What the Hell is a Growth Hacker?!
Business, Marketing

What the Hell is a Growth Hacker?!

There’s this term that’s floating around the cyberspace… It’s called a growth hacker. I’ve read books on the subject, taken courses on it and read hundreds of articles. While I understood the tactics from day one I never really understood what differentiated it from traditional internet marketing other than the name. My dad has been really into internet marketing for years so a lot of the concepts and strategies were not new to me. Then it hit me one day…

Growth hacking is a modernized term for the scientific method. In its current form it relates specifically to internet marketing using the scientific method however the principles of growth hacking can and should be applied to every element of life.

My pivotal point of personal growth which led to professional growth was when I started applying the same core concepts of growth hacking to almost every process oriented thing I did. In “The Lean Startup” Eric Reiss talks about the build/measure/learn feedback loop.

If you took middle school science you’re familiar with this concept because it is the scientific method.

Step one is ask a question. Step two is do some research. Step three is come up with a hypothesis. Step four is testing your hypothesis with an experiment. Step five is analyzing whether it worked and if not going back to the beginning. I left a few parts out but in a nutshell that’s the scientific method.

The build/measure/learn feedback loop is exactly the same. “Build” is steps one through three and measure and learn are steps four and five.

A growth hacker is a scientist. They are not afraid to make mistakes because they use the iterative process and when something does not work they are able to pinpoint the issue because they measure, learn and start over. This does not mean growth hackers are constantly reinventing the wheel. In fact it’s quite the opposite. Just with the scientific community growth hackers publish their findings frequently to get external feedback and to learn from the greats before them. A true growth hacker is not shy to seek help and knows exactly how to get the right type of help because they have measure their successes and failures along the way. When they ask for guidance they can pinpoint specific issues that they need assistance with which makes them much more efficient with their time.

A growth hacker runs tests relentlessly and takes the time to build processes where it makes sense to so they don’t have to do the same work over and over again which leads me to my next point. Growth hacking is investing the time to build a self perpetuating growth engine. The famous story is of dropbox giving you additional storage just for inviting a friend. You could pay for the same thing or just invite someone else to join and enjoy the service. Their users did the majority of the heavy lifting marketing for them. In startup talk this is called the “Viral Coefficient” but more on that another time.

I have spent tremendous amounts of time gaining very little results and so focussed on the minutiae of running a business day to day that I was completely unable to build processes into my own life let alone my business. Others peoples agendas became the only thing I could focus on. A growth hacker throws agendas out the window and uses data and a strong gut feeling to make better more calculated decisions.

Here’s the good news. You don’t need to be a scientist or have great technical knowledge to start implementing the growth hacker mentality into your own life… You just need to start.

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