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I'm doing a Webinar with Morgan Brown and Robert Moore (CEO of RJ Metrics) on Thursday and a big part of our discussion is around the importance of goal setting to growth hacking. I'm curious if the GrowthHackers.com community agrees that it is important and if so, why?  Also, how specific should you be with your goals?

  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    over 5 years ago #

    FWIW, I read this last night in a Paul Graham article that is very related to this question:

    "We usually advise startups to pick a growth rate they think they can hit, and then just try to hit it every week. The key word here is "just." If they decide to grow at 7% a week and they hit that number, they're successful for that week. There's nothing more they need to do. But if they don't hit it, they've failed in the only thing that mattered, and should be correspondingly alarmed.

    Programmers will recognize what we're doing here. We're turning starting a startup into an optimization problem. And anyone who has tried optimizing code knows how wonderfully effective that sort of narrow focus can be. Optimizing code means taking an existing program and changing it to use less of something, usually time or memory. You don't have to think about what the program should do, just make it faster. For most programmers this is very satisfying work. The narrow focus makes it a sort of puzzle, and you're generally surprised how fast you can solve it.

    Focusing on hitting a growth rate reduces the otherwise bewilderingly multifarious problem of starting a startup to a single problem. You can use that target growth rate to make all your decisions for you; anything that gets you the growth you need is ipso facto right."

    Read full article here: http://www.paulgraham.com/growth.html

    • CB

      Chelsea Baldwin

      over 5 years ago #

      I agree with this. I think it's necessary to have minimum goals (maybe they could be rephrased as expectations?) and to plan for those.

      But beyond the minimum, I think what really helps you exceed your own expectations is setting an intention for *true* growth and figuring out the most effective steps to take to get there and implementing them beyond the work for the minimum expectation. Once that's set in place, you can set truly aggressive targets outside of your comfort zone and work like crazy to get there.

  • MC

    Massimo Chieruzzi

    over 5 years ago #

    That's an interesting question @sean !

    I think setting goals is extremely important, both for motivation and for focusing on activities that drive real growth. This is valid for Growth Hacking as well as Development, Sales and so on.

    At AdEspresso we usually set two goals, one aggressive but realistic and one extremely aggressive. If we hit the second we really party hard and organize something big for all the team.

    One really important thing, which I'm still working on, is the timeframe of the goals. Should they be weekly, monthly, quarterly? I honestly don't like weekly goals, the timeframe is too short, and while I think it can hyper-focus you on growing, you also loose the long term vision.

    As an example, if you have to hit a 7% growth every week, you have money, little time and Google Adwords is working well, you'll be more likely to focus 100% of your effort on that. Doubling down on what's working is good, but you may end up totally ignoring SEO because it takes too much time to drive results.

    With a short time-frame you may also end up focusing solely on goals rather than building a repeatable growth process.

    Of course it also depends on the stage you are as well. Likely while you're in YC and your N.1 priority is getting traction for fundraising, focusing on a weekly growth can make sense.

    What timeframe do you use to monitor goals ?

  • SY

    Stephen Yang

    over 5 years ago #

    I'm a big fan of separating out impact goals from process goals. As an example, an impact goal would be: "Grow traffic on our blog 10% month over month." A process goal would be: "Post 3 articles every day." Here's a good post that goes over it a little more detail: http://alifeofproductivity.com/creativity-set-process-goals/

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    over 5 years ago #

    Maybe this is a newbie question but how else would you measure success/progress without goals?

  • SM

    Stuart McKeown

    over 5 years ago #

    Absolutely, we have macro goals and micro goals.

    The macro goals are simple things like, MRR. Micro goals are improving smaller elements bit by by, for example how to we improve the homepage signup rate from x% to x%.

    The more micro goals we can impact the more we'll grow the macro goal. Or that's the idea :)

    • AC

      Aurelie Chazal

      over 5 years ago #

      Same here. I would find it impossible to hit a macro goal without setting up micro goals in between.

      I don't know how you see it but for me the micro goals are defining some kind of path or process I will follow to hit the macro goal in the end. It's also a good way to keep track of what's working and what's not.

  • DL

    Dylan La Com

    over 5 years ago #

    I asked @yegg a related question during his AMA and thought he had an insightful answer:

    I think picking your traction goal is incredibly important because it really drives everything you do in terms of getting traction and you scope whether things are really moving the needle or not.

    The best goals are aligned with an inflection point in your company. For many companies the first one is getting the amount of traction necessary to raise funding. For DuckDuckGo it was a bit different since I was self-funding at the beginning. Our goals have been:

    –get to a point where people could really switch to DuckDuckGo as their primary search engine (inflection point: real product/market fit)
    –get to 100M searches/month (inflection point: break-even)
    –get to 1% of the search market (inflection point: entrenched in the market)

    These are taking about 2yr+ to achieve but the timeframe is not really as important as the inflection point.


  • DM

    demetrius michael

    over 5 years ago #

    For groups of people, you need goals.
    They're great tools for cheerleading -- They're memorable, gets everyone involved, and makes people in general happier.

  • DM

    demetrius michael

    over 5 years ago #

    The best goals are within reach, but beyond grasp.

  • PL

    Peter Levitan

    over 5 years ago #

    First of all, how can any marketing planning not be based on goals / objectives? I realize some are but they are throwing darts blindfolded.

    Now, in respect to growth Hacking... how can you grow if you don"t have any measurement? Need two visuals? 1) Think of how parents mark their kids hight on a door. 2) How can Tom Brady win if he can't find the goal line?

    • TD

      Tiffany Dasilva

      over 5 years ago #

      I think in some cases, big growth comes from not having a "goal" to hold you down. For example, What if you have been focusing on growing 100% but you could have grown 500% if you had adjusted your focus to something bigger. Now, I can't say that it works for me. I need a goal (even if its a huge BHAG type of goal) to stay focused but for some I've seen companies have an over arching goal of we need to go from a $xx company to a $xxx company in one year, and then everyone strives to hit it their own way without much guidance. Although I do like the example @massimo mentioned of "hit a 7% growth every week." I think that's a good way to set your focus, and figure out quickly the distractions that could be stopping you from hitting that kind of growth.

      Basically, I'm on the fence since i've worked in both situations :P Although I feel less anxiety around a more strict goal oriented environment.

  • DS

    Devinder Singh

    over 5 years ago #

    The topic is of great interest, so thanks for planning a webinar.

    I have recently been through a goal setting and failed at meeting it. My startup is at an early stage - starting at zero customers. I'm still testing traction channels that can move the needle. Even though goal setting is important, however when you don't even know which traction channel will work, how can you meet the goal.

    So it would be interesting to also talk about goal setting in context of an early stage company. I'm a marketing newbie, so please let me know if I'm way off.

    • SE

      Sean Ellis

      over 5 years ago #

      I actually think in the very early stages you shouldn't have a user growth goal, it should be an engagement goal. So something like retain X% of people who try product after X days. Or get 40% of people who use the product to day they would be "very disappointed" if they could no longer use the product. Once you've validated that the product is good enough to retain people, then you can start worrying about growing the aggregate number of people. My Startup Pyramid blog post from a few years ago talks more about this http://www.startup-marketing.com/the-startup-pyramid/.

  • MN

    Michael Newton

    over 5 years ago #

    I think goal setting is critical to success in growth hacking. Moreover, as I'm a proponent of the "one thing" style of goal setting, I think it's best if you set one and only one goal, as in @sean's example from Paul Graham elsewhere in this thread.

    Furthermore, what I like about setting goals is it gives a singular point of focus from which you can work backwards to where you are now, unraveling each step of the process along the way.

    When done correctly, what you're left with is a list of small and concrete steps you can take to help you achieve that goal.

  • RM

    Robert Myers

    over 4 years ago #

    Goals are essential if one wants positive change. Absent goals, one will regress...be it financially, spiritually, or in health.