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This pretty much sums up my reaction to every controversial article on growth hacking, regardless of whether it's for or against it. I thought I'd write it up here rather than reinvent the wheel every time I comment.

  • MB

    Morgan Brown

    almost 6 years ago #

    My two favorites:

    "the choice to out-serve the market rather than out-spend the competition"

    and

    "if you mean not only shaping acquisition around the product, but shaping the product around acquisition;"

    Nice one @samuelhulick!

    • SH

      Samuel Hulick

      almost 6 years ago #

      Thank you, Morgan! The quickest path to resolving the "growth hacking is just good marketing" claim is pointing to substantial changes to the product. I'm not aware of traditional marketers ever having done that.

      • AD

        April Dunford

        almost 6 years ago #

        Well if by "traditional marketing" you mean PR/Comms/advertising :). Product marketers have always had impact on product.
        I think the misconceptions run both ways - marketers don't understand the nuances of growth hacking and growth hacking folks don't always understand marketing beyond the most simple definition.
        IMO - the argument about what we call it is pointless so long as we agree we like the outcomes.

        • SH

          Samuel Hulick

          almost 6 years ago #

          Could you give me an example of a product marketer influencing the product? I'd genuinely love to know -- that's a real blind spot for me right now.

          • DS

            Daria Shualy

            almost 6 years ago #

            I had the luck of working with an amazing product-marketer, Yael Givon, currently founder and CEO of Stevie.com (to which I am unrelated).

            I found that a good Product Marketer influences the product in many ways. Here are a few:

            1. Listens to the market and to users, comes back with ideas for new features or feature tweaks, then sees that they get executed according to reasonable priority -- i.e aligned with the company's goals and can be measured for ROI or at the very least for engagement and retention. Then measures and decides which feature to bravely remove, and which to communicate further.

            2. Changes things like your signup flow -- in a way that increases conversion.

            3. Comes up with viral (yes, that obscene word) features, like a spread the love feature -- which yields signups that turn into paying customers.

            4. Does the in-the-trenches work of going over the copy of all your landing pages to make them more to-the-point and by doing so increases conversion.

            As I said, just to name a few. If you get a good one, they will work magic for you. If, like us at daPulse now, you don't have one, the entire team can do it. Front-end oriented coders who work well with your designer, accompanied by your customer acquisition is a good combo.

            I hope that helps.

            • SH

              Samuel Hulick

              almost 6 years ago #

              That's awesome feedback, Daria! I'm embarrassed to say I'd never heard the term "product marketer" before you brought it up, and my eyes have now been opened. :)

          • AD

            April Dunford

            almost 6 years ago #

            Sure, I can give you a couple.
            First was in a job I had about 10 years ago where we were selling a charting tool. Part of my job as the product marketer for that product was to be the person that understood customers so I spent a lot of time talking to them over the phone, including calling anyone that didn't renew to find out why. In these calls I found out we lost customers because there was a chart type they believed we didn't support (but we did). The problem stemmed from the way the menus worked in the product - it was super hard to see those types. So I went back to development, we worked on a bunch of UI changes and our renewal rates improved by around 20%.
            Here's another one - I worked at a company that sold enterprise systems to banks. To sell to them you had to go through an RFP process to get on a short list. We lost 3 in a row because of a stupid check box asking if we had a particular feature that we didn't want to do and we were pretty sure that customer's didn't even want. The dev team knew about it but (rightly so) pushed back on building it - it was way too much work. I made a bunch of phone calls trying to figure out why the stupid thing kept getting included on the RFP's in the first place and discovered that there was a small security compliance piece to it that was the real issue. Being able to say we supported that would take a very small amount of effort so I went back to the dev team, they agreed to do it, we changed our RFP response wording and never missed a short list because of that again.
            In my mind that's part of what a good product marketing person does. They have a bunch of customer insight that's used outbound to feed messaging and content and inbound to influence product.
            These examples probably don't qualify as "Growth Hacking" (honestly I am kinda still trying to figure out how that's really defined) but to say marketers don't influence product isn't true in my experience.
            And I also want to be clear I'm not trying to troll this discussion - I'm learning a lot here :)

  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    almost 6 years ago #

    I mean the second one! Love the contrast in the two definitions.

    • SH

      Samuel Hulick

      almost 6 years ago #

      Glad to hear it. Me too! So much of the growth hacking argument boils down to "my interpretation of the term is incompatible with your interpretation of the term!" without the "sides" realizing that's what's happening.

      • ND

        Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré

        almost 6 years ago #

        If people would realize that growth hacking doesn't equate with acquisition spam then we wouldn't have much to debate about anymore.

  • TW

    Tom Whatley

    almost 6 years ago #

    You certainly have a way with words. My favourite piece on the whole "controversy" yet. Hear, hear!

    P.S. Didn't realise you owned UserOnboard - big fan :).

  • DL

    Dylan La Com

    almost 6 years ago #

    Well said @samuelhulick!

  • AG

    andrew gale

    almost 6 years ago #

    Great post - Was really enjoying the intense description of the first one haha

  • ZV

    Zoran Vitez

    almost 6 years ago #

    Was expecting a huge article. Awesome summary, and light and day between paragraph 1 and 2. As a newbie I'm super glad I identify with 2 :)

    What do you mean by “blue ocean channels” by the way?

    • MR

      Michael Riley

      almost 6 years ago #

      I think he's referring to channels that are uncontested. It's a phrase coined by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne in their book "Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and the Make Competition Irrelevant" (2005).

  • TW

    Timothy Wu

    almost 6 years ago #

    Great post @samuelhulick. I agree with your thought process and have definitely thought some of these thoughts to myself as of late.

    I don't want to unearth the dead horse topic of how to define the word growthhacking, but I can definitely see the concern that arises when people automatically assume GH strategies are completely made up of silver bullet techniques and strategies.

    It can be sort of like how I felt about 'internet/online marketers' a few years back. Good thing we have communities like GH here to set the course.

  • SW

    Sean Wilkins

    almost 6 years ago #

    I'm on board with everything in the second half of that summary.

    I've come down on the side of seeing this more as a partnerships that are rapidly evolving marketing. The new mindset embraces a more technical data-informed methodology leveraging "traditional" marketing strategy partnered with engineering, product and data science.

    I've seen several startups associate "growth hacking" as tied to a single channel like SEM to "hack away at" and optimize, with total disregard for the balance of the marketing and user experience. There needs to be a more balanced POV when discussing growth strategies and the experimental hacks.

    In this perspective, I fully support "hacking" a niche channel or tactic when it's paired with a larger foundational strategy that's multi-channel and user experience focused. Capture the spikes with a hack, and drive those new people into an efficient system. What good is the hack to acquire eyeballs if you can't educate, convert and retain as scale?

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