The Growth Marketing Lifecycle (GMLC)

About The Author

Ahmad Iqbal

Ahmad Iqbal

Co-founder and CEO at HMS Commerce. Product development and marketing of our suite of apps, as well as providing growth marketing services to select merchants.

What is the Growth Marketing Lifecycle (GMLC)?

The GMLC is a framework designed for marketing teams looking to break out of their traditional marketing processes and adopt a growth oriented and agile way of working. It’s the who, what, where, when, why guide that lays out the people and processes required to successfully execute against growth goals in a transparent, collaborative, iterative, and hypothesis driven manner. Although it’s been designed with larger organization in mind, the principles are just as easily applied to small and medium sized organizations as well.

The GMLC is comprised of four phases

GMLC Introduction

Marketing teams should not find themselves outside of this four stage process. Each stage is meant to flow organically into the next, maintaining continuity and limiting team context switching. For example, it would be redundant for teams to find themselves in a Goal Orientation stage more than once a quarter, or to skip Ideation or Scale stages.

Whether they be large “business as usual” traditional waterfall campaigns, or smaller experiment and test campaigns (what we will refer to as Growth Stories), the GMLC will lay out the step by step guide to applying a growth mindset to your marketing organization.

It’s organized into four distinct phases: 1. Goal Orientation, 2. Ideation & Hypothesis Creation, 3. Execution & Optimization, and finally 4. Scale and Automation. The start of this playbook illustrates the GMLC diagram among its four phases.

If you’re familiar with enterprise software development teams, you may have heard of something similar in the form of a Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC). SDLCs traditionally highlight waterfall process but agile versions exist as well. The purpose of this GMLC playbook is to formalize a workflow so marketers, like their software developer counterparts, also have a defined framework they can lean on to deliver their work. It defines the team’s overall workflow going from the organizational and executive direction, all the way to value generating marketing campaigns and learnings from wins and losses.

Below we’ll briefly outline the objective of each stage, before double clicking a bit deeper for each phase in the rest of this playbook.

1. Goal Orientation. The objective of this stage is for the organization and marketing teams to identify its growth equation, align on goals and understand their position relative to those goals. A key component is team alignment on how your business grows, so you have a good understanding of the levers and switches you control and the impact they have on the top line.

This stage heavily involves everyone in the marketing organization. It should happen every quarter, annually at the very least, and should take about a week to complete.

2. Ideation & Hypotheses Creation. Continuing from stage one, in this stage the teams prepare for their sprints. This includes populating their backlog with campaign ideas and hypotheses, scoring and prioritizing opportunities, and creating their artifacts, like the Funnel Map and Kanban Board.

This stage involves most of the marketing team, minus senior leadership. Like Goal Orientation, it should also happen every quarter for one dedicated week, as a natural transition from the previous stage.

3. Execution, Delivery & Optimization. This stage is where rubber hits the road. Growth Stories are formalized, ideas are turned into reality and released into the market. Hypotheses are tested, measured, and optimized across as many customer reaching channels as possible. It’s the stage that delivers incremental growth for the organization.

This stage involves all of marketing but the Core Team shines and takes most ownership. This is also the stage that teams will spend the vast majority of their time in. It happens every week, week after week, apart from those weeks where teams are in stage one and two.

4. Scale & Automation. In this stage the marketing team takes stock of all the successful campaigns and chooses one clear winning campaign to scale; the one campaign best suited to drive a 10x improvement in their target metric. This final stage in the growth marketing lifecycle is the culmination and ideal ending of all the previous stages.

It should also be noted Scale stage can happen within the construct of the prior Execution stage.

Scale involves leadership and key team members to help the decision making. It can happen between one to four times per year. Keep in mind, not all quarters may end with clear winners.

Another crucial component of this stage is Automation. Once teams have had enough time sprinting and finding initiatives that work, automation of workflows, reports and/or campaigns should be seriously considered. This requirement in today’s world cannot go understated which is why we’re dedicating a playbook just to this. Automation is what will step-function improve your capabilities. For example, able to send from two emails per week, to 20. Target one customer segment per week, to a dozen. Generate 20 reports instead of two. These automations free up time doing work that machines can do much faster, to think about higher value work, such as insights generation, ideation, innovation and prioritization.

Now that you have a basic understand of the overall process, let’s go deeper at each level, you can use the below links to learn more about each of the four phases in depth.

Link to

Phase 1: Goal Orientation

Phase 2: Ideation & Hypothesis

Phase 3: Sprint Execution & Optimization

Phase 4: Scale and Automation

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