How I’m Learning Growth Marketing

If you’re starting to learn growth, this guide will point you to the free resources I’ve found more useful in my learning journey so far.

I’ve gone through dozens of websites and followed dozens of people. These are the free ones that I’ve found to be the most insightful and useful.

Yes, paid resources are better. Often because they’re well organized and structured.

That doesn’t mean that free resources are bad, it’s just they’re not as tidy. It’s also harder to find the signal through all the noise on the internet.

I’ve pretty much done most of the research for you and curated this list. I want to share with you how I’m learning growth marketing and hopefully, help you learn it quicker.

My Criteria for Making This List of Resources.

These criteria helped me filter out the noise and keep the signal:

  • The content must be produced by people that have actually done it successfully, many times. And have ways to prove it.
  • The content must be communicated in a clear and concise way. Because often times I’ve found that when you write something that is easy to understand, it’s a sign of a mind that has a deep understanding of the topic.
  • The website must be well designed. Because as you’ll soon learn, UI/UX is part of the set of skills a growth hacker should possess. And it reinforces the goal of making it easy for readers to understand.

I’m not saying the resources I’ll show you are the best. These are the ones that met these subjective criteria. Whether I want it or not, there’s at least some degree of bias towards people/websites I relate to.

Now, you can’t just jump onto the resources if you’re serious about learning this the right way. You’ll waste a lot of time. I did. Consuming a lot of content without a guide will just overwhelm you.

Paid resources are laid out in a sequential way so that they make sense and you absorb the content as easily as possible. You don’t get that with free resources.

This leads me to my next point.

A Framework for Learning Growth Hacking Efficiently.

If you’re like me, you want to learn as quickly as possible without missing essential knowledge. That’s why I developed this framework for learning based on extensive research on how we learn coming from this book.

But before I show you the framework…

It’s Mandatory You Learn How to Learn.

Only when you know how to learn; how your mind remembers things, you can learn quicker.

This is a stripped-down explanation of how it works:

Your brain is able to store most of what you experience: facts, stories, concepts, ideas, etc. It stores them in neurons as memories by making connections between them. That’s called synapses.

However, you can’t remember everything. You’re more likely to remember things if:

  • The neural connections that make up a specific memory (synapses) are retrieved many times.
  • Many different stimuli are associated with a specific memory. Smells, sounds, emotions, and other kinds of physical and emotional sensations. More details = more chances of remembering.

Other things have influence over how much you can remember, you can find them in the book or this summary. I’m going to stick with those two for now.

As you may have already heard, nothing makes learning easier and faster than actual real-world practice. That’s true, but…

What If You Can’t Bring What You Learn into the Real World, Yet?

As it was my case, it’s likely that it may not achievable at the moment for you. If you’re fortunate enough and can put what you learn into real practice, do that ASAP.

Most of us have to follow a slower path.

These are, in my opinion, the learning methods that have the most impact in the shortest time. Ordered from most to least.

  1. Doing it yourself
  2. Watching others do it
  3. Simulating real-world experience

However, everyone has to start by getting an idea of where they’re going by putting the concepts, principles, strategies, tactics, skills — fundamentals — in their minds in order to do any of those three, right?

So, what I did (unconsciously) was to study the concepts and practice the skills and then bring what I learned as close to a real-life experience as I could with…

The Framework.

This is the homework. Studying the concepts and learning the skills — the fundamentals — around the growth world. At first, all this is may feel abstract and you can’t clearly relate one thing to the other.

This is seeing others apply those concepts and skills. By listening/watching how and why founders/marketers did what they did, you not only reinforce what you’ve learned, you start putting the pieces together.

This is a way to consolidate what you’ve learned. You create hypothetical strategies of what and how you would do growth for a company you like. It’s as close as I could get to real-world experience.

I did the first two parts simultaneously, I really immersed myself into this world as much as my situation allowed.

During the day I would study the concepts and practice the skills, during the night I would listen/watch interviews. Sometimes the other way around.

The key is immersion.

The Resources.

Aadil Razvi from Demand Curve: What is Growth Hacking: A Framework for Growth.

First things first. I believe you should start with what growth marketing is so you have a clear idea of what you’re getting into. Understand that, and the next resources will make sense.

The other resources also explain what it is, but I start with this one because it doesn’t add any advanced concept, yet.

Aadil is part of the Demand Curve team, which is a company that trains startups in growth marketing and helps them find great marketing contractors and agencies.

Ellen Jantsch From Tuff Growth: Growth Marketing: What It Is and Why You Need It.

No, this is not another article to just make sure you know what it is. Although it’ll help reinforce that, I put it here because there’s one section that I think it’s important to know: The responsibilities of a Growth Marketer.

It’ll help you picture the high-level day to day activities of this role.

Ellen is a skilled growth marketer and the founder of Tuff, a growth agency that has helped companies grow in industries such as SaaS, eCommerce, local, mobile apps, and more.

Brian Balfour’s Essay on How to Become a Growth Marketing Expert.

This guy to me is the frameworks and strategies manufacturer in this field. It’s obvious he’s got years of experience and has condensed his knowledge into his program at Reforge.

Reading his blog will also provide enough value and especially, see the big picture.

The main thing you should take away from this essay, in particular, is the concept of T-Shaped people and which skills you need to become a good growth marketer.

Read that carefully and then go to each link he provides for starting to learning each skill (or even better, adapt the framework to learn these skills too).

Brian Balfour’s Essay on the 7 Principles to Master Growth.

This one will make sure you begin this path with the right mindset.

One of the principles is to build a platform. He refers to putting yourself out there. It’ll serve you as a way for people to discover you and create leverage later on.

In fact, that’s what I’m starting to do with this article. I think you should do something similar that you’re comfortable with, it doesn’t have to be writing.

Brian Balfour’s Series on the 4 Frameworks You Need to Understand As a Growth Marketer.

This series is about the 4 frameworks needed to grow a company to 100M+. Don’t let that claim intimidate you as it did to me at first.

What you should keep in mind is that he says that because that’s what he did at Hubspot. He helped them grow their Sales business line towards their goal to 100M.

You’ll learn from how Growth is connected to all areas of the company.

Julian Shapiro’s Growth Marketing Handbook.

You’ll be amazed by this one. It really is almost perfect considering it’s free.

Julian is the founder of Demand Curve and he’s got years of experience too.

If you were to judge someone by his writing, you wouldn’t even have words to describe how well he does it.

I discovered him and his guide a year ago and still come back to it every once in a while.

Demand Curve’s Free Preview of Their Self-Serve Program.

These last two resources are the ones that will begin the transition to the next phases of this framework.

This is a preview of their Self-Serve Program and only shows you the strategy module, however, this is invaluable because here you begin to put the pieces together.

Ellen Jantsch From Tuff Growth: How We Build Growth Marketing Strategies at Tuff (with examples from past clients).

This one along with the one above were the ones that gave me the ‘aha’ moment. All the concepts I learned before made complete sense once I saw the tangible pieces of strategies outlined here.

I went from “I kinda understand this” to “alright, I’m seeing everything clearer know”.

Don’t let that mislead you, though. Things in real life are not this linear, like a recipe you just follow.

Reinforcing by Putting It All in Context.

Consume all their content.

Eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Some more often than others, founders and marketers will share their stories, thoughts, and wisdom on their Twitter profiles, blog, or newsletters.

Follow them, subscribe to their newsletter, come back to their blog every once in a while.

As you read their tweets, emails, or posts you begin to catch ideas and connect them with what you’ve learned. Even learning new things is at your disposal doing this.

These are some of those experts I follow:

This is one step closer to bringing yourself to reality because as you hear other people’s experiences, you not only reinforce what you’ve learned, you’ll also learn how and why they did what they did.

The hypotheses, the successes, the failures, the struggles. All of this will help you close the gaps in your mind.

You can fin these in podcast interviews.

These are the podcasts I listen to:

These are some YouTube interviews/talks I enjoyed and learned from.

The point is to mix the audio, text, and video.

This serves as a way to:

  • Retrieve previously acquired knowledge.
  • Add different stimuli to each piece of knowledge.

Finally, if there’s a company you like, Google them and find founder or marketer interviews on podcasts or YouTube.

Also try to identify their methods if they don’t explicitly say it. How did they achieve their first customers? How did they achieve market-product fit? What channels did they use at the early stage and what are they using now?

Consolidating Through Practice.

Now, it’s time to prove to yourself that you’ve actually learned something. This is as close as you could get to real-life experience (for now).

It’s simple: design a hypothetical strategy of how you would do growth for a company you like.

To do this, keep open the last two resources I mentioned in the ‘For Learning the Concepts and Fundamentals’ section.

The free preview of Demand Curve’s Self Serve program prompts you to do this at the end of the module, they even give you indications on how to craft it.

The Tuff’s article also gives you indications and points you to templates for each step.

Key Takeaways

First, learn how to learn effectively. Then proceed to learn the fundamentals of growth marketing. Next, consume expert’s content and listen to real stories. Finally, be creative and try to apply what you’ve learned wherever you can, hypothesizing strategies is one of the ways.

Study it, reinforce it, practice it.

Don’t just stick to these resources. Understand the logic behind the framework and go out there to find others. But have criteria for who you should really pay attention to.

It really is true when they say that the more you learn, the more you realize how little you know. Learning is a never-ending journey.

Growth Marketing Nerd 🤓