This comes down to the strength of the core product: without strong retention, there’s no point in having a Growth Team because there will always be a leaky bucket. Look at Airbnb, for example, viral growth accelerated when a Growth Team focused on the six platform features it identified as most likely to drive scale.
Along with product/market fit and retention, it’s best practice to ensure that your company has developed target customer personas – detailed descriptions of fictionalized personas representing your core markets. These personas should be based on robust market data and will have the characteristics of ideal customers, with assigned demographic status, interests, motivations, and purchasing behaviors.
Another crucial consideration is timing. One of the most common mistakes is trying to focus on rapid growth too soon. According to Chamath Palihapitiya, the most important action they took at Facebook in the early days: eliminate any discussion of virality1. Instead, their exclusive focus was answering the three most difficult questions that companies face: 1) how do you get people through the front door? 2) how do you get them to an “aha moment” as soon as possible (i.e., how do you get them to realize the core product value and convert) and 3) how do you deliver core product value as often as possible (i.e., retention).
Only after Facebook had consolidated core product value and customer strategy, did they start to consider how they could get more of their users to bring more people onto the platform1. In contrast, there have been countless examples of companies that have focused on viral growth too early. They see meteoric rises, followed by massive falls because they haven’t solved for those three most important questions centered on core product value and customer behavior.