I recently decided to learn about growth hacking, not only because everyone is talking about it, but because the few articles I read about this triggered my curiosity. On my boss’ advice I got into Ryan Holiday‘s book on this particular topic: “Growth Hacker Marketing”.
I am always very skeptical when I hear about any new so-called “revolutionary” marketing concepts. Like a lot of “big keywords”, growth marketing is the opportunity for a lot of people to make big money out of a new concept. Since this phenomenon has become famous I can’t count the number of new “growth hackers for start-ups” Twitter profiles. My objective when I started to read Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising was to answer three questions:
- What is Growth Marketing?
- Did the people who invented growth marketing reinvent the wheel?
- How can I apply this concept to my day-to-day BtoB Web & Digital Manager job?
What is growth hacking?
In the book a growth hacker is defined as “someone who has thrown out the playbook of traditional marketing and replaced it with only what is testable, trackable, and scalable (…)”. Very vague I agree. What I will remember from the book:
- Growth hacking is a real mindset which main goal is to massively acquire new users in a short amount of time,
- Growth hacking is very much metric and ROI driven, and focuses on “customer acquisition” over “awareness”,
- Initially, growth hacking was invented by engineers/programmers who happened to get into marketing without the traditional marketing knowledge and mindset, but very attracted by the perspective of driving and improving marketing conversion. A quite rational marketing mindset, based on concrete numbers,
- The main tools used by a growth marketers can be very different from a job/industry to another, but usually revolve around new/innovative/collaborative web & digital marketing tools,
- Everyone can use growth hacking techniques, not essentially marketing people. Growth marketing is a vertical layer that should be on top of the whole enterprise to be successful and efficient,
- “Growth hacking is not just about finding your first customers. Established brands and companies can use the same techniques to pull in more customers. Growth is growth.”
The genesis of growth marketing by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday gives us very interesting examples of growth marketing-based success: Hotmail, Dropbox, Instagram, Airbnb, Uber, etc. There is of course a big fantasy around the Hotmail growth-hacking case (“PS: I Love You. Get Your Free Email at Hotmail“), very well described here by TechCrunch.
I went though all those different success stories and enjoyed them very much. Very exciting of course. The idea sounds great to me: rethink marketing, step back from traditional marketing and build a totally new approach (besides the evolution of marketing tools) clearly focused on developing growth rapidly.