Is Growth Hacking Marketing?
It’s no secret that Airbnb is a kickass company — and it’s not because of some multi-million dollar branding budget. It’s because their marketing team has some serious next-level hustle going on.
Case in point: what they did with Craigslist. Now that is some inventive shit.
“They’ve picked a platform with 10s of millions of users where relatively few automated tools exist, and have created a great experience to share your Airbnb listing,” wrote Andrew Chen in his personal blog. “It’s integrated simply and deeply into the product and is one of the most impressive ad-hoc integrations I’ve seen in years.”
Whose Crazy Idea Was That?
The easy answer: growth hackers — the new unsung heroes of Silicon Valley.
“Certainly, a traditional marketer would not have come up with this, or known it was even possible — instead it’d take a marketing-minded engineer to dissect the product and build an integration this smooth,” Chen said.
It’s growth hackers who can take your business from zero to 1 million customers at break-even cost. They’re resourceful, creative, and can get shit done. They’re marketers, operation experts, and then some. They’ll work their magic to grow your startup to scale.
A New Breed, A New Era of Marketing
This is your guy or gal who can jump from coding to customers and then on to biz dev in ten seconds or less.
As Andrew Chen puts it —
“Growth hackers are a hybrid of marketer and coder, one who looks at the traditional question of ‘how do I get customers for my product?’ and answers with A/B tests, landing pages, viral factor, email deliverability, and Open Graph. On top of this, they layer the discipline of direct marketing, with its emphasis on quantitative measurement, scenario modeling via spreadsheets, and a lot of database queries.”
They’re a master of connection-building, and they’re able to get up and running with minimal resources.
“Growth hackers try a lot of ideas, ruthlessly optimizing successes and quickly discarding dead ends,” said Paul Rosania. “In all cases, the goal is learning. You don’t have to be technical, but people with technical backgrounds tend to excel, since they can conceive and ship experiments rapidly on their own.”
They’re more than your average marketers. They’re customer acquisition badasses who can find valuable opportunities in the most ambiguous of circumstances.
Beyond One Person — Growth Hackers Are True Leaders
Growth hacking is not a one-woman show. True commitment to hacking growth at your company means restructuring your team, and the way you do work — and it’s your resident growth hacker who’ll do it right.
“Rather than a VP of Marketing with a bunch of non-technical marketers reporting to them, instead growth hackers are engineers leading teams of engineers,” Chen said. “The process of integrating and optimizing your product into a big platform requires a blurring of lines between marketing, product, and engineering, so that they work together to make the product market itself.”
It’s genius — empower your products for growth with a built in marketing mechanism. Growth hackers have a rare ability to make this process seamless and efficient. That’s because they’re connectors. They can move in five directions at once, but no matter what — they’ll always move your business forward.
Growth Hackers Are Your ‘Reverse’ Engineers
Rome was built on a vision — not on a pile of bricks (or stone or marble or whatever they used to build the city back then). Growth hackers are the team members who begin with solutions. They are relentless ‘blue sky’ advocates who never let the small things bog them down.
They’re probably not going to be the people who write perfectly elegant lines of codes, but they certainly know how to do it. They will be the advocates between what is happening in real-time with users and what your full-time engineers are deploying, or not.
Think of your growth hackers as your guides — the scrappy ones, not the ones with clearly outlined maps from point A to point B. They are not followers, they are creators and inventors. They’re writing the game plan as they go — from finish to start.
“Valuing ‘growth’ is more than just filling a position,” said KISSmetrics co-founder Hiten Shah in a Techcrunch post. “It operates like a fundamental value or a ‘creed’ that the rest of the organization uses to prioritize decisions. Growth is not just the concept of ‘how do I market this?’. Rather, it is a company belief and value.”
The Bottom Line — They Just Get it
Here’s what distinguishes growth hackers from your typical marketers. These folks know how to align ‘effort’ with ‘profit.’ They’re at the intersection of multiple areas in your business and can effectively bridge technical goals with creative goals for really robust business development.
If you wanted to work in silos, you would have gone corporate. As a startup, embracing the collision of knowledge and expertise is the key to successful, long-term growth.
The answer: Growth Hacking is not marketing, rather it’s an intensive, metrics based way of super user acquisition.
What are the best examples of growth hacking you’ve seen?