The COVID-19 pandemic has severely damaged businesses in so many ways. Small businesses particularly have mostly lost their ability to compete due to their limited resources. They are finding it hard to adjust to the new harsh realities. But following some new marketing and branding strategies can help them emerge as a winner during these difficult times.

Most small businesses were not prepared for the coronavirus pandemic and it struck them all of a sudden out of nowhere. The crisis has now completely changed the ways of running businesses. Many companies have switched to online for selling their products. However, a few changes here and there in the conventional marketing plans will not yield the results. Some entirely new thinking and strategy at the basic level can do the trick for businesses during the crisis.

Growth Marketing Is The Key

Considering that, Designhill, the leading creative marketplace, conducted a webinar to address this issue for businesses. The marketplace invited Neilo Leone, the founder of Urban Monks to share his views on the new strategies businesses should adopt during the crisis. The topic of the webinar was ‘Marketing & Branding Challenges for firms during the COVID-19 downturn. The webinar was held on May 8, 2020.

Nelio Leone is a renowned marketing strategist who is also CEO and founder of Urban Monks. He is a growth marketer and helps businesses build digital brands. He is known for implementing effective conversion funnels. Companies like Careem and a laundry startup called ‘Washermen” and many others have benefited from his growth hacking strategies. His new marketing tactics have specially come to the rescue of entrepreneurs who are stuck in the pandemic situation. He has given such businesses a smart new angle to think and implement marketing plans.

During the webinar, Nelio shared his growth hacking marketing views based on his first-hand experience of working with different companies. He gave valuable tips on how your business can get prepared to face the crisis and replan your marketing and branding strategies.

Here are some excerpts on How to prepare well to be Competitive and Relevant during the COVID-19 Crisis

What is Growth Marketing?

Growth marketing or growth hacking started with the original growth marketer, which is Sean Ellis. He is a big advertising guy. When banners were a thing back in the 90s, he was in one of the top teams of banner ads. When it started to burst, he started his own company and realized that pouring money in a lot of banner ads was stupid. It didn’t bring a lot of conversions.

Growth Within The Marketing Funnel

Ellis developed a new system to engineer a system that brings a lot of conversion without spending more money on banner ads. He started to engineer growth within the marketing funnel that you already have. I’m a big fan of him because he understood how to engineer growth form within the funnel. After engineering this funnel, he went to Eventbrite and then to Dropbox. He proposed his formula to Dropbox members who adopted it. As a result, the new Dropbox scaled as fast as any tech company has scaled up today. It’s the fastest-growing company in Silicon Valley and tech history. He repeated the growth story at Eventbrite as well.

Later, he wrote a book on the growth hacking – Hacking Growth, which I consider as my personal marketing Bible. This book is my point zero. When I went from corporate to startups, I read that book five times. If you guys haven’t read it, I recommend you to do so. If you do not read it, you are missing on the key documented process to get that mindset right.

What happened at Dropbox was very significant. Once he established that process and understood that growth was cross operational, he wanted to serve people whose true north is growth.

All these marketers would come to him with three-year plans and business plans that do not apply to environmental scarcity. These plans apply to normal businesses that have money to wait for 12 months before seeing results. What really mattered for him was people who were focused on. He was interested in the use cases that were analytical, inexpensive, creative and innovative methods to acquire, activate and retain customers. I’m a big fan of Sean Ellis, and I do recommend this book Hacking Growth.

What is the difference between Traditional Marketing and Growth Marketing?

Traditional marketing is all about stakeholders, management, and process iteration. These types of marketers focus on reapplying the same processes over and over to have a predictable result. And that is aligned with all the different stakeholders internally, in startups, or in tech companies. You do not have the luxury of time and resources when there is high volatility in the process.

It is like the difference between the pirate and the Navy guy. The pirate is always looking for a solution to adapt to the environment instead of trying to control the environment. At one time at Twitter, they thought they were plateauing in terms of active users. Then the new head of growth came in with this new high tempo testing methodology. And that’s when this person said, if we don’t start testing more things systematically, in a shorter period, we’re never going to grow. And when they started to implement this high tempo testing methodology, Twitter became Twitter. It is an excellent explanation of what growth hacking does.

Pillars Of Growth Hacking

So, Growth Marketing comprises of pillars:

  • Marketing and Sales,
  • Marketing and Behavioral Psychology,
  • Data and Experimentation,
  • Tool stacks, and Automation. 

After you master these pillars, you become a growth marketer. But what should you be doing to become a growth marketer? Well, you need to get the new marketing skillset. The beauty of growth marketing is that you will never be a complete growth marketer because it never ends. So if you’re an infinite learner, then this field is for you.

Different Frameworks

It is fascinating to do growth marketing as you start from the statistic and then promote programming to analytics to psychology and brand storytelling. Once you start diving into it, you know that every skill set has a given framework. So, you have frameworks for statistics and data science, programming like UX UI, especially on the front end, analytic analytical framework, and behavioral psychology framework.

So everything is pretty much captured in a framework with a set of very practical and applicable knowledge that is simply fascinating. Interestingly, a growth marketer or growth hacker is a product marketing generalist, he or she truly masters only two verticals, but then has to have that broad knowledge across the T shape.

A Tangible Skill

One of the reasons why I’m really passionate about growth marketing is that it is a very tangible skill. When you hire growth marketers, you need to question the mastery of the different tools they use. This is because if you are just a digital marketer, then you are good at advertising. And that’s pretty much it.

When you are a growth marketer, you have tool-based skills. So, this super hard, tangible skill is extremely empowering. This marketing skill comes from startup tech trenches, and it deals with an environment to a scarcity situation. There are no resources. Growth marketing is desert tested.