Where did growth hacking come from?
For many of us, growth hacking is still a fairly ambiguous and advanced term. There is a good reason for that.
Sean Ellis coined the term back in 2010 when he worked for a start up companies as a consultant. Due to startups focus on the analytical, creative and inexpensive approach to growth a standard marketing approach didn’t seem to cut it.
The problem he found was that a marketer’s focus was too broad. They often had to take into account budgets, expenses and other constraints to growth. Leaving them unable to focus solely on what a start- up truly needs, growth.
What is growth hacking?
Many people make the mistake to think that a growth hacker is better than a marketer, or that growth hacking makes marketing unnecessary. Neither of these assumptions is true.
Growth hacking is just a different style of marketing.
The biggest difference between marketing and growth hacking is the idea of push vs. pull. Traditional marketing, as I’m sure we’ve all experienced, can also be aggressive. Its focus is on pushing their content into your awareness, in the hopes to trigger a want-got gap.
A marketer’s goal is to remind you of what you didn’t know you needed. But due to high market saturation, too much of this can leave consumers fatigued.
Comparatively a growth hacker’s goal is to ‘pull’ consumer interest. They look for ways to exercise creativity in their pursuit of growth. The approach of growth hacking often entails quick testing and also scaling of new markets. They also need the ability to rethink established markets in the hopes to create new opportunities.
Perhaps the most useful skill is the exploitation of the user base in order to create ‘sustainable growth.’ Growth hacking aims to employ the three “engines of growth” in order to avoid what is often referred to as the “leaky bucket” dilemma or superficial growth. By focusing on current customers, growth hacking hopes to be able to create cyclical interest. Growth hacking maintains their current customers and uses those consumers to naturally draw in others.
What do you need to be a growth hacker?
As Sean Ellis put it, a growth hacker is someone “whose true north is growth.” In order to execute proper growth hacking everything you do must be accompanied by the question, ‘how will this improve and sustain growth.’
That may sound a bit more complicated and unique than it actually is. Anyone can be a growth hacker. Growth hacking isn’t a learned. It can be considered more of a mentality. An effective growth hacker has
a few common characteristics, as defined by Ellis. Along with their focus on growth, a growth hacker needs to have entrepreneurial drive. To effective you need to have the ambition to seek out target markets and the creativity to find new and innovative ways to access them.