For almost 3 years I was trained by the organization that pretty much invented modern marketing – Procter & Gamble. Thrilled by the idea of building a company, and confident in the best-in-class training that I had received, I left the safety of P&G at the end of 2013 to create my own startup. Ready, set, roll, nothing could stop me! A few weeks in, I realized things work radically different in this internet startup ecosystem – different strategies, different metrics, different processes. Founders from various backgrounds create amazing products and gain audiences with little to no budget.

The startup world is exploding as we speak. It brings a new breed of managers into the spotlight. These managers are trained by a new business environment where no media budget, extremely high business risks and astronomic growth expectations are the rule, not the exception. In the startup industry managers are forced to think different, forced to try new approaches, forced to fail and get up again as they iterate their way to success. Shouldn’t the corporate marketing community be more inspired? A new razor-brand called Harry’s can collect 100k email addresses in one week with a zero budget. It’s competitor Dollar Shave Club reaches 18m organic Youtube hits. I think it’s fair to say that a brand like Gillette shouldn’t just be inspired, it should be concerned.

There is no textbook to learn Marketing 2.0 (textbooks are old-world!), but there are some incredible cases to study.

  • Hotmail placed its only advertising message at the core of its product. The footer in every email “PS: I love you. Get your free email at Hotmail.” helped the company grow to 1 million users in 6 months, beating the key competitor and its $20m budget.
  • Paypal, Dropbox and Harry’s all used the same strategy: an incentivized user recommendation system – constructed virality. The all used their consumers as their first media channel. Harry’s reached 100k users in one week by setting up a simple website, tracking new users who came in through an existing one. For the price of a shaver given to a user (this is usually called trial as a media channel itself) Harry’s got 10 new users to sign up via personal recommendation.
  • When Airbnb didn’t have an audience on their website, they hacked their way to an existing platform (Craigslist) by auto-posting all their apartments to the well known marketplace. Instagram did the same thing with Facebook. What used to be a technical masterpiece has become the core engine of any startup: platform integration.
  • Facebook itself applied a classic strategy bigger and better than any other company. They limited their user base to a specific crowd of socially admired people (Ivy League students, you had to have a uni-email to sign up) which led to an ultimate diffusion effect once they opened the platform to anyone.

Instead of following traditional “best practice” marketing, the tech founders applied bold, creative approaches, rigorous testing, funnel logic, agility and put growth marketing in the core of the product while ignoring everything else.

In the following 2 articles I’m going to introduce the two most vital concepts of Marketing 2.0: growth hacking and the lean startup.


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