Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday

Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday

Author:Ryan Holiday
Language: eng
Format: epub, mobi
Publisher: Penguin Group US
Published: 2013-08-04T16:00:00+00:00

Let’s Get Technical

The movie marketing paradigm says throw an expensive premiere and hope that translates into ticket sales come opening weekend. A growth hacker says it’s 2013 and we can be a lot more technical about how we acquire and capture new customers.

The start-up world is full of companies taking clever hacks to drive their first set of customers into their funnel. The necessity of that jolt—needing to get it any way they can—has made start-ups get very creative.

Let’s look at Airbnb again. The company’s most effective marketing tactic (besides making a great product) would never have been conceived or attempted by a pure marketing team. Instead, the engineers coded a set of tools that made it possible for every member to seamlessly cross-post his or her Airbnb listing on craigslist (because craigslist does not technically “allow” this, it was a fairly ingenious work-around). As a result, Airbnb—a tiny site—suddenly had free distribution on one of the most popular websites in the world.

As Andrew Chen wrote in a case study of this tactic:

Let’s be honest, a traditional marketer would not even be close to imagining the integration above—there’s too many technical details needed for it to happen. As a result, it could only have come out of the mind of an engineer tasked with the problem of acquiring more users from Craigslist.11

It’s a different approach. Today, as a marketer, our task isn’t necessarily to “build a brand” or even to maintain a pre-existing one. We’re better off building an army of immensely loyal and passionate users. Which is easier to track, define, and grow? Which of these is real and which is simply an idea? And when you get that right—a brand will come naturally.

As Sean Ellis, one of the first growth hackers—he coined the term with Patrick Vlaskovits—puts it: “Focusing on customer acquisition over ‘awareness’ takes discipline. . . . At a certain scale, awareness/brand building makes sense. But for the first year or two it’s a total waste of money.”12

The most insidious part of the traditional marketing model is that “big blowout launch” mythology. Of course, equally seductive is the “build it and they will come” assumption that too many people associate with the web. Both are too simple and rarely effective.

Remember what Aaron Swartz realized. Users have to be pulled in. A good idea is not enough. Your customers, in fact, have to be “acquired.” But the way to do that isn’t with a bombardment. It’s with a targeted offensive in the right places aimed at the right people.

Your start-up is designed to be a growth engine—and at some point early on that engine has to be kick-started. The good news is that we only have to do that once. Because the next step isn’t about getting more attention or publicity. The endless promotional cycle of traditional marketing is not our destiny. Because once we bring our first customers in, our next move is to set about turning them into an army.


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