Do You Know The Difference Between Growth Hacking and Marketing?

“Growth hacking” is a term you probably hear thrown around a lot. Is this just another trendy buzzword for ‘marketing’? According Christy Hill of Hannon Hill, the answer is yes and no. Growth hacking is a type of marketing, with a unique set of challenges.

The goal of a growth-hacker is to grow their audience as quickly as possible on a limited budget. The practice itself is not new, but the term was first introduced by Sean Ellis in 2010.

Growth Hacking vs. Traditional Marketing

The main difference between growth hacking and traditional marketing is that growth hackers don’t take the time to come up with a long-term marketing strategy. Instead, growth hackers experiment to find something that works fast and they stick with it. Traditional marketers focus on long-term, organic growth and lead-nurturing, while growth hackers focus only on growing their business quickly and inexpensively.

A “hacker” by definition, is someone who disregards the rules and solves problems in an unconventional manner, so you could say “growth hacking” is a way to hack your marketing efforts to accomplish your goals faster. According to SplashOPM, In order for you to truly be “growth hacking” you need to:

  1. Be a growth marketer – which means, you need to have turned ALL of your business efforts towards growing an audience through a specific channel.

  2. You must only care about your core 1 metric – either follows, views, or most commonly email subscribers.

  3. You must be running a well thought out growth test.

growth hacking

Why Growth Hacking Is Attractive for Startups

Since startups are typically under tight resource constraints, they typically embrace the world of growth hacking. Most growth-hackers are skilled in coding, since many startups do not have the resources to hire a full-time marketing team. This skillset allows growth hackers to use many unconventional marketing tactics as they aren’t limited by the status quo; they will test new technology, tools, and techniques that larger companies might be slower to adopt.

Growth Hacking Strategies

A variety of strategies could be considered growth hacking, with some popular examples include:

  • referral programs
  • giving away free items
  • partnering with larger companies
  • making your product exclusive – accessible “by invitation only”


The Future of Growth Hacking

So, is growth hacking the future of marketing? In a word, no. Growth hacking isn’t designed for long-term success as it doesn’t incorporate many of the marketing tactics required to drive sustainable long-term growth. Growth hacking should be used a complement to, instead of a replacement for your long-term marketing strategy. But don’t write it off as just another trendy buzzword! Growth hacking has marketers thinking in new and exciting ways, which is always a great mindset to have!

source: Christy Hill, Hannon Hill



3 Companies Turning Product Challenges Into Product Gold

By Sharon R. Brown

Where’s the pain felt most when you are in the midst of launching a new product or service?  Surprisingly, the challenges typically boil down to one core issue — translating the product vision into verifiable outputs — the deliverables.

We took a look at few startups and SMB’s (small-to-medium-sized businesses) to uncover the biggest challenges that they are experiencing in launching their projects.


Our analysis revealed challenges such as data acquisition, community building, and sensitive data access surfaced as some of the key issues. There are few absolutes in product development.

But, the one constant that is worth emphasizing is that regardless of the industry, if you’re building a product or service from the ground up there will be bumps in the road or potential roadblocks.

Throughout my experience launching numerous products and services across a variety of industries in the corporate sector — and over a decade plus as an entrepreneur — I have always been most surprised that companies often struggle to translate their project vision into actionable plans that can be executed within a measured product development life cycle.

Here is a snapshot of a few companies that are navigating remarkable development challenges in their product releases while launching a unique set of deliverables, despite the roadblocks.


The Data Sensitivity Challenge

LifeSite Vault is a new, secure web-based solution for storing all of life’s vital information and documents. The company’s SaaS platform provides a solution to organize, categorize, manage and safely share information, all in one place.


LifeSite’s Product Challenge:

Gaining the trust of consumers posed the biggest challenge for LifeSite. The confidential nature of the information that the startup’s product was designed to lock up creates a data sensitivity issue. However, LifeSite Vault focused on addressing the safety and security of personal information in the product by engaging security experts during design, development and testing.

The company uses the latest military-grade security protocols, and are continuously monitoring and auditing systems to maintain the highest level of security. The product will be launching a premium paid version by March 2016.


The Infrastructure Challenge

DADA is an online community where visual people draw together. Draw something and someone from anywhere in the world can respond with another drawing. It’s a place to discover that you are an artist, and a place for artists to be discovered.


DADA’s Product Challenge:

The biggest challenge for DADA was figuring how to make it work. Since nothing like the online community has been attempted before, DADA could not translate requirements or adapt the infrastructure from the real or online world. A lot of iteration and experimentation was required to build a system by which people would want to draw.

Getting artist to share their drawings, respond to drawings and create community was a hurdle.  Ultimately, DADA created a community with extraordinary and meaningful engagement.  DADA launched September 2015 and will launch their mobile app March 2016.

big data

The Data Acquisition Challenge

Kehko is a startup that’s building a platform to help socially and environmentally conscious consumers discover companies that are giving back to causes they care about.  The company is in the pre-launch stage.

Kehko’s Product Challenge:

The biggest challenge for Kehko has been identifying social enterprises to include on its platform. With thousands of social enterprises around the world, identifying them has been a real struggle.  The site is expected to launch February 2016.

Over the next few weeks, I will share more of my perspective about some of the best practices for product and project implementation.  Please feel to contact me here and share your experiences and perspectives.


Sharon R. Brown is founder and CEO of eLuminate Network.  Sharon is a tech entrepreneur, product management expert, speaker and author, and regularly speaks on the subjects of product development and project implementation.  You can follow her via @SharonRbrown1 and

eLuminate is the most influential, the most read, and the most popular destination for product and project resources and news for startups and SMBs.


After Your MVP Getting To Scale And Choosing The Team Is The Next Hurdle

By Sharon Brown

Scaling a startup is typically one of the biggest challenges.  When faced with the challenges of scaling your business, consider focusing on what the most important metrics are to converting customers in your pipeline, then optimize, optimize, optimize!

After creating your minimum viable product (MVP) build your team to align with the measurable goals that you need to achieve month-to-month, week-to-week, day-to-day. Hire people with a track record of achievement in a similar capacity.

Everyone you hire should contribute to the core business objectives. It is equally important to choose people that have a passion for the big picture, and with whom you would enjoy working.

Also, it may be time to do a self assessment about your abilities as an entrepreneur, and your ability to communicate a vision, lead a team, and create a culture that will allow your startup to thrive. The culture fit is an important component to scalability that should not be discounted.


Sharon Brown

Sharon Brown

Founder & CEO, eLuminate

For speaking engagements contact Sharon here

Networking Your Way To Get Funded

How To Work The System To Get Funded (part 3 of 4)

The third part in a four-part series.  Learn how entrepreneurs need to leverage connections in order to get funded.  Find and connect with the right people in the VC and angel communities. This eLuminate Mastermind Session on Getting The Wallet’s Out Of Investor’s Pockets is presented by Jeanne Sullivan.

The relationships you develop with even your lawyer and accountant can be instrumental in helping you get funded. Angels and VCs typically have deep networks, so if you get out and interact in your regional startup community you should be successful in meeting the right people.

Jeanne Sullivan lays out a clear pathway for you to build relationships with angels and VCs, through several key sources:

  1. Events and Classes
  2. AngelList
  3. Twitter and Blogs
  4. Your network
  5. Accelerators
  6. Founder Intros


Sources: eLuminate Mastermind Session | Getting The Wallet’s Out Of Investor’s Pockets is a title by Jeanne Sullivan | some slides by RRE Ventures

Part 1-3 of this 4 part series are released, please make sure you are logged in: – Please check back for part 4.


Evidence-Based Entrepreneurship – How Investors May Evaluate Your Startup

Evidence-Based Entrepreneurship

Evidence-Based Entrepreneurship means for the first-time ever using lean principles get early evidence of how a startup is progressing before obtaining users and revenue.

Startups are not smaller versions of large companies. Startups search for a business model and need to be out in the public testing their hypotheses with real people. The only way to know whether the idea has potential is to setup experiments to test the hypothesis and gather data. This is the foundation of the lean startup.

Check Out This Top Lean Startup Resource:

Steve Blank, shares how investor readiness can be tracked and measured through nine levels, from hypothesis-to-key metrics.  If you are seeking capital, potential investors may use the concept of investment readiness as an indicator of your progress.

Check Out These Top Steve Blank Resources:


Can Product Managers Conduct User Testing Without A Physical Product To Touch?

By Sharon Brown

Whether Product Managers can conduct user testing without having developed a physical product in hand depends on the product managers requirements.

There are too many variables to consider in testing, if you are a product manager or work with product managers that don’t have a clear understanding of the type of product or aspects of the product you want to test.

However, if you find yourself struggling to define how to test your new product, I would recommend keeping this in mind; All products have requirements and all requirements must be testable.

There is a lot of depth that can be explored in this post when it comes to the topic of requirements management, however, my intent is to provide brief insight on whether user testing can be conducted without a physical product.  Product managers that find themselves in that position should first, start with a fresh analysis of the functional and non-functional requirements to make sure the product they are suppose to build aligns with the stakeholder needs and business objectives.


Therefore, take a look at the requirements documentation — business requirement document, technical specifications document, systems specifications document, user specifications, etc. — and analyze what makes the most sense to test given where you are in your development lifecycle.


Sharon Brown

Sharon Brown

Founder & CEO, eLuminate

For speaking engagements contact Sharon here