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How to become a growth marketer — my journey so far

Updated: Sep 9, 2023


Hi, I'm Khushi, I'll share my honest journey of becoming a growth marketer, and whether growth marketing as a field is even right for you. Some truth bombs shall follow. You can read more about me here and preview my work here.



 


My journey of becoming a growth marketer


The career of a growth marketer starts with Neil Patel and (probably) ends with Reforge. Here's my messy middle with all the courses I chain-smoked over the years.





2018:

Neil Patel — My click-baity introduction to digital marketing. I consumed an unhealthy amount of podcasts and articles.


2019:

Julian Shapiro — Read his piece about growth marketing during my student exchange at Essec and pulled all-nighters, giddy with excitement, having found my (short-term) calling.


Took dozens free courses from the good people over at HubSpot, Google Digital Garage, Backlinko, edX, Coursera, Massachusetts Institute of Technology's OCW, Facebook Blueprint and more.


2020:

CXL — I took their 3-month-long growth marketing mini degree and it transformed the way I'd do marketing forever.


2021-22:

Took tons of niche courses:

- Copyhackers for Copywriting

- Neurofied for Behavioral Psychology

- Moz, Ahrefs and 90DaySEO for SEO

- Social Savannah for TikTok Ads

- Vexpower for Marketing Mix Modelling

- Katelyn Bourgoin's Clarity Calls for User Research and Review Mining

- Sai Ganesh's Brand Marketing course about Dunzo (for fun)

- Chase Dimond's for Email Marketing

- Twitter Flight School for Twitter ads

and maybe a few more that I forget.


2022

To have on-demand access to expert help.


2022:

Reforge - It's like the 'Harvard' of growth schools and money can't buy you a seat. I've taken Growth Series, Growth Marketing, and Monetization and Pricing



As you can tell, I clearly over-index on education. 😅



 


My career as a growth marketer


I've been in the industry for about two and half years. And I'm not terribly bad at my job. This is what some smart people have said about me.



"As a Founder/ CEO and a former Head of Growth at a Fortune 500 company, I can say without a doubt that Khushi is one of the most impressive growth marketers that I've had the opportunity to work with."

"You're a rockstar, Khushi! I can't wait to watch your career journey. You're just getting started and I know you're destined for great things🙌" - Katelyn Bourgoin (my mentor)

"5 Emerging Growth Marketers who are killing it at their job" - Aazar Shad, Growth Marketing Leader (and my mentor)

"You have a tremendous successful background already and you are on a trajectory of success and growth than most people aren’t on." - Nick Lafferty | Loom, Head of Growth Marketing (my mentor)

I hope the social proof above helps you trust me because what I'm about to say is a bit polarizing.




What is growth marketing really though?


The more experience I have, the more confused I get about what 'growth marketing' really is. This is what I understand today — it may or may not hold true as I get ahead in my career and learn more.



At small startups with a 1-2 person marketing team, growth marketing pretty much means everything.


You're writing copy, running paid ads, doing SEO work, talking to designers to ship landing pages, improving the funnel to activate users, optimizing prices, making product launches, looking into positioning and maybe a lil' bit into branding work, fixing retention, simplifying onboarding, setting up marketing automations / emails, working with engineering to set up analytics and event tooling, and so much more.


It all sounds fun. It truly is. But you become a generalist. You are mediocre at best at everything. The antidote to that is upskilling and getting mentors.


You're fighting constantly against the clock. You try gobbling up as much content as you can possibly consume via Linkedin, Twitter, Newsletters etc. It can be TMI.


But you can never compete with the specialists.





In many bigger companies, there's no real growth marketing field.


  1. Growth marketing has become just another fancy title for paid media specialists. Paid media specialists are those that run Facebook ads, Twitter ads, Google Search ads, Youtube ads, Display ads, Reddit ads, etc.

  2. SEO is it's own separate position. There are content strategists, technical SEO experts, SEO writers who handle all of it.

  3. Analytics? There are data analysts and even data scientists if you get lucky.

  4. Copywriting? There are product marketers, creatives, and copywriters who do all sorts of work for you. You only need to write briefs, not actual copy.

  5. Go-to-market, product launches and positioning? That's owned by product marketing teams.

  6. Forget the funnel. It's no longer a funnel you get to walk all by yourself. Everything after getting users to the site is owned by product managers and growth product teams. They take care of activation, retention, monetization, referrals and onboarding.



Growth marketing is a very misunderstood title.

  1. Mid-large size companies don't hire for this position quite exactly as small companies.

  2. Getting jobs is also not easy not because there's a lot ofcompetition but because there's just a lot of bad talent, trying to pass off as good talent.

  3. Growth marketing community is also a bit misaligned on what it means. Growth is different than growth marketing. Growth product is different than growth. 😭



 



So, if you're still interested in growth marketing, and I haven't scared you away...


Here's how to become a growth marketer


  1. Start with some foundations

  2. Then get a broad experience, trying a little bit of everything. Work at a startup or an agency.

  3. Find what you love, and become a specialist.


I've always wanted to be an entrepreneur, which is why I enjoyed having a broad skillset and working at innovative companies where I can have a lot of impact.



But if entrepreneurship isn't what you want to do, work towards becoming a specialist OR figuring out how to climb the ladders. Problem with climbing ladders is that growth marketing as a function isn't being hired for at companies large enough to have a ladder - so you'd have to specialize. It's a chicken and egg problem.




 



Landing your first growth marketing job


1. Most large/mid-size companies use ATS to track applications. So, try searching in Google using this filter: 'site:boards.greenhouse.io marketing remote'. You could replace greenhouse with any major ATS board name and it should work. Under Tools > Time, choose past 24 hours, week or month to get the latest feed.


2. I've also found most of my jobs using Twitter advanced search. Search for the usual keywords and add 'job' or 'hiring'. Filter by minimum likes / retweets etc so you block out the bots.


3. You can also use social listening tools like Google Alerts to catch any new job postings that go out. I dislike Google Alerts because it sucks, but if you have the budget, I'd recommend paying up a little for other tools. There's also f5bot to monitor hackernews and reddit


4. Angelist helps but is mostly useful for early stage roles. Harder to get great roles on those but still works.


5. I've also found Crunchbase to be useful for job search. You can filter by team size, company industry and whether they laid off folks or not in the past year Then, export that list with the website URL. Add a jobs or careers URL parameter in google sheets and you have a list of thousand companies that you could want to work with. I think they offer a free trial which should be enough.


6. Investor job boards. Most investors have their own job boards combining all hiring asks from their portfolio companies. Look for investors you are excited by, and see if any portfolio companies make sense to you. Crunchbase can help too.


7. Advisors: Sometimes a lot of companies have board members, advisors etc. You could find a list of all celebrity product leaders you want to work with and see which companies they advise at. Reforge collective is a great list to start out with, but Linkedin Sales Navigator can get a good export too.


8. Growthmentor has an internship program that pays $2000/month.


9. CXL has a scholarship program that costs $100 in exchange for training you. They'll also help you get hired.


10. If you want to chat with me to get a second look on your resume/cover, please reach out to me. I'm more than happy to help. We can work it over on a weekend and I can show all the 99 tricks I tried to land my first job :)





 





There are some growth marketing courses like Demand Curve, CXL, and Growth Tribe. I've taken CXL and Demand Curve but I haven't taken Growth Tribe because it seemed a bit expensive at the time.


Julian Shapiro is the person I'd give credit to for introducing me to Growth Marketing — and I'll forever be a fan. He's OP. His podcasts and his newsletter is incredible too!


Demand Curve is a better choice for founders who don't want to drown in theory but want to quickly get going. If growth marketing is your full-time gig, CXL is a better choice. What was detailed out in a full-fledged course in CXL's GM minidegree was a handful of lessons in Demand Curve.


Once you take CXL, you don't have to take Demand Curve or Growth Tribe. Content's quite similar. I've taken a couple of minidegrees from CXL's suite but I actually only mention one on my profile, so it doesn't look like a content dump.




Caution


CXL is for entry level positions. They will help you get started in the best possible way but you'll outgrow them eventually.


I took their FB ads course and wasn't really able to execute as well as I should've. I had to supplement CXL with other niche courses from Common Thread Collective, Paid Media Pros, and Foxwell, and more.





After CXL, you should go get some experience. You will discover what you like and don't like.



Tl;dr: CXL's Growth Marketing Minidegree is the one you should get.




Reforge is something you should aim to do after CXL. It's mostly for mid-senior professionals. Reforge doesn't teach you how to do SEO or design landing pages. CXL teaches you real skills, and I think that's what you want initially. It's recognized by senior industry people. I wrote a review about Reforge here. And another one about CXL.



Btw, please run away from course that has uses the word 'growth hacking'. Avoid them like the plague.




 



Mentorship helped me become a growth marketer


Look, I recommend getting a mentor.


Best advice I heard from Mr Beast was to "Get a mentor. Mentorship is a cheat code to success. Knowledge is so ******* OP".






Courses will make it you feel like you know everything. But the minute you put into practice, you'll still make mistakes.


Being able to instantly ask for feedback from mentors, is a shortcut.




 



How to get mentors?



1. Cold outreach


Reach out to your dream mentors wherever they are. Linkedin, Twitter, Email, anything. I've even considered putting a billboard up to get attention (and I might still do it someday).



One DM is all it takes.

I've used cold outreach to get hour long advice sessions from top-most execs at Ferrero Rocher, BCG and more.


Be shameless when asking for help.




2. Pay for it


Cold outreach is tough work so I pay $60/month for a service called GrowthMentor. I've had 30 calls so far, and been an on-and-off subscriber. It's no longer super easy to book calls but it's much easier than cold outreach. These days, I usually have 1 or 2 calls in a month just to get a second opinion on whatever I'm working on. Everyone is super nice, kind, and helpful. I'll recommend.





 

Tweets I think you should read


  1. By one of the youngest and wealthiest self-made women.


2. (Will add more worth adding)




That's basically been my journey so far. I'd love to have you join for the rest of the ride. Here's my Linkedin and Twitter. Come say hi and ask me anything I missed out on!



Best,

Khushi Lunkad

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