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How to Succeed as a Startup Marketer

How to Crush the Sophomore Slump (or Any Slump)
Sebastian Almnes
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Published on August 10, 2015

It all started my first year in college. I had discovered my passion for entrepreneurship and the beauty of being able to create something on your own, and show it to the world ­with the purpose of offering a better solution than what is currently available.

It  didn’t take long before I realized that a great product is nothing without marketing. At the time the term “growth hacking” was fairly new, and I started to spend an immense amount of time reading up on what this new ideology of marketing was all about.

It requires analytical thinking, creativity and a lot of hustle — which was a description I felt fit me quite nicely. At age 19, I was able to secure venture funding for my company, a recruiting algorithm. Fast forward a year, I went from being a 19-year-old guy in Norway to traveling to the states as the first Norwegian company to ever be accepted into 500 Startups.

Ultimately my company ended up failing, and instead I joined a company called Studypool, which helps students get instant homework help. I’m currently in charge of growth at this company.

Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of questions from college students asking me how they can excel in this line of work, so if you’re interested in being a marketer in a startup here’s my advice:

1. It’s all about hustle. Growth hacking is not about creating hacks, but instead about the process of how you go about making marketing decisions for your company. The people I see succeed at being a growth hacker are the ones that continuously launch new ideas and experiments; they constantly iterate to come up with better solutions on how to acquire and retain users.

2. Product wins is another major one I try to emphasize. A lot of the marketers I talk to are spending large sums of money on acquiring users, but don’t have product market fit yet.  What this means is that they are acquiring users to their solution, without having something that the users truly desire and want.  Invest time in talking to your users and realizing why they love your product; really dive in and try to make sure your product gets your users to that moment when they go “Aha!”  as  soon as possible.

3. Love what you do is a common trait I see amongst the best marketers in Silicon Valley.  They spend their free time studying how other companies became successful and realize that they can’t just copy their tactics and expect success.  However, it can help you understand and think of new ways to improve your own product.  Being constantly hungry and having a will to learn is key.

Lastly, don’t remember to put your  learnings into the world. You’ll never become an expert if you just read and consume  knowledge — use it and learn.

I’ll close with what one of my favorite growth hackers have said: “If you fail seven out of 10 times at the plate, you’re still going to the hall of fame.”

Sebastian Almnes

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