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Real growth

How ideas, companies and communities grow.


Tireless work, a huge marketing budget, clever campaigns and an amazing product or idea together sound like the ingredients to success at something big. If everything is executed with great timing then all graphs should point up and to the right at a healthy incline. Well, maybe, if you’re lucky, or if that budget is very big indeed.

If you do get healthy growth, your growth graph will still most likely be stepped instead of being smoothed, coinciding with marketing channel releases or things like retweets from popular people. That’s a great thing, and no marketing person should be kicking themselves for stepped growth as opposed to a constant 45 degree or more incline.

The growth requirement

Essentially what’s needed for success is a product that has some value, and the propagation of messages to inform and remind people of the product. That’s the role that marketing fulfills and that’s why the marketing role is so crucial, otherwise the product will get stuck in the trap of being built with nobody having come seen it.

Real growth

However there is a better way than the run-of-the-mill marketing budget approach to growth. That approach is simply other people. Partnerships and relationships with people are how non-paid messages are spread. Other organizations can help someone spread a message a lot quicker to a lot more people than a single person can.

Breaking bad

If you’ve seen Breaking Bad, you may have realized that the only reason the blue meth was so popular (aside from it being such a high quality product) is that Walter White had so many high value relationships. Even though his close relationship with Saul was unintentional, that relationship lead him to meet Gustavo Fring as well as Lydia (a methylamine supply chain partner) via Mike. If Walter and Jesse tried to do everything themselves, they wouldn’t have gotten a lot further than a few neighbourhood gangsters peddling their meth to crack whores.

Try for yourself

Jesse used his friends Badger, Combo, and Skinny Pete for distribution, which helped their growth, but the quality of the return of the relationship was proportional to the quality of distribution ability by those people. Spend an hour playing the addictive Clicking Bad game to experience very quickly how having the right relationships quickly leads to exponential growth.

Results of your gaming experience

If you spend all of your time cooking and selling by manually clicking those two buttons, you won’t do very well in the game. If you open up your distribution channels by some dealers or a drug mule (akin to the scenario with Jesse’s friends), your revenue will slowly pick up but not by much. Once you have leveled up enough, you get to a point where you’re making millions of dollars per second. That’s a bit unrealistic but here are a few companies who are raking it at an insane rate.

The secret sauce

Clicking Bad may be a silly incremental clicking game, but it teaches you that to make trillions of dollars a second, you have to re-invest into whatever the equivalent of your manufacturing process is, but more importantly that you spend time (and money?) building relationships with the right people or organizations that can help spread your message.

What the game doesn’t teach you

The game implies that your selling rate will go up if you buy a senator or strike a deal with the police force, but it doesn’t say how. The simplified version is that the deal you make has to be beneficial to both parties, the expected return on investment should far outweigh the return on something you’d do yourself at the same expense, and most importantly that it frees up your time (and the time of your partners, advisors etc.) to focus on product or keep developing more lucrative relationships with other organizations that will benefit you.

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