We’ve heard these terms and probably passed them as another ‘buzz words’. But in today’s digital age, they couldn’t be more relevant. The business environment has evolved a great deal and so should our roles and functions in the organisations. Are you a Growth Hacker or a Growth Marketer? Understanding the difference between these terms is key to developing skills and performing in the said function.
But we’ll get to that in a bit.
Let’s first understand why we keep hearing these words.. Why the sudden need to evolve?
As we begin to hear new startups around us almost everyday, the need to gain ‘traction’ trumps ‘product development’ especially in this digital age. With this increased ‘following’ on social media, we (entrepreneurs and marketers alike) are all beginning to call ourselves ‘growth hackers’.
But we couldn’t be more wrong.
Now, let’s get to it.
Note: Growth Hackers, Marketers or the audience all have a slightly different take on the meaning of these terms. What I talk about ahead is a general idea for understanding purposes without getting into much technicalities. For any bashing, please feel free to connect with me. 🙂
The function of marketing has been in existence since long, however, growth hacking was a term coined as recently as in 2010. Why the need for this new term?
With coming of age of the digital world, the world is witness to increasing number of tech-driven startups across industries. Artificial Intelligence, E-Commerce, Augmented and Virtual Reality, Social Media – all have given rise to newer opportunities for the curious minds to innovate. These businesses are nothing like the traditional industries operating in the world and neither are their consumers any alike. So traditional marketing principles don’t always apply to such businesses – not in the initial stages at least.
Growth marketing is…
…is when you focus all of your business efforts on growing an audience (or community) as fast as possible in an environment of extreme uncertainty, on a limited budget. What this essentially means is that a growth marketer identifies the need of developing an audience and focusses on growing the audience community instead of selling the product.
In even simpler terms, it is problem solving at the core level. A growth marketer is always answering the question: How do I get grow my user/audience base?
Now, you are entering into an uncertain environment while starting new, which means that you don’t know who wants to buy your product, what your product should look like, or how much are people willing to pay for it. Also, as a startup, you cannot spend millions on advertising to reach out to your audience – because, budgets.
So what do you do? You test, test and test some more. You schedule pilot runs, conduct surveys or even roll out a product/service on social media for free to gather response. After thorough analysis of the data, you get a fair understanding of what your product should look like and that’s how you gain your target audience. A growth marketer is constantly monitoring metrics like Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) and Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) to analyse their performance.
So, Growth Marketing is all about growing an audience which then translates into further developing the product, growing the company and eventually, growing sales.
A Growth Hacker, however…
… Develops an underutilised strategy to grow a particular at an extremely low CPA.
Growth hacking is about finding that one unique and underused marketing strategy that enables you to increase a metric count at extremely low or no cost, in a short period of time.
Expert growth hackers have argued that mainstream growth hacking techniques have gradually decayed over time with increased use and hence, the results have become weaker. This means that what growth hacking strategies you read right now may not be relevant anymore and what you think of afresh will probably not work anymore one year later.
This is what is quintessentially the startup ecosystem like – ever evolving and ever growing. Everything you read should only be an inspiration and should push you to expand your boundaries as you innovate newer strategies to grow your business.
So, which one are you?
You’re not a growth hacker if you:
- Follow accounts on Instagram for follow-backs
- Get traffic/like through Ads, or
- Pay ₹1,000 for 100 followers
You are also probably not a growth marketer in that case.
Be a growth marketer first which means you should divert all your resources towards driving more traffic through a specific source. Identify one metric that truly defines growth for your business and focus on increasing the count through your strategies. And lastly, keep running growth tests and develop your product by gathering feedbacks from each test.
And if you top this up with coming up with a strategy that is fresh and absolutely new in its approach, then you’re closing towards becoming a growth hacker. If you one day decide, “Hey, let’s make a couple of viral graphics on trending topics and see if we can grow our followers with it or not..” – And you actually drove growth through those graphics.. That’s truly a growth hack.
To sum up..
Growth marketing is a broader concept to growing your business, often slow and steady. Growth hacking, on the other hand, focusses on a specific strategy or a tactic aimed to deliver quick results.
Don’t wait for the next blog post to stimulate your brain cells because, honestly, nothing will. Find your hack and market it to your audience the way you feel it. Because at the end of the day, marketing or hacking, it’s all about innovation.