Growth Engineering VS Growth Marketing: Which Is Better For Your Business?

What is better for your business: Growth engineering vs growth marketing? Jump to whichever section you would like to read:

Understanding Growth Engineering vs Growth Marketing

What is Growth Engineering and Why Is It Beneficial?

What is Growth Marketing and Why Is It Beneficial?

How To Pick Between Growth Engineering and Growth Marketing

Growth Engineering vs Growth Marketing: The Verdict


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If you’re unfamiliar with that popular commercial from the early 2000’s with the people yelling that phrase outside their windows for JG Wentworth, frankly, you’re missing out.

Sometimes working with a digital marketing agency makes us feel like screaming that too. I need results and ROI, and I need it now! 

You’ve heard the stats: 20% of new businesses close within a year, over 60% of companies close before they reach their 10th anniversary. But you and your business have what it takes to avoid joining those statistics. You want growth, and you want it fast: What do you do? 

You’ve worked hard to get your business to where it is. But you know you’re not ready to take the foot off the gas any time soon. What can you do to boost growth consistently and measurably? Terms like “growth engineering” and “growth marketing” are thrown around, but you’re unsure which approach to take. 

This post will outline what growth engineering vs growth marketing means, the effectiveness of each methodology, and how you can use each approach for your business. Finally, we’ll reach a verdict: Which is best for your business? 


Understanding Growth Engineering vs Growth Marketing

Silicon Valley venture capitalist Andrew Chen is well-known for many of his ideas, but one of his most famous concepts is the Product Death Cycle. As the name suggests, the story told by this cycle is not a happy one. 

You’re marketing a startup or small business. You launch a new product, update, or service. Immediately after launch, you see a small spike in growth, leading you to believe that the new product may answer all your problems. When growth flattens, instead of asking what caused the stagnation, a company stuck in this cycle will simply add a new feature, product, or update. 

product death cycle (1)

The only way to escape from the product death cycle is to examine a new approach to growth altogether. A process that doesn’t hinge on expensive product development and splashy launches. 

At Lean Labs, growth is our bread and butter. We’ve helped dozens of brands increase revenue by tens of millions of dollars. We don’t say this just to brag (even though we’re awfully proud). We know our way around the growth process for small businesses and start-ups. So, when you examine growth engineering vs. growth marketing, wondering which is best for you, trust us when we say we have the answer!

Let’s get started. 


What is Growth Engineering and Why Is It Beneficial?

What is growth engineering? Growth engineering is a highly technical approach to organizational growth. In this approach, you will leverage technology and team members with technical skills or expertise to contribute to your company’s growth efforts and strategies. 

Essentially, growth engineering takes the data-centered, systematic approach of software engineering and applies it to your company’s growth efforts. The idea is that by taking a scientific approach to growth, you’ll be able to nail down a repeatable process: A formula for growth. 

The secret sauce of growth engineering is breaking down siloes. Instead of marketing, engineering, and product teams operating separately, growth engineering pushes those departments to work together as a single, cross-functional team.

Related Read: The True Cost of Adopting a Growth Strategy Framework

This single, cross-functional team works together to build software, create business processes, and develop content to increase conversion rates. Every growth engineering effort should have three qualities:

  • Creative: Your team needs to be ready to think of creative solutions to customer problems. Small changes won’t be enough to spark radical growth in your company. Growth engineering requires you to think creatively and try new methods.
  • Iterative: Growth engineering isn’t a “one and done” process. Iteration is the name of the game. You will implement a change, track the results, then use that data to adjust and course-correct. 
  • Flexible: If you are stuck in the mindset that the traditional way of doing things is the best, growth engineering may not be for you. This approach requires all team members to be flexible and willing to consider solutions that might seem unorthodox at first blush.


What is Growth Marketing and Why Is It Beneficial?

What is growth marketing? Growth marketing is a sub-industry of marketing that solely focuses on driving growth in a business. Growth marketing and growth engineering are often confused. The source of this confusion is that growth marketing shares all the same features as growth engineering. However, growth marketing has some features and aspects that aren’t found in growth engineering. 

Think of it as a Venn Diagram, but where growth marketing includes all the characteristics of growth engineering, but growth engineering only overlaps with a portion of the functions of growth marketing: 

growth marketing vs growth engineering (1)

Growth marketing teams take a full-funnel approach to marketing. Where traditional marketing efforts are most concerned with awareness and customer acquisition, growth marketing focuses on every step of the funnel from the first moment your customer becomes aware of your brand to the moment they are a raving fan, advocating for your brand. 

The six stages of the customer acquisition funnel are awareness, acquisition, activation, retention, revenue, and referrals. In their pursuit of winning at every stage of the funnel, growth marketing teams utilize three core strategies:


  • Experimentation: Growth marketing is a data-driven approach to organizational growth. The only way to get useful data is through experimentation. In other words, we’re all for measured decisions… but at some point, you have to pull the trigger and try something. 
  • Optimization: Optimization takes growth marketers out of the “marketing with your gut” camp. Once a growth marketing team implements an experiment, they return to the data. Examining results at every stage of the buyer’s journey, growth marketers make changes to optimize their efforts. 
  • Continuous Improvement: Our CEO, Kevin Barber, has a saying, “Be grateful, but never satisfied.” This is central to growth marketing. Instead of implementing a change and letting it sit, growth marketers constantly improve and optimize their efforts. Growth marketing teams work in sprints, rolling out incremental changes, then going back to the data and KPIs to ensure they’re moving toward their targets. 


How To Pick Between Growth Engineering and Growth Marketing

Growth engineering vs growth marketing: Which approach is best? That depends on your business and your goals. 

If you’re looking to move quickly and make targeted changes in one specific area of your business, growth engineering may work for you. Alternatively, growth engineering may be a good starting point for your growth efforts. You may find that, down the line, growth engineering efforts on their own aren’t enough to sustain growth long-term. 

If you are looking to achieve growth that is not just radical but sustainable, the full-funnel, full-service approach associated with growth marketing will be a better bet. Growth marketing efforts can take a bit more time upfront to build momentum, but the returns are exponential. 


Growth Engineering vs Growth Marketing: The Verdict

So, growth engineering or growth marketing: Which should you pursue for your business? Our answer is a bit of a cheat because we believe you don’t have to pick one or the other. On the contrary, we believe that growth engineering is essential for any successful growth marketing campaign. 

Optimization, continuous improvement, and a focus on data are key tenants of both growth engineering and growth marketing. These elements work together to help you make data-driven decisions regarding your marketing and growth efforts. Are you interested in examining some data for your own business’s growth? Check out our free tool, the Growth Grader, today. This tool outlines the Six Levers of Growth, allowing you to identify friction points in your processes and paving the way for massive growth.


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