Imagine an extensive and detailed marketing plan that took months to complete. Pages and pages of reports, full of charts and analyses. Financial projections and deadlines. All exactly as prescribed in traditional business planning methods.
This is the mindset that many of us learned, and that is still very widespread. But are such detailed and documented plans really needed nowadays?
Well, the answer is no. As stated in the Agile Manifesto, adapting to change is more valuable than sticking to a plan. This is especially the case with marketing: testing, measuring and learning in an iterative way is a lot more important than developing extensive plans based on hypotheses and assumptions that haven’t been validated.
This cycle of testing, measuring and learning has led to a new mindset in the world of marketing. This new mindset is being called “Growth Hacking Marketing”.
Growth Hacking Marketing
As Growth Hacking writer and columnist Aaron Ginn argues, “the end goal of every growth hacker is to build a self-perpetuating marketing machine that reaches millions by itself.”
We can thus define a growth hacker as someone who thinks much more objectively, focusing on tests and metrics, always seeking to somehow measure how far their actions can reach. Basically, a growth hacker is someone who has replaced instructions from traditional Marketing with only that which is testable, trackable and scalable.
If you would like proof that this works, here are a few examples: Dropbox, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Uber, Groupon and Hotmail, among many others. Have you tried adding up the current market value of these companies? If you do, I suggest using a high-capacity calculator.
All of these companies, without exception, have grown without spending a lot of money on publicity and extravagant marketing actions. They have focused only on specific actions, always targeting the early adopters, concentrating their efforts on the quality of their product and using plenty of creativity.
What sets them apart is how they focus their time, resources and energy on their products’ continuous improvement cycle, specifically the Lean Startup cycle.
Through these Lean Startup interactions, these companies generate incremental and real improvements for their products. With increasingly better products directed at the right audience, marketing becomes a mere consequence.
Therefore, practicing Growth Hacking Marketing is nothing but aiming at reaching the target audience efficiently, by collecting metrics, information and lessons to improve your product and create customer loyalty.
There are several interesting Growth Hacking techniques that you should read about. The book “Growth Hacking Marketing”, by Ryan Holliday, provides a great overview of the topic. It’s a quick, easy and interesting read! Other excellent sources for you to check out are Quora – Growth Hacking; Growth Hackers; and Andrew Chen (Growth at Uber).
But the main goal of this post is to point out that Growth Hacking means a lot more than techniques, tests and metrics. Growth Hacking means changing your mindset. In a connected world where so many things change so quickly, rigid, inflated and expensive planning models don’t work anymore. You need to be quick to adapt. You need to be Agile!
Spending millions on plans that can’t be measured and tracked in a concrete way isn’t efficient. Arguments such as “we’ve gained mind share” without delivering a concrete return to the business are no longer valid. We have to stop wasting so much time, money and energy on things that don’t add value to our business.
Nowadays, practicing efficient marketing means continually interacting with the market to test and validate your product. Investing in a constantly improving product for your target audience is much more important than just pushing a product onto the mass market.
As an example of how even traditional companies are rethinking their approach to marketing, in August McDonald’s replaced its US advertising agency, Leo Burnett, with Omnicom. According to their new agreement, Omnicom will only be compensated based on revenue generated by specific results – no bonus for volume or any of the other classic forms of compensation in the advertising industry. The message is clear: deliver real and measurable results, or you don’t get a dime.
Forget about big budgets to burn, big marketing plans and the like. Get out of the building! Do your best to systematize your interactions with the market, leverage lessons learned and improve your product. Often, investing in your product can be the best marketing investment you can make.