The Amplify Growth Conference in Halifax Tuesday displayed something that’s becoming more common in startup events in Atlantic Canada: When the local speakers took the stage, they were generally as impressive as the experts flown in from the U.S.
Amplify focused on growth marketing — the process by which small companies efficiently reach huge numbers of people and convert as many as possible to paying customers. Global pioneers in the movement, like keynote speaker GrowthHackers CEO Sean Ellis, delivered tremendous insights on state-of-the-art online marketing to attendees at Pier 21.
In the middle of it, five experts from the region told their tales of hacking growth, and they meshed in seamlessly with the visitors from Silicon Valley — both in the quality of their presentations and the methodology they employed.
“I think there’s a big opportunity for people to be more sophisticated in the sales development space,” said Thomas Rankin, CEO of Dash Hudson, one of the local presenters.
Rankin and the other execs outlined the tactics they had used to “hack growth.” In the case of Halifax-based Dash Hudson, which provides analytics of social media reach for such industries as fashion and publishing, the company has developed a process for reaching new clients.
Interns cultivate lists of potential clients, who are emailed by sales development reps. Account execs, whose signatures are on the emails, follow up with introductory calls. And they always demo the Dash Hudson product.
“We always try to show our product to people, even if they’re kind of noncommittal, because our product is really kickass,” said Rankin.
Ardi Iranmanesh, a co-founder of Halifax-based Affinio, said his company tested a range of processes until finally deciding to use its own product, which identifies communities of individuals with complementary interests. Using Affinio’s technology, the company was able to identify potential clients and then use a range of techniques to contact them and convert them to clients.
“We identified our tribe,” he said. “And the lesson we learned is to never stop testing. We run inbound and outbound (marketing) in partnership.”
Matt Cooper, co-founder of Halifax’s Swept, said his company was challenged in growth hacks because it produces software for janitorial services, an industry group with a small digital footprint. It therefore strove to build up lists of potential clients, and found that some data providers had lists that were wildly out of date
“The problem is it’s really hard to come back from calling someone who’s been dead for seven years,” said Cooper.
The company found that it could build up a list through Yellow Pages and Yelp, and then use various processes to determine the quality of each lead.
One final Halifax company, Proposify, uses a “lead magnet” built right into its product to gain thousands of view a month and develop a group of 4,000 paying clients, said the company’s growth marketer Patrick Edmonds.
By lead magnet, he means offering something to potential clients that they can use and will make them view the product favourably. The key: The lead magnet has to demonstrate the value of the product that’s being sold.
One common thread that ran through all the presentations is that the companies arrived at their growth hacks after a painstaking process of trial and error.
“We’ve been hearing a lot about great growth hacks that work,” said Kate Johnson of Moncton-based Alongside. “What falls under the radar is how many failures there were to get to that point.”