Isn’t it funny that the new generations of super-brands like Facebook, Dropbox, Airbnb, YouTube and LinkedIn have spent hardly anything on traditional marketing? No press ads, no TV commercials, no billboards or radio jingles. Instead, they rely on a new strategy of communicating via email, text messaging and social networks, offering personal solutions and insightful conversations with their potential and existing customers through cleverly crafted content at an ideal time.
Modern marketers call this – growth hacking — a method of marketing used to reach many people despite modest marketing budgets. Growth hackers have thrown out the old playbook and replaced it with tools that are testable, trackable and scalable. They believe that products and businesses should be modified repeatedly until they’re primed to generate explosive reactions.
The term “Growth hacker” was first used by Sean Ellis in 2010 and growth hacking is a process of rapid experimentation across various marketing channels to identify the most efficient and effective way to grow the business. A growth hacker is described as someone whose sole objective is growth of the brand or company. As opposed to a traditionalist marketer who may or may not be a specialist in some kind of marketing function like a graphic designer or a Google AdWords specialist, a growth hacker is focused on a series of experiments, utilizing various marketing strategies trying and testing different methodologies until he or she finds something that works.
A growth hacker needs to clearly understand all kinds of marketing and in other words be a generalist marketer of sorts in order to figure out the best way of helping the organization grow. In short, it is about keeping with the theme of experimentation and tweaking tactics and strategies till you find what works for you. Ideally, a growth hacker has a thorough understanding of technology, especially technologies like marketing automation and it certainly helps if he or she has a strong background in IT.
Growth hacking is a relatively new concept having been around for about half a decade now and is widely used in the tech community especially by startups as one of the main strategies to grow rapidly by acquiring users and increasing revenue at a fraction of the cost of legacy companies in the past. To put it simply, it took a company like Facebook a tenth of the time it took GE to gain the same amount of brand equity.
So who is a growth hacker? An engineer can be a growth hacker just as much as a marketer can. What matters is their focus. A true growth hacker’s focus should be growth using analytical, inexpensive, creative, and innovative methods to exponentially grow their company’s customer base. That’s the only thing that a growth hacker should care about.
What’s the simplest form of growth hacking I can advise you to start with? Take Instagram, for instance. Don’t wait for people to comment on your posts. Instead, each day, visit a minimum of 100 of the accounts you want to work with and randomly like their posts. Maybe from time to time, you can even comment on a few. Do this as a ritual for a couple of months without fail. As boring and repetitive as it may sound, this method will definitely pay off and you will soon be able to see an improvement in your new followers coupled with increased engagement and maybe you may even be able to bring in a few new customers.
A non-digital strategy in a similar vein is something as simple as calling your database of existing customers on the phone and mentioning your new product extension. This is one of the oldest forms of growth hacking and has been working for people in the past. The idea is to spend less money, use analytical data and keep trying and testing different methods until you find the one that works best for your business.
To sum it up, a growth hacker needs to clearly understand all kinds of marketing right from traditional advertising, to digital and in other words be a generalist marketer of sorts in order to figure out the best way to help the organization grow. In short, it is about keeping with the theme of experimentation and tweaking tactics and strategies till you find what works for you. Please keep an eye on this space as I unravel new ways and means to reach out to your customers and make an impact without breaking the bank.
Barry Rodrigues is Head of Marketing & Product Development at Future Communications and an associate advisor with the International Advisors Group in Kuwait. For comments, please email Barry at [email protected].