Growth Hacker Marketing : A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing and Advertising

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It’s a case of mistaken identity. You may think you are a marketer, but actually you’re now a ‘growth hacker’. At least that’s the case if you want to keep your job.
That marketers – whether in innovation or communication – have become or need to become ‘growth hackers’ is the central thesis of the growth hacker formerly known as Director of Marketing at American Apparel, Ryan Holiday in Growth Hacker Marketing – A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing and Advertising.
The book focuses on how marketing is evolving, with real strategies and tactics. In the book, Holiday explains why traditional marketing efforts aren’t the most effective, and shows what we can do about it.
According to Holiday, the Growth Hacker Formula consists of:
• Achieving product-market fit… because it all starts with selling something people really want;
• Finding a growth hack to go viral cost-effectively; and
• Closing the loop with high retention – turning one-time transactions into sticky or repeat customers.
What is a Growth Hacker?
So what is a ‘growth hacker’? A growth hacker is a results-focused marketer with an obsessive fixation for growth. More concerned with achieving their growth objective than following prescribed processes, growth hackers ‘hack’ (experiment, adapt, modify) products and campaigns in pursuit of growth. And like hackers, they learn by testing- a hack is only a good hack when it works – in the real world. Popular with online consumer brands (Uber, Amazon, Dropbox, Evernote, Instagram), Holiday argues that ‘growth hacking’ is set to become the central concern for all marketers.
Growth Hacking argues that only with a hacker-style test-and-learn approach to delivering growth can marketing reclaim its sanity, utility and purpose. For too long, we’ve been buried under a mountain of brand claptrap – brand fit, brand awareness, brand recall, brand lift… Marketers need to speak the language of business, not brands. We need to forget ‘vanity metrics’, set growth as our true north and use the power of proof as our guiding light.
How to Become a Growth Hacker
So how do marketers upgrade themselves to ‘growth hackers’? Simple, says Holiday.
1.Get your PMF Right. The Product-Market-Fit is where growth hacking begins. This means shaping your product so it fits with market needs, and the only way to do that is to test what works. But to get to something that’s likely to work, don’t start with the product, start by writing the Press Release. This ensures you have a market focus, rather than a company or product focus. Then write the FAQ. Then build a prototype to test, test, optimise and test again. For example AirBnB went though many rounds of hack-and-test iterations before it hit on a winning solution (people wanted just the bed, not the breakfast).
2. Find your Growth Hack. Growth hacking uses a test-and-learn approach to identify a product that is worth marketing. But once you find a product with a good PMF, you need to market it. And to do this, you use the same test-and-learn approach – prototype and pilot your marketing, then do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. For example, Uber found that what worked was to offer free car rides at conferences, free deliveries (e.g. BBQs), and free ride gift cards. So rather than expensive ad campaigns, Uber has grown by creatively ‘hacking’ the idea of sampling.
3. Go Viral. It’s every marketers dream, but there is a simple science to viral products. Happy customers talking. If you want your product to go viral (rather than your marketing or ad agency), then deliver expectation-beating experiences to drive word of mouth. But growth hackers can hack this natural process, and accelerate it. Seed your product with influencers, make it visible (every Apple Mac is shipped with Apple stickers), and offer a referral programme. For example, when Dropbox introduced its customer-get-customer referral programme signups jumped by 60 percent.
4. Retain and Optimise. Growth hacking is not a one-shot effort. In order to grow a brand, you not only need new customers, you need customers who keep coming back for more – and bringing their friends. So from a growth-hacker perspective, customer retention can be your best customer acquisition strategy. This is why a five percent increase in retention can typically deliver a 30 pecent growth in profitability (Bain). This is why high-growth brands such as Uber focus on constant innovation that optimises the experience for customers and ROI for the company.
Author : Ryan Holiday
Publisher : Profile Books
Publication date : 2014 (Expanded edition)