By Ward van Gasteren

Ward van Gasteren is one of the first Growth Hackers in Europe. As a growth hacking consultant he helps businesses to implement Growth Hacking. You’ll find him often as a growth hacking speaker on stage or as a startup-mentor at StartupBootcamp, StartupWeekend and Aimforthemoon.

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What is a Growth Hacking Mindset? (+ 5 tips to develop it)

what is definition growth hacking mindset
Ward van Gasteren is one of the first Growth Hackers in Europe. As a growth hacking consultant he helps businesses to implement Growth Hacking

The Growth Hacker Mindset is one of the most important characteristics of a growth hacker, and is seen as the biggest difference between growth hackers and traditional marketers, but what is the meaning of ‘growth hacking mindset’?

The Growth Hacking Mindset is a certain way of looking at challenges and opportunities. For example, a person with a growth hacking mindset does not hold onto his own view of the world and knows that he does not know everything, so he has to learn and experiment.

In this blog, I’ll explain what the growth hacking mindset entails and how you can train this mindset with yourself and with your employees (including some examples). Here is an overview of everything we are going to discuss today:

Table of Content

💡Tip: Use the links below to skip quickly to a certain topic

What is a Growth Hacking Mindset?

A Growth Hacking Mindset is a way of working and dealing with problems related to business, where you look for alternative solutions, give priority to progression over perfection and use data and new techniques. The growth hacking mindset is a characteristic of growth hackers and growth marketers.

It is often difficult to explain the growth hacking mindset in one sentence, because it is a combination of different characteristics. Therefore, I will discuss the five characteristics of a growth hacking mindset one by one below.

Speed > Perfection

Speed ​​is more important than perfection. Nobody can say beforehand with certainty what will and will not have an impact on your growth. That is why we as growth hackers work with the growth hacking cycle to set up marketing experiments, such as A / B tests and MVPs from larger campaigns.

On average only 1 in 10 experiments is a huge success and, among senior growth hackers, that amounts to a maximum of 1 in 3 experiments. Conclusion: you will have more success if you set up more experiments and people with a growth hacking mindset understand that.

Jeff Bezos Quote If You double the number of experiments you do per year you're going to double your inventiveness. Growth mindset
Amazon has even mentioned a direct link between the number of experiments per month and its growth.

Since you want to set up and implement as much as possible, it is important that you don’t get carried away by perfectionism, but that you focus on ‘good’ instead of ‘perfect’.

For example, when we look at fast-growing start-ups / scale-ups, such as Amazon and Booking, who do not necessarily have beautiful websites, we see that they are known for their speed of work.

As an example: If you say that your design still has to score a 6/10 instead of at least an 8 or 9, you can move so much faster, because you don’t have to coordinate that many departments, since more people will be able to design things themselves.

Voordelen van Growth Hacking Mindset
If you lower your standard, you can make more speed. You can always perfect it later. (Screenshot of from one of my workshops)

The end result?

  • A) If it is not successful, you haven’t invested too much time and effort into it, so you’ve wasted fewer resources.     
  • B) If it is a success, then you already have success on a level 6 with minimal effort. Imagine how much you can achieve on a level 9, if you put the time and effort into it.     

By lowering your standard, you can do more work and thereby achieve more successes, and you can also make better use of your most important people and resources.

Be open to alternative problems

As mentioned, a growth hacking mindset revolves around having an open mind and that also applies here to finding your growth problems.

As a company, all kinds of problems can limit your growth (think for example of your product, your target audience, your internal priorities, etc.), but unfortunately, most companies never look beyond their marketing and point to attracting too few customers as their biggest problem.

However, it is a huge waste of your time and budget if you work on the wrong problems.

That’s why many growth hackers use the Pirate Funnel to first identify the real problem.

Pirate Funnel for Growth Hackers
Use the Pirate Funnel to find your real growth-problem.

In short, the Growth Hacking Mindset helps growth marketers to work as efficiently as possible and to tackle real problems immediately.

Be open to alternative solutions

At the same time, as a growth hacker, you must also be open to trying alternative solutions.

Usually, it is not the most used solution that will be the most effective.

Consider, for example, ‘banner blindness‘, where you see that the first advertisements ever used to be incredibly efficient with click-through percentages of no less than 78% (!), but nowadays you can be happy if you achieve a click-through percentage of 2% on Facebook ads.

This ability of humanity to adapt to current marketing-strategies, is the reason that you will have to use new techniques to attract customers. Among growth hackers, this phenomenon is also known as the “Law of the Shitty Clickthroughs“.

example banner-blindness research
Example of “banner blindness”: subjects during an eye-tracking test no longer even look at the advertisements.

Also, the ‘growth hacks’ that work for other startups, such as Uber, Airbnb and Spotify, will probably not work for your company. Not only because customers are used to it, but it probably won’t work for you either because every company has a different product for a different target group with a different budget and at a different time.

And that is why you always have to keep looking for your own ‘growth hack’ and come up with your own solutions.

Data-driven choices instead of gut feeling

20 years ago, marketing budgets were assigned to different channels by the marketing manager. He/she made that decision on how to divide the marketing budget based on feeling: Which newspapers do I read? Which TV programs do I think to connect well with my customers?

And nowadays I still see this regularly: some companies do not advertise on Facebook, for example (and have also never tried it), because their management does not believe in that medium.

Growth Hackers work differently: they work on the basis of figures and data because nowadays, you can calculate exactly which channel delivers the most customers for relatively the lowest costs.

Data-driven growth hacker mindset