Every company struggles with distributing their product to the widest and most relevant audience. Fortune 500 companies have massive advertising budgets, sales and marketing teams, and the know-how to convert prospects to customers at a set price. While startups may know their cost per acquisition, their budgets aren’t inexhaustible. Enter the growth hacker.
What is a growth hacker?
A growth hacker is a team member whose mission is to identify likely users, engage them with the product, and keep them happy and coming back. Aaron Ginn says:
The essential characteristic of a growth hacker is creativity. His or her mind is the best tool in their war chest. A growth hacker looks beyond adwords or SEO for distribution. Traditional marketing channels often means high cost per acquisition and low life-time value due to high saturation. In an age of social users, the right growth strategy with the right product-market fit will lead to massive scale through viral loops.
Without the blue chip budget the growth hacker progressively creates an audience for an previously obscure and unknown business.
What is growth hacking?
Growth hacking is a measurable, scalable and lean way of acquiring new customers and users. Growth hacking eschews traditional marketing channels such as paid advertisement and marketing stunts in favor of scrappy, low-cost and viral distribution mechanics. Sean Ellis says, “Growth hacking isn’t the best term, but it describes a new process for acquiring and engaging users combining traditional marketing and analytical skills with product development skills.” The goal of the growth hacker is to deliver the maximum product awareness and user adoption at the lowest possible cop.
Growth hacking is iterative, and what works can be improved through testable hypothesis. Growth hacking often involves building virality into the product or service, so users are compelled to share with their friends. Common growth hacks reward sharers with additional perks such as early access, company schwag, or bragging rights.
Aggressive growth hacking methods include bulk emails to a user’s entire friend list. This is often falls under the banner of “aggressive user acquisition,” but let’s not kid ourselves. It’s really spam by another name. For growth hacking to be effective, it must be sustainable.
Growth hacking and public relations
The goal of public relations is to make your phone ring, as Erica Lee said on a recent episode of the PR Tips For Startups Podcast. The goal of growth hacking is to make the cash register ring. Therefor growth hacking and public relations go together like hand in glove.
Growth hacking through PR is a rare skill, but an important one. Cultivating important relationships with journalists and bloggers, and creating stories around your product that will spread through your audience.
The publicity hacker
A publicity hacker is someone on your team who can leverage strong ties with the media to keep your startup story in the public eye. My favorite publicity hacker tactic is to use proprietary data to help reporters cover their beat better and to tell better stories.
The goal of the publicity hacker is to understand the needs of a wide range of reporters, and how to share the unique aspects of his or her company that fit within this coverage area.
I recently gave a talk at Draper University where the emphasis was on how to think of your startup story in 360 degrees. During the talk I challenged the Draper University students in attendance to come up with as many different angles as possible for the new Apple campus being built in Cupertino.
Apple Campus 2 as it is officially known is of interest to
- Apple geeks
- City planners
- Industrial designers
- Cupertino residents
- Sustainable building fans
And a wide variety of other interest groups. Each group has a particular stake in the Apple story, but it’s one story about one building.
As a publicity hacker its your job to come up with as many angles as possible to tell your story to the communities it impacts.
We’ll dive into this in more detail in another post.
Growth hacking resources
Growth Hacks on Quora
Let's Meet!My Office Hours