My latest post on Growth Hacking – inspired by the students I guest lectured in Chicago last week. Does the term Growth Hacking scare your organization? Here’s why you should EMBRACE growth, agile marketing.
Growth Hacking: The art of using social media and other cheap/free mediums to get your brand recognized. Coined by technology start ups, it is commonly thought of as “throwing things against a wall and seeing what sticks”. This, however, is false.
A few days ago I spoke to a group of very talented Product Management and Design students at General Assembly in Chicago. I expected this to be a very receptive audience, as my invitation was the product of a student vote. But if I thought these entrepreneurial students would shy away from challenging me, I was wrong. As I spoke, I found myself continuously defending and explaining what growth hacker/guerrilla marketeers do. No, it’s not as simple as throwing things against the wall. No, it’s not that we have no plan and just do “whatever”. Yes, it takes a whole lot of thought to be an effective guerrilla marketeer and I even argued that it takes more planning and thought to utilize free tools effectively.
I asked the class what they thought the biggest barriers to growth hackers were. Here are a few of their candid and insightful replies:
“The fact that nobody thinks you have a plan?”
“Anyone who doesn’t like change?”
“Bosses that don’t understand it?”
Those are pretty accurate, but I have witnessed even more push-back and resistance from marketing experts themselves. That might seem counter-intuitive, but actually it makes a whole lot of sense. Growth Hacking goes against many traditional marketing rules, such as the time-honored “you must control the message”–out the window! Social Media has permanently changed that rule. So, how do we convince folks that growth hacking is actually a very strategic, planned and calculated endeavor? It’s less of an action and more of an entire process with many moving parts. A colleague of mine compared it to agile software development. Agile Software Development promotes adaptive planning, continuous improvement, rapid and flexible response to change through short “iteration” cycles.