The growth canvas

How to bring some much-needed structure into any Growth Hacking project

Bernhard Wendt

By Bernhard Wendt

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The Growth Hacking canvas

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Organization: The bane of every creative mind doesn’t halt before entrepreneurship. You know what – Scratch that. The need for proper structure and organization is especially there in business. Thankfully, the gods have blessed us with the Canvas business model – a way to write down the entire business model of a company on a single piece of paper. And that is awesome, really!

But for Growth Hackers, that just doesn’t cut it.

The business canvas – albeit a great way to analyse your business and to break it down to the important things – is by no means a tool fit for determining one’s Growth Hacking experiments. Thus, the growth canvas was created and serves Growth Hackers as first guideline for deciding what experiments to run with new clients. Growth Hacking bonus: It follows the Sales funnel!

But let’s just check it out.

The growth hacking canvasS.m.a.r.t. goals

Starting off it’s necessary to define what goals you want to achieve. Do you want to raise the conversion rate? Do you want to be on the first page of Google searches? Do you want to reach a certain amount of revenue?

Everything goes, as long as it is S.M.A.R.T. – which obviously means the goals need to be worded SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ATTAINABLE, RELEVANT and TIMELY.

In other words: Be concrete and cut the chit-chat, use metrics that can be checked, stay realistic, focus on the essentials and put a timestamp on it.

An example of a s.m.a.r.t. goal would be:

Increasing social media engagement by 120% until the end of Q3.

For the advanced smarty pants among you: Try to derive your growth hacking goals from your business goals or try including them in your Objectives and Key Results if you use a frame work like that.

Target audience

Now that you have clearly defined your goals, it’s time to define who you want to appeal to. Aside from determining the typical age, gender and intentions of our customers we like to create user personas of our archetype customers: In detail! Gender, age, marital status, job, digital competence, relevant brands – we even go as far as naming these characters! This process is a huge steppingstone towards understanding your target group, what bugs them and how to efficiently reach them – and let’s be real, isn’t that exactly what you want to know?


At this point we start talking money – that’s what Facebook, Instagram and Google usually ask for in return for launching ad-campaigns. Allocate how much money you are willing to spend on what – But try not to cross any set financial borders! While you are on it, this would be the perfect time to think about your Customer Acquisition Cost and your customer’s Lifetime value. Both numbers will definitely help you with planning your budget, making future decisions and evaluating the success of your experiments.

Growth areas

Every campaign has an angle to it that depends on the company’s ideas, their target audience, their main channels, their product, etc. That angle you will be trying to work.

Is the company trying to emphasize on their social media performance? Grow that area.

Does the company try to be easy to find through Google? Improve their SEO.

Does the company’s landing page suck? Improve it.

Obviously, this is rather simplified and yes, you can grow more than one area, but you do get the point, right? The segment Growth Areas needs you to determine where you’ll allocate your resources – Which is crucial, because not being clear about this means wasting time and money.


There is so many great applications and programs out there to use for practically figuratively literally everything you could ever wish for.

Social media post scheduling? Done.

Landing page heat maps? No problem.

Editing pictures of Michael Peña to look like a cheeseburger? Oddly specific request, but sure why not.

That, however, also means that there is a ton of stuff out there that is not so great – meaning you need to filter out the bad ones and those that don’t fit the bill. Speaking of bills: The best tools are usually not cheap, but with time you’ll see the tools’ value. The final decision is usually taken based on personal experience and proficiency with the tools: Every Growth Hacker has slightly different preferences. It’s up for experimentation!

Which leads us to the bottom row of the canvas and straight back to the sales funnel.

Remember our  post on what makes Growth Hackers special?The sales funnel - the so-called pirate metrics Among other it is our focus on the sales funnel – does the term “Pirate Metrics” ring a bell?

It almost seems too obvious to include these steps in the Growth Hacking canvas, yet the bottom row is dedicated entirely on what measures you are to take – on each level of the sales funnel. Sail away!


Generating awareness means spreading knowledge about your company’s or product’s existence – How do you do that? Since most of the other steps answer that question as a by-product, you won’t be finding the funnel’s first step on most growth canvases.


Acquisition includes every activity that is focused on making yourself visible to your audience. How can customers find you? Depending on product and target audience you can launch Facebook ad campaigns, improve SEO or distribute flyers – the worst thing for a company is not to get seen, so make yourself visible!


Usually, you’ll want your audience to do something: To share your offer, to convert them to customers or to simply sign up for a newsletter. How will you get them there – That question you’ll have to answer in this section.


Customer retention means staying in contact with your buyers after their purchase – You’ll want them to come back to you – to generate more value for you! You can send post- purchase follow up emails, provide discounts on second buys or try up-selling them in the future. It’s up to you!


The best customers are those that advertise your brand. If you are one of those – We love you! But how do you usually get buyers to do that? Rewarding people with a discount for sharing offers as well as contests/competitions have proven to work miracles in that field. Yet, some companies manage to create a product of such high value to the customer that they can’t just get around spreading the message – no harm in trying that as well! (e.g. Uber)


The crème de la crème of doing business: Making money. Some customers have made it all the way to this part of the funnel, now it’s time to make them pay (not in an action movie kind of way though). How will you make them lucrative customers? Gyms offer discounts upon joining on an annual basis, Amazon generates pop-ups to prevent you from leaving your basket before checking out. Get creative, it pays off. Literally.

After finishing through with this process (I am not gonna lie, it will be time-consuming) KEEP THE GROWTH PLAN CLOSE! You can directly discern what actions you must take in particular – if you catch yourself doing something else, quit. There is probably a reason you did not write it down.

And now get to work, stay on track and hack that growth!

Bernhard Wendt

By Bernhard Wendt

Recent posts

The Growth Hacking canvas

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