Take a look around and you will find a lot of self-proclaimed marketing professionals. However, there are only a few names who have actually made it to the top and gotten their art acknowledged.

Today on Branex Talks, we are privileged to have such a gentleman with us. To date, he has helped businesses and startups founders scale their business. He has extensive experience working with various professionals in 70+ countries, including Taiwan, Spain, Ireland, the US and the UK.

Aufray is passionate about boosting organic traffic, increase conversions and enhance ROI by data-driven strategies. He has helped multiple companies like Voodoo.io, SeeLevelHX, Zeneduc with lead generation and improves revenue with growth hacking.

Without further ado, let’s welcome Jonathan Aufray, chief executive officer of Growth hackers.

Branex: You have traveled to many countries across the globe, which notable differences have you witnessed in business practices and workplace cultures until now.

Jonathan: I lived in 7 countries (France, US, UK, Ireland, Spain, Australia, and Taiwan), traveled in many more and worked with businesses from more than 70 countries. There are a lot of differences between places, cities, countries, and continents. For instance, when I was doing business in Ivory Coast, I could notice that time management is very different from other places.

In Japan, things are very formal during the day when doing business, but at night it completely changes where you will go out to eat drink (And even doing Karaoke) to sign business deals. For the US, business relationships are less formal and more friendly.

Every place is different but the most important is to stay yourself while respecting the local culture. For instance, in Taiwan, there’s a specific way to give your business card and people appreciate when you do it their way (Handing out your business card with two hands)

Branex: In an interview, you stated that “startups need fast execution and iteration, even more than SMBs”. What are the tools and techniques which can eventually lead to the growth of startups and what’s the right way of scaling it?

Jonathan: For startups, SMBs or SaaS businesses, it’s important to have a lean startup approach where you want to launch your product sooner than later. Why? Because you want to test your products with “real” users, gather feedback and data to see what people like, what people don’t like, optimize your product and make it more user-centric.

I met many entrepreneurs that developed products for many months without gathering feedback as they wanted their product to be “perfect”. Eventually, when they launched, they found out that there was no market for the product they built.

I usually recommend entrepreneurs to invest 50% of their time and money on product development and 50% on growth.

There are many tools and techniques startups and more mature businesses can use to grow and scale. The most important isn’t the set of tools or tactics but the process and systems put in place.

Branex: Growth hacking is one of your most prominent areas of expertise. How can marketers working with startups embrace the magic of growth hacking and skyrocket their growth?

Jonathan: As I just mentioned, growth hacking is a process rather than a set of tools or cheap tactics. There are a lot of things that are being said on growth hacking such as:

  • Growth hacking is unethical
  • Growth hacking is cheap tactics to get millions of users
  • Growth hacking is just a buzzword for marketing

Actually, I have a different opinion of what growth hacking really is. I believe this is a mix between marketing, product development and data. Before working in growth hacking, I worked in marketing for multiple companies and I always found that the marketing department and the product department were not linked and were not working together.

I believe growth hacking makes the connection between these two departments. The goal of growth hacking isn’t just to work on user acquisition. The goal is to grow your marketing and grow (Improve) your product. This is why the AARRR (Acquisition – Activation – Retention – Revenue – Referral) metrics are used in growth hacking.

Branex: Is constant learning necessary for success? When it comes to startups and SMBs, how a culture of learning and continuous development can be promoted?

Jonathan: Constant learning is essential for business success. I’m learning every day either by reading books or blog posts or by testing new tools, new strategies or processes. The best way to learn is by trying new things, making mistakes and learning from these mistakes.

The culture of learning can be promoted by showing real-life examples of successful entrepreneurs who keep learning and succeeded doing it.

Branex: Do you have a checklist for novice growth hackers before they embark on the journey to make businesses succeed?

Jonathan: Launch Fast – Test – Gather Feedback (And most importantly act on it) – Optimize your product accordingly – Promote – Scale – Repeat.

Branex: How do you see the future of marketing in light of rising dependency on artificial intelligence?

Jonathan: AI is going to take most industries by storm, marketing being one of them. I believe that thanks to AI, more and more tasks will be automated such as chatbots mimicking human interaction. Hyper-personalization of messages and accurate segmentation will be done by AI in marketing making the user experience much better.

Branex: Any nuggets of wisdom you would like to share with aspiring young entrepreneurs who small businesses trying to make it big in the digital economy?

Jonathan: Don’t keep your ideas for yourself. A lot of entrepreneurs are scared to share their ideas because they believe it’s going to be stolen. An idea is worth nothing, execution is everything. Focus on execution.

Branex: Being a marketing ninja, which influencers do you follow in the industry and who are a true inspiration for you?

Jonathan: Not sure if I’m qualified to be dubbed as a ninja or even if I was in Japan last month. Here are a few influencers, fellow marketers and entrepreneurs that I follow:

  • Joel Gascoigne (Buffer CEO)
  • Ann Handley (Content Marketer)
  • Mike Quindazzi (PwC)
  • Paula Piccard (Cybersecurity)
  • Elon Musk (needs no introduction)

Branex: Branex is a web/app development, a digital agency that has helped scores of startups and established businesses navigate smoothly in the digital marketing sphere. What is the one piece of advice that you would like to give agencies like us?

Jonathan:

  • Create content answering the questions/problems your target audience is facing and, then, promote that content.
  • Focus on customer experience and success.
  • Actively ask for referrals.
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