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Apr 24, 2018 4:21:35 PM

How to enable growth in a large organisation?

Patricia Åkerman

Head of Marketing & Communications

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Growth hacking is a great opportunity for large organisations just as it is for smaller companies. But the process of getting a new kind of way-of-working pushed through and accepted in an enterprise can bring some hurdles along the way.

We had the opportunity to talk to two experienced leaders, who have set up growth hacking teams and driven forward a growth culture in multi-billion companies.

  • Eetu Paloheimo is the VP, Digital Sales and Marketing at Veikkaus and
  • Matti Liski is Head of Online Sales at Elisa.

Point zero. The beginning.

Everything needed to run successful digital sales in your organisation is outsourced: ecommerce site, web development, content production and digital marketing. You can find some data, but it’s old, sales & marketing analytics just a dream. No one has an overview of the situation. And – there’s no resources.

Sounds horrible, right? It is, but in many cases this is what digital sales and marketing look like in the enterprise world. So how to get started?

“We were at a situation where growth needed to happen and we’d made the decision to try out agile methods to achieve it. We started to build our growth hacking competences gradually, piece by piece. We began doing small technical adjustments, like adding cookies tour website to connect that data with our customer data, and doing some minor adjustments to UX. We also reorganized our team to become more analytics oriented instead of being content oriented – and quite quickly we learned that content isn’t actually making more money for us, says Eetu Paloheimo.”

This is one the most important things you need to understand about growth hacking: it’s always, always, about the data. There is no gut-feeling, no guessing, no ‘this is how we’ve always done it’. It’s about setting up the right analytics and data collection methods and then going through and analysing that data on a daily, even hourly basis – and then making decisions based on what the data brings forth.

“One of the first things we did in the beginning was a small UX design tweak on our website. We implemented the change and ran some A/B tests with our website visitors, and you know what, in a week we saw a huge increase in revenue – with that one small thing! What enabled that experiment was how we’d structured our team: developers, designers, marketers and analysts all sat around the same table and were able to quickly go live, test and gather data. After this one stroke of luck, we were able to get approval from the board and actually start growth hacking in full-speed.

Data allowed us to sit at the driver’s seat. You just need to trust the data. It can be hard sometimes when people want to base decisions on hunches and feelings, but data will always work in your advantage. Nevertheless, you can’t forget about the customer either. The thing with data is that it’s always historic. Be it five minutes, five days or five months, it’s never about the future. In a customer facing business you need to make sure you don’t lose sight of the customer experience while running all the tests and experiments, Eetu Paloheimo continues.”

Growth hacking can easily come across as a bag of tricks, but when done right it’s a complete overhaul of company culture. It’s a mindset, a new way of thinking. Which is why it is absolutely necessary for the organisation’s leaders to approve and become advocates for it. At its best, growth hacking flows down from the top layer to encompass the whole organisation.

Many times it’s necessary need to find a “believer” within the organisation who has faith in this method. Growth hacking runs on internal buy-in from the top level. But this does not mean that you as a leader need to get involved in the activities yourself on a day-to-day basis. It means that you need to be able trust that your people know what they are doing and give them time and budget to create impact.

Matti Liski has experience in what it means to get someone on your side: “We’d had the digital sales team up and running for a few years and we were at a situation where we had made some gains, but not at the level that was expected. Then one consultancy approached us with the idea of growth hacking, but we realised that we actually had the necessary know-how in-house. So we reorganised, made a pilot proposal for management and got three months to make it work.

We picked a few of the ideas we had in mind to increase sales on our website and started experimenting. Within the first month we’d found and tested enough concrete improvements that would cover the costs of our pilot. After that we rather quickly got enough internal buy-in to ensure the continuation of our work.”

For someone in a leadership position it can be difficult to justify the budget allocations when there is no 12-month profit plan or any promise that spending 20 000€ will actually pay itself back. And it might not, it can happen. That brings us to the core of what growth hacking actually is: it’s continuous testing, continuous pillaging for new wins and continuous learning. Sometimes an experiment can prove that the assumptions made based on data were not correct – and that is totally OK. Every experiment has an important job to do; they help us growth hackers find out what works and what not. “It’s a good lesson to lose money, Matti Liski says with a smile on his face”.

Too often organisations approach digital sales as an IT problem, not a business problem. Setting up a growth hacking team does not mean setting up a team to manage a backlog for all digital sales and marketing ideas. Growth hackers love to work with everyone from every side of the business, but they need to have autonomy to function properly. A growth team should always be independent and cannot be run top-down.

Eetu Paloheimo know what it means when a growth team comes to a standstill: “At some point we realised that our team has all the necessary capabilities, but the dynamics were broken. It was run top-down, there was no discussion between the members unless there was a problem, simply no discussions. How we fixed it was to build smaller teams within the team and give those small teams their own products to work on and start making revenue with. A smaller team would have all the competences needed, such as a designer, a developer, a content producer, marketer and an analyst. We had only one rule: every decision needs to be based on analytics. Impact should drive the work.

I’m not saying we didn’t face any issues – many were against the new setup and even afraid for their job. We put in a lot of effort into communicating and talking with people about the whys and hows. After people started to see the impact of their own work in our revenue stream they learned to trust the system and prioritise their work better, making us more efficient and profitable."

A company with a growth culture is a company that provides its employees the possibility to do meaningful work and a feeling that they are making an impact. In a growth culture everyone has freedom and trust to develop the company instead of being just another wheel in a machine.

Everyone in an organisation can benefit from a growth mindset.

Six lessons on making growth happen

In true growth hacking spirit, our interviewees wanted to share the most important lessons they have learned in the past 10 years.

  1. Just get started. Even if it’s something small, make it happen. A small proof of concept is better than nothing.
  2. You need to get the C-level on board. Use data to prove the ROI of your experiments.
  3. You need to take risks.
  4. Trust the numbers and data, use them to make assumptions which you can test out and validate.
  5. Everything costs money, but it’s about what you learn along the way. If you continue to learn with each success and each failure, you’re doing it right. Failure happens only when don’t learn.
  6. Keep it humble.


Keen on learning more on growth hacking? Join our Growth Hacking Crash Course for Corporate Leaders and Managers and learn how to install a growth hacking mindset throughout your organisation. Sign up to one of our upcoming courses in Helsinki or Stockholm!


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