Growth Hacker Marketing: Is it BullShit?

By Shawn Dexter / September 13, 2016

Growth Hacker Marketing ​

Growth Hacker Marketing has been receiving a lot of buzz recently. But it seems like there are so many definitions of what is Growth Hacker Marketing. And many argue that there ISN'T a definition to it because it's not real. So, what's the fuss? What's the truth? In the video below we go over some of the most cited examples of Growth Hacker Marketing and provide our opinion on the matter!

WATCH: What Is Growth Hacker Marketing?

​Growth Hacking: A Buzz Word?

Growth hacking.. Such a buzz word but seems like no one can come to an agreement on what it really is. Some say it's when marketing meets product development. And others say it's all about analytics and experimentation. Others say Growth Hacker Marketing is just — bullshit. So what is it then? Let's take a look at one of the most cited examples:

Growth Hacking Examples: Dropbox & AIR BnB

Dropbox who use the refer-a-friend for free space campaign to help increase the growth to twenty percent per month. What made this so clever was that dropbox realized that rather than pay google adwords 350 dollars for customer they could simply leverage the cheap cost of storage space.Giving out free space was cheap and everyone referred everyone for it.


Another great example is Airbnb who after some clever reverse-engineering allowed their users to auto post the ads on Craigslist without the approval of Craigslist. This was ingenious! AirB&B knew that a huge portion of their target market gathered on craigslist and tapping into it skyrocketed their growth

Is Growth Hacking for Startups ONLY?

Because of examples like these Growth Hacking seems to be associated firmly with startups. But I don't really agree with that notion. Let's break down the term. Growth - Hacking.

Growth: “The process of increasing in physical size”

Now, in regard to ‘Hacking’ you're probably thinking software hacking. I understand why but I'd like to subscribe to something different:

Hacker: Someone who is willing to skirt or break the rules to achieve a singular goal.

Put these together and we have: Someone who's going to do pretty much whatever it takes to grow

There's nothing in there about startups . In fact, Growth Hacking can even involve large corporations:

Another Growth Hacking Example: The FIFA World Cup

Let's go back to 1970 - The FIFA world cup in mexico. Adidas and Puma were fighting tooth and nail to win over as many athlete endorsements as possible. But it was beginning to get expensive... To avoid further financial bleeding they agreed on what's come to be known as the Pele Pact. The legendary player was off-limits for either company to use for promotional or advertising purposes.

But this is where Puma employed their Growth Hack. Just before the World Cup Final a Puma representative secretly approached Pele and made a very cost-effective deal.

The match was about to begin. The world was watching.And just as the referee was about to blow the whistle Pele asked for a moment the tie his shoelaces! The camera zoomed in and the entire world watched as Pele laced up is brand-new pumas the world's greatest football player was now publicly affiliated with Puma.

Product Market Fit First  - Growth Hacking Second!

Now looking back at these growth hacking examples you’ll notice that all of these products have something crucial in common: They had already found product-market-fit before they implemented their growth hacks.

Growth Hacking isn't really possible if your product hasn't picked up stride yet. Think of it as trying to pour gasoline onto a fire. The fire is your product. The gasoline is your Growth Hack. If there aren't any flames.. The fuel isn't really going to do much, is it?So before anything else validate your product and find a product market fit. Once you do, you can go out there to find your gasoline.

Final Thoughts:  Growth Hacker Marketing Strategists

If you're looking to follow some of the renowned strategists in Growth Hacker Marketing.  Forbes has compiled a list of 20 Growth Hacking Strategists. Check them out! And don't be afraid to reach out them if needed 😉

About the author

Shawn Dexter

Shawn Dexter is a Product Manager, Entrepreneur & Software Developer. He is passionate about innovation management & technology.

[email protected]


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