Why ‘Growth Hacking’ Isn’t Just For Startups

Adopting a 'Growth Hacking' strategy can help measure, refine and sharpen your marketing, and it's easier than you may think.

My suggestions are culled from practical experience of agencies, startups and the creative ideas platform Toucan.

Customer needs come first. Task number one is to find out if there’s any demand for a proposed product or service. In the words of serial-entrepreneur Steve Blank, "Is it important enough (to potential customers) that the right product will drive significant numbers of customers to buy or engage with the product?"

For marketing professionals faced with squeezed budgets and patchy research data, there is good news. Growth Hacking can help you make more of an impact:

1. Make it is easy for customers to share their love

A key example of the early use of growth hacking is how the Hotmail added a hyperlinked line 'PS – I Love You! Get A Free Hotmail Account' which sparked exponential growth without more marketing spend.

2. Get out of the building and meet real customers!

Startups carry out market research by asking customers about an intended new product, creating a basic prototype, and then gathering the feedback from the same customers to improve chances of success. That approach could work for you.

3. Are you using your marketing metrics the right way?

Customer metrics are key to growth hacking, because they show if the marketing is paying its way. Are you sure that a strategy built around about 'engagement' and benchmarking the return by using 'estimated media value' is going to help identify something that translates into revenue?

Every business and every market place is different.  Growth Hacking is as much an attitude to solving your specific business problems, as it is a set of nifty techniques.

As Growth Hacking 101 says, "If your compass points at 'GROW', and you take advantage of every piece of experience and creativeness in you to turn the product’s potential to actual revenue – then you are officially a Growth Hacker."

Photo (cc) Chiot's Run


Greg Ott, of Intuit QuickBooks, on the subject

In a recent Forbes piece 'Growth-Hacking Isn't Just For Startups'Christien Cardell quizzes Greg Ott, vice president of marketing for Intuit QuickBooks, on the merits of Growth-Hacking:

"According to Ott, Growth-Hacking is a new take on an old idea – simply put, it is about finding a better, more efficient way to drive growth.  Hacking is about rethinking whatever would be considered traditional approaches, and coming up with completely new ideas. 

"For smart marketers, hacking is still a means to an ends – a company’s best marketing is a great product with happy customers.  These are foundational concepts that now live in the social world. It’s no longer feasible for companies to have marketing programs that are decoupled from the core use of the product or activating customers as the brand’s most powerful advocates.  

"Marketers need to work more deeply with product teams, know their customers, and get very dirty playing with data and models to inspire new ideas.

"On the surface that all sounds idyllic but in reality that means change and we all know how much each of us, personally, loves to embrace change we didn’t think up. 

"I asked Ott how companies get in front of change. His response wasn’t a litany of change management tactics but some very simple advice – “walk in the customers’ shoes”. 

"Once companies understand their customers, what’s relevant, how they make decisions and how your solution fits into their outcomes, then understanding change and the path through it becomes easy." [SGH: or at least easier]

Growth hacking, for startups

A few useful blog posts on the subject of growth hacking focused on startups:

Plus - price: perhaps the most commercially important on the subject of the relevance of growth hacking to traditional business, a piece in Harvard Business Review by pricing guru Rafi Mohammed which examines the popular 'ridesharing' startup service Uber, and its growth hacking style approach to pricing and whether that works or not in the marketplace.