Learn about growth hacking tactics, SMART goals, effective strategies, and why curiosity is one of the key ingredients to growth.

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Jen McFarland:             [00:00]               Hello and welcome to the Third Paddle Podcast. This is the show for business owners who are all about getting unstuck. And on this episode, have you ever wondered, “How the hell can I focus on growth? What are the tactics and the ways and the strategies for doing that?”

Well, that’s exactly what we’re going to help you with today, on this week show, where you’re going to learn just that. Some of the strategies and planning, and tactics you can take to integrate growth hacking into your business.

TK:                   [00:26]               I love this topic Jen, and before we get started I want us to clarify one thing.

Jen McFarland:             [00:33]               What’s that?

TK:                   [00:34]               What is the differences between a strategy and a tactic?

Jen McFarland:             [00:38]               Oh just lay it on me.

TK:                   [00:40]               A strategy is an overarching method or way. Like marketing is a strategy, sales is a strategy, customer service is a strategy.

Jen McFarland:             [00:52]               Technology?

TK:                   [00:53]               Technology is a strategy. It’s that overarching … And then the tactics are what are you going to do under that strategy, what are the tasks?

Jen McFarland:             [01:06]               Which is funny, because I-

TK:                   [01:07]               Tactics are tasks.

Jen McFarland:             [01:09]               I think of technology as more of a tactic.

TK:                   [01:11]               Sometimes it can be.

Jen McFarland:             [01:13]               In larger companies it’s a strategy.

TK:                   [01:14]               In larger companies it’s a strategy, in small businesses, solo entrepreneur business, more times than not it’s a tactic.

Jen McFarland:             [01:22]               It’s a tactic.

TK:                   [01:23]               Yes.

Jen McFarland:             [01:24]               Okay, so for all that and more keep listening.

Announcer:                    [01:28]               You’re listening to the Third Paddle Podcast recorded at the Vandal Lounge, in the beautiful southeast Portland, [Oregon [00:01:34]. Why the Third Paddle? Because even the most badass entrepreneurs get stuck in business shit creek. Tech strategist Jen McFarland and Business strategist TK, are your third paddle, helping you get unstuck.

Jen McFarland:             [01:50]               So the title of this episode is technically Tactics To Help You Focus On Growth, but you’re right Twila, we need to back up a minute and get that overall strategy in place for growth right?

TK:                   [02:02]               Right.

Jen McFarland:             [02:03]               So if you haven’t considered growth as a strategy.

TK:                   [02:06]               Which growth itself is a strategy.

Jen McFarland:             [02:08]               Is a strategy, then tactics aren’t going to help you because the strategy is all about setting up some SMART goals.

TK:                   [02:16]               Right. And what are SMART goals? They’re specific [crosstalk [00:02:21]

Jen McFarland:             [02:21]               Measurable, achievable, relevant and time-limited. Which I love the time limit it within the context of growth hacking because it means that it has to be measurable over a specific period. Which is another way of saying, if it’s not working, it’s time to do some testing and go in another direction? We’re not going to do this forever.

It also means that you define that timeline so that you’re not saying, “Well, one and done.”

TK:                   [02:48]               Exactly. And measuring with that timeline is important to do in your strategies as well as your tactics.

Jen McFarland:             [02:58]               Oh absolutely.

TK:                   [02:58]               You have to do it for both right? And I know it’s confusing I … Even clients that we work with, and I know Jen you’ve shared with me to that we get confused a lot between that strategy and that tactic. And you have to set SMART goals for your strategies and your tactics.

Jen McFarland:             [03:19]               Absolutely, and it needs to be specific.

TK:                   [03:22]               Yes.

Jen McFarland:             [03:24]               Is it very targeted, is a very specific and is it achievable? A lot of times people have these expectations. Something we talked about in the last episode is that technology for your business is not a panacea. It’s not going to fix everything; it’s not going to be a miracle pill, it’s not the easy button. And I’m sure that people come to you with stuff all the time and they expect you to just, “Okay you’ve mapped my profits, let’s do this. I’m done.”

TK:                   [03:51]               Right. And even though we map out strategies and tactics with a lot of that, then they still get confused down the road. And they forget to set the SMART goals. The word that I love most about SMART goals is relevant. And the reason why I love that specific part of a SMART goal so much is because it has to be relevant to your vision, it has to be relevant to the market, it has to be relevant to your audience, it has to be relevant to you.

Jen McFarland:             [04:28]               Absolutely.

TK:                   [04:29]               To you as the business owner or business leader.

Jen McFarland:             [04:31]               So when you’re thinking about growth hacking and disrupting your marketplace or doing something new with your true north growth vision. And you need to develop a very specific attainable goal. How does that then translate for you and the work that you do?

TK:                   [04:55]               Great question. How it best translates is I flowchart it. On a whiteboard with the client in front of me and we flowchart it. And the first block in the flowchart is growth. And then we come down, we have the line down, and we have the line across to the left and right, and then we have all these little boxes under there. Almost an organizational chart right? And then all of those boxes are sub-strategies to the ultimate strategy of growth. I look at marketing, and then we look at sales, and we look at operations, and we look at delivery, and we look at customer service, and we look at credit. Just-

Jen McFarland:             [05:50]               Did you just leave-

TK:                   [05:52]               It just left in my mind. Repeat, is another one, is another strategy. And then underneath each one of those, there will be major category strategies. Under marketing, you have media. You have maybe; I don’t know. If you’re a solo entrepreneur are you speaking? That’s a strategy. Is it advertising? Is it Facebook advertising? What are those other strategies underneath each one of those strategies, and then you can start getting into the tactics? And how are you going to implement that strategy is what your tactics are.

Jen McFarland:             [06:36]               Yeah so you may have different strategies and then some sort of actionable goal, and those actions are the tactics that you take within each of these strategies.

TK:                   [06:36]               Correct, yes.

Jen McFarland:             [06:46]               And I would say that for me it’s the same thing. You may want to grow your following online, or you may want to have more web visitors, or higher conversion rates, or any number of things. And much like you, when you talk about some of these different areas and arenas strategy, there’s always a way to measure and track those goals.

TK:                   [07:14]               Always.

Jen McFarland:             [07:15]               Always, and so they’re SMART goals because they have to be achievable within a discrete timeline. So these are sometimes achievable for a consultant is different than achievable for a client. Conversion rates through a sales funnel are not phenomenal. I had a client at one time who was like, “I don’t want a funnel, I want a pipe. Meaning every person who comes in the top is coming out the bottom.” And I was like, “It doesn’t work that way.”

TK:                   [07:48]               It doesn’t work that way.

Jen McFarland:             [07:51] a funnel, it funnels down. But that’s good because you’re weeding out the people who don’t fit you as a business. And so when we talk about the analytics, and about the measuring, it’s all about, am I getting the results that I need that I set up in my SMART goal?” And what are the deliverables that I’m getting out of that? What am I getting as a business owner, as a business? Am I getting the clients that I anticipated getting after having gone through this whole process? After envisioning this goal and following through on these tactics. Starting to do things that are always aligned with what your strengths are. We’ve talked about that before.

So you make sure that it’s aligned with your business goals, with what you’re going to follow through on. And when you start doing it, I mean you don’t know.

TK:                   [08:45]               That’s right. And you’re measuring is also your ROI. You don’t know if there’s any return on your investment unless you’re measuring, being able to see. I was just talking with a client the other day, and okay here’s a simple strategy networking. That’s a growth strategy in itself, networking. And so we talked about the things, the tactics that she would use to network for her business, but not just that but how is she going to measure if that’s getting a return. And if you don’t follow through on each one of those steps of your strategies and your overall growth plan, you’re missing out. Because then you’ll never know … She would never know if we didn’t set up those measurements if networking was working for her or not.

Jen McFarland:             [09:41]               Absolutely.

TK:                   [09:42]               And if it was worth the money that she was spending to join networking groups. The lunches, and the coffee’s and all that thing, we talked about. I love her analogy of it because she is a networking specialist. And we talked about one of those measurements are, is that person that I’m going to meet with, are they coffee worthy? And are they-

Jen McFarland:             [10:07]               Oh I love that.

TK:                   [10:11]               Are they worth me getting in my car … Getting ready, getting in my car, going to meet them and then spending the hour there, and then spending the hour drive back in my car? Are they worth that three or four-hour span in my day? And not necessarily are they worth it as a person, because we’re all worth it as people. But worth it in that is meeting with that person in person going to move the needle, or should the tactic be instead of meeting for coffee at a restaurant we jump on Zoom for 15 or 20 minutes.

Jen McFarland:             [10:46]               Absolutely and I do … It’s interesting because I always find networking to be one of those things that are not necessarily easy to measure, the ROI. [crosstalk [00:10:59]

TK:                   [10:58]               Right, because it doesn’t come for a long time most times.

Jen McFarland:             [11:02]               Well it doesn’t come for a long time and you don’t know, because it comes after a long time you don’t know the impact that you’ve made on somebody else. And someone may come to you because three or four people talked about you, or because somebody mentioned you in a comment and that’s not even somebody you directly connected to, you never know.

TK:                   [11:22]               Right. However, there are ways that you can measure things networking and those type of strategies. In that, if you have a CRM.

Jen McFarland:             [11:32]               Correct.

TK:                   [11:32]               And you go in and you make notes. ‘Met with this person for coffee at this time’ or ‘met at this networking meeting and talked about this.’ Then you can track that lead journey.

Jen McFarland:             [11:45] Absolutely you can-

TK:                   [11:46]               And then if they convert at some time, whether it was because you went specifically back to that lead and tried to market or sell something to them, or maybe they’ve now heard about you enough times, where they reach out and say, “Okay, I’m ready to work with you now. I’m ready to hire you now.” That doesn’t necessarily matter, but if you’re not tracking when that lead came in, what’s been happening with that lead in your CRM, then of course you’ll never know if there’s a return on that or not.

Jen McFarland:             [12:18]               Well that’s true. I think I’m talking about the … when people play the telephone game. And then they come to you after three or four people and somehow my name is still Jen McFarland and they still come to me. Which, I get a lot of referral business, and I don’t always know where it comes from. Somebody just talked about it. One way that you can measure that, is on your intake forms however you do that, asking how people found out about you, and then you track that. It’s so huge [crosstalk [00:12:47] it’s so huge.

TK:                   [12:48]               When I had my retail gift basket store, my brick and mortar store. We asked customers all the time when they walked in the door, “Hi.” If we didn’t know them, our first question out of our mouths was, “Hi, how’d you hear about us?”

Jen McFarland:             [13:03]               Absolutely.

TK:                   [13:03]               So that we knew if our signage outside was working. or if the articles that were being written about us in the local newspaper were working, or if it was the ads that I placed in the church bulletin for $25, was that working, right? Or in a coupon flyer clipper magazine.

Jen McFarland:             [13:23]               The truth is if you don’t ask, then you don’t know. And then it means that you have no idea if your growth tactics are working. I mean that’s the bottom line. In the work that I do, some of that can be tracked just through technology and analytics. And you can kind of follow the path.

TK:                   [13:39]               Sure, Google Analytics [crosstalk [00:13:41] is great for measurements right? Dashboards for your email marketing providers are great measuring tools.

Jen McFarland:             [13:49]               There are so many different ways, and I just encourage people to really get curious about that. Because if you’re still wondering whether things are working, and you’re not getting curious around all of the tools that we’ll actually tell you, then you just don’t know. It’s like, we’ve talked about throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping that something sticks. Then when something sticks, you have no idea why. If you’re not tracking how people come to you, who actually buys from you, how they found you. Whatever it is, especially when you’re doing something new. If you’re doing something you’ve never done before, I can’t underscore enough the importance of building in things like sustainability, can I scale this up, can I replicate this over and over again, can I measure this to make sure of success, and then can I repeat and go over and over again.

These are the pillars of backing up whatever new thing that you’re trying to do.

TK:                   [14:53]               Right, absolutely. And it’s … As you were sitting here talking and I was thinking about blog right? Blog, that’s simple … It’s a strategy and a tactic all in one. Because it’s a marketing tactic, but in itself, it can be a strategy, especially if you’re wanting to monetize your blog. And the measurement of a blog is not just how many visitors, how many readers, how many subscribers are you getting. But you can also test titles, and measure what works for my audience.

Jen McFarland:             [14:53]               Oh I love that.

TK:                   [15:31]               And what doesn’t work for my audience. And I mean you’ve got to … I think you hit the nail on the head when you said, you have to get curious enough. This growth hacking is all about being curious.

Jen McFarland:             [15:43]               Right, oh absolutely. If you aren’t curious. I know curiosity killed the cat [crosstalk [00:15:51].

TK:                   [15:50]               Here we go again we’re either skinning the cat or we’re killing it Jen.

Jen McFarland:             [15:56]               I am not, I do nothing of the sort.

TK:                   [15:58]               We are animal lovers and we would never, ever, ever do that by the way.

Jen McFarland:             [16:03]               But what I would say is, when you’re doing new growth hacking tactics in your business, we’re not asking you to put your entire business on the line. We’re asking you to take small incremental measurable steps, that may actually result in revitalizing and providing a lot of growth. We’re not asking you to shake up your entire business like a snow globe, and hope and pray that it’s going to work.

TK:                   [16:29]               [crosstalk [00:16:29] or try to work every strategy at once. That would just kill you and overwhelm you. That would put you so far into shit creek, that even our third paddle could not get you out of.

Jen McFarland:             [16:39]               Yeah we can’t, we don’t have [crosstalk [00:16:41].

TK:                   [16:41]               We’re not asking you to do that, but we are asking you to have a plan with all of those strategies. And what I like to do with my clients and it works really well, is we divide those strategies and tactics into 90 day initiatives and 90 day plans. So maybe the first … And we look at where are we needing the biggest bang for our buck right now. And more times than not it’s in marketing right away. So marketing is usually one of the first strategies that we focus on for 90 days. And we get all of the strategies and all of the tactics put together, and just implement that for 90 days. And then we’ll work on sales, and then we’ll work on customer service, then will work on delivery and all … or delivery first and then customer service, and all of those things.

So there will still be gaps over a period of time, but within a year, a year and a half of doing 90 day initiatives like, this then all of your strategies will be working well and you’ll be able to handle it.

Jen McFarland:             [17:46]               Absolutely, and that’s why you’re seeing technology methodology starting to bleed into things HR and business strategies. And we’re speaking in particular about agile which is all about, I have a limited time frame, I want measurable results. Let’s just work on a very small space of projects and [crosstalk [00:18:10].

TK:                   [18:10]               Has to be achievable.

Jen McFarland:             [18:10]               Has to be achievable.

TK:                   [18:11]               Specific because we only have a limited amount.

Jen McFarland:             [18:13]               A limited amount of time and so-

TK:                   [18:14]               And resources.

Jen McFarland:             [18:15]               … what you find in the Agile Methodology is you’re only working on a few things, you have a small scope, and then you just started all over again. And part of it is to get lots of work done in compressed periods of time, but the other part of it is … And this is why it’s bleeding over into other areas of business. Is when you kind of winnow the project down into something really small and achievable, then you’re getting that risk reward cycle is you’re moving through that so much faster, and you’re getting it done, and then you’re more agile. This is why, this is the name comes from. And you can course correct and make changes much more rapidly than if you go through this a really big, like let’s turn the whole ship around process, of I’m going to change everything.

This is about quick, measurable goals that can springboard you into growth.

TK:                   [19:12]               Yes, and over a period of time truly move the needle for you and your business.

Jen McFarland:             [19:17]               Absolutely, because what we’re really talking about at a very basic level, is all of these tactics in some way are getting you in front of more people so that you can make more sales. Or getting your message out there, making things run more efficiently. All of these kinds of tactics are really about moving the needle and about the bottom line. That’s what growth is all about, is about getting out to market, getting things done, getting things more efficient, making more money, yes. But building communities, getting more people to your blog. All of these different things, you just have to pick one or two and then go after that. And be willing to test a few different tactics until you find that thing that you’re willing to do, and continue doing so that you can focus on growth. Get real good at one thing and then move on to the next thing.

TK:                   [20:09]               That’s right. Baby steps, that’s what tell my clients all the time, baby steps. Just take it one … My mom used to always say, “How do you eat that pig? One bite at a time right?” My Idaho is showing again. I know most people say elephant, in our house it was the pig.

Jen McFarland:             [20:28]               I’m sorry, I was just thinking about like a ham sandwich or something. Is that not what we’re talking about?

TK:                   [20:33]               Ham sandwich and a road map.

Jen McFarland:             [20:34]               Wait, I’m sorry what? Okay, yes.

TK:                   [20:37]               Yes.

Jen McFarland:             [20:37]               Yes, please. You got anything else to say on this one?

TK:                   [20:42]               I think we’ve pretty well covered this. I mean growth hacking is all about setting your SMART goals, knowing what strategies, planning all of your strategies first, and then dividing that up. Concentrating on one or two, getting all of your tactics down, and then even concentrating on one or two of those, so that you can use that Agile method, and really move the needle in your business. Because let’s face it, not everything can get done at once. Not everything will get done at once. And this is the only way that you stay out of shit creek, and overwhelm, and getting stuck in your business.

Jen McFarland:             [21:24]               Yeah, if you focus on too many tactics at one time, well it is shit creek. Believe me as someone who really likes to do all of the things. It’s good not to do that. So if you love the Third Paddle Podcast, we’d love for you to subscribe, rate and maybe even give us a review on iTunes. So until next time thank you for listening.

Announcer:                    [21:47]               Thank you for listening to the Third Paddle Podcast. If you like our show and want to learn more check out our website www.thirdpaddle.com, or leave us a review on iTunes. Send questions or topic ideas to info@thirdpaddle.com. And don’t forget to tune in each week to get even more technology and business tips, to help you navigate business shit creek. The Third Paddle Podcast is sponsored by Foster Growth Online at www.fostergrowth.tech, and TK International Online at www.twilakaye.com.

Jen McFarland:             [22:26]               Wow if we just slam through these it’s like kind of crazy because, yeah. We tend to get more somber with every episode. Yeah, can you at least hold your microphone.

TK:                   [22:40]               I’m holding it.

Jen McFarland:             [22:41]               Oh my god.

TK:                   [22:42]               I am ready.

Jen McFarland:             [22:43]               You are not ready.

TK:                   [22:44]               I am ready. Just because you can’t do more than one thing at a time doesn’t mean I can’t do.

Jen McFarland:             [22:49]               [crosstalk [00:22:49] I can do multiple things at one time. But if you’re not holding the fucking microphone that was-

TK:                   [22:54]               What? It takes a like a second to go like this, while you’re doing the intro, I go like this. We’re here, don’t fight with me boo.

Jen McFarland:             [23:02]               I am totally fighting with you right now. Your hair flip #scared.

TK:                   [23:09]               Well I’ll be damned.

Jen McFarland:             [23:10]               I’m still not scared, thanks though.

TK:                   [23:14]               I headlined at the [crosstalk [00:23:17] Long Branch Saloon in Horseshoe Bend, I know people.

Jen McFarland:             [23:23]               Please, Jesus, okay. I’m not scared of you.

TK:                   [23:29]               Damn it.

Jen McFarland:             [23:30]               I know. Also because I’ve been to Horseshoe Bend Idaho, it’s not a scary place.

TK:                   [23:37]               It’s scary in the fact that you look at it and go, “Where the hell did I come to?”

Jen McFarland:             [23:42]               Right. And it’s probably one of the only towns in Idaho that its population is decreasing.

TK:                   [23:49]               Yes.

Jen McFarland:             [23:51]               So …

TK:                   [23:52]               And that’s because my cousins are dying.

Jen McFarland:             [23:54]               Oh my god.

TK:                   [23:57]               Literally, they’re like, we’re burying in the family cemetery, so the population is decreasing.

Jen McFarland:             [24:07]               Apparently the [inaudible [00:24:08] and the churches don’t have a long lifespan.

TK:                   [24:11]               No, not too much.

Jen McFarland:             [24:13]               Damn, damn.

TK:                   [24:15]               Damn.

Jen McFarland:             [24:16]               I know because y’all funny and stuff.

TK:                   [24:17]               That’s right.

Jen McFarland:             [24:19]               Okay well now that we’ve got that all cleared up.

TK:                   [24:23]               When you drink and smoke that much, what the hell else is there to do in Horseshoe Bend.

Jen McFarland:             [24:30]               Drink, smoke and make babies.

TK:                   [24:31]               That’s it.

Jen McFarland:             [24:32]               That’s it.

TK:                   [24:32]               That’s it.

Jen McFarland:             [24:34]               That’s it. Mm-hmm (affirmative) .

TK:                   [24:35]               Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jen McFarland:             [24:37]               Oh god I wish there was a way we could get the Boise Boys conversation happening on the podcast. I haven’t figured that out yet, but we’ll do it, we’ll do it. It’s all good, good to talk.

TK:                   [24:47]               Good talk.

Jen McFarland:             [24:47]               All right.

TK:                   [24:48]               Clinton Luke we love you, if you’re listening we love you.

Jen McFarland:             [24:50]               If you’re listening. If you’re listening to this non-outtake.

TK:                   [24:57]               That will never be the anywhere.

Jen McFarland:             [25:00]               That will never anywhere. Although I don’t know, I kind of like the Long Branch Saloon bit.

TK:                   [25:05]               Right? Just not about the cousins dying off.

Jen McFarland:             [25:08]               Right.

TK:                   [25:10]               Right.

Jen McFarland:             [25:12]               It was kind of funny for me [inaudible [00:25:13].

TK:                   [25:14]               My Idaho is showing.

Jen McFarland:             [25:15]               Okay. Are you ready?

TK:                   [25:21]               I’m ready.

Jen McFarland:             [25:21]               All right.

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Jen McFarland

Jen McFarland is a business owner, business advisor, podcaster, blogger, and project turnaround artist. She’s helped hundreds of businesses and thousands of podcast listeners make better business decisions. Jen’s passion is helping women business owners overcome leadership and technology struggles.

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