#WomensMonth: The Faith & Fear of running a 100% female-owned growth-hacking business

From the boardroom to business results, Faith & Fear 'growth hacking' consultancy founders Taryn Hunter Sharman and Perri King are all about unlocking new revenue streams for private and public companies alike. Here's how to put the current decade's big buzzword of growth hacking to work for you.
Faith & Fear's founders, Taryn Hunter Sharman and Perri King.

Sharing the Faith & Fear origin story, I hear that just under three years ago creative catalyst or ad exec Sharman, now 36, went in search of a creative sabbatical.

“Marketing imagineer and corporate hustler” King, now 26, was working up the ladder, only for Sharman to approach her with a ‘wild idea’, having worked together before in other businesses.

Growth hacking

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She proposed they effectively start with nothing, but build something both could pour their creative and entrepreneurial energy into, in a way they could be proud of while executing with a level of dedication and personalised commitment to excellence they found lacking in the market. King leapt at the chance to work with her industry mentor, and thus Faith & Fear was born.
They understood that in order to make anything truly amazing in life, it takes equal parts faith as it does fear, so named the business as reminder that they constantly use both of these elements to their advantage, to create, do, believe, push, shift and step-up not only in their business but in all the businesses and people they serve daily.
Here, they let us in on the new world of growth hacking and how they’re making their mark with it…

BizcommunityWhat do you each bring to the business and how do you work together?

Sharman: As chief founder, I tell it to you straight – many times it’s not what you want to hear, but what you need to hear. I’m always thinking about the big picture, so my insight becomes the catalyst for change, at our new-breed, highly adaptable marketing consultancy.

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King: I’m motivated, dedicated and enthusiastic, with a genuine passion for people and absolute contempt for mediocrity. I hit the ground running with new projects and never take my eyes off the end goal. It’s been said that my ‘hell yes!’ attitude and sense of humour also don’t hurt, especially on Monday mornings.

BizcommunityLove that! Let's get down to basics: What exactly is a growth hacker?

Whilst this sounds like a new fad in the digital world, it’s a term that has been coined by , as far back as 2010.

However, growth hacking is a relatively new field in marketing, and - as its name suggests - is purely focused on growth. It’s particularly prevalent with startups when the goal is finding product/market fit or achieving rapid growth in the early stages of launching a new product or service to market.

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A growth hacker is by no means a replacement for a marketer. A growth hacker is just different from a marketer. To use the most succinct definition from Ellis’s post, “A growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth.”

Every decision that a growth hacker makes is informed by growth. Every strategy, every tactic, and every initiative is attempted in the hopes of growing. As such, it’s also a tactic that’s currently being noticed by corporate teams.

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The declining financial markets, the increase in the cost of digital inventory, and the amount of clutter in an ever-changing environment is causing companies to think long and hard about their acquisition and retention strategies.

BizcommunityWhat exactly does a growth marketing/growth hacking consultancy do?

Faith & Fear specifically aims to help companies distribute everything faster, further, in a more sustainable way. From products to messages and campaigns, followers, revenue, market share, customers, clicks or impressions – we can help you find the best way to grow.

We do this by using a carefully cultivated growth mindset to solve common marketing challenges. Here’s a real-life example:

Imagine your company sells lemons. The best quality lemons on the market too. Your goal is to distribute as many lemons to consumers as possible.

A growth marketing approach involves broader thinking, which looks something like this:
  • What channels do I have to distribute these lemons?
  • What if every person who bought a lemon through these channels had the opportunity to offer their friend a lemon too, as part of a promotion?
  • Is there a way to sell even more lemons through these channels?
  • What are the best performing channels to sell lemons?
  • What other products need lemons and their by-products? Let’s find the top channels that distribute lemon juice, lemon extract and lemonade and offer our lemons to them too.
  • Maybe if we distribute more through the best channels, and get a better price, we can use the money we save to re-invest into building our own distribution channel – lemons-direct.com.
  • Let’s make sure our lemons are in front of the right people, at the right time – so we become their default lemon brand of choice.
  • Let’s create Fomo by releasing limited edition lemons to trendsetters that statistically are more likely to influence others.

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Distributing content, products and stories in today’s environment requires the exact opposite of a fixed, rigid approach. It requires constant innovation.
After all, it’s highly likely that every single one of your competitors is distributing through the same channels, with the same approach and probably a very similar message. This absolute focus on growth has given rise to a number of methods, tools, and best practices that simply didn’t exist in the traditional marketing sense, and as time passes the chasm between the two disciplines deepens.
We put this knowledge to work to grow companies exponentially. We build empires. We take risks. We’re humble. And we know that growth is everything.

BizcommunityThat links to my next question: Elaborate on your key differentiators in today’s business world and what it takes to stand out in today’s cluttered space.

Sharman and King: We’ve moved away from a traditional marketing and advertising agency model, to one which focuses on creative, marketing, communication, digital and sales as a function of growth. Tactics and strategy have shifted from the marketing department to the CEO's office – to be optimised for tangible results.

For this you need:
  • Bespoke strategy – integrating not only marketing but business intelligence at C-suite level
  • Leading-edge thinking – continuously pushing each other to bring something new yet relevant to the market
  • Proven growth tactics – data-driven growth hacking
  • Creative edge – partnering far and wide to develop creative from the trendy-cool youngsters to the experienced sage

One of our largest differentiators at Faith & Fear is that clients have access and availability to both of us. No matter the request, we understand the value of the advice and solutions we provide our clients. They’re never palmed off to juniors after a pitch/concept is won – the strategy remains intact and the budgets never run over due to neglect.

It is Faith & Fear’s mission to truly understand what makes a business plateau through our startup mentality and data-backed experimentation. Our best work is executed at board level when we are answering a business need, rather than an instinctive want.

During negative growth periods or market losses, as they realistically should be labelled, organisations aim to cut costs – particularly marketing-related/perceived expenses.

We’re reinventing this staid formula and rather working with corporate SA to re-engineer existing revenue streams, to determine new ways to unlock value, prior to knee-jerk, OpEx, guillotine decision-making.

BizcommunityExcellent. Share your favourite business-related motivational quote.

Sharman: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

King: “Growth never comes from doing the same things over and over again. If you’re ready to take the leap, we’re ready to help your business fly.”

BizcommunityCounter to that, how do you find work-life balance and unwind after hours?

Sharman and King: We work ‘off the field and on’, as we have two loves in common: family and friends, and travel. When we’re not found nurturing those we love at home, you’ll find us across the seas, seeking our next adventure.

Connect with Sharman and King wherever they are on LinkedIn, follow Faith & Fear on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram, and visit their guide for further insights.
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About Leigh Andrews

Leigh Andrews (@leigh_andrews) AKA the #MilkshakeQueen, is Editor-in-Chief: Marketing & Media at Bizcommunity.com, with a passion for issues of diversity, inclusion and equality. She's also on the Women in Marketing: Africa advisory panel, and can be reached at ...