Building Growth Engines (lesson 4 of 7)


After talking mostly about process & skills over the last few days, I’ll introduce you to Growth Engines today.

It’s exciting stuff, and the key to unlocking effective acquisition channels.




In the last lessons we spoke about ‘process’

  • Risk roadmap

  • Traction system

  • Skill: copywriting


It’s about time now that we look at the 2nd main pillar of growth marketing…

Building Growth Engines.

I told you how we turned that startup around, right?
When we got the Facebook ads to work.

I told you it was “magic”, but that’s not the full truth.

Today I’ll tell you what actually happened…

Because that day I got my first growth engine to properly work.


What’s a growth engine?

A growth engine is any system designed to generate predictable, scalable and repeatable growth out of a given channel.

That means there are many different growth engines:

  • SEO growth engine  (example: Pinterest)

  • Referral growth engine  (Dropbox)

  • Facebook ads growth engine  (Growthcasts :D)

  • Content marketing growth engine  (Hubspot)

  • Affiliate / JV growth engine  (Internet Marketing)

  • AdWords growth engine  (many Rocket Internet companies)

  • You get the drift


Every traction channel can have a growth engine.


A growth engine is a system or a ‘machine’ that you build on top of a given channel… to make growth repeatable and scalable…

I know that’s hard to wrap your head around. Personally, I like to think of it as an oil drilling rig: The hard part is finding where the profitable oil is… but once you know, you can build a system that pumps oil out of the ground, all day every day.

A mine is similar: it produces gold, copper, iron or whatever… every day. It’s not some random gold digger like in the old days.


It’s a machine.

An engine.


That’s what a growth engine does: drive growth out of a given channel, all day every day.

I can imagine you have 2 questions now:

  1. What exactly does a growth engine look like

  2. Which growth engines should you master first, if there are so many?

Let’s take it one at a time…

What exactly does a growth engine look like?

Growth engine is a set of tactics, strategically bundled together.

For instance, let’s look at that Facebook Ads Engine…

For me to realise how the Facebook Ads Engine worked… a few different pieces needed to fall into place:

  • You need strong ads copy & creatives

  • You need the right kind of offer, that resonates with people that are browsing through their newsfeed… and you need a sales funnel to convert that offer into the full sale you’re looking for. => a sales funnel, which we’ll talk about in lesson 6

  • You need the right tooling (in our case we needed a testing tool like AdEspresso)

  • You need strong copywriting skills, especially as it relates to writing Facebook ads

  • Etc.


There’s not ONE magic piece. Not one, singular ‘growth hack’ that will every triple your sales overnight…

Things play together in harmony. And sometimes there’s just one missing piece that you didn’t have in place…

It’s much like a car engine: it’s got pistons, and gears, and transmission, and fire plugs, and oil…

And if just one piece is missing…

The entire engine won’t run.

You need the full picture.
The overview.

What you need for an engine — more than anything else — is the blueprint.

You need to know which pieces (the hacks or tactics) you need to make the engine work.

In a battlefield the individual tactics bundle together to form a strategy. Individual battles string together to win a war.

In a car engine the piston, gears, transmission and what not… they need to all be there, in the right place, connected properly.

In a book you’ve got characters and chapters… that ultimately form a story.


Can you see the difference?

It happens on a strategic level.


Once you know the blueprint… things will fall into place.

Once you’ve created your first growth engine… all the other ones will be quite easy.

It’s not exactly the same, but everything is similar.

In the next lesson I’ll answer the 2nd question: which engines you should master first.

It turns out that even thought there are many different engines, you can get away with learning only 2 of them…


One for business-to-consumer, and one for business-to-business.

Let’s talk about that next time.




Pieter “compressed time” Moorman



P.S. Just realise I completely forgot to tell you about that ‘compressing time’ story. Remember how Elon Musk talks about that concept, and how powerful it is?

Now that you understand growth engines, you might know what metric should be your ’north star’…

And no, it’s not “growth”, like Sean Ellis says. This about goal vs. job again… Inputs & outputs… Growth is the output, but what metric tracks the input?


This is the metric Sean lives or dies by.

He even talks about it.  Actually, it’s one of the main lessons I learned from him…


I’ll explain tomorrow!