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Please add your two cents to this [Facebook] thread on [Lora's FB page.] - [edits]
- Lora is a writer at WSJ, so I'm expecting she'll produce a piece on this.
Growth hacking is the new standard for what a "marketer" should be.
Marketing has done thru a paradigm shift in the last 4 years.
It will take the majority of colleges some time to "catch up" to these new rule sets.
Not speaking on behalf of Sean but I think he saw that the average marketer coming out of college did not poses these new marketing rule sets or skills yet so he created a term for what he saw as something fundamentally different.
My 2 cents. "Growth hacking" rule sets will become the norm in a few years as it makes its way into colleges. The terms marketing and growth hacking will become the same thing.
But we're not there yet....
Fantastic point made about colleges needing to "catch up". Just think of all the out of date print materials being used in universities today.
Thanks for sharing!
While it is true that unqualified people claim to be "growthhackers", what sets a true Growth Hacker apart in my mind is the ability to use technology to achieve exponential rather than linear growth.
And yes, I agree that eventually it will be the standard to which all marketers should be measured. But we are a long way from that now.
Growth hacking--finding effective and unique ways to make sure the people who are most likely to care about your product have a chance to try your product--is very real.
"Growth Hackers" far-too-often spout as much nonsense as "Social Media Gurus".
No-nonsense growth hacking involves:
* Building a product that is actually useful and interesting
* Understanding why existing customers/users would be upset if they could no longer use the product.
* Discovering precisely where the people who would also be upset to lose access to your product but don't know about it yet spend time. (Usually online, but you can get creative offline as well.)
* Understand what creates trust for these people. (Usually, the strongest is a referral from someone they know. Slightly weaker is 'the crowd' opinion. Weaker than that is an 'expert' they already trust.)
* Run small tests to hack, exploit, and explore every opportunity to put the highest-level-of-trust experience in front of the most-likely-to-be-interested people.
Nonsense growth hacking involves:
1. Exploit every social channel to promote your product to as many people as possible.
One thing I love about the growth hackers community is how much people care. You shared this here, it gained attention, and then there is a valid discussion about it on Facebook.
Before the term Growth Hacking existed it was simply called Internet Marketing.
Technology, data and automation was performed by the Grey/Blackhats. Analytic and measurement was performed by both sides. Much of these tactics aren't performed by the common 'growth hacker'.
What Rap Genius, Airbnb, and other true growth hackers did was Grey-Black. These are true 'hacks'.
Growth hacking doesn't favor unethical "gray-black" tactics. Those tactics tend to be extremely unsustainable and risky. As I wrote in my response to Lora's FB question, "Growth hacking is about continuous improvement of all the growth levers using experimentation and data. Many of those levers are off limits to marketers or aren’t understood by marketers." Sustainable growth is the goal. I see no reason to ever have to venture into gray-black areas.
what you mean Justin, is that there are too many grey-black hacks who use grey to black hat tactics because they DON'T have the right product, they don't have the vision and they don't have the skills and patience it takes to use growth hacking principles of marketing to do it right. Sean is right, if you slide into the morass of dirty tricks you are just dirty. You can be edgy without being evil.
All I am saying is that it exists. Airbnb and Facebook are two of the strongest examples. RapGenius too, but they got caught. Technically they are 'growth hacks'. They are not best practices at all, are dirty, but they exist. These were the 'hacks'. Are these edgy or evil?
Mark Zuckerberg did some mass scrape/data collection on Harvard. Airbnb did mass targeted scrape / blast on craigslist.
In the spectrum of things this lies around Creative Marketing & Software Engineering/Automation.
But as you pointed out it doesn't bring sustainable growth, simply burst growth.
Yep, no denying that gray/black hat tactics exist. Mark Suster wrote a great article back in January: http://www.bothsidesofthetable.com/2014/01/12/understanding-the-underbelly-of-online-marketing-why-youll-lose-if-you-dont/
The Rap Genius debacle doesn't have anything to do with growth hacking. That's just a case of people who are taking advantage of SEO in a black hat way. SEO is not growth hacking.
"Hacking" and "Hacker" terms come with a "dark", "insecure" meaning. Maybe not in SV. Like in term of "hacker house" means just some startup nerds living in a house.
Used as a technical term, a hack is a quick purpose-specific solution that may not hold up long term / in public. It's not an inaccurate label for iterative & experiment-driven marketing. If you mainly do optimization, or prototyping & testing of new ideas to see if they're worth doing at scale, you're probably in the right neighborhood.
But know your audience and use their words.
If they're likely to think of a hoodie-wearing guy in a dimly lit room hitting keys on a keyboard at random and magically gaining control of nuclear warheads, I'd avoid the term "hacker." It may mean one thing to you, but it means another thing to them, thus you're not communicating effectively if you rely on it.
But if you're marketing to Silicon Valley types that explicitly typed "growth hacker" into Google when trying to find a marketing consultant, it might be a good term to have on your website somewhere.
Ten years ago maybe... But today it's much more about using scrappiness and creativity to achieve a desired result. For example, Alexa ranks Lifehacker.com the 205th most popular website in the United States. http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/lifehacker.com
I love this point so much! I now have arsenal.
It's a silly term for a concept that already exists (direct marketing), but many people find it useful to describe marketing without tagging themselves as a marketer.
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