Growth Division’s Collaboration with University of Bath

Growth Division were lucky enough to work with three of University of Bath’s brightest and best minds at the start of this year thanks to the SETsquared partnership:

The report was prepared by:

  • Victoria Christodoulides – ESRC Social Philosophy PhD student at The University of Bath 
  • Patrick Prince – EPSRC Mechanical Engineering PhD student at The University of Bath 
  • Andrei Petrus – MEng student at The University of Bath 

What were we trying to find out?

Is growth marketing an art or a science? Could we really apply academic theories to the context of startup marketing? At Growth Division, we use a tool called The Bullseye Framework to help evaluate our startups’ best channels to market. However, we wanted to apply more data, and heightened analysis in our recommendations to really supercharge our client’s growth. 

What did the team recommend?

Our researchers from The University of Bath started to explore how they could improve the effectiveness and robustness of the Bullseye Framework. The researchers developed a Business Concept Design Document (BCDD) which identified three areas of relevance for the development of a suitable business concept; 

1) Reflection and the Experiential Learning Design (ELT); 

2) Process evaluation and Tacit knowledge conversion for model implementation and 

3) Analytical Approaches to Marketing.

This perspective gives GD an edge in novel growth marketing initiatives for clients and to build a knowledge base of successful marketing initiatives.

The research team recommended that GD would benefit from utilising the framework and knowledge generated to engage with other experts (coaches, software technician’s and growth experts) to explore further the development of a more tangible product that can be effectively deployed.

As a result, GD has launched a new experiment management portal to systematically track and evaluate the success of client experiments.

See below for a condensed version of the research team’s report, be prepared for some academic language – it was an academic research paper after all!

What’s The Bullseye Framework background?

The Bullseye Framework by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares in their book, Traction, is a simple but effective process on how a start-up team can focus on the right channels for distribution resulting in a surge of customer acquisition. However, this framework has been tailored for start-ups and is applied by consultants who use the Bullseye Framework as their primary consultancy material. Therefore, there remains a lack of understanding of how to systematically evaluate the implementation of the Bullseye Framework across a range of diverse clients.

What’s the problem GD wanted to solve?

GD aims to improve their systematic evaluation of their marketing channels within the Bullseye Framework that they use. They would like to utilise academic theory to make their evaluation procedures robust. Growth Division’s strategists are currently using too much of their gut instinct to evaluate what processes are working with the Bullseye model. This is not ideal in a dynamic market with a lot of uncertainty.

Academic Considerations

1. Experiential Learning Theory

Kolb’s ELT (1984) is a theory that can be applied to a range of scenarios. Its theory is still relatively new within business literature, excluding management (covering problem-solving, management styles and decision making) with a substantial marketing prevalence. ELT differentiates itself from the other theories in its focus on viewing “learning as a process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience” (D. A. Kolb, 1984, p. 38). 

A brief review of Kolb’s ELT model is a framework comprising four sections that must be experienced (not necessarily in order) for learning to occur. The ELT process can be repeated infinitely and operates with opposites (Figure 2). 1) Concrete experience refers to tangible experiences which are felt; 2) Reflective observation is the internal reflective process regarding a process; 3) Abstract conceptualisation extracts and contextualises the information from the experience and 4) Active experimentation engages the experimentation of new approaches (Van der Horst & Albertyn, 2018).

Kolb's Experiential Learning Theory

Figure 1: Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory (Van der Horst & Albertyn, 2018) 

Reflexive processes can be misunderstood or practised as a circular concept returning to the same point or as a ‘checklist’ into a broader process. We first recommend reflexivity remain a vital element within your pedagogical processes. Second, we recommend rather than it be considered as a repetition; it is viewed as a layered extension to existing knowledge and processes;

2. Knowledge conversion

Practitioners intuitively recognise when the rules of performance apply and which rules to follow. Yet, it is difficult for practitioners to reflect on performance rules while they are engaged in the practice. The reason could be that social practices transmit conscious and unconscious rules, helping conserve tacit knowledge.

Converting tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge can be done by having an expert leave their social practice to join a new social practice. This develops a contrast that allows the articulation of tacit knowledge of the expert social practice. The conversion of knowledge from tacit to explicit form is inherently a creative act using metaphors, analogies and images (Nonanka and Krough, 2009).

Hypothesis 1a: GD can facilitate their experts’ conversion of knowledge from tacit to explicit by encouraging discussions amongst experts on topics that are very different to the experts’ social practice and to ask the expert to reflect on this difference.

Hypothesis 1b: Explicit knowledge is required from experts for quality data fed into the optimisation framework to optimise the framework’s effectiveness.

3. Analytical Approaches to Marketing

A data-driven decision framework has been developed to support the theoretical approaches. This provides knowledge from a quantitative lens, and it is intended to present hypothetical simulation information to support (in conjunction with the theoretical approaches) the optimisation of required KPIs. Together, these approaches are designed to provide GD with a more robust and considered approach to decisions and pedagogical environment.

GD’s core process of finding scalable marketing channels is inherently evidence-based. The currently used Bullseye Framework is a good top-level approach to structuring the search process and identifying value-positive channels. However, it is limited by its heavy reliance on expertise and knowledge to prioritise and test channels. This leads to uncertainty throughout the process and limits GD’s ability to scale effectively.

The analytical approach to marketing aims to enhance the current process by applying analytical tools to support evidence-based decision making. In a data-rich environment like digitised marketing, it is imperative to optimise analytics to overcome the complexity of the stimulus-response network (the customer’s reaction to marketing stimuli) and avoid information overload. To that extent, the high-level framework in Figure 2 is proposed to guide data in decision making. 

ata-driven marketing decision making

Figure 2: The optimisation framework for data-driven marketing decision making 


Following conversations and exploration of resources from both GD and academic literature, the project would focus on developing an academically grounded business concept that sought to increase the robustness of the systematic evaluation of the Bullseye Framework used. With the intention of the delivered content being used as a baseline for future exploration and development by GD.

The kneading together of interdisciplinary theoretical concepts has provided a unique perspective acknowledging behavioural and cognitive tools in developing and evaluating knowledge based on reflection. In particular, the acknowledgement of how challenging assumptions and perspective taking is important in knowledge production. The integration of experimental design practices has demonstrated the importance of a multimodal perspective rather than a reliance on one method of systematic evaluation. 

The research findings come to a rounded understanding that too much reliance on any one area drawn upon within this project would be restrictive in GD’s ability to retain a flexible and innovative approach to systematic evaluation efforts. Therefore, any tools and products GD may develop in future are not recommended to be viewed as the core source of information for strategising the marketing direction. Instead, it should be considered in conjunction with other processes, questioning its validity to draw balanced and robust conclusions.

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