This is a guest post by Ilan Nass at Taktical, a Digital Marketing agency in New York.
Growth teams have been getting a lot of attention lately, prompting questions and, perhaps, some confusion about what they are and what value they bring. At their core, growth teams are strategic organizational structures that focus on business growth, product development, marketing, and engineering all at once. How a company builds such a team depends on its needs and goals.
What Makes Growth Teams Different?
In traditional business management organizational charts, various disciplines are broken out in separate areas: marketing, administration, customer service, and so on. Information from each of these flows up to decision-makers while directives filtering down to staffers. Each area has its defined role, operating in silos that focus on their own needs, processes, and goals.
Growth teams break down the walls between silos by bringing together staffers to form an interdisciplinary department. A separate, dedicated team can have more flexibility for experimentation and product development without the need to go through layers of approval and onboarding of multiple employees from different departments.
Growth teams are also more data-driven in their approach, pulling together metrics for all team members to explore. The ideas generated by growth teams are future-oriented and seek to improve conversions and client acquisition, rather than reactively reviewing results of existing ideas.
Ideas are not limited to simply “new,” but also improvement. The classic A/B testing approach, for instance, can fall under the growth team umbrella. A growth team is always asking what can be done better with more impact, whether it’s an existing practice or a new direction.
For example, for a paid marketing initiative like Amazon advertising, a growth team can combine the decision-making capabilities of management with the techniques of a marketer. If a budget for the campaign needs adjusting based on the data gathered, a growth team can make this decision autonomously. The growth team in this instance is driven by the goal to optimize and develop the Amazon marketing strategy of the business.
Who Should Be On A Growth Team?
At a minimum, a growth team should consist of a team lead/manager, a marketing person, and a data analyst.
Team Lead/Manager: Typically, the lead should be a high-level staffer reporting into executive leadership. The lead needs to manage the team with a focus on company goals while allowing flexibility and experimentation. Ideally, the lead has a solid understanding of all aspects of the team roles in order to understand the differing perspectives and encourage collaboration.
By its nature, growth teams try ideas, some of which will not work or do not produce results. The team leader must also know how to keep the team motivated through failures.
Marketing Specialist: A marketing staff member understands the company’s message and customer. Their role on the team is to bring early feedback to ideas and development that may enhance products and services in their initial stages. They can also provide market-based testing expertise for roll-out and review.
Data Analyst/Scientist: Metrics play a key role on growth teams, and having a data analyst team member is critical. Data analysts work with all team members to develop product testing procedures that will produce key performance indicators (KPIs). They review data for trends and ideas that are not immediately obvious for those without their expertise, know how to refine experiments and questions that target KPIs, and can have an collaborative role with all team members seeking data analysis.
Expand The Growth Team to Reflect Company Needs
Depending on the size and nature of a company and its products and services, the growth team should also include staff members with specific skills for team needs.
Product Managers: Product managers wear a number of hats, pulling together marketing, data, and engineering. They know the products and services inside and out and can identify key players that will support initiatives.
Software Engineers: When working in a technical-driven environment, such as a mobile app agency, software engineers are critical for design and coding. Software engineers understand the demands of their departments and can be uniquely positioned to offer ideas for integration, efficiency, and results.
Product Designers: Much like product managers, product designers have a customer- and product-focus point of view. They often work with software engineers and marketing, and they are valuable for their knowledge of the internal bottlenecks in development. They can then offer insights and solutions on how to get around them.
A Functional Growth Team Explores New Directions
Once the growth team comes together, they can begin to explore and develop ideas. Since experimentation is the key to growth, the fundamental purpose of the team is to find new avenues to increase sales conversions, improve the customer experience, and move the company’s products and services forward. They have the opportunity to search for better ideas, new innovations, and allow higher levels of collaboration among their internal subject areas.