Crafting a Syllabus for a growth hacking academy

The tip of the iceberg

Recently, I’ve been asked to compose a syllabus for a soon-to-be-announced Growth Hacking course that will take place in many exotic countries.

A syllabus is a document that outlines everything that will be covered in a class. The noun syllabus comes from the Late Latin word syllabus, meaning “list.” When you teach a class you may be required to make an outline of what you will expect the students to do in your class. That’s the syllabus. And for me, that was the tip of the iceberg :-)

I had three (3) clear directives:

  • We wanted it to be hands-on
  • We wanted to deliver extra value from typical stuff one could find online
  • We wanted to go beyond the theory of Digital Marketing

I totally underestimated the effort of doing that task as it was not just about creating the syllabus itself (I have done that a lot of times before) but because I wanted to come-up with a concept that will be unique and very valuable. And that’s tough!


Challenges in implementing a hands-on class

The Size of the Class [Solved]

Large classes make it difficult to engage students in a personal way and create environments in which they receive interaction and feedback. Therefore I had to limit the participants to around 20 per season.

The Technical Background [solved]

Each student comes from a different technical background and although involving students in technical stuff can be very challenging, very easily you can lose their attention if you will not manage to have them all on the same page. Imagine what could happen if 20 students are in 20 different steps of a wizard. A disaster that would create disappointment to me and also to them. So, how did i “tackle” that?? By
a) delivering pre-class resources for all participants to go through before joining the classroom, 
b) inviting some more assistants on-site that will assist students and also 
c) by providing a real-time slack channel that they could use to submit any questions or inquiries. A Growth Hacker will be on the other side answering in real time.

Boredness [solved]

Also, in most classes, it’s challenging to find projects that can be massively parallel but still unique to the student. Therefore, I decided to create a unique project myself to ensure that all students will be on the same “page” and will manage all technical or theoretical difficulties in parallel.

Varied Learning Skills [solved]

The varied backgrounds of students also present a challenge. Some (maybe even many) students coming to a class lack the quantitative reasoning skills needed for discovery-based learning. Without such basic abilities, even the best designed hands-on experience can be lost on a student. This has been solved by involving some theoretical references and specialized materials that will deliver the quantitative reasoning elements and connect the why’s with the necessary critical thinking and disciplinary context from the real world.

Turning brains on [solved]

It’s also possible to have hands-on classes that don’t manage to “turn brains on”. Ideally, most hands-on classes should be “brains- on” as well. And that requires active learning. As professor Richard M. Amasino analyses:

“Active learning as using one’s brain in an active way. Listening to a lecture is passive. Students solving problems posed to a class is active, as is defending one’s answer to a problem. Active learning is important because students must work, and even struggle a bit, with the subject material to learn it in a meaningful way.”

In Growth Hacking that counts a lot. Even if I will manage to teach them tons of growth hacks, doesn’t bring much of value. Those hacks will soon be either outdated or over utilised which is something that will turn them not very effective. The importance is to drive them through the proper mindset and the thoughtful process to follow in discovering new hacks and new tips as part of their growth hacking daily routine. Quite of a challenge :-)


Challenges in Delivering extra value

In the era of the Internet, everything is a click away. Factsheets, awesome blog posts, online universities and digital marketing courses, all kinds of manuals, awesome groups with hacks and tips. Literally, everything. So, what could I deliver in a class that would bring extra value to the participants? How could I turn Digital Marketers into highly effective Growth Hackers?

And then it hit me :-)

In Growth Hacking and High Tempo Experimentation, the “magical” word is efficiency. Efficiency in doing a lot of things on a tight schedule that allows you to go through experimentation and test various digital options.
As per my experience, efficiency derives from the following things:

Access to Resources

Access to resources that could save you time and money in every possible obstacle you may find towards growth. Resources that will create a voiceover on your videos, will create your logo, will write a script, will manage tiny daily things saving the most valuable asset of a growth hacker: Time.
Also, names of platforms and people I worked with and I was very happy with their performance.

Access to documentation that shows me what to do

Documents such as working excel templates that one could use to build a growth plan or calculators for getting an estimate of the paid spend required or the numbers of MQL (Marketing Qualified Leads) he/she should expect. Even more, templates to report to the management the results of each campaign or the progress of your Growth Tasks.

Access to Technical Resources

Technical Resources that I developed myself (and my partners in crime) and I’m using continuously such as:

  • Scripts to automate composition, reporting and optimization of ppc (Performance Marketing) Campaigns.
  • HTML Templates for various use cases and user flows such as book a demo or get a webinar. HTML templates that come fully integrated with the inbound marketing stack that we will teach in class
  • Controllers to capture customer events in a single click. Controllers you can use in various touch points such as emails, landing pages and more.
  • HTML templates (also fully integrated to a marketing stack) for various digital properties such as quick quizzes or quick votes.
  • Ready made tips, on how to integrate a form with your CRM, a digital property with your calendar and
  • Scripts for web scraping different sources and how to utilize the results collected from those scrappers
  • Scripts to crawl your site and discover various errors that could affect your ranking.

Now I know…and you know also!