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Ask GH: What books should I read to help build a solid foundation for Growth Hacking?
Here are a few:
Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, Trout & Ries
Lean Analytics, Croll & Yoskovitz
Startup Owners Manual by Steve Blank
A Technique for Producing Ideas
Grouped: How small groups of friends are key to influence on the social web, Adams
Community building on the web: Secret strategies for successful online communities
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity
Waiting for Your Cat to Bark?: Persuading Customers When They Ignore Marketing
Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator
(edit, added this one. shameless plug.) Startup Growth Engines: Case Studies of How Today's Most Successful Startups Unlock Extraordinary Growth
Thanks for including Lean Analytics, Morgan, really appreciate that.
Hi Ben. Lean Analytics is a phenomenal book. I like the structure and how you boiled down complicated concepts into easy-to-understand principles. I've read it twice and have written personal notes throughout.
Thanks Ben - that's great to hear!
Ben, I'd love to hear what other books on the list from Morgan you read and which you can suggest to the community.
Would you mind doing a summary or series on Medium on each of the books mentioned here?
It'd be super helpful to the community. :)
The only one I've read is Steve Blank's which I do recommend.
One that I'm hoping to read soon is Hooked: How to build habit-forming products -- http://www.amazon.com/Hooked-How-Build-Habit-Forming-Products-ebook/dp/B00HJ4A43S/
Let me second Ben and say that Lean Analytics was outstanding. It was all about clarity and expanding on previous methodologies. Loved the empathy stickiness virality line...
Thanks from Brazil!
Jonathan - It took us awhile (and a few rewrites!) to get to the 5 stages of Lean Analytics (emphathy, stickiness, virality, revenue, scale) but I think it does a good job of laying out a structure for most entrepreneurs / startups. And to me, the empathy stage is really what Lean Startup is all about, and it often gets lost in our efforts to move fast.
We also wanted to create balance between guts and data. We didn't want to espouse the idea that you can win just by staring at numbers all day.
Glad you liked the book!
Of course Ben. It is one of the best books I've read in a long time, and is packed with actionable information on how to use analytics to not only run a successful startup, but also how to figure out unique opportunities for growth. Your case study on Circle of Moms is a case in point.
Exactly the type of list I was seeking - thank you!
No problem—I can keep going! I'll try to add some more this weekend. Need to dig through them all.
I'm not sure there is good book for building a foundation in growth hacking. The closest thing is probably this guide by Neil Patel and Bronson Taylor: http://www.quicksprout.com/the-definitive-guide-to-growth-hacking/
I wanted to elaborate. Not growth hacking, necessarily, but books in any related field that would be useful. (For example, a book on gamification.)
Influence by Cialdini will always provide great growth hacking inspirtation. http://www.amazon.com/Influence-Psychology-Persuasion-Business-Essentials/dp/006124189X
Running Lean by Ash Maurya
The most actionable book imho on the Lean Startup Methodology.
Anuj, I am finally reading Running Lean thanks to your recommendation and it's invaluable.
@Nichole - so cool to hear that :)
Ash is clearly the man!
Completely agree. I read both Eric's and Ash's books on the subject and whilst Eric's provided good knowledge of the concept, it was Ash's that actually showed me how to get it done....
Ifluence by Cialdini
Drive by Dan Pink
The Book of Awesome by FAKEGRIMLOCK
So it's not a book but why restrict learning to only one medium ;)
Here is behavioural economist Dan Ariely (from Duke University) with an entire course titled "A Beginner's Guide to Irrational Behavior": https://www.coursera.org/course/behavioralecon
It's a great primer on behavioural economic concepts which are really insightful when it comes to understanding many parts of human behaviour. I've found that many of them explain the underlying theory for things I discovered by chance when A/B testing.
I would just keep it simple and focus on 1 or 2 books to start with. I would just start with
Start with these get a better understand of growth hacking. Then move onto the other books given by the others.
I hope I don't get slaughtered for this, but I'm dead serious.
Search black hat and spammer forums (i.e. blackhatworld.com) for things containing the word "method."
You never want to to spam, of course, but the reality is that spammers have to find things that actually work, then they use dirty tactics to make those things scale. If someone that barely speaks comprehendible English can get people to buy things with very low conversion rates, they have to beat a system somehow. I like knowing how they beat systems.
blackhatworld.com is one of my favorite sites on the internet. It's a great resource. People really trying to hack the web—you can learn a ton there. Totally agree.
I hope we don't get to the point where people get slaughtered for a genuine attempt to help. That's a really interesting place to draw inspiration, thanks!
I agree. I appreciate being a member of a humble community. Thanks for your ideas, Austen.
Counterintuitive yet very relevant
I just did this - and I found brilliant advice about youtube. I've also found brilliant advice about safe uses of SEO.
THis is among the best advice on the page :)
Customer Service: New Rules for a Social Media World - Peter Shankman
Another highly actionable book.
Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer by Ryan Holiday
This book is a fun read and a great way for traditional marketers to get their head around the concept. That said, i don't know that it's going to give you the foundations for being an effective growth hacker. Worth the read though—fun and fast. I enjoyed it!
Absolutely, you described the book really well.
The reason I included it is this gem that I saw on Lesswrong.com:
"A few years ago, an eminent scientist once told me how he'd written an explanation of his field aimed at a much lower technical level than usual. He had thought it would be useful to academics outside the field, or even reporters. This ended up being one of his most popular papers within his field, cited more often than anything else he'd written."
For any field, you need to knock out those papers & books that clearly explain what, how and why things are going on. Ryan's book doesn't discuss analytics, SEO and multi-armed bandits, but the framework to think about the issues at hand should come before the tools.
I agree with this assessment, Morgan! Spot on.
I Just finished that book. I felt it was kind of meh, and it was a rah rah talk.
Thank you, everyone!
And here is a book I'd recommend that I read in college. It falls within the realm of Motivational Psychology and is very interesting if you're into that topic.
Who am I? The 16 Basic Desires that Motivate Our Actions and Define Our Personalities
A great book on statistics and how to do an experiment .
I just wished I had a name.
SSRN http://www.ssrn.com/ has tons of free papers mentioned in pop psychology books. You get to see how they designed the studies mentioned and what the caveats are.
Not to be the guy who recommends Sean's book, but I would definitely think it's worth reading. http://www.hyperink.com/Lean-Startup-Marketing-Agile-Product-Development-Business-Model-Design-Web-Analytics-And-Other-Keys-To-Rapid-Growth-b245A849480
One of the things i've noticed about Growth Hacking is that there is such a focus on the 'what to do' and not the 'when to do it'. Even the best growth hacks in the world will produce poor bottom line results if done at the wrong time (trust me, i've made that mistake) and I think Sean's book (particularly the stuff about the Startup Pyramid) provides a good framework to know what to focus on when.
It doesn't really seem like this crew needs help with productivity (I feel tired just reading the lists of books you've all read & recommended) but if you do find yourself stuck in the weeds of researching options for an iteration of a tactic of of workstream of a sprint of a phase of building your big idea - and then you realise you can't quite remember what your big idea was any more, try this:
Do the Work: Steven Pressfield: 9781936719013: Amazon.com: Books http://seppin.gs/1h9UQf5
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