Ever since I joined the realm of digital marketing (or marketing in general), the term ‘growth hacking’ has been flying around like crazy. Everyone’s calling themselves a growth hacker and I see it everywhere on LinkedIn.
Here’s my opinion on in (it is an opinion so you’re entitled to have your own view!)
To give a bit of background, growth hacking was a term coined by Sean Ellis (he was the first marketer for big start ups like DropBox and Lookout) in 2010. He defined it as:
‘A person whose true north is growth. Everything they do is scrutinized by its potential impact on scalable growth’
The term itself is nothing new as growth hacking has been around forever. The classic examples everyone uses are Dropbox’s ‘Refer a friend for more storage’ strategy as well as Hotmail’s growth through a link to get a free mail service.
Now I am not saying that EVERYONE is not a growth hacker. BUT most likely if you’re reading this and you’re calling yourself a growth hacker, you’re probably not.
You are most likely a product designer, a digital marketer, strategy manager but NOT a growth hacker. The point of a growth hacker is to strategise, execute, test, change the product based off results and repeat to scale a company such as how an accelerator scales a start-up. Not only this but know how to retain your customers and reduce churn. If you’re not doing ALL of this then stop calling yourself a growth hacker.
It’s as worse as calling yourself a CEO of a company that is making no profit and that only has one other person other than you. You look bad. You look like you don’t know what you’re talking about. There’s too many ‘growth hackers’ around and it dilutes the rest of the growth hackers that are ACTUALLY growth hacking their start up or business into new heights.
That is why I don’t call myself a growth hacker. I am a digital marketer.
But wait — growth hackers themselves need to stop being ‘up’ themselves as well.
I remember going to a seminar recently by a ‘growth hacker’ (I won’t name any names) and I remember them showing a slide that I found incredibly stupid. It said that marketing looked only at impressions and high level metrics whilst growth hacking looked at metrics such as leads, CPA etc.
I remember my friend who went with me (he loves reading) looking at me and going ‘that is the dumbest thing I have heard today’. This is also another reality of growth hacking — they tend to take the ‘good stuff’ of other professions and making themselves look good. Saying that marketing doesn't look at leads is the incredibly dumb and I remember walking out shortly.
This not only makes other growth hackers look bad but is also the reason why every time I hear someone mention this term, I see the eyes roll of 50% across a room. This culture needs to change.
A legitimate growth hacker is someone who could really make the difference of a start up or a business succeeding. However it’s a term that’s been getting a lot of shade recently and it’s justified. The culture around it needs to change soon, otherwise it’s going to be the next joke term of the decade.