The new buzzword these days in the marketing industry is “growth hacking”, and to be completely honest I think it’s kind of pointless. I did a search on Amazon.com the other day and found 121 books with the term “growth hacking”.
I definitely don’t advise any clients not to focus on growth and I certainly don’t think you should ignore creativity and your imagination to attract customers … it’s just that there’s nothing really new about it.
Marketers, good marketers, have always been “growth hackers”.
The new generation of so called “growth hackers” want you to think that they are non-traditional marketers when, honestly, all they are is non-wasteful marketers. That’s something that everyone should agree with. I wouldn’t advise any clients to spend their marketing budgets on service I know to be ineffective or too expensive.
Those that label themselves as “growth hackers” could argue that they study products and services as a means to an end of real growth, but this is just another form of distribution powered by the rising popularity of online networks and participation.
Tech start-ups in Silicon Valley is where this term is gaining the most traction. It’s there that a great deal of emphasis is put on the need for employing growth hacking marketers to be technology savvy with a background in computer coding. Let’s face it though in today’s world no marketer will survive if they aren’t tech savvy, don’t engage themselves with online marketing tools and at least have an understand and appreciation for front end and back end development.
One thing that bothers me in the growth hackers vs. marketers debate is that some “growth hackers” seem to believe that growth at any expense can be justified. Media stunts aimed at tricking or diverting web traffic from another online community is deemed OK if it’s done for the sake of growth. There are successes that come to mind like Dropbox and AirBnB, but at the same time there are dozens of other “growth hacked startups” attempting to do things that cross the line that will never sustain a long-term brand.
Good marketing should always be focused on growth … long-term, sustainable growth at that. To do that you need to figure out ways to build an audience, create brand advocates, new customers and then focus on loyalty. The goal should be to create awareness as cost effective as possible by building trust, and creating a good experience that makes it so memorable for your customers that they refer their friends. This is not new a new concept.
Just as important is measuring the successful and non-successful events and campaigns. What worked and what didn’t work? You use this knowledge to gain understanding of your marketing efforts and to try to have more future successes rather than failures.
Good marketing, no matter what people want to call it, is not just a single event or marketing tactic. It’s a process that requires you to test, measure and adapt.
In today’s marketing world it’s necessary to get a clear prospective on all your efforts. This requires studying analytics with tools like Google Analytics, Chartbeat or Kiss Metrics. Without tools you’re gambling with your marketing or “growth hacking” or whatever trendy term is chosen to label it.
About The Author: Kevin Watts
Kevin Watts is the founder of Raincross, a premier web design, development and digital marketing agency headquartered in Riverside, CA.
Kevin got his start in online marketing and website design by working for some of the most prominent names in online retail. He's most recognized for helping to start e-commerce retailer Organize.com in 1998, and spent 12 years running the company's e-commerce and online marketing operations. He has been recognized and has received several online retail, marketing and merchandising awards throughout his career.
Kevin grew up in Riverside, CA and graduated from the University of Wyoming. In his spare time, Kevin is an avid fly-fisherman, college football fan, and enjoys spending time with his son Matthew, daughter Kate and wife Lindsey.
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