for these questions Alexander.

      In terms of targeting clients, it’s really important that you target clients who see the added value of an agency and who understand what they are lacking in-house. It’s also important that you find clients where you can impact. Mostly these are clients that are bigger with a bigger budget and an established infrastructure.

      Creating a 1% lift can generate millions for one client while it can mean a lift of 5 euro for another one. So target clients where you can actually create a lift fast enough that it pays for your services.

      4 Share
      • CO

        Chris Out

        2 months ago #

        The problem with non-tech companies is that it requires way more change management. They have an established way of working and people are used to that.

        It sounds really cool and nice to implement a growth process with cool tools, but it’s super hard to actually get it into place. This is where a lot of other agencies fail at. It’s not a marketing campaign, it’s about a full company-wide transformation if you want to do it right.

        We now see bigger companies moving away from their ad agencies because of we as an agency focus on the entire customer journey and the product. Traditional agency mostly only focuses on the top of the funnel. If you introduce an app or you want to sell online, it doesn’t make sense to not work cross-functional in a growth team.

        2 Share
    • CO

      Chris Out

      2 months ago #

      Growth hacking a large client can be very complex. It’s not about creating an online campaign but you’re really going from strategy to execution and change management. We have developed our own playbook with all the challenges we faced in the past.

      We also never start an engagement without a workshop for the team and stakeholders. Truth be told, we are still learning on the go, but I think that we have a very solid process in place.

      Our model, the 7 pillars of growth hacking is our foundation for how we implement growth and shows you more on what to do and in which sequence.

      1 Share
    • CO

      Chris Out

      2 months ago #

      We currently focus on bigger clients with bigger budget and infrastructure. It's easier for us to make an impact and show our clients a positive ROI on their engagement.

  • ML

    Michele Linn

    3 months ago #

    Hi Chris,
    I love the idea you mention of hacking the world of public speaking. How would you suggest 1) improving your public speaking skills and 2) getting more speaking gigs? Thanks for the insight!

    • CO

      Chris Out

      2 months ago #

      Thanks for your question Michele!

      For improving your speaking skills I would suggest a couple of things:

      * Do an improv comedy course, this has made me very comfortable on stage
      * Speak a lot, my goal for the first year of speaking was to speak at last 50+ times in front of an audience
      * Have 2 slide decks and improve your deck after every gig
      * Test jokes on small audiences and only use the things that worked really well in a small setting when you're in front of a big audience
      * Record yourself and analyze what you do
      * Buy the top 5 books on Amazon about public speaking and try to implement as much as possible.

      The most important thing, get in front of audiences and speak. That's always the best.

      2 Share
    • CO

      Chris Out

      2 months ago #

      For getting more speaking gigs I've performed some hacks:

      1. Get as fast as possible in front of an audience of 100+ people and let somebody create professional pictures and a recording.

      2. Ask people to share their feedback about your talk on twitter. Use these screenshots for your pitches.

      3. Really define what you want to be known for by identifying the gap of your industry events. In the CRO/Growth industry not a lot of people spoke about growth teams, so that's the angle I took when I first pitched to speak at events. This made my talk complementary to the program.

      4. Write your pitch as if you're writing a sales letter using direct response copywriting principles. Constantly optimize your pitch.

      5. Use the ladder technique: once you spoke at an event, use all the previous materials to pitch at a bigger event. The biggest risk for an organizer is a speaker that sucks. So when you have proof that you've been successful before at other events, it's way easier for them to hire you.

      6. Pitch at events where your competitor spoke this year, so you can speak next year.

      7. Have a google sheet with all your industry events and reach out pro-actively to 3 events per week.

      Hopefully, this helps. If you have any more questions, send me a DM or a tweet and I'm happy to help.

      1 Share
  • LG

    Levon Goceryan

    3 months ago #

    Hi Chris, I know you speak a lot about breaking the silos in large organizations. Now, in my opinion, this is not an easy thing to do with mainly conflicting goals and KPI's standing in the way. Do you have any examples of organizations that changed from siloed to cooperative? And can you explain what needs to be done to change this for good?

    • CO

      Chris Out

      2 months ago #

      Hi Levon,

      This is a huge challenge for many companies because it's actually way easier to stay organized in a siloed way.

      In its essence, it's about moving to an agile structure by working in multidisciplinary scrum teams who focus on growth.

      In The Netherlands, we see a lot of Fintech companies making a successful transition.

      1 Share
    • CO

      Chris Out

      2 months ago #

      The most important thing is that the board is all-in. You can't do this transition if you're not all-in. Everything has to change. Also, accept that it takes time and this way of working is not for everybody. Check out the 7 pillars of growth hacking article, because that one really describes what you need to do before you can break the silos.

      1 Share
  • DH

    Dani Hart

    3 months ago #

    Hi Chris,

    Great to have you on for an AMA! I have a bunch of questions for you, but will limit myself to 3 here.

    1. What are the main differences in the startup ecosystem when comparing Amsterdam vs. Rotterdam?
    2. If someone in growth was moving from the US to The Netherlands, what are the top 3 things they should know?
    3. When you're working with new clients to adopt growth process, how do you set expectations and get the right buy-in?

    Looking forward to learning from you!

    Cheers!
    Dani

    • CO

      Chris Out

      2 months ago #

      When we work with new clients we make sure to onboard them through our education program. We do a couple of workshops to really make sure that we are aligned as a team.

      We also make sure to have sponsorship from the board and higher management. We involve them in defining the strategy together and making the connection to execution in the growth teams.

      It's all about understanding change management and for that, we see that more senior growth hackers are better in defining the nuances compared to younger ones. So early on in the engagement we really work with our senior layer of growth hackers to set the right stage.

      2 Share
    • CO

      Chris Out

      2 months ago #

      Hi Dani, thanks for the invitation!

      Of course, I'm biased because we are based in Rotterdam, but I think that Amsterdam has been doing a great job in attracting international companies and talent to the city. Amsterdam has more incubators and a lot of company headquarters and innovation departments are based in Amsterdam.

      Rotterdam is making progress. We are working with YES!Delft the incubator of one of the best Universities in the world. There are a lot of initiatives in the city so I'm really hopeful about the progress that the city is making.

    • CO

      Chris Out

      2 months ago #

      When moving from the US to The Netherlands there are a couple of things that you should know.

      1. Dutch people are direct so your communication on the job will be different. Prepare to be shocked
      2. We are a small country, so you're not selling hundreds of millions of people and that's a different game.
      3. The principles of growth are the same around the world, only the nuances are different. Copywriting, for example, is not as aggressive in Europe as in the US, but that also depends per industry.

      1 Share
  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    2 months ago #

    Bonjour Chris,

    Thanks for doing this AMA.

    Imagine you are a European Growth Hacker who immigrated to the U.S. for a number of years and you are looking to growth hack for European companies from the U.S.

    How would you approach doing just that?

    Merci!

    • CO

      Chris Out

      2 months ago #

      Bonjour Arsene :)

      This is a very interesting question. I think that high level the differences are very limited, but it's really about the details and cultural nuances.

      Your growth process, product development process etc will be the same.

      The real difference is in understanding the differences in what triggers somebody from Spain vs France for example.

      I would always try to involve local people or people who just moved out of that country in your growth team. This was also one of my first growth hacking experiences. I worked for an Australian company in China, doing the online marketing for European countries.

      Hope this helps Arsene.

      2 Share
  • MK

    Mariana Klober

    2 months ago #

    Hello, Chris!

    Thank you so much for joining us today, I also have some questions for you:
    1. What is the biggest challenge you've faced in the last couple of months and how did you manage to overcome it?
    2. What do you recognize as the biggest challenge for your clients when it comes to their digital strategies today?
    3. What is the most interesting change in digital marketing that you foresee in the near future?

    Thanks again!

    • CO

      Chris Out

      2 months ago #

      The biggest challenge I see is that so many people are talking about things like AI and other stuff, while they don't even have a proper Google Analytics set up in place. They focus way too much on the next shiny thing instead of execution and doubling down on things that are working right now.

      3 Share
    • CO

      Chris Out

      2 months ago #

      Hi Mariana, thanks for having me!

      In the last months we really focused on trying to quit things that are ok, so we can make room to make things really great. This in terms of clients, staff and our own projects.

      Killing something that is working ok but what will not move you to the next level is very though. Making these tough decisions opened up new opportunities with better clients and a better team.

      2 Share
    • CO

      Chris Out

      2 months ago #

      The most interesting change in digital marketing is that we actually have to go back to the basics again. It's all about human psychology and that hasn't changed in the past 10 years.

      Tools make it easy to do things ourselves which a couple of years you needed a developer to execute. So as long as you keep working on understanding human psychology and things like direct-response copywriting, you can ride the wave of change easily and with fun,

      2 Share
  • JA

    Justin Adelson

    2 months ago #

    Today's random question of the day:

    Do you ever end a talk or meeting with "Chris Out!" and just leave?

    • CO

      Chris Out

      2 months ago #

      Hi Justin,

      One day I will do this, but up till now, I didn't have the guts to do it. You're not the first one who is suggesting this exit ;)

  • DB

    Daan Bakker

    2 months ago #

    How would you boost your app downloads just after launch?

    • CO

      Chris Out

      2 months ago #

      Hi Daan,

      First you need to make sure that your app is really good, otherwise focusing on traction is BS. Make sure that you have a really clear onboarding and you understand the road to the AHA moment when people are hooked to your app.

      If this is the case it actually makes sense to push a lot of media. You need to make sure to have a lot of downloads in a very short amount of time. This will increase the rankings within the app store and will increase the chance of getting featured.

      1 Share
  • DH

    Derk Jan Hoeksema | Weltevree

    2 months ago #

    Hi Chris,

    What sort of role do you see for a sales manager in a growth team?

    • CO

      Chris Out

      2 months ago #

      Hi Derk Jan,

      I think that it's really important to have a sales manager in a growth team when you need that personal contact to drive the final conversion.

      It's very important to align your marketing efforts along the customer journey with how sales follow up.

      Sales will be in constant touch with the end-user and this can drive a lot of experiment ideas in your growth backlog.

  • PH

    Pradyut Hande

    2 months ago #

    Hey Chris,

    Great to have you here!

    Constant experimentation is the cornerstone around which growth hacking revolves. In an environment like that there are two situations that can arise:

    1. Over-experimentation can - at times - spread your efforts thin and dilute focus, or
    2. Repeated failures or substandard results can make you doubt your overall strategy and erode execution confidence

    As a growth hacker, how does one guard against or counter these?

    Would love to hear your thoughts on the same!

    • CO

      Chris Out

      2 months ago #

      Hi Pradyut,

      Thanks for your questions and this can be a challenge so we work with different cycles.

      We first define the strategy and after that, we run 4 sprints of 2 weeks where we execute experiments. All these experiments will be prioritized on different areas like impact on the one metric that matters. This makes sure that we keep focus in the short run but also zoom out and really asses if it works what we are doing.

    • CO

      Chris Out

      2 months ago #

      It's a big part of experimentation that experiments will fail. The only way to make sure that you minimize this is by making sure that your experiments are based on solid research.

      The better your research, the better your experimentation results. Too many people start experimenting without research and this is where it goes wrong.

  • PV

    Paco Vermeulen

    2 months ago #

    Hey Chris,

    A lot of start-ups don't have the advertising budget to get to a point where the Facebook algorithm can optimise effectively (+50 conversions per ad group) and too little traffic to run statistically significant AB tests. How do you balance significance / certainty and the pace at which you launch new experiments?

    Would love to hear your thoughts!

    Paco

    • CO

      Chris Out

      2 months ago #

      Hi Paco!

      This is a challenge a lot of startups face and I always recommend 1 thing to do. Get out of the building and sell personally. If you don't have the budget to run good experiments on Facebook, there are enough other things that you need to have in place to build a viable business.

      Put things live based on what you hear during your personal conversations and use heuristic analysis frameworks to make sure that you cover the basics. Also look at direct-response copywriting principles and build your copy based on that.

      So do the boring things first and you will eventually have the budget to run those experiments.

  • DA

    dipta arefine

    2 months ago #

    Hey Chris,
    I have recently started a Cooking Channel on youtube, mostly Bangladeshi, indian food. I want to grow this channel in USA, as I am living here. Please help me with your suggestion. I will made all those video in english and will try to attract US people.
    Thanks
    Here is the Channel Link
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9QDc1KhcXZinbw99Ds4HBQ

    • CO

      Chris Out

      2 months ago #

      Hi Dipta,

      Thanks for your question.

      Have a look at what the top 10 channels in your industry are doing and analyze what they have done. See which trends you can spot and where they are weak.

      Also read the book, the 22 immutable laws of marketing which can give you great insights on how to position your channel as unique for the US market.

      I hope this helps and good luck with your channel!

  • MG

    Mike Guinan

    2 months ago #

    I'm curious about your approach to coming up with a plan for the client and what client expectations are. How long do you plan for and what results are typically expected? Thanks for your time!

  • AD

    Alexis Dollé

    2 months ago #

    Hey Chris,

    Thanks for doing this.

    #1 How did you hack your way to speaking gigs when you first started?

    #2 What's your #1 channel to drive leads to your Growth Hacking business ? (outside of public speaking if it's the case)

    thanks so much

    • CO

      Chris Out

      2 months ago #

      Hi Alexis,

      Thanks for your questions.

      For my hacks and how we drive leads to our business, have a look at the answers I gave to Michele and Duncan.

      Have a great day!

  • EG

    Eros Gaspar

    2 months ago #

    Hi Chris,

    What is the average acceptable conversion of leads to customers for most segments?

  • CO

    Chris Out

    2 months ago #

    Thanks for having me Growth Hackers. It's been great to share all these learnings. I'll be back to answer the follow-up questions and don't forget to check out our daily growth tips. If you have more questions, feel free to reach out on Linkedin

  • SL

    Sane Lebrun

    2 months ago #

    Hey Chris

    How much are social medias part of your growth strategies?
    => Would you recommend one o two great services / tools that proved very efficient to boost the fanbase on any major social network (like FB, Twitter, Instagram)?

    Thanks a million.

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