Concept 1: Growth Hacking vs. Branding

The term “Growth Hacker” was first mentioned by Sean Ellin in 2011 on his blog It became the ultimate term for a new breed of marketers. A growth hacker has practically no budget, no time, yet aims to achieve weekly growth rates of 5-7%. A growth hacker is doing this by desperately testing bold ideas as often as possible and optimizing the product’s user funnel on a daily basis. A growth hacker doesn’t have time to build assumptions and complex strategies. A growth hacker believes that even an expert doesn’t know if something is going to work or not. The secret lies in trying as many things as possible, measuring and validating thoroughly what works and what doesn’t.

Brands, fasten your seatbelts, your consumers are getting ready for takeoff

A traditional marketer would think of digitization as an increase in “share of budget”: “Our target is to spend 20% on digital vs 15% last year” as our consumers are spending more time on the internet.

What is actually happening is that we have entered a consumer centric era, where the web has become the ultimate place to proactively search, share, compare, inspire and buy. The new media environment is always on, accessible from anywhere at any time and it is controlled by everyone. Those marketers who thoroughly understand this new paradigm, rigorously analyze the new media metrics and constantly participate and innovate their conversation with consumers, will win big. The others are likely to disappear.

Virality is your new media ROI

Virality is not an accident. It is not the result of cool creative and a sharing button. Virality is the constructed outcome of disciplined iteration of product-market fit, platform integration, UX, education, behavioral economics, SEO, message content, tonality and channels. It’s becoming your go-to KPI for media ROI, because everything else will be a drop in the ocean of messages.

For the first time ever it is possible to grow a customer base of millions of users in just a few years. There are 2 billion people on the internet, moving faster than ever. More than half of them are using Facebook and Google on a regular basis. 10s of millions of them are using other platforms such as Pinterest, Linkedin, Dropbox, Craigslist, Tripadvisor, Quora, Yelp and many more. These open platforms have become the ultimate center of conversations about your brand. Nobody talks about the most-aired TV ad anymore. Yet the most viewed commercials on Youtube have become media darlings and reach millions of people organically.

The VP of virality aka. the growth hacker

The marketing team is being transformed. The web is not a channel anymore, it’s the arena to which all channels lead. The on-going integration of your touchpoints requires a blurring of the lines between your product efforts (up to R&D) and digital media efforts (down to the local user). What has been managed outside of your team, should become your key focus. You need growth hackers in your team. The approach to marketing requires a new set of skills and a new mindset. Andrew Chen said “The Growth hacker is the new VP of marketing”. That doesn’t mean you have to be a full-stack coder to be a good marketer, but you should embrace a new culture. Launch early and measure every detail. Adapt quickly and often. Be “always on” and make sure your influencers have easy access to whatever you distribute. The list goes on.

Experimentation, networking, radical change, analytics, and risk taking-qualities have never been adequately nurtured in a traditional marketer’s career path. You can’t expect a revolution to happen tomorrow, but you can start shaping your team today.

Start with these growth hacker priorities:

  • Focus less resources on initiatives, focus more on “always on” activities and constant optimization of your key metrics
  • Set clear objectives you can measure e.g. newsletter sign-ups, FB fans, Youtube views, engagement, referral, consumer generated content
  • Build your marketing hypotheses: experiment with more options, more often
  • Find your growth hack, construct virality (look at existing platforms)
  • Your consumers are already talking about you, find out where
  • Build real-time analytics where possible and learn to interpret your data to facilitate fast decision making

The last part will be published soon.

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