What is a Growth Consultant Anyway?

Dec 07, 2023

What we do, why we do it, where did this job even come from and what is it that we can do for you?

Like usual, my day started with a scan of the TLDR AI & marketing news summary emails. Today’s included a Full Funnel Growth Skills Test.

This 20-question test was built to help you evaluate your overall Growth knowledge and identify areas for improvement. The test is divided into 4 categories: loops/experimentation, acquisition/CRO, activation/engagement/retention, and pricing/monetization. It takes 10-15 minutes to complete the test.

For some unknown reason, I tackled it before coffee, and to say I was sh!tting myself about the results is an understatement, given it’s only recently that I’ve professionally identified as a skilled growth manager, worthy of being paid to deliver growth outcomes to clients. Why was I sh!tting myself so much? Because ‘Growth’ is unbelievably broad, at times extremely technical, and the tools, theories and processes are in a constant state for change. As you can see from the 4 categories above, you need multiple engines operating harmoniously, with specialised knowledge about how to tune each. Before I tell you how I went, I’ll tell you how this test opened my eyes to what we do, and really helped me to understand why our clients engage us and value us, which is very humbling, every time.

History of Growth Consulting

The field of growth consulting is relatively new, emerging in the early 2000s. The rise of the internet and the digitisation of data made it possible for businesses to collect and analyse more data than ever before. This led to a growing demand for professionals who can help businesses make sense of this data and use it to make informed decisions about their growth strategies.

I was thrust into it in 2013 at News Corp as a newly minted ‘Customer Solutions Manager’ in charge of a team of 16 equally confused product managers, researchers and proposal writers when Boston Consulting transformed the commercial strategy from transactional ad sales into an insights led, multi-faceted paid growth offering. Out went, golf, lunch and beers, and in came data, research and effectiveness reporting. Out went a lot of long term, mid-sized customers who happened to love golf, lunch and beers, but in their place came growth focussed, sophisticated businesses who achieved extraordinary market dominance on the back of data-led brand building. It would be fair to say, not everyone was suited for, or adapted to the new paradigm.

Up till then, sales and marketing had tended to get a bad rap as the barriers to entry were perceived as ‘too low’ to be a proper profession like a lawyer or accountant, but now leaders in this field were coming with serious business administration chops and broad experience in all of data analysis, market research, strategic planning, project management, financial modelling, BD, marketing and enterprise sales.

Growth Strategy Today

The difference between average businesses and high growth potential businesses isn’t necessarily the quality of their products, services and ideas, but rather their ability to focus their time and attention, and to navigate the crossroads of science, maths, creativity, and hustle.

Dive deeper with Ken & Guy with this growth consultancy Q&A webinar 

The Science of Growth: A Data-Driven Approach

At the heart of every effective growth strategy lies a robust understanding of data. Harnessing the power of analytics, businesses can uncover hidden patterns, identify untapped opportunities, and make informed decisions that propel growth. By analysing customer behaviour, market trends, and competitor strategies, businesses can gain a strategic edge, navigating the complexities of the market with precision and foresight. The language for growth marketing has changed, we now reference controls & tests, loops & experiments and design thinking principals more so than reach & frequency, which is a welcome elevation of the craft.

At no point in history has so much open-source research been available, discoverable and accessible. In a generative AI world, it’s only a prompt away. However, without some scientific method to your verification, how can you know the data you are relying upon, or indeed spruiking as fact, is reliable and verified. The sheer amount of fact claims I have seen over the last 6 months not carrying any referencing, especially in formal documents like prospectuses and IMs is shocking and scary.

The Math of Growth: Optimising Resources for Maximum Impact

I didn’t do maths in school, preferring economics, which usually surprises people as I’ve held senior data roles in statistics and demography. My response is whilst these have maths elements and formulas, data interrogation and transformation into actionable insights is more about patterns. It’s like reading a detective novel, you rule out the red herrings, follow the clue breadcrumbs, and identify who dunnit as early in the book as you can.

Growth focussed businesses employ sophisticated financial modelling, revenue forecasting tools, and predictive analytics to optimise resource allocation, maximise returns, and mitigate risks. They understand benchmarking and trending, and all staff and directors access and understand the business intelligence in real time. By understanding the intricacies of cost-benefit analysis, businesses can make informed investments that fuel their growth trajectory.

The Creativity of Growth: Breaking Barriers with Innovation

In a world where disruption is the norm, creativity is the key to unlocking new frontiers. Businesses that foster a culture of innovation, where fresh ideas are welcomed and nurtured, are poised to leap ahead of the competition. By embracing creativity, businesses can develop groundbreaking products, services, and marketing campaigns that capture the attention of consumers and drive growth.

We are seeing some democratisation of creative imagery and video due to generative AI which in the right hands drives creativity at scale, but misused stands out like dogs’ balls and adds little overall value to a businesses growth strategy. AI, in lockstep with humans, is a highly potent accelerator and a great guide and prompt for creative execution.

The Hustle of Growth: Relentless Execution and Adaptability

A well-crafted growth strategy is nothing without the determination and drive to execute it flawlessly. Businesses must possess an unwavering commitment to implementation, adapting their strategies as market conditions evolve and new challenges emerge. Hustle is the engine that drives growth, transforming ideas into tangible results. It’s here we often see otherwise well considered and structured businesses with problem solving products fall flat.

Ultimately, the founder must be the chief revenue officer in startup and scaleup businesses. This is equally true for both sales and investment. The US perfected the cult of the Founder CEO in the ‘80s, and it still rings true to today. Steve Ballmer is the only non-founder on the 10 richest people list – it’s the founders at the very public helm of spruiking their company who ultimately experience the most success.

So What’s This All Got To Do With Inspike

I’ve always been intensely curious about businesses and the entrepreneur mindset. I’ve dealt with literally thousands of businesses across almost every industry, learning their markets, studying their client personas, measuring the effectiveness of their advertising and marketing strategies. Through this there is one constant which separates good businesses from great, and that’s the level of access that key decision makers have to critical business intelligence. Working for the worlds most powerful NewsMedia company exposed me to a raft of outstanding mid-high level analysts with the knowledge, resources and mandate to drive well researched strategic recommendations UP to the ultimate decision makers. In average businesses, the ultimate decision maker tends to make decisions and drive direction DOWN and they do so without having personally had the time, and often the experience, to have continuously expanded their knowledge and kept abreast of emerging trends in marketing, technology, and business strategy.

Every day I’m thankful for the passion, knowledge and skills we have within the Inspike group. We have some of the best growth minds, each with generalist and specialist skills I’ve worked with. We challenge each other, share findings and teach each other, and verify and test each other’s ideas and recommendations. Our advisors are at the top of their respective specialities, and together we possess a deep understanding of business principles, analytical prowess, and the ability to translate complex data into actionable insights.  

It simply isn’t possible for emerging and scaling businesses to carry this expertise in-house, or to dedicate the time required, to compile, evaluate, harness and execute complex, data-led, sustainable growth strategies across technology, systems, compliance, marketing, supply-chain, sales, support, etc.

Our role is to create, implement and embed growth strategies in businesses. This can be specific or general. It can be through filling skills and resources gaps, or business wide executions. But most of all we are here to provide that vital business intelligence UP to our founders to provide them with the security to know they are making highly informed, evidence backed decisions to drive their business forward whilst minimising the pitfalls along the way.

So Are We Qualified?

If you are a business leader, the best way to find out is reach out and have a chat. Tell us your goals and your problems, and see what we can come up with.

If you’ve skipped to the end to see how the Full Funnel test went for me, here’s your answer.

I was equal parts elated that I’m not a fraud, and disappointed in the 3 I got wrong (if you do the test, it was 1-3, 2-3 & 3-1).

Have a go yourself, I think it will be quite enlightening to see the science, the maths, the creativity and the sales hustle unfold.

Try the Full Funnel Test

Dive deeper with Ken & Guy with this growth consultancy Q&A webinar