with Josh Elman

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Growth Approach

What are approaches to growth that work?

Josh Elman

Product Guy, Greylock Partner, Growth Expert

Lessons Learned

Can you simply articulate the problem you solve in under 30 seconds?

Inception is articulating your simple concept and conveying to others that they want it too.

Once incepted, you have an opportunity to sign up a new user and encourage adoption.

Habit is the holy grail—someone has adopted your product such that you are at the top of their mind.


Lesson: Growth with Josh Elman

Step: #3 Growth Approach: What are approaches to growth that work?

The key tenants of any product that really grows and has these kind of foundational, meaningful behaviors is that there is some simple way that you can articulate the problem in under 30 seconds. Where I can sit with somebody and pull out my phone, or go up to a computer and talk about, "Here's this new thing that does this."

You can describe Facebook as, "You get all your friends there and you just communicate and share whatever you want with it." Or Next Door, "You get all your neighbors on there and you can just share and transfer information." Or Airbnb, "People put up their homes and it's just available for rent, for a day, or a night, or a few nights, and you can just rent wherever you want and it's better than staying in a hotel."

Those are these really simple articulations of the problem or the reason that you might want to use something. If you can get there then you have a real chance for people to spread your message, talk about it, and then just conceptualize in their own heads why it's useful or meaningful for them.

Once you've got this little simple thing that you can articulate as your problem statement, or the focus of your product, how do you get it into other people's heads that they want it to? I call that the act of inception. So, whenever you tell somebody about something you're incepting them, I'll use Airbnb as an example, "Oh my gosh, I didn't even ever think of staying in somebody else's house. But man, going to New York it is such a pain to go to one of those expensive hotels in Midtown. If I could just get an apartment in Greenwich that would be so much better. Maybe I'll go see if I can find something available on Airbnb."

So you get this incepted idea of this simple little thing that you can go do this thing for somebody else, and you'll do it. Every time you're spreading virally, whether your product is doing it, or your users are doing it, or you’re just doing it through PR, you want to keep incepting in peoples heads the exact reason why they should care about your product. And get their framework right, so when they come to sign up they're already tuned to use it in the way that it can really be used most powerfully.

So once somebody is incepted with the idea of your product, you have this incredible moment in time to help them adopt it and they're signing up. They're there to learn more about what's going on, they want to use your product. So how you teach them step-by-step what the product is about, how you get them to input enough information about themselves that you understand them, you can start tuning the product for them. How you create the relationship that over time gets them to really adopt it and become a full time user of your product is the most important thing you can do.

Now hopefully they're incepted right so they're willing to put in some time and work to actually sign up. But giving them the training what this product is about, and we talked about the learn flow and how you can really engage with the product so that they actually have a sense of what they're going to get, and then get into the product and start using in. And over time, over the first couple of weeks of them using it, you need to be able to market to them, you need to be able to reach out to them, help them really understand how it can still be meaningful and institutionalized and installed in their lives, and get them to this point where they're really adopting it, and using it almost everyday.

So habits are the holy grail of this whole thing. Once you've got them incepted, they come and sign up. Once you've helped them through the sign up process in this early couple of weeks of really trying to use the product, hopefully you have them where that's now a habit, where you are now top of mind.

It could be something you use everyday like Twitter or Facebook, or it could be something you use every week like, “I want to know what movies are coming out this week so I go to my favorite movies app to find that out.” Then it's now a habit that every week I just go to the movies app. Or it’s even just top of mind like “I'm hungry for a certain kind of food. My favorite Mexican restaurant is this one, so I'll go there.”

So you don't necessarily need it to be a daily habit as much as really getting to the place where someone has adopted your product and your experience at such a level that you are top of mind whenever they have that need or that urge.

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