Couple months ago, I was going away to Barcelona for the weekend. I decided to go out there early to get some work done and meet with interesting folks.
I emailed a couple people and surprisingly Pedro Magriço answered. I was doing research on Growth at the time and especially about Growth Teams. Pedro brought me a tons of insights so we decided to do an interview together.
For those of you who don’t know Pedro: He’s been at Typeform since the early beginning. He started working on Marketing and later on as Head of Growth. His role into Typeform’s explosive growth shouldn’t be neglected!
Pedro has a really interesting point of view about Growth Teams and explains how they’re experimenting from an organizational perspective. Keep on reading!
How do you define growth & how does it compare with marketing & product?
Growth is about scaling things that are already working. It’s not about building new stuff, or making existing stuff better. That’s product.
Product worries about generating value, Growth focuses on getting more people to experience that value and as often as possible. So if you have a crappy product, you don’t want to grow it, do you? 🙂
That’s why product, and product-market fit, always comes first.
Marketing is very similar to growth, since it’s also about getting your business to grow through awareness and ultimately leads and signups for sales to convert. The difference is that growth uses more tools and disciplines than marketing — it’s more quantitative, more experimental and it’s product-led.
It’s product-led because these days the products themselves are often more effective at driving growth (e.g. virality, referrals) than traditional marketing programs, especially in the early days. That’s why we’ve seen phenomena like ‘growth hacking’ emerge.
One could say growth is a hybrid between product and marketing.
How did you get started on “Growth”? (How did your Marketing Role evolved into a “Growth” role?)
I joined Typeform as a marketer. We only became ‘Growth’ because early on we saw that our product is inherently viral, and to optimize that virality, one needs engineering and product to tackle the optimization opportunities we were seeing. So we became product growth.
We eventually did start a marketing team as well within Growth. We called it marketing growth. We did it because products come and go, but brands stay. So today our marketing team is laser focused on building awareness and thought leadership to really create a brand in people’s minds that resonates with them.
You’ve been one of the first employee at Typeforms, what are the different stages that the company has been through? Have you seen different Growth drivers at different stage?
I joined when we were about 10 people. Today we’re more than 160. Scale brings a whole new set of problems and challenges that you don’t have when you’re a 10 people company. The biggest one is communication and getting everyone aligned and on the same page. You start to need processes, and new ways to make decisions as it’s harder to make them by consensus. But you also don’t want too much of this stuff either because you want to stay agile. You want to become a healthy business, but you don’t want to become ‘corporate’. We’re still figuring out this balance.
In terms of actual growth drivers, virality was our strongest and still is. In the beginning, it was all about top of the funnel virality and getting as many signups as possible. Then we found onboarding to be pretty big, but that’s still optimizing virality since at the end of the day, it’s another way to get more people to create and share typeforms, which puts more fuel in our viral loop: more typeforms = more people see our brand = more people get interested in the product = more people create typeforms.
More recently we’ve been experimenting with pricing and packaging, which in terms of pure business financials has been the biggest lever we’ve found.
What are the responsibilities of your role? How did that evolve over time?
I’ve had to put on many hats since the beginning as you can imagine. Early on, it was all about finding the biggest growth opportunities and acting fast so you can learn and iterate fast. Then, it was about scaling the team: first on the product and engineering side (what we called product growth), then the marketing side (marketing growth). Gradually, I became less and less hands-on. My job today is very different than it was — it’s about growing people, coaching, strategizing what’s next, brainstorming solutions and make myself available to help with the execution.
How do you “run Growth”? Do you have a Growth Team?
Until 3 months ago, yes. We were about 20 people between marketing growth and product growth.
Now things changed a bit and I don’t have a team that reports to me directly anymore. We did this change because of a number of reasons:
1) When you have a team called ‘Growth’, it signals to everyone else they don’t need to worry about growing the business because there’s a team for that. This is not good.
2) On the product growth side, there were lots of overlaps with the core product team and turf wars started to happen too often. Product growth and core product grew more and more separated from each other. We tended to favor business metrics and experimentation over code quality, infrastructure and longer projects. The reverse happened with core product. This is not healthy, there shouldn’t be a ‘we’ and ‘them’, and experimentation and metrics and infrastructure are stuff that everyone should care about, not just one team.
So today we’ve merged the core product and product growth teams into one cohesive org. I work alongside the head of product as head of product growth, and, together with the head of product APIs, we lead the product team, which consists of 8 product owners. The marketing team is now led by Sancar Sahin, someone who I was very lucky to hire and who’s really been helping us take our marketing to a whole new level since he joined over a year ago.
What’s the most powerful thing you found to educate everyone about Growth?
Don’t try to grow your product if your product is crap : ) To validate your product is not crap, measure product market fit. One way to do it is look at your retention curve and see if it flattens out at some point. If you don’t have enough traction to measure it, customer development surveys are a good alternative (we have a handy template). You want to see people shouting about your product without you even asking for it.
What would you say to someone who want to start a career in Growth?
People that are good fit for a growth role are very analytical (curious why things happen), creative (can come up with multiple possible solutions to problems) and strong entrepreneurs (they often want to start a company themselves one day). So develop yourself in these areas, and then read as much as you can about digital marketing and product management.
It’s great to see how companies like Typeform were able to scale “Growth” behind what most companies can manage. Growth is a new sport and implementation in teams of 160 and above are rare. Typeform is a great example!
I must agree that the idea of a “Growth Team” seemed interesting at first but after doing research it doesn’t really make sense anymore. Even in teams of 20-30, Growth overlaps on too many disciplines (mainly Marketing & Product).
This overlap creates friction and politics because the teams don’t share the same objectives, nor the same way to work. Which means that building a growth team is hard.
Typeform found an innovative solution to embed “Growth” directly into the Product team. And it’s a clever solution. It enabled them to balance Growth with other priorities and avoid internal politics that can waste energy.
What have you done to solve these issues? Do you have a Growth Team?