Hack Growth Marketing

Do you crave to have your business successful? Stop using the regular methods because they’re outdated

When the then-director of marketing for American Apparel, Ryan Holiday, read an article titled “Growth Hacker is the New VP of Marketing” by Andrew Chen, he discovered he might soon be jobless. The article explained how growth hackers are the best thing to happen to any business and how they are way better than the non-technical team of marketers in many companies.

The “Growth Hacker” job title is fast integrating itself into Silicon Valley’s culture. The job description involves coding and other technical chops that are now an essential part of being a great marketer. Growth hackers are hydras, a two–in–one combination of marketer and coder. The average growth hacker looks at the traditional question of “How do I get customers for my product?” and answers with landing pages, A/B tests, email deliverability, viral factor, Open Graph, etcetera. As a result, the entire marketing team is being disrupted. Compared to a VP of Marketing with many non–technical marketers reporting to them, growth hackers are engineers leading teams of engineers.

In this era, where resources are scarce and expensive, the old marketing methods are unable to solve all the problems that arise in the course of the business. How then can you use growth hacking to the most advantage?

The world is changing daily; if you want to grow your business, you have to adapt to these changes very quickly

Many people have the wrong idea about marketing a product. They believe that it has to be in everyone’s faces to gain attention, so they organize events and spend a lot of money trying to cater to all the guests. There’s, of course, a lot of fun to enjoy from such an arrangement, but it can also be costly and does not save a poorly thought–out business idea from failure.

Since the Internet went on full throttle, life has become easier. The tools available online have made it possible to improve marketing to reduce the chances of failure and the cost of advertisements.

In 1996, Hotmail launched its free webmail service and went viral by merely attaching a message at the bottom of every mail that people sent. In 1997, Microsoft bought Hotmail for 400 million dollars. Yes, it was that big a deal. Such startup breakthroughs are what growth hacking is about — achieving tremendous results through little but productive effort.

So when a startup with little or no capital needs a push, they don’t go for traditional marketers who will spend money on traditional methods. Instead, a growth hacker who refuses to play by the rules is the best fit for the job.

Many times, a business’s success depends on its ability to measure its ROI — Returns on investment. But this can not be tracked using a launch party or a billboard. The world is moving fast, and rather than depend on instincts as generations before did, growth hackers insist on making businesses grow with a different mindset and the tools at our disposal.

A company begins to fail as soon as a product stops adding value to its customers

Maybe, just maybe, the reason consumers do not widely accept a product is that it adds no value to their lives.

Growth hackers believe that before a product can elicit a positive response from buyers, it must fulfill a need. It might take many changes to a product before it finally gets to this stage, but eventually, every good product gets there.

To get this right, keep trying new models until the “PMF” — product-market fit — is achieved. PMF is the result of the product and the customers being in perfect harmony.

Achieving this takes a lot of research; the company needs to determine its customers, what they need, and how best they can satisfy that need. Getting this information requires the company to be open to feedback from the customers. Sourcing for this information is the only way to know if the product is making them happy or not. It can’t be determined based on a marketer’s instinct.

Aside from getting feedback, the Socratic method, which involves questioning every assumption, is an important tool. Ask random people how a product can be better. You might just be surprised at the responses.

You have to put in the work; set up strategies, and find more efficient ways, to begin with customers

People are thrilled whenever they discover new things, as one would feel after winning a treasure hunt. Such excitement is what growth hackers take advantage of to attract customers. They find a cheap but effective marketing strategy, and voila, everyone wants it.

For example, Dropbox created a demo video explaining its new services and sent it to its users. These users had fun trying it out independently, and many of them subscribed to this new service. Of course, they could have made an elaborate ad or a big billboard, but this method achieved the desired effect just fine.

Even though growth hackers want to find as many customers as possible, they understand that not everyone can be a customer, so they find a target market — people to whom a product is most beneficial.

Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp understood this when they offered free Uber rides to the Austin SXSW conference attendees for several years. This charitable gesture pulled more customers in, as the young people who benefitted from these free rides went back to use the app even after the conference.

Any company can reach its target market. A few ways to do this are:

  • First, reach out to sites your potential customers often visit and get them to write about you
  • Upload a post on Quora, Reddit, or even Medium
  • Start writing blog posts about popular topics so you can gain traffic
  • Find reporters who are looking to feature people in their stories at www.helpareporter.com
  • People like incentives. Try to offer gifts or discounts to potential customers

Mailbox, Reddit, Myspace, Udemy, and many other successful companies of today were able to get many customers by either hosting free events or giving prizes to get people to patronize them.

Every company can grow, but without a community of loyal and passionate customers, this becomes difficult.

Your product tells a story even without ads; ensure it is the right one

Nobody wants to recommend a product that will only make them lose their credibility. If a product is not consistent, the chances that someone will want to promote it for free — even when you ask nicely — are next to zero. On the other hand, making a post go viral means someone is recommending it, most times for free. For this to happen, it has to be worth recommending.

In designing products, a company must understand that making a product that can market itself and make a good impression is of utmost importance. Therefore, it should not need a lot of additional costs to sell.

Take Apple, for instance; at the end of every message sent with an iPhone, they include: “Sent from my iPhone.” If this isn’t painless and effective marketing, nothing else is.

New customers are valuable, but loyal customers can take your business to the next level. Twitter was attracting customers, but these customers didn’t stay for very long. After they created accounts, they hardly ever came back. And this was a huge problem until growth hacker Josh Elman stepped in and built a feature that allowed new users to choose who they wanted to follow instead of automatically assigning 20 followers. That feature was a game-changing idea that boosted its customer base.

A growth hacker ensures that customers are brought in and stay the course because it is easier to sell something new to an existing customer than to a new customer.

From the start of a product to the end of the process, a growth hacker is of great importance. If a customer doesn’t stay loyal to an organization just because someone else in the team makes a mistake, it is all a waste of effort.

Even after the sold-out success of a new product, the job of a growth hacker has just begun. The customer has to be made to come back without any prompting. A company’s profitability is highly dependent on its constant growth and ability to hold its customer base steadily through it.

Active adaptation to the new normal of growth hacking

As medieval as publishing is, the growth hacker approach has been utilized in invigorating the industry. Hence, any business concern can adopt this approach. If you can treat a book like a startup, anything is a game.

Whether we’re marketing a car, a movie, or a small restaurant, the rest of us can put these tactics into practice. We have stepped up from relying on the usual guessing games. We don’t have to pay outsiders to represent our product — we don’t have to buy their relationships with the media.

Instead, growth hacking grows businesses via iterations, tracking success, and doing whatever is necessary to bring customers into the company’s funnel. And then we understand that it’s up to us to optimize our product around these customers and their needs. We can change on the fly. Budgets can then weigh more on research and development in place of the natural impulse to ramp up advertisements.

You will discover that the definition of marketing is in desperate need of expansion. Anything and everything can be considered marketing — so long as it grows the business.

Back in the day, David Ogilvy sold ovens door–to–door long before he sat on the ad business’s pyramid of brilliance and fame. However, due to the experiences of his early days in the game, he came to understand advertising as just a slightly more scalable form of creating demand than a door–to–door sales.

Several decades away from a world of traveling salespeople and mail-order catalogs, many Marketing VPs have lost sight of some fundamental realities of how growth hacking can be unraveled using those archaic methods. Marketers tend to forget the form’s usefulness and miss out on new opportunities because they seldom see beyond their ideological noses. At the core, marketing is lead generation. PR and publicity drive attention to drive sales. Ads drive awareness to drive sales. Social media drives communication to drive sales. Unfortunately, many people forget that marketing is not an end unto itself. It is simply getting customers. And by inference, anything that gets customers is marketing.

That is what growth hackers have taught us.


Growth hackers do not have any special or hidden tools. Instead, it is a mindset, one that every business owner or marketer should have.

For an idea to become a successful business, it must undergo a lot of changes. Everyone involved must be willing to make these changes. These changes are the beginning of success.

Customers may not always be right in the real sense, but they are always right for the growth of any business. And steadily building long-lasting relationships through interactions on various platforms is an essential determinant of that growth.

Do you want to stay on top of the game? Then, be ready to become a growth hacker.

This summary was designed to be an introduction — to convey to you a mindset and a new approach rather than teaching the specific tactics at a granular level. The best way to accomplish that next step is to go directly to the source. By that, it means you’ll have to train under a real growth hacker. No marketer, traditional or otherwise, learned how to do what they do in school; they learn on the job. Thankfully, there are thousands of startups and growth companies out there building growth teams right now. Nowadays, it is possible to get paid to study in such companies.

Try this

Brainstorm with your team or even by yourself on the different ways your company can advertise its products using a cheap but effective means.