PILLARS: A System I’m Using To Track My Growth Hacks

PILLARS is a system I have built for myself to track all of the crazy ideas I use to spread the word about my apps. PILLARS is a formula. I believe that every marketing effort, small or large, cash or no cash, online or a sandwich shop, could use this formula.

Right now, the quick and dirty way to implement this system is to use a Excel spreadsheet. Here is an example:

Example doc using PILLARS system for “Randos” dating app

This may not make sense at first, so let me break it down for you:

P is for Place (or Platform)

This is the Place where you are spreading the word about your product or service. Twitter, Facebook, Email, the side of the street all count as Places.

I is for Idea

Idea is just what it says, what is your marketing Idea for the given platform? Let’s imagine that your platform is Twitter, your Idea to market could be to follow key influencers in your industry, or to favorite tweets from people who buy a similar product as yours. If your platform is email, your Idea could be to send out a weekly newsletter.

L is for Labor

I used the word Labor because this is the part where you have to roll up your sleeves. This is the dirtiest, least glamorous part of the job. Labor is about action, lots of action. So… what did you *actually* do?

“Followed 100 people”, “Emailed 2,000 people”, “ran ads that reached 100,000 people”, “asked 20 people if they would like to try my BBQ sauce” are all examples of Labor. Labor is really important because it shows how much you or your teammates hustled on this strategy.

If you are hiring somebody to do your marketing, this is a great way for you to keep track of what they did. I hired somebody to manage social media many times and I always hated checking their work. Sure, I could see some results, but like a good math student, you need to show your work. This gives you a way to quickly glance exactly at what they (or you) did, what works, what to double-down on and what to get rid of. Glancing at a document that follows this system for a few minutes could give you an overview of your whole social media strategy in a few minutes. Can you do that now? What if you are trying dozens of things?

L is for Link

This isn’t just a hyperlink, it’s a CTA (Call To Action), it’s the simple thing that Links your user to what you want him to do.

Let’s learn by example: You have a BBQ sauce company. You (or a hot girl) post up in a Whole Foods and offer free samples. Your Link may be a coupon that helps the customer to connect and buy your product. Here you would write “coupon (and coupon details)” in the Link section. If you’re promoting an awesome new dating app on Twitter, your Link would be a hyperlink “http://www.hookupwithrandos.com/download".

If you are using a billboard ad to advertise your perfume, you may have a QR code or “text 1234 to 5678". Links are the more abstract part of this system, because sometimes it may not be clear what the Link is. In my opinion, though, marketing efforts that don’t include Links are less likely to yield results.

A is for Audience

Who is your target Audience?

All of your experiments could fail because the audience is wrong. If you try to sell vacuums to high schoolers, you might find that you get poor results. I once tried to market Brittany Spears ads towards kids between 16 — 25. The results sucked. I did more research and was surprised that her target market is people in their late 20's early 30's. Your Place, Idea, and Labor might be fucking awesome, but if your Audience is wrong, it’s all for not.

R is for Results

Results are the only thing that matter at the end of the day. You may even want to consider your results first.

For example, in your awesome dating app, the thing you probably care about most is how many downloads you get. So in your Results section, most of your efforts will track downloads. So with your test of advertising your dating app on Facebook, you might enter “1,000 downloads” in your results section. If you followed 100 people, you might want to check back in a few days to see if there was any engagement, like link clicks. This can be supplemented by analytics.

S is for Spend

Spend isn’t just about cash but it could be. Time is money, so you could track the amount of hours you spent here as well. If you did advertising, you’d write down how much cash you spent. You could add the amount of money spent on the ads *and* the amount of time you spent, it’s up to you to be as detailed as you want to be. Spend could be crucial. This could help you later determine a future budget pretty easily. It could show you what things may not scale very well.


There are a ton of awesome analytics tools out there, and this isn’t meant to replace them or even do what they do. Each analytics platform would only augment the effectiveness of PILLARS. PILLARS is a formula for tracking your growth experiments across all platforms, a way to get a 10 thousand foot overview on all of your marketing efforts. Nothing more, nothing less.

This is also a rough draft that I’m using for myself. If you have any ideas of how to improve it, or you have any questions, ping me.