Probably one of the most exciting developments in marketing is Growth Hacking. A phrase that prompts peoples interest straight away. How on earth do you hack growth?

OK you wont be arrested for growth hacking by the CIA, but you might generate some impressive growth and profit.

It feels a bit like a members club for the seriously ambitious, but its not -there is no entry fee, but if you run a SME or even a larger organisation the only requirement is a lot of energy, ambition and shoulders wide enough to accept not everything is going to work.

If you are not willing to invest the time into the project, you might want to have a consultant to act as a guide. We have helped a number of companies and individuals commence growth hacking.

Don’t be confused the phrase growth hacking itself has been around since 2010 and there is the usual argument over who came up with the phrase in the first place.

Actually it’s not really rocket science, and if you have played around with viral marketing and disruptive campaigns pre the digital explosion you probably know the basics and how to leverage the marketing budget already.

The media have loved what has been achieved by SMEs and entrepreneurs, doing amazing things on a small budget. It’s been the talk of social media for over a year.

In the land of reality we are all probably not living in a Silicon Valley world of espresso machines and soft furnishings and growth hacking when distilled into a real world existence needs ownership either by a dedicated member of staff or an engagement consultant

The basis of Growth hacking is engagement and the interplay between the real world and the digital world, a sort of twilight zone of believe and make believe

So think of it in this way and this is where I have to pay respect to Sean Ellis the father of Growth Hacking. As Sean came up with the disruptive mantra “Act now apologise later”

It doesn’t mean upset people; it means make things happen by being innovative, creative and maybe a little unusual.

The key is the ability to try and sometimes fail. The culture of many businesses does not allow for the latter. But it needs to be considered.

A famous and really successful growth hacking strategy was utilised by Air BnB

When the vacation rental giant was in its infancy, employees took to Craigslist to contact people that had properties for rent. The AirBnB staff then enticed them to instead list their flats and houses on the site instead, which was a win/win situation for all parties. AirBnB is now a massive international phenomenon, all thanks to this innovative start.

One of the most important tools that you can use for growth hacking is your own imagination and creativity. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and to use whatever tools, both digital and analog, to achieve growth. Your own fearlessness, drive and cheek will help you get a lot further than you ever thought possible with traditional marketing.

For more information on growth hacking email – weloveyouback

It’s a pretty basic question, but one that probably is not discussed enough. The most obvious reason is that they bring skills that are required in short bursts and to employ an experienced professional on a full time basis would impact significantly on the HR budget.

But there is more to it than that. The old phrase is you are only as good as your last job rings true with most consultants. They have to keep up to date with all new emerging guidelines and technologies. You tend to find the ambitious ones succeed and prosper, and those are the individuals you want on your team.

Today it’s easy to believe you can short circuit the system by using technology. As we all know there is an IPhone app or Google page for everything, but does anyone really believe that if you can use a Google teeth-whitening app on your photographs, you can call yourself a photo editor?

Its very simple yes the architect can put in the planning application forms and yes the Planning Consultant can brief local politicians. But what happens when it goes wrong?

Case in point when a well-known planning consultancy from the south-east was briefing a strategic planning committee and announced to all concerned that they had the support of the local community for their plans. To say the meeting fell flat is an understatement. Politicians were quick to point out that after limited consultation the statement was ridiculous.

Furthermore politicians in front of officers then recounted all the issues and problems connected to the scheme which could have been discussed privately, but were now thrown into the spotlight for all to discuss. No self-respecting engagement professional would have made such a sweeping statement.

The application was put back six months for further consultation and engagement, which cost additional fees and hugely extended the budget required.

Most organisations look to bring in a consultant where there is an issue of sufficient complexity to require a person specifically to handle that issue.

The most obvious case are lawyers and accountants who are instructed and retained for specific legal and financial reasons

Putting aside the warranty and personal indemnity issues the most significant reason to use a consultant with specific skills is to engage and manage a situation.

If you chose to try it yourself first in a DIY Form and if the results are not positive to then introduce a professional advisor is fraught with danger and cost.

Mistakes will have already been made and the paths chosen which will be difficult to change. The skill of any entrepreneur or manger is to identify the potential professional team that is required and bring them together as early as possible. Identifying the budget available and managing the work as it undertaken, ensuring that the milestones are achieved. Too many times the Internet gives the appearance that everything can be executed from a laptop. This is simply not the case the work becomes overwhelming and goals are missed and opportunities lost.

Over the years we have undertaken a lot of research to understand what drives people to complain. It’s a complex subject and clearly one that has some common areas of understanding. MIT in Massachusetts did research on this as well and have come up with some interesting conclusions.

But lets look at what instigates a complaint and how the consumer chooses to articulate that complaint.

There are two areas, which have interested us the most. The first is the trigger, and then the trigger threshold. The second looks at how the consumer vents- do they raise that complaint in a store or do they look to possible anonymity online.

It would appear from the MIT work and our own focus group, that there are some primeval instincts at work here. Without question complaining is easier than ever before and the consumers ability to complain has been increased a hundred fold by the availability of the Internet.

In our focus groups we found that there is a basic belief amongst all respondents that underpins their views.

Yes despite focusing on their ability to complain, consumers and residents believe strongly in the concept of fairness and reasonable behavior.

But what really drives an individual to action is a perceived breach of trust. This trust threshold is somewhat like a thermometer in a pan of water as actions are taken which fail to resolve or cure the problem; the temperature of the thermometer goes up.

The boiling point is not always the same, and is determined by shared values with that brand or developer.

It could be that the consumer feels loyal to that brand, or possibly the personal relationships built with that brand through previous experiences – all allow a slower rise to boiling point.

Hence the boiling point is constantly on the move depending on actions taken to mitigate the situation. For example at a leisure attraction the action taken of closing a ride, whilst people are queuing to gain entrance pushes the thermometer upwards- “ Thanks folks sorry for your wait -we are closed, I am afraid” – the boiling point is getting closer.

It’s interesting because many professionals have a view that their customers or residents are serial complainers – in most cases this is just not the case. The same consumer for example may argue vociferously over the quality of a cappuccino, but may choose to ignore a below standard hotel room.

MIT substantiated this and found what triggered customers to go on line was not one single event but what they called a double deviation, a breakdown of a product or service, with either a low prospect of resolution or a failed attempt.

In our focus groups consumers put huge value on mutual trust and have lost total confidence in the age-old idiom that the customer is always right, but they do feel that there are acceptable parameters beyond which a response is required.

All those questioned in the focus group understood that by going on line and complaining on one of the review sites –a bad review could be potentially damaging to the business.

All those questioned understood how potentially disproportionate to the issue raised the reaction might be, but pointed to a lack of customer service policy and disengagement by the product or brand.

Many of those individuals in the focus group who admitted to posting negative reviews online and in traditional media pointed to amateurish responses, which exacerbated the situation.