Click play to listen to the rant.

Of all the buzzwords out there for marketing, ‘Growth Hacking’, is the one I hate the most.

Just type the phrase into Google and you will be immediately presented with articles such as ‘The Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking’, ’21 Actionable Growth Hacking Tactics’ and ‘Growth Hacker Is The New VP Marketing.

The term ‘Growth Hacker’ was coined in 2010 by Sean Ellis. Essentially, the name is based upon the ability of an individual being able to identify opportunities and immediately capitalise on them.

Isn’t this what marketing is all about?

Well, apparently not. A Growth Hacker is different. A Growth Hacker has different abilities compared to your standard marketer.

So what are these skills?

In an article for Mashable, they explain the five phases of Growth Hacking as follows:

1. Product Market Fit

This is where Growth Hackers determine the appropriate product based on sensing and researching consumers. The result is that they create something easy to market. Because it is based on existing needs.

Reasons for marketers not being involved at this stage range from having no interest, to not having appropriate skill sets (I call bullshit).

2. Find The Growth Hack

This is where a Growth Hacker takes advantage of any unforeseen opportunities or loopholes. Does something original and creative. As Andrew Chen said, Growth Hackers integrate campaigns through “A/B tests, landing pages, viral factor, email, and open graph.”

It’s utilising options to see where you gain the most traction. Setting up the next phase… 

3. Viral Lift

This is about empowering your users to share your product and information. Encouragement to actively share through incentives is part of the promotion for your product. A Growth Hacker will purposely engineer a viral opportunity.

4. Retention & Optimising

Not only do you invest in upgrading your product, but you also ensure you look after your existing customers. Incentivising sign-up is the goal, but retaining them is just as important. A Growth Hacker will “obsess over every element of the customer experience”- Sean Ellis.

5. Repeat Process

Growth Hacking involves constantly monitoring and repeating the above.

Marketing theory into practice

Based on Jerome McCarthy’s work in the 1960s, Booms and Bitner (1981), devised the 7Ps model. Evolving the original 4Ps model (Product, Price, Place and Promotion), People, Process and Physical Evidence were added to cater for service-based businesses.

Resulting in a similar formula to Growth Hacking:

1. Product (or Service)

Like Growth Hacking, this is the part where research and development occurs. Marketers would scout out new opportunities to make their offering even greater. The product stage is ensuring all elements of demand are taken into consideration.

2. Promotion

This would be the phase which incorporates all marketing communications and campaign execution (Viral lift).

3. Price

Much like when developing the product or service, the price segment looks at the following:

  • Market Positioning (Pricing strategy, creating a justification for the expense)
  • Payment methods (make it easier to purchase your goods i.e. integrating PayPal)
  • Financing options (Credit, store rewards etc.)
  • Discounts

In addition to working out what the consumer wants, marketing needs to choose a competitive pricing strategy based on the quality/level of the product or service.

4. Place

Growth Hacking relies on not only having suitable products for the market, but having something which is easily accessible.

This is why this part of the marketing mix specifically focuses on the distribution channels (route-to-market).

5. People

This is where marketing will focus on ensuring you have the right people, to do the right job. The people to identify and facilitate growth.

6. Process

The consumer journey takes into consideration the processes that are involved in gaining awareness of the product to the actual purchase. The more streamlined these are, the more appropriate and supportive they will be for the decision-maker (retention and optimisation).

7. Physical Evidence

Part of the promotion section would be to engage in various PR activities to prove the value of what you’re selling. This is where you will provide physical evidence such as free samples to a reviewer or blogger for their feedback etc.

The misplacement of marketing

In my opinion, the focus on digital marketing has tainted the real purpose and responsibilities of the Marketing Department.

A market-led organisation would ensure all the demands of the market are taken into consideration. Price, aesthetics and user experience are just as important as product features.

Marketing can provide vital information and resources which can support different areas of business if utilised correctly.

Organisational structure plays a large role in the culture and running of a company. We need to readdress how the Marketing Department is integrated with others. Structure shapes function.

The misunderstanding of Marketing has given rise to new buzzwords and ‘new’ concepts. ‘Content Marketing’, ‘Social Media Ninja’, ‘Growth Hackers’ are all in trend.

We’re good at rebranding and we’re obsessed with shiny new toys. 

This is why it’s essential to get back to basics.

Rather than marketing being an afterthought or a support service, marketing should be in the driving seat.

Is Growth Hacking different from traditional marketing?

Yes and no.

When you go back to the core principles, R&D, customer service and market sensing are major components of marketing.

However, we seem to only focus on marcomms. It’s seen as the only area we are responsible for.

While the concept of Growth Hacking is nothing new, it has highlighted the other areas we should be responsible for. 

Crucial for a successful go-to-market strategy.

To become market-led, not only do we need to create a strong brand and marcomms strategy, but we also need to be actively influencing the portfolio and customer experiences.

Our promotions can be sector-leading. But, if what we offer is shite, no one will buy it.

In truth, Growth Hacking is no different from traditional marketing. What it has done is repackage the original concept of what marketing should be about.

For that, it’s due credit.

Share your thoughts

What do you think about Growth Hacking? Which buzzwords piss you off? Let me know in the comments below, send me a tweet @CJPanteny, or get in touch.

And if you liked this blog, don’t forget to share it on your socials and bask in its ranty goodness.

See you next time.


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