Review of “Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising”

Ryan Holiday’s book Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer, is less a “how to” guide than a large number of case studies on how some of the most well-known companies today were able to get to where they now are. Dropbox, Hotmail, Uber, Spotify, Twitter, Groupon – all of these companies and many more used non-traditional marketing techniques, growth hacking, as a means of achieving massive market share growth.

Growth hacking is really more a mind-set for maximizing ROI than a tool kit. It’s an expansion of what the traditional definition of marketing was prior to the advent of social media and the digitization of everyday life. It can include those that produce content designed to be viral; product experience optimization; using platforms and APIs to reach large amounts of people, etc. Whereas all marketing focuses on “who” is receiving their message and “where” they are receiving it, a growth hacking mindset sees marketing as a more fluid process that includes new ways of looking at business. Here are a few of the many examples:

  • Creating an aura of exclusivity with an invite only feature.
  • Create hundreds of fake profiles to make your service look more popular and active than it actually is.
  • Targeting a single service or platform to cater to exclusively so as to piggyback off their growth.
  • Host cool events.
  • Bring on influential advisers and investors.
  • Do other things that are written about in Ryan Holiday’s other book Trust Me, I’m Lying

Because of the lower costs of “growth hacker marketing” in comparison to traditional outlets, with their press releases and media buys, it allows for the greater freedom in experimenting with what works. The evolution of Instagram and Airbnb’s company model are excellent examples of this. Rather than continuing to their original iterations, which is far from what they are now, they used data obtained from their customers use in order to develop a Product Market Fit, a dynamic wherein the product and its customers are “in perfect sync with each other.” While the decisions about areas such as the design of the product is typically given to the Development and Design teams, having in depth knowledge as to who the customers are, what their needs and and how to excite them are also marketing decisions. Growth hackers help structure these through data and information that is testable, trackable, and scalable – be it lead generation or internal optimization. Understanding and applying the principles contained herein can help turn start-ups into growth engines.