BY RYAN HOLIDAY
Growth hacker marketing is a concept that uses a test-and-learn method along with a process of rapid experimentation. By experimenting across marketing channels and applying the results to product development and the campaign structure, companies can quickly identify the most effective channels for marketing. Readers will learn that by experimenting, adapting, and modifying products, their marketing efforts will be more targeted and more successful.
This “hacking” approach has helped companies like Airbnb, Zappos, Uber, and many others bypass the constraints of traditional marketing. By questioning the accepted methods of marketing, these companies opened up a whole new road map to growth. Readers will learn how these businesses rapidly developed a product or service that people wanted, using experimentation and market feedback. They will learn how to create a different perspective of marketing and question common assumptions.
“The end goal of every growth hacker is to build a self-perpetuating marketing machine that reaches millions by itself.”
A “growth hacker” is someone who is focused on growth and uses trial and error methods to find the most effective marketing channels. Readers will learn that popular marketing trends such as “branding” may seem attractive, but they are often time-consuming and often miss the mark. Growth hacking takes a different approach by quickly getting a product or service to market, getting feedback, and modifying the product or the campaign to fit what the market wants. By validating the feedback and moving quickly, “hacking” efforts save time and work and result in a more marketable product or service.
“A growth hacker is someone who has thrown out the playbook of traditional marketing and replaced it with only what is testable, trackable, and scalable. Their tools are e-mails, pay-per-click ads, blogs, and platform APIs instead of commercials, publicity, and money.”
The book teaches readers, step-by-step, how they can become a growth hacker and break out of the traditional marketing cycle.
Step 1: It Begins with Product Market Fit (PMF)
Product market fit is the foundation of a successful growth hacking process. Readers learn that by testing what works, they can design a product that fits the market's needs. The book outlines the keys to getting the PMF right as quickly as possible.
Don't start with the product, start with the press release, creating a market focus instead of a product or company focus.
Write the FAQ. This seems like putting the cart before the horse, but it serves to keep the focus on the market and helps in defining product design.
Now build a prototype. Then test it, modify it, test it again, and so on. Readers will learn that this hack-and-test approach can take many rounds of iteration before they find the best product or service to offer.
Step 2: Finding Your Growth Hack (Targeting the Right People)
Readers will learn that the test-and-learn approach applies to product development and in finding the most effective growth hack. Once the product from the PMF efforts is ready, it's time to take it to market to see what channels will be the most effective. Readers will find these channels by listening to the feedback from the market. Then, they can modify the campaign using the same methods from the first step.
Step 3: Turning 1 into 2 and 2 into 4 – Going Viral
Going viral is the Holy Grail of marketing, and many marketers struggle to understand how to make it happen. Readers will learn here that there are proven methods that take some of the mystery out of this powerful marketing channel. The premise behind going viral is simply that happy customers like to talk. If companies deliver experiences that exceed expectations, it will drive word of mouth and create a viral environment. Readers will learn that this organic process can be accelerated, decreasing the time for a product to take hold. By getting a product in the hands of influencers and taking every opportunity to increase visibility, the chance of going viral increases.
Step 4: Close the Loop: Retention & Optimization
Growth hacking is not a one-and-done process. The book teaches readers that growth depends not only on getting new customers but on keeping customers coming back. Customer retention can also be one of the best ways to acquire new customers because these satisfied customers often introduce others to the product or service. A small increase in retention can create a larger increase in growth and profitability. This is why high-growth brands such as Zappos focus on innovation that creates better experiences and a better return.
“80 percent of marketers are unhappy with their ability to measure marketing return on investment (ROI). Not because the tools aren’t good enough, but because they’re too good, and marketers see for the first time that their marketing strategies are “often flawed and their spending is inefficient.”
The founder of Zappos, Nick Swinmum, provides a simple example of growth hacking in action.
Instead of creating a product or service and then sending it out into the world to see if it worked, he took the test-and-learn approach. Swinmum's idea was to sell shoes online, and he wasn't quite sure if his idea had a market. Like a true “hacker,” he decided to test the idea before investing his time and effort.
According to Swinmum, “...went to a couple of stores, took some pictures of the shoes, made a website, put them up and told the shoe store, if I sell anything, I'll come here and pay full price. They said okay, knock yourself out. So I did that, made a couple of sales.” This simple step gave Nick the feedback he needed to validate his idea as something worth pursuing. By testing his idea and learning from his little experiment, Swinmum created the foundation for one of the most wildly successful online companies.
The growth hacking lessons readers can learn from the Zappos story is not just that the hacking methods work. It's also that one of the quickest ways to get the growth hacking strategy rolling in the right direction is by finding a way to close the gap between an idea and customer interaction. This is the key to finding the right growth hack. Too often, an idea is put into motion long before any customer interaction occurs. With growth hacking, that interaction happens as early as possible in the process and impacts everything from product development to marketing strategy.