“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.

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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”

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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