A Growth Hacking Game for Remote Delivery

At Hyper Island in Singapore we are on a mission to keep entertaining our learners as we move from face-to-face to online learning.  It would be so easy to let go of our learning by doing philosophy and become like everyone else; hours of webinars and perhaps a Q&A.  Instead we are doubling down on our constructivist pedagogy and designing things for participants to create, make, do, play, prototype and test.

In the last 7 days my colleague Trechelle Ras and I have built a game to teach Growth Hacking tactics as part of a Digital Marketing & Growth Hacking intensive two day course.  We have been inundated with people who want to take this and other courses during the lockdown and we wanted to create a session that is highly reusable, creative, works for groups and that delivers on the identified learning outcomes.

By the end of the game, participants should be able to

  • Describe the main differences between conventional approaches to digital marketing and growth hacking
  • Find sources of growth hacks that could be applied to their own businesses
  • Select behavioural nudges that could be used to guide their visitors to become customers and regular customers
  • Discuss why outcomes will vary for different brands and circumstances
  • Consider some of the ethical issues involved with growth hacking

A multi-round simulation

I started by imagining a multi round game in which players would make choices for a marketing strategy. 

We invented a small startup run by two recent graduates who have build an ecommerce store selling acrylic skateboarding paint.  They have a very limited budget and the challenge for the groups is to choose how they should spend it over the four rounds of the game.

Round one is a revision of the main ideas of Day 1 of the course. Participants can choose from 6 typical marketing actions such as content, influencers, Facebook and Google ads.  They work in small discussion groups (using Zoom’s breakout functionality) and have 20 minutes to make a choice.  

Driven by spreadsheets

Actions, Hacks & Nudges with their Outcomes

After every round the groups report back via an online form and a spreadsheet is used to calculate the impact of their decision.  This was the major artefact that had to be created and it contains impact calculations across multiple metrics: audience growth, customer conversion, regular customers and revenue.  We want to highlight the importance of focusing on metrics that relate directly to the business.

There is a random element too and groups making the same decision will not necessarily receive similar outcomes. At present Trechelle and I have designed three levels of outcome: a disappointing result (common in many marketing experiments), a good result and an exciting result (which sometimes happens when the wind is in the right direction).

All groups enter their decisions and the spreadsheet produces a results dashboard.  This not only shows the key metrics but also describes the outcome of the decision; explaining why a result might be better or worse than expected.

Team Dashboard

Researching how digital start-ups grow

In round 2 and 3 we explore less conventional approaches to growth and round 2 starts with them researching in groups how companies such as Airbnb, Uber, Tinder and Grab started their growth journeys.  We then get them to use some of these hacks as opportunities in the game. Round 3 is a repeat with another 5 hacks added.

Stimulus for Round Two

After each round we highlight some of results and pick a group to explain their thinking that lead to their choice of hack.

The final round adds behavioural nudging to the mix.  I used Padlet to provide a short self guided tour of some of core ideas of nudging and participants take this tour individually before getting back to their groups to make their final growth decisions.

A Padlet Self Guided Tour for Nudging

We then brought the whole group back to discuss the results, the winner and draw out the main learning outcomes.

Engaged and involved

Today was our first run and it feels like a great success with many participants spontaneously commenting on the novelty of the learning approach; in 2.5 hours we had done no lecturing and simulated some of the real choices facing modern marketers. We have a model that we can continuously improve and some happy learners.

If you’d like to know more please get in touch.

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