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Steve Jobs was arguably the best Marketer of all time. He was certainly the best technology Marketer of all time. Although he was not a hacker or programmer, and was primarily a " tweaker " he is revered by nearly everyone in our community, hacker and marketer alike.

  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    over 4 years ago #

    This is a well thought out article that suggests growth hacking is part of direct marketing and internet advertising. Personally I believe they are closely related, but not necessarily the same thing. Before I coined the term "growth hacker" I often identified myself as a direct marketer. But most direct marketers that I've met think in terms of "spend money to drive a result." I don't think growth hacking excludes spending money, but the best growth hacks often are free.

    The debate is normally whether growth hacking and marketing are the same thing. I think Ryan Holliday captured the difference well in his new book "Growth Hacker Marketing." He suggests growth hacking is more of a mindset than a role. I'd say maybe 10-20% of marketers that I've met have this mindset. But many engineers and founders that don't identify themselves as marketers also share this mindset.

    The reason I created the term was that I wanted to distance myself and others from the 80-90% of marketers that made me cringe with their acronyms and lack of accountability to results. These are the people that gave marketing such a bad name in Silicon Valley. I also wanted to identify people that shared the growth hacker mindset so I could help connect them with the companies where I held equity through my role on the team or as an angel investor. I'm excited to see the thousands of people who have emerged to distance themselves from traditional marketers.

    I personally think this author share the characteristics of a growth hacker and hope that start differentiating herself as one (from the traditional marketers that don't "get it").

  • JC

    Jeffrey Chew

    over 4 years ago #

    Sean is a nice guy...I personally just thought the article was pedantic and needlessly argumentative. The people who I identify as Growth Hackers have never said Growth Hacking is anything other than the mindset that Sean points out. The choice to identify oneself as a Growth Hacker simply means that you chose to distance yourself from all of the stereotypes Ms. Byerly mentions at the outset of the article.

    My thought is that had she written with a different tone (not so condescending) it would have much more impact.

    • MB

      Melinda Byerley

      over 4 years ago #

      Mr. Chew:

      I'd love to get specific feedback on which parts of my post came across as "condescending," "pedantic," or "needlessly argumentative."

      To shed some light on my process: In my mind I was responding in kind to the posts I linked to. I believe to fully understand my post, you need to read those articles first. They pretty much all are pedantic and needlessly divisive and insulting as I mentioned to Sean below. They have taken Sean's creative term and twisted it into something that is really become quite ugly and divisive; not to mention not being based in facts or history.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. I sincerely appreciate the feedback.

  • MB

    Melinda Byerley

    over 4 years ago #

    Sorry it took me so long to respond, Sean; as you know I have been out of town.

    First though, a small nit. Direct marketing is not by any definition I'm aware of restricted to "spending money." I believe we would be splitting hairs to argue that as a meaningful distinction between that and growth hacking.

    When you first coined the term growth hacker, I was totally on board. I believe there's probably a version of my LinkedIn profile that uses that term somewhere in the wayback machine. :) In fact, I'd argue I was a growth hacker for years before it was called that, or was "cool." I got my hands dirty with web analytics code; SEO work (there are some great stories about the stuff around "paypal sucks" websites). My direct marketing-immersed boss in my early career taught me the importance of test, measure and iterate--I used to fake A/B testing, and was an early power user of Offermatica. I had to spend so many meetings convincing engineers at PayPal why we needed to set up test funnels and measure them properly. ::wry grin:: When Optimizely came out, I couldn't believe it was finally so easy and loved it instantly! I invented my own term for what I do about a year before you did: I called it "productizing acquisition." We also, as am I'm sure you recall, used to be called "data-driven marketers."

    Sean, I don't believe your intent was ever to divide people, but to describe a mindset that many of us in technology marketing share. What's happened since then is that your observations, which captured the trend, were married to another trend of "engineering first" businesses. They also started to merge with the disturbing regression to outright sexism in technology.

    The net result is that some engineers who openly despised marketers, but knew they needed "marketing"; now renamed themselves growth hackers. This added much confusion to the mix.

    Several of the articles I linked to in my post openly insult marketers. I've grown tired of that meme and wanted to share my deepening frustration with it via my post. Not only do I find the wholesale denigration of marketers offensive to my colleagues and my company's customers; but also I find it personally offensive as marketing is a strategic function that cannot be ignored and one I've worked hard to become an expert in. I find it especially galling when a "growth hacker" insults marketers and then tries to sell books/websites/etc to them. Insulting one's customers isn't very good business, wouldn't you agree? The *only* reason I took the time away from my company to visit this site and respond was because you have always been respectful with your ideas.

    Do I think that old line brand folks, such as the ones in Consumer Packaged Goods, Automobiles, Financial Services, etc need to adopt at least in part the mindset most technology marketers/growth hackers have? Absolutely. But we can't treat them like they're idiots. They aren't. If you talk to them, as I have been doing for the customer development for my startup Vendorsi, you'll find that they know full well what we do; but are often hamstrung by a lot of things in their orgs that has nothing to do with marketing.

    Labels are dangerous things, as we marketers know. They're restrictive, can create unnecessary friction, and honestly, distract us all from discussing what really matters--how to drive revenue and delight our customers.

    I am a growth hacker, and I am also a strategic marketer. I don't intend to ever distance myself from either one. My resume speaks for itself in terms of differentiation and I don't need to criticize everyone with the title of marketer to demonstrate my knowledge or skills.

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