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In the previous post, titled "What is a full stack marketer", I've outlined some of the key things that a marketer needs to know about full stack marketing. If you haven't read that post yet, I recommend that you do before you get started with this one.

  • MB

    Morgan Brown

    over 5 years ago #

    Here's my take on full stack marketing.

    Point 1: Just like there are different growth strategies based on company size, there are different personnel needs to help move the ball forward. This is very true of marketing in startups vs. marketing at big corporations and/or seasoned early stage companies with mature user bases.

    The marketing personnel skills needed at 0-250,000 users is different than at 10MM+ users.

    A full stack marketer fills this personnel gap in an early stage, because they have a variety of levers they can pull themselves, which helps out the org, and leads to my second point...

    Point 2: Marketing head counts are expensive, and typically take 6-18 months to pay off from an ROI standpoint by building effective programs that gain traction and return.

    To drive growth, especially early on, you need to try a variety of channels to find signal, and then double down where there is traction.

    Hiring a diverse marketing department with a wide range of skills is impractical. A traditional VP Marketing at 125-200k, plus an email, SEO, graphic design, affiliate, social, etc. This headcount crushes burn rate and doesn't make sense until you have PMF and a repeatable growth engine.

    Instead of building a marketing team that crushes your burn, you find a "full stack marketer" who can be effective across multiple channels and tactics. They can code up your email marketing as well as write the copy and design the template.

    That same marketer knows enough about SEO to get the ball rolling, knows how to push updates to a site to help the product team reduce the burden of keeping the marketing site up to date, and can drive growth through a variety of tactics without needing tons of engineering resources or expensive headcount/outside agencies.

    That's the benefit of a full stack marketer. As you get bigger, there is less of a role for them because you need to specialize. It works out because most full stack marketers are early stage junkies who like working on the full stack. The idea of being a brand manager at Apple is like death.

    At least, that's the case for me :)

    To wrap it up: full stack marketers exist. They are not as good at any one skill than a highly specialized expert is. This is ok, because they bring massive value across the marketing function to companies that can't afford to specialize in each marketing function.

    They are often at an advantage over experts in a specialized role in startups, because they are used to deailng with little to no budget and little to no information.

    Taking a PPC expert from eBay who manages $1MM/month in spend and put them in charge of SEM for a startup and watch them squirm with spending $50/day. This is a reality that full stack marketers accept and thrive in.

    As companies grow, personnel needs dictate a move from full stack to specialized marketing.

    On last though on growth hacker vs. full stack marketer: I think you can be a full stack marketer and not have a growth orientation. There are lots of early stage marketers who have diversified their skill set, but they are still stuck in an online or traditional marketing mentality, where their true north isn't growth.

    I also believe that growth hacking is an "ex post facto" title—you only earn it once you've driven growth. You can be a full stack marketer without results and still have a wide, diversified marketing skill set.

    • CA

      Casey Armstrong

      over 5 years ago #

      Morgan FTW! Glad you jumped in. First heard the term from you. And could not agree more on growth hacking being an “ex post facto” title. You don't earn it by adding it to your LinkedIn profile. You earn it by doing it.

    • MA

      Marie Aniort

      over 5 years ago #

      I like your definition Morgan. As someone who "fell" into this type of role by luck and is now having to sell their value to founders and recruiters, I'm glad that the discussion is taking place and that a description is emerging. I've set out to learn Wade Foster's 21 skills of full stack marketers on http://bit.ly/1dbRQcJ.

  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    over 5 years ago #

    What do you think are the key differences between a full stack marketer and growth hacker? I personally think full stack marketing is broader than growth hacking. Casey's post suggests that growth hacking is just one of the many skills of a full stack marketer.

  • AA

    Austen Allred

    over 5 years ago #

    I see it as mostly semantics; "full stack marketer" is different from "growth hacker" in the same way "full stack programmer" is different from "hacker." The connotation you choose to apply is up to you, but a hacker is a subset of something that beats systems. The term "growth hacker" is very loaded in most communities - its trendy so people either love it or hate it. I feel like I could describe myself either way - "Full stack marketer" is not as descriptive, but less controversial.

  • LM

    Laura Moreno

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hi Casey! I loved the article! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • LT

    Luke Thomas

    over 5 years ago #

    I'm not a fan of either, but if I chose one, it would be "full-stack marketer." Here's why:

    1. Most of the discussion around "growth hacking" is focused on the top of the funnel. 90% of the articles I read are about acquisition, and highlight specific tactics to achieve them. Tactics are cool, but finding a process is much better, as each company is different (and I don't care how XYZ mobile app grew if I'm a B2B SaaS company.)

    2. While tactics are important, for many companies (especially small startups) you need a variety of skills. I think with a simple name change, a full-stack marketer seems to put focus on a variety of skill-sets, not only on "growth."

    • SE

      Sean Ellis

      over 5 years ago #

      Hey Luke, I agree that all companies grow in different ways, but personally I've always found massive amounts of inspiration in studying how other companies are growing. It's rarely possible to make an exact clone of a growth program, but when I combine elements of a couple different growth programs, I often achieve breakthrough results. I believe there is a science behind growth where understanding the principles of growth is a big step toward applying the principles in a unique way to your particular situation.

      I definitely agree that growth hacking has a singular focus on things that directly impact growth. However, I believe some of the best levers are deeper in the funnel (such as driving engagement). That's the reason why I submitted this article about an hour ago: http://www.growthhackers.com/top-hacks-from-a-pm-behind-two-of-techs-hottest-products-2/#comments

      Finally, if you read some of our growth studies under the "company focus" tab, you'll find that we emphasize the word of mouth machines over most of the more fleeting tactics.

      • LT

        Luke Thomas

        over 5 years ago #

        100% agree that studying other companies is a great way to generate new ideas to test, and it's effective too.

        Personally, I really like the content you guys post, but that's the 10% of content that I like :)

        My bigger issue is that the majority of posts I read frame these "hacks" in the same way you learn math - a tactic is framed as the "secret sauce" to growing a company, when in reality, the focus should be on how to FIND these levers in the first place. That's a process, not a tactic.

        Lastly, I would be extremely supporting of "growth hacking" if it WAS focused on things like improving retention, lowering churn, and activities deeper down the marketing funnel.
        Unfortunately I just don't see that being the focus of growth hacking in the majority of articles and read.

      • DL

        Dylan La Com

        over 5 years ago #

        The link to the original posting for the article Sean mentions is this: http://www.growthhackers.com/top-hacks-from-a-pm-behind-two-of-techs-hottest-products

  • CA

    Casey Armstrong

    over 5 years ago #

    Awesome discussion. I agree with Austen that with "full stack marketer," "growth hacker," "inbound marketer," "content marketer" it's mostly semantics. Just pick your buzz word and ride with it, but like Sean pointed out, in my post I am saying that "full stack marketing" encompasses the entire package. You are focusing on top of the funnel growth, while leveraging other skills to account for retention, lowering churn, etc. You still need to see the big picture. That being said, "growth hackers" still utilize many of the different skills. They might use SEO tactics to drive traffic, then psychology and social media to grow the product.

    Also, to Luke's points above, I have to disagree. I don't think true growth hackers just think about top of the funnel aka only traffic or signups. They are trying to grow users, engagement, (often most importantly) revenue, etc. If they just focused on top of the funnel, everybody would just be lazy and buy StumbleUpon traffic for crappy infographics on their blog for <$0.05/click or international iOS downloads through some affiliate program. True growth hackers (like full stack marketers) are trying to grow a business. For instance, look at DropBox's double referral. Yeah, they got more people to sign-up/share, but that drove engagement (now more people to use DropBox with, which is an added benefit), improved retention (you have more space, more people to share with, more people who understand the product), and I would assume grew revenue exponentially.

    Again, and with Luke, I like full stack marketer better. It encompasses everything. But pick your poison. Or maybe not. Maybe I should say "growth hacker" is as cool a job title as "visionary social media ninja guru." That will "grow" Sean's comments below...right? :)

    • LT

      Luke Thomas

      over 5 years ago #

      I'm not saying "true" growth hackers focus exclusively on the top of the funnel, what I'm saying is that most of the articles I read about growth hacking are entirely focused on growing a user-base, or getting more people to signup. Acquisition only a small detail in the overall scheme of growing a business, and probably the biggest reason why I personally am not a fan.

  • ME

    Mark Evans

    over 5 years ago #

    I'm wondering whether the idea of a full stack marketer is more of an ideal than reality. In theory, it's about having people who are "five-tool players", and we all know they are few and far between.

    There may be marketers capable of doing a wide variety of things but expecting someone to be good at everything is probably unrealistic. In the real world, you get marketers who can do one or a few things really well, and then you hire other "experts" to complement/support them.

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