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Impact Shakers Lightning Talk: The next generation of marketing is regenerative

This summer at the Impact Shakers Summit in Brussels our co-founder Moh shared his journey to discovering regenerative marketing. Watch Moh delve into the art of nurturing businesses in a way that not only sustains but also regenerates, breathing new life into industries and ecosystems alike.

What’s the Impact Shakers Summit?

The Impact Shakers Summit is the inaugural European startup event with a sharp focus on inclusive entrepreneurship and impact. This significant summit united key players in the innovation ecosystem, all dedicated to advancing inclusivity and sustainability for our shared future.

Who are Impact Shakers?  

Impact Shakers form connections, foster growth, and invest wisely. In their eyes, entrepreneurship serves as the engine of change. Yet, they recognise that unraveling intricate challenges demands a tapestry of diverse minds. That’s where the Impact Shakers ecosystem shines, tilting the playing field and rewriting the entrepreneurial story.

Their mission spans the life journey of impact-driven enterprises, from the spark of inspiration to the flourishing stages of growth and successful exits. In this transformative journey, they partner with both visionary entrepreneurs and savvy investors to make the world a better place, one step at a time.

Start your regenerative marketing journey today

Unlearn the toxic and outdated business paradigm and embrace a regenerative growth marketing approach.

The Growth4Good Newsletter

Soulful Content Creation that Elevates Early and Scaling Regenerative Ventures to Amplify Their Voice

Introducing our “Regenerative Design & Communicate” Services

In the beautiful complexity of life, nature offers us valuable lessons in resilience and adaptability. At Zebra Growth, we are inspired by the natural world to create marketing and branding stories that not only connect with people’s hearts but also help heal our planet.

Our mindful audiences face a daily barrage of marketing messages, making it essential for impact-driven ventures to produce content that is both extraordinary and deeply meaningful. The rise of AI and chatGPT has only increased this challenge, filling our customers’ minds with dull content lacking substance.

For impact ventures to truly thrive, they must clearly communicate their value propositions. Inspired by mother nature herself, our “Regenerative Design & Communicate” services provide tailored solutions for non-profits, social enterprises, and impact-driven businesses while embracing elegance, authenticity, and honest expression in our conscious approach.

What can you expect from our services?

  • A team of experts in design, copywriting, and website development, inspired by nature’s adaptability and regenerative processes
  • Customized, eco-centric solutions for your organisation’s unique needs
  • Flexible options, including one-time projects, pay-as-you-go services, or retainer packages
  • Consistent, high-quality content that embodies your brand identity and ecological values
  • Meaningful, data-driven content creation with a focus on regeneration and healing
  • Measurable results that align with your goals and foster a healthier planet

Now, let’s delve into the details.

Our “design and communicate” services provide impact-led ventures access to the copywriting, design and website development talent they need in the most flexible way. 

There are three easy ways to access this support: 

One off projects 

Our core team works closely with you to create compelling messaging and design. Working with an extended team of specialist freelancers, we also support the production of branded videos, product photography and experience design.

We take a holistic approach to communication, ensuring that your brand is applied consistently across all channels. From website design and development, to brochure and deck design, we offer a wide range of brand assets.

Take a look at a few recent examples of one-off projects below: 

Accelerating an end to homeless with Crisis Venture Studio – Brand deck design and copy

Facilitating flexible working with a global network of on-demand workspaces – Video production 


We provide impact ventures with an on-demand option to choose the services you need when you need them. We can help with brand guideline creation, landing page design, and copywriting. 

Pay-as-you-go services are ideal for occasional needs where flexibility is a high priority..

Whether it’s a one off landing page design like this one for Intelligent Growth Solutions, or flexible video production for Grand Bequest, we will most likely have an option to suit your needs.


Our retainer services are for those looking for more regular support. We provide content packages to ensure your brand message is always on point so your customers hear from you consistently. 

Whether it’s SEO copywriting, or regular design support, our retainer customers enjoy discounted pricing that isn’t available with our other packages.

Check out this vertical farming blog we produced as part of a retainer package to create content for technical products and services that boosts SEO

Embrace the resilience and adaptability of nature with our “Regenerative Design & Communicate” services, tailored to help your impact-driven venture heal, grow, and thrive.

So, what type of work do we specialise in?

  • Brand Guidelines: 

Do you already have a strong brand identity, but find that your communications are still inconsistent across different channels? Establishing a clear set of rules and standards will provide continuity and allow your brand to shine. We’ll make sure your brand is represented consistently to build trust with your audience.

  • UX/UI Digital Design Systems: 

Do you already have a robust set of brand guidelines? Take them to the next level with a digital design system. Remove the guess-work with a working tool to ensure a seamless user experience, from initial interaction to final conversion. Design that is intuitive, functional and visually appealing.

  • Website and Product Design and Development: 

We specialise in creating custom-designed websites and products that are  beautiful and effective in driving business growth and customer engagement.

  • Photography and Videography Production: 

Capture your brand’s story in visually and emotionally compelling ways through video and photography, whether it’s short social reels, or a long form documentary.

  • Print Media Design and Copywriting: 

Highly effective print media that engages your audience and communicates your brand’s message. Our holistic approach ensures a consistent brand experience between the physical and digital worlds.

  • Events and Experiences Design: 

The spaces we occupy and invite people into are an extension of your brand and a physical and experiential representation of it. We craft rich brand environments that leave a positive lasting memory for people to take home. 

  • Deck Design and Copywriting: 

Create compelling visual presentations that effectively communicate your brand’s message and story. We understand the pressure to impress investors, and a well crafted presentation can make a world of difference to communicate your mission.

  • SEO Blog Research, Copy and Design: 

Our experienced content creators provide research-driven blog copy and design to attract organic traffic and drive engagement.

  • Newsletter Copy and Design: 

Eye-catching and effective newsletters that deliver value to your audience and keep them engaged with your brand.

Watch the video below to learn more about the different types of copywriting we can support with: 

We’ve covered the what, now let’s explore the why…

Why is content creation important for your impact venture?

Content creation is a vital aspect of any impact venture’s success. It’s the backbone that supports the connection between your organisation and your audience. Without it, your mission and vision can easily get lost in the noise of the digital world.

One of the key benefits of content creation for impact-driven organisations is its ability to inspire action and create meaningful change. With the right messaging, you can attract individuals who share your values and encourage them to take action towards a common goal. This tribe effect can create momentum, and allow your mission to be realised much quicker.

Consistent and high-quality content also plays a critical role in establishing trust with an audience. By producing valuable and informative content on a regular basis, you can establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry and build credibility. A strong content strategy helps you to attract new supporters, and keep existing ones.

Moreover, investing in content creation helps you to create a strong brand identity. By developing a consistent tone of voice and visual style, you can create a recognisable brand that continues to strengthen over time. A strong brand identity will help you differentiate from competitors and build trust.

Who’s content game is strong?

Guayaki is a regenerative brand that creates sustainable products with environmental and social well-being in mind. Their content creation strategy aligns with their brand mission, and it reflects their commitment to sustainability and regenerative practices.

Here are a few ways in which Guayaki’s content creation strategy is doing good:

  • Educating consumers: Guayaki’s content educates consumers about regenerative agriculture and sustainable practices, and shares information about the environmental benefits of their products.
  • Highlighting their values: Guayaki’s content showcases their commitment to sustainability and social responsibility through their mission statement, sustainability goals, and progress updates on social media.
  • Storytelling: Using storytelling, they connect with their audience and showcase the impact of their products and practices, such as their partnership with the Ache Guayaki community in Paraguay.
  • Visuals: Their content includes visually appealing images and videos that highlight the natural beauty of the environment and the communities they work with.

Patagonia are leading the way with SEO content

Patagonia’s successful SEO strategy can be attributed to their focus on creating high-quality content that aligns with their brand values and mission to have a positive impact on the environment and society. They use a variety of formats, including articles, videos, and infographics, to educate their audience on topics related to sustainability and ethical manufacturing practices.

Patagonia also pays attention to technical SEO best practices, such as optimising their website structure and ensuring mobile-friendliness and fast page load speeds. Their commitment to environmental and social responsibility has helped them earn backlinks from high-authority websites, increasing their domain authority and improving their search engine rankings.

This SEO success is reflected in their website traffic, with over 10 million monthly visits, and their large number of backlinks from over 120,000 referring domains. Patagonia’s SEO success has also been recognized by industry publications, including winning the award for Best Integrated Campaign at the US Search Awards in 2018.

How can you work with us?

We have a simple 5 step process to establish if we are the right fit to support you with your content needs: 

Step 1 –  You’ll start with a 90 minute diagnosis call with one of our growth experts. Be completely authentic, we want to get under the layers, to find out your ‘why’ and what’s holding you back. This gives us a clear understanding of your needs and how we could help.

Step 2 – This is the start of the magic. We’ll present our solution to you, then together we co-create a proposal that fits your needs.

Step 3 – Onboarding plan – Once the proposal is accepted, It’s time to get aligned and connected. Your account manager will arrange a kick off call to introduce you to the project team, gather all necessary documents, and select the tools required for project success. 

Step 4 – Most of our projects have an element of strategy to them. This could involve a few interactive workshops, followed by our strategists preparing a detailed project plan. 

Step 5 – The final stage is where the rubber meets the road. It’s time for implementation and our team of experts will get to work delivering the project and realising your goals.

Your team

Led by our Senior designer Keiron, our Design & Communicate pod includes designers and copywriters from our core team, supported by an extended group of specialist vetted freelancers with experience ranging from website development, technical SEO, video production and motion graphics.

Here’s a video of Keiron talking about our in-house team and extended team of specialist freelancers.

Still unsure if we’re the right fit?

We cover a broad range of specialisms, yet there are a few areas where we have certainly earned our stripes.

Regenerative marketing

Combining the marketing tools from Silicon Valley, with regeneration. Taking inspiration from nature itself. We know our stuff when it comes to growing brands and building movements, but our primary focus is to use marketing to heal people and the planet. 

B2B growth marketing 

Build predictable B2B sales and growth strategies for your impact driven organisation. With a strong understanding of buyer behaviour, an obsession about full funnel marketing and a track record in delivering high pressure account based marketing strategies, we’re a trusted partner for some of the world’s leading impact brands.

B2C growth marketing 

Build your B2C brand, grow your community, and achieve MoM growth. Whether you’re an E-commerce brand or provider of SAAS solutions, creating a community of advocates and building virality effects into your product offering are some of the challenges you will face. Get more customers, keep them for longer, and rely less on paid acquisition channels.

Impact branding and communications 

Communicate innovative products, stories and innovations to educate and inspire the market and drive systemic change. Building a brand that is both distinctive and regenerative is tough and the language we choose to communicate the social and environmental challenges we face is more important than ever. We help simplify your message to build trust with your customers.

Sarah Hopley

Crisis Venture Studio

“We asked Zebra Growth to assist us with the design of an important deck, and the team and final product exceeded our expectations. They were professional, friendly and helpful so we really enjoyed working together. We especially appreciated the persistence to understand our complex models to accurately portray these through design. Thanks again!”

Finally, check out our pricing

Get in touch  

And that’s it! Hopefully you now have a better understanding of how our “Design & Communicate” pod can help your impact organisation.

We understand the challenges that come with growing a regenerative business. It’s all too easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day and lose sight of the bigger picture. 

Our growth diagnosis is a free tool that allows us to identify bottlenecks, share insights to overcome them and signpost you to the most suitable solutions to increase revenue and create a roadmap to maximising impact. 

Book your growth diagnosis

How to start experimenting with growth marketing: An overview of the G.R.O.W.S. process

An image reading How to start experimenting with growth marketing: An overview of the G.R.O.W.S. process

In this article, we’ll introduce you to growth marketing as a driving force for regenerative growth in social impact startups. We’ll look at how the G.R.O.W.S. process can save you precious time and resources, while helping to grow your startup effectively.

We break down what growth marketing is and each step of the G.R.O.W.S. process. We’ll give practical examples at each stage to help you optimise your growth for maximum social impact.

We’ve even included our free Growth Experiment Planning Tool at the end of the article, so you can start running your own experiments.

What we’ll cover

  • What is growth marketing?
  • Traditional marketing VS Growth marketing
  • The 70/30 Experimentation Rule
  • Experimenting with growth marketing
  • How Lean Startup methodology inspired Growth Marketing
  • The G.R.O.W.S. process
  • Getting Started with Growth Marketing

Growth Marketing Experimentation Glossary

Before we dive right into what growth marketing is, let’s get a quick rundown of some key terms that’ll pop up in this article:

  • Experiment – Testing out different marketing techniques, product features & brand messages in a rapid, data-driven manner, to identify which ones are the most effective at driving user growth and impact.
  • Growth Cycle – The lifetime of the G.R.O.W.S. process from start to finish (steps 1-5).
  • Growth Lead – A dedicated team member that makes growth the central focus for everyone in your startup, they are responsible for embedding the process into your team and running experiments.
  • Growth Lever – The immediate improvements and processes you can implement to drive growth for your startup – these are quick wins for your business that have the most impact.
  • Hypothesis – The testable solution to improve your startup’s growth by focusing on improving one key area of your business. 
  • Iterative – The process of running multiple experiments where the results from the previous experiment inform the starting point for the next one.

What is Growth Marketing?

Growth Marketing is the process of running a series of experiments and implementing processes over a short period of time. It aims at growing your company’s reach and revenue through cost-effective, creative strategies. 

By approaching your marketing strategy as a series of experiments with a quick turnaround, social impact startups can discover the best methods for optimising their growth without being cost and resource intensive. 

And Growth marketing is about approaching your growth with a curious mindset, with the focus on one key area where your business can improve, then testing this assumption in the shortest time possible. 

We’ve touched on it here, but let’s now look at what sets growth marketing apart from traditional methods.

Traditional Marketing VS Growth Marketing

We’ll start here with an offbeat similarity between traditional and growth marketing. They’re both about assumptions. Marketers need to make assumptions about how potential customers will respond to their value proposition and product, that’s kind of the whole idea behind a marketing strategy.

But, the main difference here is what we do with these assumptions. Traditional marketers sometimes run the risk of basing their entire strategy on assumptions they’ve made and put this into a lengthy, expensive campaign. In these cases, they are essentially trying to predict the outcome of a constantly shifting market. 

So is this the best option for a newly formed social startup looking to increase their reach and steadily grow their business?

Of course not. Most startups need to focus on staying afloat, let alone run an expensive campaign that may not yield the results they assumed. The time and energy of such campaigns just isn’t worth the potential growth your business could see.

This is where growth marketing comes in. Like we’ve mentioned, growth marketing is the iterative process of running a series of rapid experiments and measuring their success over a short period of time. 

By doing so, your startup can effectively test your hypothesis and measure outcomes far quicker and adapt to a changing market. And the benefit here for early startups is growth marketing is designed to be fast, efficient and cost effective. 

So by beginning to experiment with growth marketing, social impact startups can have a faster time to market, a higher return on investment and the capacity to scale marketing activity that yields positive results quickly when compared to traditional marketing methods.

We’ve only scratched the surface of growth marketing here but if you’re feeling extra curious, we delve deeper into ethical marketing and social impact in Ethical Growth Marketing 101.

So you’re interested in experimenting with growth marketing? Great! But how do you decide how much time to spend on this and maximise your growth potential?

The 70/30 Experimentation Rule

The main blocker for early startups and novice growth marketers is the thought that running experiments will be too costly and time consuming. Luckily we already know that isn’t the case. 

But you can’t base your entire growth strategy on experimentation alone. That’s why it’s really important to follow the 70/30 rule when it comes to experimentation. 

When planning your growth strategy, you’re aiming to identify the main growth levers you can pull to gain early traction and quick wins for your growth.

70% of your time, resource and budget investment should focus on pulling the 1 or 2 growth levers we’ve identified at the growth strategy stage. 

By doing so, we can focus on driving early traction that creates runaway momentum and motivation for your team.

Spend the remaining 30% on embedding the growth marketing mindset and experimentation process into your startup. 

This is where we begin running rapid experiments across product, brand, sales and marketing to create a roadmap to diversify our growth levers. It’s all about optimising your growth here, as we’re mitigating the risk of our early growth levers reaching saturation point. 

By taking the time to embed the growth marketing process into your startup, you’ll instil an innovation mindset that unlocks the next big growth lever towards and beyond product-market fit. 

Particularly in the early days of a startup, this laser focus is critical in coordinating limited budgets, resources and stakeholders to focus on what matters the most.

Now that we’ve got an idea of how much time we should devote to experimentation, let’s see what that looks like in growth marketing.

Experimenting with Growth Marketing

It might seem daunting but the real success in growth marketing comes from following the process over results. 

When beginning to experiment with growth marketing, it’s important to remember that you’ll be running consecutive experiments over short periods of time. 

So, if your first, second, or even seventh experiment doesn’t yield the results you expect, that’s totally fine – it’s part of the process.

According to Grow with Ward for first time growth marketers (or growth hackers as they put it) having 1 in every 10 experiments succeed is considered a great result. For seasoned growth marketers, this can increase to 1 in 3 experiments

We’ve thrown the word around a few times now, but what is experimenting with growth marketing? 

Let’s say you’ve noticed that the open rate on your newsletter has steadily dropped over the past 3 months. You’ve highlighted the issue and decide to A/B test the next newsletter using a different subject line. 

The following month you find that Subject line B increased your open rate 30%. Using the data collected from the A/B test, you now know how to effectively increase your engagement with your community and reach a wider audience. Congratulations! You’ve just run a successful experiment. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean your newsletter is now perfect, you might then realise you’re losing engagement and subscribers once they’ve clicked through. So it’s back to the drawing board for another hypothesis and experiment. 

This is the essence of growth marketing. You consider one key pain point in your business that you can improve. Then, look at what action you can take in the shortest amount of time, using the least resources and within your team’s capabilities to tackle this issue.

Before we get into the process behind how you actually run growth experiments, it’s important to consider where the idea of growth marketing came from in the first place.

How Lean Startup methodology inspired Growth Marketing

It’s no surprise that growth marketing is a great fit for scaling growth for startups. The base principles are inspired by lean startup methodology, as set out by Eric Reis. The lean startup is the most fundamental framework that has taken over the startup world over the last decade.

The principles of Build, Measure, Learn are the core of lean startup. Taking an iterative approach to your ideas, being open to testing your hypothesis and knowing when to pivot is crucial to your startup’s success.

And it’s now adopted in the marketing world and, more specifically, in growth marketing channels. The method at the centre of growth marketing is the G.R.O.W.S. process.

The G.R.O.W.S. process

Adopted from the GrowthTribe, the G.R.O.W.S. process is the core process that every growth marketer or team needs to adopt, over anything else. Developing from the lean startup model, it’s the blueprint used to efficiently optimise your startup’s growth.

And the process is set out in simple 6 simple steps; 

  1. Gather Ideas 
  2. Rank Ideas
  3. Outline Experiments
  4. Work, Work, Work 
  5. Study Data (see where we get G.R.O.W.S.)
  6. Repeat

Like we’ve mentioned, the important thing isn’t to spend weeks pouring resources into a lengthy campaign. It’s about giving yourself over to the process and continuously coming up with new hypotheses, testing them out and determining what works and what doesn’t. 

Typically, the entire process should last anywhere between 2 weeks and up to 2 months. But we’ll get to that later.

The key here is embedding the G.R.O.W.S. process into everything your startup does. Your priority is following this process of generating fresh ideas, continuously analysing the data and learning from the results. 

In doing so, you’ll gain a far better understanding of how to optimise your strategy for growth, without wasting resources.

So what makes the process so important to social impact startups?

While following this process, it’s essential for growth marketers to have a central metric to optimise for.

We can see here that in the centre of the iterative process, we have social impact. This is particularly important for you Changemakers. Since the ultimate goal of your startup is creating maximum impact in balance with profitability. 

Channelling social impact at the centre of this, then, ensures that your growth is always built around the key purpose of your business and help to push our society towards a regenerative economy. 

Now that we’ve got an overview of the process, let’s look at each step in more detail.

1. Gather Ideas

The first step of the process is to gather ideas. This is where you’ll sit down and consider one specific pain point where you see an opportunity for growth and generate ideas to tackle this. 

We’re really wanting to consider what specific value we’re offering to potential customers or partners, at a specific part of the funnel. Then, we want to look at how we are planning to communicate this to them. 

 It may seem obvious but a pivotal step is to gather your team and allow everyone to give their input in the planning process. 

It’s important here to have a diverse range of opinions in the session. In our 10 Step Masterclass to achieve growth in 2023, our co-founder Moh suggests: 

“The Gathering ideas stage usually consists of a 2 to 3 hour meeting including multiple team members that are cross departmental…you as a Growth Lead have the responsibility to choose the best people who can show a fair representation of your diverse team and mindsets that could feed into growth ideas and hypotheses.”

So It’s useful here to use a collaborative tool for brainstorming. At Zebra, we use Miro Boards as a great way of getting everyone in the team involved. And the added bonus is having all of your ideas collected in a single board that’s accessible for everyone. 

Useful tip: Using a Miro Board is a great way of gathering your ideas. We’d also suggest keeping notes throughout the session and finalising this in a report to make the next step easier!

You don’t want to spend too long gathering ideas. Choice is good, but don’t get bogged down on the small stuff! We’d recommend this step taking 1 – 2 days, including your meeting and follow up report.

2. Rank Ideas

So you’ve found the focus for your experiment and had an insightful brainstorming session with your team and an abundance of great ideas to build your growth?

Fantastic! You’re now ready to take those ideas and rank those ideas.

So how do you know a good idea from a bad one? Just kidding, there’s no bad ideas. But there are ideas that can be easily achieved and have a big impact on your growth. 

To rank ideas, we Zebras recommend using the I.C.E. matrix (Yep, it’s another acronym). The I.C.E. matrix consists of Impact, Confidence and Ease. 

The I.C.E. matrix is a way to weigh the different hypotheses you’ve gathered. You do this by measuring the impact it could have on your growth against a potential ease level and the ‘confidence’ of your team. 

Let’s take a quick look at each of these.

Not to be confused with the social impact you’re trying to achieve, the Impact you’re measuring is on the growth of your business. There’s no use in focusing on something that will bring little results. Remember, we’re optimising for the most efficient growth in the shortest amount of time – think big!

What we mean by Confidence is does your team really believe that this idea will have a strong impact on your growth. Or rather, do you truly have the confidence that this idea will work?

While Ease is where you ask yourself how complex is the idea and if you can achieve (or prove) it within the short timeframe.

When using the I.C.E. matrix, it’s important to remember the 20-80 rule. You want to put in 20% effort to achieve 80% output. We look at this in more detail in our previous article.

You’ll want to have a similar meeting as when gathering ideas and once you’ve settled on the best hypothesis to test, you’re ready for the next step.

3. Outline Experiments

Now that you’ve got a shiny new hypothesis and you’re itching to test it out, we need to outline the experiment. This is another key stage, particularly for the Growth Lead. 

For this stage, you’ll need to clearly outline what the purpose of your experiment is. It’s best to do this in a 1 – 2 page report. The key things to note here are:

  • The purpose of the experiment.
  • What is the timeline of the experiment?
  • What are the outcomes?
  • What is the main metric you’re measuring for validation/non validation?

This stage not only solidifies your idea but it should inform the implementation stage. 

It’s important here to go into detail of what you expect through the experiment and clearly communicate this. This way, every team member involved has an easy understanding of how the experiment will run.

We know we’re laying it on thick here. But, particularly for new growth marketers, having a strong reference point throughout your early (and future) experiments will keep you on the right track and having your experiment running smoothly.

Along with the previous 2 steps, we’d suggest spending no more than 1 week planning. But make sure not to rush through the steps and only proceed to testing your hypothesis once everyone has a clear understanding of your outline.

Just last week we outlined 3 experiments for one of our clients and our Senior Growth Marketer, Patrick, sent a Loom video detailing the outlines to all team members involved in the project. Loom’s another handy tool for growth marketers that ensures your team is aligned even when working across departments at a busy startup.

Now, let’s get to work!

4. Work, Work, Work

This is the step we’ve all been waiting for. It’s now time to run your experiment and test your hypothesis. 

The reason why there’s three works is that it signifies the pace you’ll be working at. This is the lengthiest step but it’s where working fast creates results.

Moh discusses this further at our 10 Step Masterclass to achieve growth in 2023:

“This is where speed matters in growth marketing. It’s about asking yourself how can we execute as fast as possible and gather the minimum amount of data in the shortest time to validate or invalidate our hypothesis…In all the other stages of the process you want to zoom out and take your time. But within step 4, you want to try to execute as fast as possible.”

So having a strong outline for reference, you’re really wanting to put a focus on working quickly to gather the minimum amount of data. 

Of course, we’re not saying you want as little data as possible. Rather, you’re gathering as much data as needed to prove (or disprove) your hypothesis within the time limit of the experiment. 

Depending on the experiment, this step should last between 1 – 3 weeks. For first time growth marketers, you wouldn’t want to take longer than. The important thing when starting out is that you’re embedding the G.R.O.W.S. process into your way of working and learning how to use the process to achieve maximum growth.

It’s also important during this stage to focus on the work, but of course you’ll be wanting to meet regularly to review the progress of the experiment. 

We’d recommend a weekly meeting per experiment you’re running. This ensures all team members involved are aligned and you’re keeping on schedule as set out in your outline from step 3. There’s also the added benefit that you might already be able to find some insights that’ll inform the next step of the process. 

If you want to learn more about how you can achieve your growth goals this year, why not sign-up to our 2-part Masterclass running at the end of February.

5. Study Data

Congratulations, you’ve now run your first experiment! The hard part’s over and it’s time to look at your results. 

Studying data is crucial to growth marketing – how else are you going to validate your experiments?

This is a more straightforward (but pivotal) step. Here, you’ll analyse the data that you’ve measured over the length of the experiment in step 4. What we’re really doing here is finding out if your hypothesis is proven.

Remember – if you find the results invalidate your hypothesis, that’s totally normal! The focus is on studying the data to gather insights and key learnings that will inform your next growth cycle or experiment. 

The important thing here is remaining curious and open to understanding the results. If the results aren’t what you expected – why? What could you do differently? What have you learned about your target segment? Or have you discovered something in your value proposition that isn’t being communicated? 

These questions aren’t exhaustive, of course. They’re just a way to get you to start thinking about how growth marketing uses data to continuously improve how you manage your growth. 

As a Growth Lead, it’s your job to collect these results and share them with your team. Collaboration is key here, again (notice a theme here?). 

For the final week of the cycle, we’d recommend taking time to collate the results and have a retrospective meeting with everyone involved in the experiment. This allows you to consider what worked, reflect on your insights and plan how these results will inform your next cycle.

6. Repeat

We’re sure you know where we’re going with this but it felt rude to leave the final step of the G.R.O.W.S process out. The last step in the growth cycle is to do it all over again. 

Of course, you’re not just starting from scratch, you’re now armed with solid data from the previous cycle and have a clearer understanding of the next logical steps for future experiments.

For the entire cycle (steps 1 – 5) of the G.R.O.W.S. process, the total time spent is really dependent on the size of your team and the maturity of you adopting growth marketing. Usually, this spans from between 1 – 2 months per cycle period. 

And you can, of course, run multiple experiments at the same time. But for first time growth marketers, we’d highly recommend beginning with just 1 experiment at a time. 

This will really help embed the process into your startup, whilst shifting the mindset of your team. And, in time, this will allow for greater results.

Growth Marketing & the G.R.O.W.S. Process Recap

So let’s do a quick recap of what we’ve discussed in this article:

  • Growth Marketing is the process of running a series of experiments and implementing processes over a short period of time
  • Growth marketing can offer a faster time to market, a higher ROI and isn’t as cost or resource intensive as traditional marketing
  • You want to focus 70% of your time resource & budget on pulling the growth levers that gain traction for your startup and 30% embedding the growth marketing mindset and experimenting
  • Lean Startup methodology of Build, Measure, Learn inspired growth marketing
  • Growth marketers use the G.R.O.W.S. process to optimise their growth
  • The 6 steps to the G.R.O.W.S. process are Gather Ideas, Rank Ideas, Outline Experiments, Work x3, Study data
  • A full cycle of the process should last between 1 – 2 months
  • First time growth marketers should run 1 experiment at a time
  • Proving 1 in every 10 experiments when starting out is a success
  • Focus on one key area to improve, don’t just look for maximum results
  • Collaboration is key to the success of experiments and including teams from across departments generate better hypothesis
  • Embedding the process into your startup and adopting a curious mindset will allow you to optimise your growth towards maximum social impact

Getting Started with Growth Marketing

Now that you’re clear on what growth marketing is and we’ve talked you through the G.R.O.W.S. process, let’s see how you can get started. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re a solo impact founder or a growing team of Changemakers. You can start experimenting with growth marketing right away! 

Of course, the first step is to introduce the idea of growth marketing to your team and familiarise them with the concept (this article should come in handy!). 

If you’re wanting to expand your own understanding, we’d recommend doing some further research and Grow with Ward gives some great insights into the subject.

Then, it’s important to appoint your Growth Lead, if you don’t already have one. They are responsible for running the experiments, leading ideation sessions and ensuring your team is aligned throughout the projects. Plus they’ll keep track of your progress and results. 

When your team is inspired and ready to get experimenting, we recommend making sure you have the right tools for the job. We’ve already mentioned some of our favourites for the different steps of the process. 

We know that getting started is the most daunting part of the process. That’s why we’ve also created our free Growth Experiment Planning Tool

This includes everything you need to start mapping out your own experiments. You’ll receive:

  • Hypothesis Planner and ICE Scoring Template
  • Experiment Tracker Template
  • Ideation Miro Board Template

And that’s it! You’re now ready to start optimising your growth for maximum social impact with growth marketing.

Ready to experiment with growth marketing but don’t know where to start? We’d love to collaborate! Get in touch to discuss your startup’s growth today.

Ethical Growth Marketing 101: Combining Growth hacking With Social Impact

Ethical Growth Marketing

Within this article, we will go through the 6 principles of ethical growth marketing, and explain how social impact startups that are building the new, purpose-driven economy, need to create sustainable growth (with a limit) to make this movement the norm of our economy. 

Want to get straight to the 6 principles? Click here and skip the background info!

Or are you in a more curious mood and want to deep dive into what growth marketing is all about? Just keep reading on.  

Entering the purpose economy

green plant

Socially focused startups and business models are the future of business. According to The Entrepreneur, social impact businesses are on the rise and are attracting the top talent as well as more investment appetite.

We are moving away from the “get rich, to donate” model – also known as CSR, and are moving into an economy that places positive social and environmental change at the core of business and entrepreneurship. *Finally* you’re probably thinking. 

According to Aaron Hurst, the foremost expert on the science of purpose and fulfilment at work, the purpose economy is “an economy that is driven and organised around the creation of purpose for people, not just information, goods and services.”

But startups that are focusing on purpose often struggle to survive, yet alone reach their ambitious, life-changing and often systemic goals. The constant internal battle between social impact and revenue generation is something that often feels uncomfortable. Yet relying on donations and grants would just take us back to the charity model – one that has been facing massive criticism about its efficiency for decades. 

Taken from Silicon Valley’s greatest minds, social impact firms are now incorporating lean, high-growth, and data-driven based innovation to their mix, taking lessons from Dropbox, Twitter, Netflix, and a slew of other “successful” digital titans. The three basic pillars of a lean company, according to Fast Company, are to “think large, start small, and persistently pursue impact.” However, it looks as though the wave hasn’t quite caught up when it comes to marketing one’s business.

And so, we introduce you to an adaptation of the lean impact which can be applied to a company’s marketing function; Ethical Growth Marketing. I’m sure you’re probably now starting to think ‘wait, how can growth be ethical?’ or ‘we need de-growth, not more growth’. 

And you aren’t completely incorrect. Emphasis on “completely”. 

The fact is that for a social impact business, and especially a startup, to create the positive change it is relentlessly seeking, brand, revenue and impact growth is a must-have for its survival. 

We aren’t talking about growth with no limits or at all costs. We aren’t talking about growth for the massively disproportionately few who own the company. We aren’t talking about using manipulation to grow. We also aren’t talking about making the biggest corporations of this world grow even more, so that they can ensure that their shareholders keep getting their hefty payouts at the end of each quarter. 

We are talking about the widely tabooed topic of revenue generating and impact focused growth that impact startups rely on to survive and make a positive change. 

Okay so let’s get into it, what actually is growth marketing? 

Traditional marketing meant you needed to plan ahead. You needed to predict. You needed to assume. Whilst most marketers have been applying this long-term planning approach, the most innovative businesses out there noticed that it wasn’t the most effective way they could adapt to their market. 

‘How can you grow as your market grows, and the environment changes?’ is a question you’re undoubtedly thinking about right now. 

When Sean Ellis became VP of Growth at Dropbox in 2008/2009, he focused on this question. According to Houston, he helped the SAAS firm go from a situation where their cost per acquisition was costing them money to one where Dropbox’s customer acquisition soared by more than 60%.

So, what did Sean Ellis bring to the table that was so different to traditional marketing? It was all in the approach. He adopted theories from the Lean Startup by Eric Reis, a methodology that allows today’s startups to launch and grow their organisation in a lean, iterative manner.  

You might think – argh. Growth marketing sounds cool, but it’s not something we have the budget for. One day, we might. That’s where most early stage startups miss the point. Growth marketing primarily focuses on applying the Pareto law throughout all activity and decisions.This means that growth marketers should constantly be thinking “what is the 20% input that will give me 80% of the output?” They also run varying tactics, campaigns, messaging, channels and product iterations, as a set of experiments. 

This primarily means one thing – marketing activity in the long run becomes a lot more cost effective. 

“With growth marketing, brands have a blueprint to test frequently, learn quickly and adapt effectively. Growth marketing takes the traditional aspects of marketing, like print, TV, radio and billboards, and shifts the conversation from “how can we attract our customer?” to “how can we keep our customers longer?” With this new conversation comes the ability to reach your target audience through data-backed decisions. The result of this? Long-term, sustainable growth“ – Forbes, 2021

We will dive deeper into what frameworks are used by growth marketers that you can start using this week, but first, let us explain what a Zebra is. 

What is a Zebra? 

What does a business actually serve in today’s society? Is getting rich as an entrepreneur or investor really going to give you that fulfilment you’re seeking? Has overconsumption and growth at all costs been the destined outcome of capitalism? These are all questions we know are weighing on your mind everyday. We know the feeling too well…

A new wave of conscious system changers, entrepreneurs and early pioneering businesses all around the world see things differently though. *Shout out to all you inspiring Zebras out there! 

We are in the midst of a Zebra movement, where founders all over the world are wanting to make the world a fairer, cleaner and more enjoyable place to live in and with, rather than aiming to become the next unicorn and becoming a billionaire. 

In 2017, a movement sprang up online that quickly manifested in cities around the world. It’s now a growing community of business founders who reject the venture capital investment model and support the creation and discovery of alternative funding methods. This ‘Zebra movement’, as it’s called, was started by four inspiring women: Astrid Scholz, Mara Zepeda, Jennifer Brandel, and Aniyia Williams, who want to encourage fellow startup founders to build zebras rather than unicorns.

But, if a unicorn is defined as a startup that is valued at a billion dollars (really, only a handful of startups make this stamp and usually have to neglect society or the environment to get there), then how can we define a Zebra? 

This is nicely defined by the founders of the Zebra Movement, one we at Zebra Growth are proud to be a founding member of. 

The Zebra Movement

Zebras: Let's Get In Formation. By Jennifer Brandel, Mara Zepeda… | by  Jennifer, Mara, Astrid & Aniyia | Zebras Unite | Medium

To state the obvious: unlike unicorns, zebras are real.

Zebra companies are both black and white: they are profitable and improve society. They won’t sacrifice one for the other.

Zebras are also mutualistic: by banding together in groups, they protect and preserve one another. Their individual input results in stronger collective output.

Zebra companies are built with peerless stamina and capital efficiency, as long as conditions allow them to survive.

Wanting to find out what the Zebra Movement is all about? Make sure to read our Manifesto here

Growth Marketing can create sustainable revenue-generating growth for your startup

So now you know what growth marketing is, and what it means to be a Zebra, but what are the advantages of using this approach we’re raving about? 

The benefits of growth marketing include a faster time to market, a higher return on investment, and the capacity to scale marketing activity that is yielding positive results quickly. It will also enable you to form an emotional bond with your target audience, depending on where they are in the funnel, giving them a comprehensive offering that is tailored to their needs. 

Companies can use a variety of tools to improve their processes using this data-driven growth marketing method. Not to mention that having access to data makes demonstrating the return on investment of all growth marketing operations much easier. No more stressing and struggling to show stakeholders return on investment. 

Having a full-funnel, scalable growth marketing approach offers value at every stage of the marketing funnel, attracting, engaging, keeping, and eventually converting customers into brand ambassadors. 

We’re back again to that intriguing little term we call Ethical growth marketing

Let’s get straight to it; The 6 core pillars of Ethical Growth Marketing:

1) Growth mindset

Carol Dweck studies human motivation. She spends most of her time analysing how humans are wired, why some tend to progress in life at a faster rate whilst others don’t. Her theory of the two mindsets and the difference they make in outcomes is incredibly powerful – not just for business growth and startup culture, but in life in general. 

She states that we often adopt two types of mindsets. These mindsets can shift, and are in no way permanent. Yet, as the early childhood psychologist Dweck pointed out within her mindset theory – we often adopt either a fixed or a growth mindset. And these are in no way permanent. You and I have both been in both those states of the mind. Yet becoming aware of them and actively aiming for the growth mindset can be life-altering. 

When being faced with a fixed mindset, your sense of ability comes to the surface. One automatically shifts focus to prove, to show off and to become defensive. This (fixed) mindset often leads to a lack of ability to learn, as mistakes are seen as failures. Failures to one identity. The reason? Primarily due to the fact that you, when in a fixed mindset, think that skills, personality traits and characteristics are things you were born with. Not things that are under your influence. And with that, comes your inner voice that is constantly telling you that you are not worthy, and that this is the way ‘it has always been done’. Who cares if this is the way it has always been done? This is the ultimate innovation and growth blocker. We’re here to say this is the way it has to be done now! 

Carol Dweck, on the other hand, optimistically highlights that there’s another mindset. ‘A mindset in which these characteristics aren’t just a hand you’re dealt and have to live with, where you’re always trying to persuade yourself and others that you have a royal flush when you’re secretly terrified it’s a pair of tens. In this perspective, the hand you’re dealt is only the beginning of your journey. This growth mentality is founded on the idea that you may improve your basic attributes by putting in effort.’

A growth mindset encourages continuous learning. It encourages risk taking. It encourages being comfortable in the uncomfortable. 

And you guessed it. That’s a massive shift in perspective to traditional marketing approaches. 

What’s the most effective campaign we should launch early next year? No clue. Who does, really? We can have some ideas that feel right at the moment, but the ability to drop your assumptions, starting with your ego, can unlock new opportunities your team would have never been able to encounter before. Instead, this mindset forces the team to become more data and learning focused. 

2) Experiment led and “Lean” – The G.R.O.W.S. process 

It’s okay to assume. It’s not okay to believe these assumptions are right before testing them. In order to make sure you are utilising the best growth levers out there, a growth marketer sets hypotheses, to then test them out. Putting one’s ego aside, a growth marketer goes to the market with a curious mindset, gathering initial data that can validate the best hypothesis to support the company’s growth.

At the heart of growth marketing lies the continuous, iterative and data-gathering process. The key is to trust the process. This means that at times of wanting to launch this next big campaign idea, you have to take a step back, focus on where you are within the growth process (aka G.R.O.W.S. process) and add it to the backlog of ideas you are needing to weigh up when the time comes. 

The process consists of 5 steps, these are as follows:

G – Gather Ideas: Brainstorm as many experiment-ideas as possible with your team.

R – Rank Ideas: Use the ICE-framework (impact + confidence + ease) to prioritise which ideas have the highest ROI (=potential x effort). This is basically an easy and systemic way of sticking to the 20/80 rule.

O – Outline Experiments: Choose your next steps and design your experiment as quick and small as possible. The main question here is: what is the one metric that matters the most within this experiment, and what is the minimum amount of data required to validate it?

W – Work work work: Execute your experiment in a 2-4 week window. (The time period of running your experiment may vary based on your business size, industry and model). 

S – Study (and Implement) outcome: Analyse the data from your experiment and decide on the next steps to take: learn or implement!

*The G.R.O.W.S. process was adopted from GrowthTribe.

3) The Ethical Growth Funnel (AAARRR(I))

The marketing funnel is what defines your customer journey. In the marketing world, especially when it comes to data-driven marketing, the funnel is the basis of your whole strategy.

However, most marketers have so far only been concentrating on “making noise”. Meaning getting the attention of people might sometimes lead to them becoming interested in making a purchase. When it comes to growth marketing, however, the marketing funnel must be viewed through a much more holistic lens.

Aside from having the full funnel in sight, it’s also very important to note that the growth marketing funnel is somewhat different to your typical ToFu, MoFu, Bofu. It’s also somewhat different to your business-school “AIDA” model. 

This model is adopted by the growth funnel, aka the ‘pirate funnel’. To ensure that this can also fit the Zebra Startup approach, for startups with a business model that is focused on creating a positive social and/or environmental impact, the funnel should end with a measurable impact. Ideally, an impact that can be optimised towards. This changes the whole paradigm and mindset of your growth team, and company as a whole. Instead of having to constantly battle between social impact and revenue generation, this ensures that the both are in one funnel. One journey. Where impact is the ultimate goal. 

The funnel consists of 6 key stages:

1. Awareness

This first step is often left out within the growth marketing world. However, especially in the social impact space where behaviour change is often so crucial, we always recommend our clients to start measuring the first touchpoint any user would have outside any referral schemes. How many users are you reaching for the very first time, and how effective are they moving to the next stage? Think all the TikTok traffic is great? Look at how much of that traffic is converting to stage two, and then judge the effectiveness of it!

2. Acquisition 

This is where you first have a user spend some time with you as a brand. Usually, traffic is the main metric one would measure here. Some startups might be even more specific and only count traffic in certain pages or for a certain session duration. In any case, the user has not only seen your ad on social media or on that press release, but they have actually shown a bit of interest and have ended up on your brand asset. 

2. Activation 

This is where a relationship starts to flourish. This is where the user clearly indicates that they are interested in what you do. This is where you should WOW your users. Where they should be most impressed. Here, a user should be willing to give something up, often their data like an email address or an app signup, in exchange for starting a conversation with you. Receiving more content. Or getting access to a service or product that can fill a pain-gap. Important: this is not to be confused with the purchase of your product. 

4. Retention 

Within the retention stage, you should ask yourself “how can I ensure that the activated users come back and gain from the content?”. Whether you want to measure the number of emails they’ve opened since signing up to your mailing list, the number of free webinars or training they’ve attended, or the number of days it took them to re-open the app again. Here the focus is on tracking how many users actually care about the content you are offering them vs. those who entered their email address and regretted it the next second. 

5. Referral 

The main question within this stage is: “How do I ensure that my users are sharing my brand or solution with their friends, families and colleagues?”. If you have a solid product, newsletter and/or brand, then they surely will anyway, right?! Surely not. You don’t get what you don’t ask for. Ensuring a strong value proposition that connects with your users, to incentivise and guides them by referring people is most likely the most important stage of the whole growth funnel. It is what creates virality, and what could potentially 5X your ROI for your marketing activity, if not more.

We all know how Word of Mouth is the most effective channel. This just ensures that it is part of your marketing strategy. 

6. Revenue

This is where the business hat comes in. Here you should ask yourself, “how can I turn potential customers into paying customers?” This is where you count how much money your business model can actually bring on, as without it, any social impact startup or scaleup would be relying on outside funders which would make it less lean, less flexible and less financially sustainable. The main three metrics one should keep in mind are:

  • Number of paying users
  • Average order value per user
  • Customer lifetime value

7. Impact

Finally, impact is the stage where you should ask yourself “how many people am I positively effecting”? This is the most flexible one to measure, and we would highly recommend you first having a look at the Theory of Change social impact measurement tool to understand how you can start measuring your social and/or environmental impact. 

Do you witness revenue going up, yet your impact is suffering? Then you are not optimising your marketing and growth activity appropriately! This doesn’t have to measure the full impact you are making in the long run, especially if the impact you are making will take years and years to measure. It should however give your growth function an indication if you are positively aiding your social impact, or not. 

4) Growth with a limit – The S-shaped growth curve

You would have probably heard of the hockey stick growth curve. A curve indicating your growth will only increase over time – for EVER. Doesn’t sound sustainable, ey? 

However, when we look at how plants grow (and thrive) in nature, we realise that they follow “a pattern of growth in which, in a new environment, the population density of an organism increases slowly initially, in a positive acceleration phase; then increases rapidly approaching an exponential growth rate as in the J-shaped curve; but then declines in a negative acceleration phase until at zero growth rate the population stabilises.” The encyclopaedia states that this is because the plant eventually gains resilience. 

How can we adopt this pattern to our businesses? Do businesses really need to focus on fast paced growth once they become resilient? We don’t believe so. Instead, it becomes their duty to help other smaller organisations with aligning purposes to thrive faster! Competition you must fearlingly say? We call them allies. 

5)  Transparency & Honesty 

Running growth focused marketing campaigns can become a risky game to play whilst looking at one’s ethical radar. Manipulation, unconsented data gathering, targeting the most vulnerable, have all become common practices within growth marketers and startups wanting to grow quickly. 

Yet it doesn’t have to be this way. And let me tell you one thing, the last thing a potential paying customer will want to find out is that an impact focused brand isn’t honest or transparent with their communications. 

Are you adding someone to your CRM? Let them know straight away. Are you sourcing materials that aren’t yet 100% regenerative? Let them know about it, and show how you are wanting to change that. 100% transparency and honesty is the only way forward. 

Being transparent and fully honest within marketing campaigns and communications in general requires vulnerability. And with vulnerability comes trust and a more loyal customer base. 

6) Above all: Balance

I’m sure we’re all starting to see how business has lost its balance. Entrepreneurs and teams have been leaning on extremes, and that rarely creates long-term, sustainable growth. 

The business world rewards quantity over quality, consumption over creation, quick exits over sustainable growth, and shareholder profit over shared prosperity. It is built on ego and the power of the individual.

On top of that, building and running a high growth startup that wants to do the world justice and potentially help people in serious issues such as mental health, brings a lot of stress with it.

To truly grow ethically and sustainably, balance has to be at the core of your team’s culture. 

Your team has to start balancing;

  • Between financial stability and social impact.
  • Between form and function.
  • Between quality and speed of execution.
  • Between creativity and performance.

In order to excel your company’s growth whilst still being able to stay authentic and true to your purpose, a strong sense of balance will allow your team to flourish. It will allow you and your team to flow within this experiment-led approach of growth. It will allow your team to constantly come up with innovative ideas, and it will give you the space to be reflective and critical from an ethical lens, whilst still seizing opportunities for your company to grow and scale its impact in the long run. 


Okay so let’s go over what we’ve covered. We know that because of capitalism’s main principles, society is living in a profit-driven culture that values overconsumption and an endless pursuit of growth at all costs. We know a new economy, one that values social and environmental well-being, as well as economic advantages, is needed. This is why socially focused startups and business models are the future of business.

However, the reality is that many purpose-driven startups are battling just to stay afloat, nevermind attain these lofty, systemic aspirations of making positive change. The fact is that social impact entrepreneurs who are developing this new, purpose-driven economy must achieve sustained growth (within reason) in order to make purpose-driven movements the standard in our economy. The real lingering question therefore is ‘How can these start-ups strike a balance between their financial stability and their social effect?’

And the answer is Ethical Growth Marketing. Revenue generating, impact focused, data-driven growth. 

Having a growth mindset, using an experiment-led, lean strategy, utilising the Ethical Growth Funnel (AAAAARR(I), realising growth has a limit, valuing transparency and honesty, and above all, reaching a state of balance, are the 6 basic pillars of Ethical Growth Marketing.

Faster time to market, a stronger return on investment, and the capacity to scale marketing activity that is yielding positive results quickly will all be benefits of adopting this lean, experiment-driven approach. This scalable, full funnel growth marketing strategy offers value at every stage of the marketing funnel, attracting, engaging, retaining, and ultimately converting customers into brand advocates.

You’ve come this far, want to learn more about how you can grow your brand, revenue and impact with a lean approach? Join our mailing list and be the first to receive exclusive event invites, new blog posts like these and a bunch of free resources you can start using with your team straight away.