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If you haven’t been living under a rock somewhere in Silicon Valley, you’ve heard plenty of people champion the ideas of “growth” and “growth hacking”. After all, there’s no success in tech if graphs aren’t up and to the right. But we’ve reached a point where companies are so focused on that idea of “growth” that it’s lost all meaning, so the question is: Is growth hacking played out? Sean Ellis doesn’t think so. The first marketer at Dropbox and now founder and CEO of GrowthHackers.com coined the term “growth hacking” seven years ago to describe a new way to do marketing. Tired of jargon-laden marketing speak, Sean wanted to clear the clutter and figure out a framework for growth that was both testable and scalable.

  • ES

    Edward Stephens

    over 3 years ago #

    I couldn't put it better @anujadhiya the quote is on point. There is absolutely no need for the term to become deprecated. The only thing that will become deprecated are the marketers falsely posing as experts in growth to boost their own PR.

    I think abandoning the term growth hacking is a bit like trying to abandon the term data science. It's built on experimentation, analysis, creativity and science. The word may be being over used but I think it's a great turn of phrase, that defines a mindset and a culture and helps us all keep our eye fixed on defined outcomes.

    • TG

      TJ Gray

      over 3 years ago #

      I agree. Changing words changes meaning. It reminds me of when one of my high school teachers explained why he majored in latin. He argued that if you don't know the root of the word, and where its name comes from then you don't even know the word.

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    over 3 years ago #

    Sean's quote "If you're not running experiments you're probably not growing" is something we've seen first hand.
    There was a brief period where we had to stop running tests and the impact was obvious pretty quickly.

    The other surprising (at least to me) negative repercussion of this was that it had a noticeable impact on idea generation.
    There absolutely is a positive feedback loop associated with running tests beyond the ideas you get just from the learnings of tests you do. Just being in that mode of constant experimentation keeps you open to inspiration for ideas from multiple sources far more than when you're not doing it.

    • JC

      Jennifer Carney

      over 3 years ago #

      100% agree! Experiments as inspiration are key to growth. Experimentation is like living in a foreign country. It exposes you to new ideas and perspectives that you wouldn't have considered on your own, and opens you up to different ways of thinking about your product and your customers.

    • YK

      Yvonne Kol

      over 3 years ago #

      Hi Anuj,

      cool insights. This pretty much coincides with my experiences.

  • JC

    Jennifer Carney

    over 3 years ago #

    This is a great conversation, guys! So many great and valuable concepts can get weighed down or confused by jargon sometimes. Growth hacking is not one of those things, even if some might think so, and I think Sean does a great job explaining how much MORE value growth marketing can have for people and brands. That's what continues to make growth hacking so powerful.

  • SR

    Sam Reel

    over 3 years ago #

    Thank you for such an informative post.

  • IC

    Ian Chandler

    over 3 years ago #

    Liked reading these insights from the father of growth hacking. It's good to see that he acknowledges that the phrase has devolved into a cringeworthy buzzword, but his insight is good.

    My worry is: Are companies too busy trying to grow that they stop providing real value? Doug Rushkoff pointed out that companies like Uber are focussed on extracting value and becoming a platform monopoly instead of providing real, in-depth value.

    What does GrowthHackers think about that?

    • SE

      Sean Ellis

      over 3 years ago #

      Thanks Ian, I'm pretty sure I didn't say it is now a cringeworthy buzzword... But, I agree that the question of value is an important one in its relationship to growth. What I tried to communicate in the interview is that without growth, value doesn't exist. When done correctly, growth is the multiplier on value. A solution without users provides no value. I think the important point is that many people don't consider value when they are trying to drive growth. They are simply moving numbers rather than trying to spread a "must have" experience.

      • IC

        Ian Chandler

        over 3 years ago #

        Didn't mean to put words into your mouth, Sean, but from what I gathered, you think as much: "It is itself becoming a victim of jargon...Sean Ellis knows this." You didn't say that verbatim––you're completely correct on that. But the article did imply that you feel that way.

        In any case, I agree with your statement and its corollary: Without value, growth doesn't exist, and vice versa. I hope that we as a community can hold each other accountable so that we can continue to provide real value and think about the users instead of ourselves.

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