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Overview of marketing by Mark Suster that attempts to put growth hacking in perspective.
I really like this part:
“In online marketing you’ll likely need to skate right up to the line of acceptability without crossing it in order to grow at exponential rates. You’ll cross it from time-to-time, get checked, and quickly realize you were on the wrong side of the line. Mea culpa and get right back into line. If you’re nowhere near the line of acceptability you’re playing in the wrong rink.”
It's true. As a startup, you are playing as an underfunded, under-gunned and under-staffed participant in a brutal market. These extreme constraints should force extreme creativity.
Some ideas will be really over the line—you cross those off. Some will push you up to the line—you should try those. If you go over, you take a step back and execute on the right side of the line.
When it comes from data it's called Moneyball. When it comes from creativity it's called hacking. When it goes too far it's called black hat.
But Mark drops the real truth here. If you're playing straight up against the big co's and expecting to win, you're not giving your company the best chance to succeed.
I'm trying to think of an ethical way to frame this. Basically to do well - you need to think about the worst possible way to get customers.
This was quite a sobering article.
The reality that most newbies (including myself) don't consider as often as we should, is that if you're going to go up against the big boys with all their money, resources etc, by playing by (what publicly appear to be) "the rules" - that is going to get you nowhere.really fast.
Here's the comment I posted on the article "Refreshingly honest post Mark. For any hack to work sustainably, there needs to be substance at the end of the conversion funnel. Often some seeding is required for a powerful organic engine to take over. Each marketer needs to decide where to draw the line in acceptable behavior bringing their product to market. I've always been pretty conservative with my line. I think by being very innovative and persistent, you can be completely white hat and still succeed, but it's a lot harder. And you need an amazing product experience to make the job easier. But many channels will be out of reach because the playing field is as you describe it."
So to add a bit more, it's important not to be blind to what's happening out there, but I think you can be completely white hat and succeed.
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