Growth Snack: Finding Your First Growth Channel

Episode 74 August 17, 2022 00:09:04
Growth Snack: Finding Your First Growth Channel
The Breakout Growth Podcast
Growth Snack: Finding Your First Growth Channel

Aug 17 2022 | 00:09:04


Show Notes

How do you find your first growth channel and is that what you should be thinking about today? That’s the topic of this week’s Growth Snack: The Breakout Growth Podcast Short with Sean Ellis and Ethan Garr. We dive into common mistakes startups make in searching for that first scalable channel, and offer some practical advice to help you make good decisions along the way. 


We also mention a couple of resources you might want to check out:


* “Traction,” a book by DuckDuckGo Founder, Gabriel Weinberg offers a framework for identifying and testing potential channels.

* The First1000, ( offers inspiration on how to get early customers. 

* "Do Things That Don't Scale" ( Paul Graham's famous article emphasizing the importance of validating Product/Market Fit before looking for a scalable growth channel. 


So jump in, and in less than 10 minutes you will have food for thought as you work to achieve breakout growth success in your business.

We discussed:


* First growth channel mistakes Sean and Ethan see companies make (00:18)

* Why for some businesses certain channels need to be thought about early (02:24)

* Frameworks and resources for finding your first growth channel (05:01)

* You will need to experiment! (06:17)

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 All right. If you are leading growth, building a startup or looking to ladder up your skills, then you are probably really busy. So every other week tune into growth snack, the breakout growth podcast, short where Sean Ellis and I share one key growth learning to help you on your journey to breakout growth, success. It's food for thought for anyone hungry for growth. Speaker 1 00:00:18 All right, Ethan, possibly one of the hardest things to do is to find your first growth channel. So what do you think is the biggest mistake companies make in that process then I'll share mine. Speaker 0 00:00:31 Hmm. That's a good question. I think probably mistake number one is that companies try to find all of the growth channels all at once, and it's really a time when they should be focusing on finding one scalable channel to, to start. Speaker 1 00:00:44 Yeah, absolutely. So we'll dive into, to kind of the details behind that in a second. Um, but I wanted to, uh, focus on the mistake that I see, um, often as well, which is, um, I, I think that they're really trying to find that, that scalable channel too early and yeah, I, it is true that you, you can't really iterate on, on getting to product market fit and, and optimizing flows, if you don't at least have some user flow coming into the site, but it doesn't require you to identify that, that highly scalable first channel. Um, instead I, I recommend that you, you do something that, uh, Paul Graham wrote an, an essay on will, will link to it in the show notes, but it's an essay called do things that don't scale. Yeah. And what he's really emphasizing is, you know, in, in the beginning that kind of manual recruiting of lots of people to try your product is, um, is a good opportunity to actually engage with them directly. And so sometimes that's where, where you can even, uh, you can even do something that, you know, that, that, that Reddit one off thing, or that product hunt, one off thing, that's gonna send a good flow of users to you. And only after you dial in product market fit, should you really be trying to think about how, how do I develop that first channel? Speaker 0 00:02:10 Yeah. In those first, Speaker 1 00:02:11 Sorry, even, even, uh, sorry. I just like fill in the gaps on one more thing. I think once you have that product market fit, then it's about connecting the dots between people who actually have that need and you must have solution. Speaker 0 00:02:24 Yeah. And I think the that's a really good point and what I think that article really highlights too, is when you do that, a lot of times you get really close to your audience and you get these deep conversations where you get those learnings that are gonna help you figure out what the right channels are and how to scale. But, you know, some potential drivers like SEO or viral virality, they may require some upfront thinking before you've even validated product market fit. Right? Speaker 1 00:02:48 Yeah, absolutely. In fact, uh, I'm not by the time this comes out, we probably will not have published the interview yet, but we had a, a great conversation with Kevin indig who runs, uh, SEO at Shopify in, within the last week we had this conversation. And that was one of the things that he really highlighted is that for certain businesses where SEO is, is likely to be a really important driver, they need to think about, uh, SEO kind of from day one in the business. And, and again, as you said, virality is another one that as you're building certain collaborate collaboration tools, for example, there may be such, uh, an important viral loop there that over time you're gonna wanna optimize, but you wanna set it up right from the beginning. So, um, yeah, ahead, Speaker 0 00:03:37 We cut you off <laugh> no, I, I think, I think it's a really good point, right? Like that, um, you know, there are certain businesses where that first growth channel may be really intertwined almost with your value hypothesis, but not all businesses like that for probably for the most part. I think it goes back to what you're saying. Like, don't start worrying about scale first, get the product, get the experience, get the aha moments and the, and the magic going first. Right? Speaker 1 00:04:02 Yeah. In fact, maybe we even take a little bit of a step back and say like, why is sort of scalable, repeatable important in the later stages of the business? And that's where I would say, you know, if you, if you're just living off these one offs, like, like the, the product hunt launch and the Reddit and, and, you know, certain things that, um, maybe get you a big flow of traffic or, or even, you know, that, that, that press announcement about a launch, um, you're, you're gonna get that really spiky growth. And so the reason we wanna find that one scalable channel is that it actually starts to bring predictability to the business. You start to be able to, to have an organic growth curve over time, but you also start to have something that you, you can actually feed and, and execute on. So with that in mind, assuming that we've gotten to that point where we at least now have product market fit, how would you go about, uh, trying to find that first, uh, uh, scalable growth channel? Speaker 0 00:05:01 Yeah, I mean, there's a book that I really like called traction by Gabriel Weinberg. Uh he's he founded duck dot go, and we actually had a, a conversation with a duck dot go executive a while back. That was also really great, but I think that book, um, provides really a good framework for anyone trying to sort out sort of the chaos of channel discovery. And it's the, really, the key is there's to hone in on a few core opportunities and then systematically test them as opposed to just try to go scattershot and try to do, you know, let me try PR, let me try, uh, paid marketing. Let me try all of these at once. So I think that's a really, like, it's a good way to get yourself in the frame of like, how do I do this systematically? Speaker 1 00:05:35 Yeah. So I wanna take it back though, to, to that mistake that you said, uh, is, is that they're, they're trying to develop too many channels at the same time. Yeah. And now you're saying a few channels, do you, how is it, is it right to kind of focus on a few channels or do you, do you sequence that and focus on just one channel at a time Speaker 0 00:05:54 It's sequence it's yeah. It's, it's traction is all about getting to the, figuring out the one channel to start with. And then, but, um, it sort of has this like target approach where you start with like, figuring out, like, which channels are probably gonna give you the most predictable outcomes focusing on those. And then, uh, from there use, you know, independently testing one at a time to get you from, from point a to point B. Speaker 1 00:06:17 Cool. And I, and I agree by the way that, that I, I love the book traction. I, uh, that, that is one that I, I read years ago and it, and it definitely resonated with me. I think the one thing that's maybe missing from that book, it's been a while since I read it. So maybe, maybe the highlight this, but, um, you know, I, I, when you're, if you're moving, as you said, sequencing one channel to the next channel, I think it's important to, to take a step back before you move on to that next channel and recognize that, uh, you know, to make that channel work, you're gonna need to be able to convert, monetize and retain those customers and the monetization piece in particular, if you're, if you're SEO driven for your growth or your, your viral driven for your growth, monetization's maybe not gonna be quite as important in making that channel work. Speaker 1 00:07:04 But if you're, if you have a sales led model or you have, uh, a model that's gonna require, you know, some, some human touch along the way, or your arbitration growth and, and spending money on paid search, for example, or even just, uh, paid demand gen ads, you're gonna need a business model that has, that has a, that leads to a high enough lifetime value where you can support those customer acquisition costs. So you just need to be ready to experiment. I think with both the, the monetization and the onboarding as you move from one channel to the next and, and think about that more holistically, Speaker 0 00:07:37 That makes sense. And it's probably, you know, a good idea as you think about this, to try not to reinvent the wheel, you know, look for inspiration from other businesses that have done similar things or had similar, you know, sort of starting points and try to learn from them. There's a, there's this, um, great website it's called, uh, first 1000 it's by a guy named Ali ALA. Um, I saw it on mm-hmm <affirmative> Lenny's newsletter. It's one of my favorite resources for inspiration, cuz it's the, it it's like this just broad list of how hundreds. I, I think hundreds of companies found their first thousand users got to their, you know, that those first thousand customers now that might not be the scalable channel, but I think like it's a great place to look for inspiration. Like how did this guys, Speaker 1 00:08:17 We should, yeah, we should add a link to that in our, uh, show notes as well. Oh yeah. We're, we're actually coming up on, on time here. So all right. <laugh> maybe if there's like one big takeaway from, from that, that you can highlight and then we should wrap things up. Speaker 0 00:08:28 Yeah. It's just not all early tactics are scalable, but they can get you into conversations with your targets to help you find those effective channels and, you know, figure out the vocabulary you're gonna need to adopt to be successful. Speaker 1 00:08:40 Absolutely. Well that's good stuff. Uh, so thanks everyone for tuning in to this week's growth stack. It's one growth insight to help you power your team's breakout growth success. Next week, we'll be back with a full breakout growth, uh, podcast episode, and an interview with a growth leader from another of the world's fastest growing companies. If you are hungry for growth, keep tuning in. Speaker 0 00:09:02 Thanks everyone.

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