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Growth Hackers And The Marketing Wake Up Call


One of the biggest trends in marketing was defined in one of the top Slideshare presentations from last year.

Nestled at number 22 was a presentation on “growth hacking.” 

I wasn’t really sure what a “growth hacker” was or what impact it has on marketing. But as soon as I saw it, I knew that I was one of them. Or at least I want to be. Are you a growth hacker?

What is Growth Hacking?

According to Wikipedia, “Growth hacking is a marketing technique developed by technology startups which uses creativity, analytical thinking, and social metrics to sell products and gain exposure.

The term was first used by startup marketing consultant Sean Ellis in 2010. In 2012 Entrepreneur Andrew Chen claimed that “Growth Hacker is the New VP Marketing.”

And while some of the emphasis from both of these gents is that growth hackers will be engineers and coders, they are open to technology-minded marketers like me who just want sustainable growth and cannot live with marketing created to check the list,  to please the boss, or to hang on the wall.

Growth hacking is about getting new customers in an efficient, scalable and sustainable way. Growth hacking, my friends  is marketing. The future of marketing. Or what marketing always should have been.

What is the Growth Hacker Wake-up Call?

Ryan Holiday is a consultant and author of the slideshare “The Growth Hacker Wake-up Call” and the book Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising. He explains the wake up call like this:

Instagram, Zappos, Airbnb, Twitter, and Facebook all became billion dollar brands without any traditional marketing. None. Zip. Zero. Growth hacking is how they got there.

That’s the wake up call because let’s face it, most marketers are classically trained traditonal marketers.

Does that make marketing more or less relevant? One thing is for sure, it has changed the way business leaders think about marketing.

“Growth hacking is a mindset, not a toolkit,” according to Aaron Kinn, Growth Hacker at StumbleUpon. And you could say the same thing about content marketing. According to Ryan:

A growth hacker is someone who has thrown out the traditional marketing playbook and replaced it with only what is testable, trackable, scalable…while their marketing brethren track vague notions like branding and mindshare, growth hackers relentlessly pursue users and growth.

Some of Ryan’s additional tips

  • The worse marketing mistake you can make is starting with a product.
  • Don’t sell what you’ve got. Work with what you’ve got until it’s something people want (and want to talk about).
  • Growth hacking is never being complacent because whatever you have, you can always do better.

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