When the term “growth hacker” was coined by Sean Ellis back in 2010. Sean Ellis described this as being a way of defining the “true north” of any given person. However, this simplistic notion was to become a lot more influential than he initially anticipated and just as relevant in businesses as it was to the average person.
That is to say; whatever the target market might be, every business should have a “true north” and a predetermined strategy to connect with their chosen audience.
While many of the same principles still apply to online or modern marketing, it must be recognized that the landscape has changed considerably over the past ten years. Instead of sticking with tried and trusted methods, companies are now beginning to understand a need to implement a more practical approach using tactics that work, even if they do seem a little unorthodox at first.
Of course, growth hacking is widely accepted within the mainstream at this time, but as with any fast emerging hype, questions remain as to whether growth hacking as a strategy is a viable long-term solution. In other words; is growth hacking here to stay or merely another drop in the ever-expanding ocean of guerilla marketing strategies?
At Pressfarm, we encourage startups to pursue growth hacking methods merged with PR efforts so that they can leverage the wholeness of marketing with strategic growth hacking. PR is still at the core of marketing. The startups that get a lot of press in offline and online publications among other digital channels stay ahead of the pack even as they implement their growth hacking strategies. It is important for startups to know the emerging trends in PR and how thin the line continues to be between public relations and growth hacking. We help them merge these efforts by ensuring they get the right contacts for their press. This way, they can develop strong media relations helping them get the publicity they seek.
Here we take a quick look at growth hacking from the perspective of the most influential figures in the world of marketing today:
1. Tim Ferriss – The importance of being specific
Selling to the end user is just one piece of the puzzle. I needed to first sell myself to the publisher to get marketing support and national retail distribution.
Even after the immense success of his first two books, almost every major retail outlet refused to advertise “The 4-Hour Chef” by Tim Ferriss. When faced with this issue, it might have seemed like a false summit or a glass ceiling and all of this after the grueling effort of writing the actual book itself.
However, it was during this period in which Ferriss would employ some very specific growth strategies which would transport his book into the mainstream without any retail support.
As opposed to relying on mass support, the author focused on creating a book with extremely high-quality content and very concise advice. However, while this may not seem any different to the efforts of other authors, it was the intricate way in which he scrutinized this content before releasing the book.
Instead of compiling what he believed to be the right advice that everybody needed to hear, Tim Ferriss sent his draft to friends, family and trusted advisors for honest opinions on any of his advice which appeared substandard in any way. Furthermore, he went to the excruciating effort of using multiple online platforms to carry out surveys to identify which pieces of content people responded to the most.
In essence, Tim Ferriss had somehow managed to create a book which was so incredibly relevant and specific that it seemed irresistible to his target audience. In fact, “The 4-Hour Chef” was designed in such a way that every chapter contained bite-size pieces of wisdom which would be relevant to almost anyone. Hence, if a potential reader picked up this book and selected a page at random, they would find something incredibly useful.
The 4 Hours Chef went on to become a best seller and take the number one spot in the Wall Street Journal.
2. Ramit Sethi – Willingness to Learn
Ramit Sethi is another bestselling author and a successful personal finance advisor.
When it comes to growth hacking, Ramit takes a slightly different approach to many entrepreneurs in a sense that he takes the focus away from the money. Alternatively, the American author explains how too many people are so focused on the financial reward and less invested in the process of learning.
While much of his advice is regurgitated in publications all over the internet, we can clearly sense from his beliefs that Ramit Sethi believes in a hard work ethic and a willingness to learn. Instead of complaining about the money, Ramit advises that more people need to accept that learning is a vital part of the process and that putting this approach into practice will inevitably result in the former.
Best known for banking more than $5 million in a matter of days, Ramit concludes this snippet of advice by emphasizing that people need quality information and for an entrepreneur to deliver such information or a product of this nature, a willingness to learn and put in the effort is crucial.
3. Gary Vaynerchuck – Being human, in spite of being a brand
Gary Vaynerchuck is the CEO of Vaynermedia, a full-service digital marketing industry.
As a brand, this company is currently experiencing exponential growth, but the truth behind this success is far more ingenious and simple than most people realize. Furthermore, he attributes much of this incredible rise to prominence and continued success to his very personal approach and relenting efforts to help other people.
At this very moment, Gary Vee is predicting that audio is ready to take over the content marketing industry, much in the same way as video has done in recent years. While it may seem ludicrous that audio could overtake, his predictions make sense and certainly when you consider how much time and focus the biggest businesses are putting into voice controlled devices.
Amazon Home (Alexa), Google Home and Siri (Apple) are examples of why this should be considered sound advice and this also goes for statistics. Did you know that one in four Google searches is made through voice control? Either way, whether you agree with this prediction or not, the tactics being employed by Gary Vaynerchuck produce results.
He is known for taking selfies with his followers, he replies to countless comments on social media, he answers questions all day long with as much empathy as he possibly can and travels constantly from one side of the planet to the other – passing on his wisdom and lessons from his continued success, for free.
Why? Because Gary Vaynerchuck is not only the face of Vaynermedia – he is the brand.
4. Neil Patel – Focus on what matters the most
Neil Patel should need no introduction in the context of this article but as the online of this marketing guru continues to spiral out of control, he continues to make complete sense.
One of the most practical pieces of advice given by Neil Patel in recent times refers to a recent study by Copyhackers who decided to research the effectiveness of content.
As part of this study, an illustration outlines how more than seventy-five percent of readers can recall the conclusion of an article, but almost half of these same readers could recall the first point of the article.
Moral of the story: psychological research has proven that people pay more attention to the beginning and end of content, while mostly ignoring everything in the middle.
As mentioned above, the general advice in this respect is to pay attention to a singular goal and the intended take-away message for the end user – the reader. Essentially, by ignoring the bulk of what we consider about an important topic, Neil Patel suggests that we can quickly achieve the actual focus of the task at hand.
While this does not mean that content can be useful in between, it certainly provides clear direction regarding the correct way to focus on content creation of any kind.
5. Noah Kagan – Focus on the product and then think outside the box
Noah Kagan is the mastermind of Mint.com – an online money manager which helps members pay their bills and monitor their credit score.
At this time, the size of the community on Mint.com might seem far beyond the realistic expectations any individual has for their business. However, the truth is, Noah Kagan, implemented a growth hacking strategy which saw the company amass more than one million users in less than six months.
While Noah Kagan has recently outlined a very detailed account based on his experience regarding his approach to gaining so much traction, there is something even more simplistic about his strategy.
Firstly, Noah Kagan emphasizes to businesses that they need to focus on making a great product. Without a great product, there is no point. Secondly, and possibly most interestingly, Noah Kagan used relevant blogs to gain this traction and establish Mint.com in the marketplace.
Having pitched an enormous number of relevant blogs within his niche, Kagan was able to illustrate how his content/business could help their readers and in essence, demonstrate a certain value which would put Mint.com on the radar of potential customers.
6. Rand Fishkin – Forget the words, focus on the strategy
Rand Fishkin is a Co-Founder of SEOmoz.com
Interestingly, Fishkin is quoted as saying that he genuinely dislikes the word “hack” which alludes to the probability that many people see this as a get rich quick strategy.
Alternatively, the ex-CEO of SEOmoz has continually offered his opinion that patience is crucial and that entrepreneurs should focus on the long-term strategy behind their product or service.
In this respect, Fishkin suggests that some of the most effective tools available are quite obvious such as Gmail, Drive, Social Media and Slack. However, Rand is also known for his insights into the world of outsourcing.
Instead of viewing this task as being lazy or lackluster in any way, Rand Fishkin believes that the success of any business idea will come down to a SWOT analysis. That is to say; he believes every business need to establish their strengths and weaknesses before hiring a team of individuals who can strengthen each area.
7. Ehsan Jahandarpour – Test and learn, before trying
Ehsan Jahandarpour is a startup coach and a growth hacker who has worked with endless high profile clients including Microsoft.
Understanding the concept of growth hacking is one thing but putting it into practice is another entirely. Ehsan Jahandarpour continually emphasizes the importance of product research before the release of a particular product or service. In simple terms, this should be quite obvious, but unfortunately, the frequency of failure within every market is a testament to the fact that such advice is often ignored.
While the process of testing a product can seem unimportant, this is mostly for the reason that a creator, owner or producer is caught up in the hype. Yes, this hype is important as Jahandarpour rightly points out, but it can also leave a person or business blinded to the reasons for which they might fail.
In the early stages of a business concept, testing a product is essential and realistic insight is often a better way to learn the truth, than after you spend ample time and dollars putting a redundant product into the market.
8. Seth Godin – Reverse engineer the traditional marketing process
If you read Seth Godin, you will know he writes short sentences. Always. This is how he writes.
Short, precise, and always to the point; Seth Godin is one of the true inspirations when it comes to online marketing. In many ways, this is mostly for the way he manages to reverse engineer so many methods to the point where they make the original seem entirely outdated.
For example, in a recent interview, Seth was asked about starting a business or developing awareness for a particular concept or product. Rather than dive right in with any explanation regarding how to gain traction through various marketing methods, Godin decided to say that we should first consider the reasoning for this question.
Ultimately, this was Godin’s way of explaining that rather than yearning for a clever strategy to gain traction, we should seek to create a product that the end user cannot live without. Furthermore, he states that instead of looking at the biggest market, we should be focusing on a smaller, more defined market in which the product can thrive, and the business can be sustained.
9. Ryan Holiday – Consider Virality
Ryan Holiday is an online marketing expert with many online publications regarding growth strategy. Ironically, some of the best advice from Ryan Holiday regarding growth hacking relates to his time working with another name on this list, Tim Ferriss.
As part of the marketing team for the pre-mentioned book “The 4-Hour Chef”, Holiday explained how they decided to compile a bite-size version of the book for a viral website named BitTorrent. Once received, this version of the book was distributed completely free to BitTorrent readers and acted as a sample of what to expect from the full version.
Incredibly, this particular version was downloaded no less than two million times and was to be the single most successful strategy used in the book launch.
While taking the fast or easy route to the top is rarely a good formula for long-term success, it must be acknowledged that vitality still offers incredible potential.
10. Matthew Barby – Establish an SEO Campaign Blueprint
Matthew Barby is a celebrated public speaker and an award-winning online marketing consultant.
Among the long lineup of successful marketing campaigns, Matthew Barby identifies the one commonality between each of these very different campaigns – strategy.
While also known for every other aspect of digital marketing, Barby recommends a very specific approach to SEO campaigns which should always involve the same foundation. In many ways, this is the SWOT analysis approach which should be taken prior to starting a social media campaign.
Competitor Analysis – Ensure that you have adequate awareness regarding the content being distributed on social media by competitors. What seems to be working for them?
Traffic Opportunity – Establish the best keywords to attract traffic based on solid keyword research.
Audit Existing Content – So many website owners forget to optimize or repurpose their existing content.
Simply put, Matthew is establishing the importance of having a blueprint for social media rather than jumping on at every given moment and posting whatever seems relevant.
11. Pat Flynn — Implement Gratitude as a strategy
While Pat Flynn might seem like a big shot businessman at first glance, it must be noted that the underlying reasons for this impression are down to a much defined effort.
Having created and developed one of the leading websites in the world of making money online, Pat Flynn is now the host of a successful podcast and a much respected entrepreneurial guru.
However, the endless hard-working efforts of this hugely successful entrepreneur are down to a rather different growth hacking strategy. Flynn is best known for his phrase “the riches are in the niches,” but his personal belief regarding the above-mentioned success is just as interesting.
Simply put, Pat Flynn states that “gratitude” is the main reason he has found so much success in both life and business. Essentially, the micro changes which have allowed him to feel more content and enabled a much higher level of productivity.
With the above in mind, it must be understood that none of this should be surprising. After all, scientific studies have proven that gratitude can reduce stress and anxiety, while also improving many other aspects which affect the quality of life in general.
These include improved immune systems, better sleep, positive self-esteem and a distinct absence of negative thoughts. Furthermore, similar studies have also shown that gratitude is often directly linked to growth in business.