Growth is defined as “developing in size or maturing in spirit”.
Hacking is defined as “unexpected use of existing tools and processes in a crude but efficient manner”.
Growth hacking would then be an assortment of well-known tools and processes used crudely but efficiently to produce physical growth and practical lessons that result in maturity, wisdom and happiness for everyone involved.
The main obstacle to growth is always the same – stagnation, defined as “mired in monotony or stuck in a rut”.
Growth hacking is an aggressive, ambitious and practical mindset born out of sheer hunger for knowledge; a growth hacker is dead serious about his job and doesn’t do it just for pay, benefits or bragging rights.
Companies ranging from startups to tech giants are clamoring for growth hackers and will sometimes pay any asking price to get one of the best on their team.
Anyone can be a growth hacker and there is no requirement for any particular set of skills or degrees.
A growth hacker grows the user base into millions out of nothing and sometimes virtually without a budget. By using simple, yet scientifically tested methods, a growth hacker can achieve the unthinkable, discovering such fundamental principles to be able to do it over and over again at will.
Finally, a growth hacker is able to verbalize his findings and his data in a simple and astounding manner.
All growth hackers utilize the same principles:
• they rely on data
• they have a creative spark
• they are curious
• they have a winning mindset
WHAT IS GROWTH HACKING?
Growth hackers have a strong scientific and mathematical approach to success; anyone can succeed by chance but there’s no guarantee of reliable growth without reliable data.
More than anything else, growth hackers want to know WHY things work & especially WHY things FAIL(ed) (and not who’s to blame). Embracing failures is key to learning.
Rather than focus on the past to assign blame or dredge through failures, growth hackers live in the present and train their sights at the future as the only viable option for growth.
A good growth hacker has no vanity, no pride and no sense of ego, allowing him to throw out all assumptions and start from a blank slate.
All approaches are valuable to a growth hacker as long as they are rigorous, empirical and yield data.
Every detail is subjected to scrutiny and every system is liable to be thrown out with casual indifference, just to see what happens.
By finding functional morsels and adding them all together, a growth hacker builds a bulletproof concept that’s unlike anything ever seen and might be unseemly but it’s indisputably effective.
None of this can be done without collecting and analysing data - day in, day out.
All data belongs to one of two sets: direct (1st party) or indirect (3rd party).
Data gathered through personal observations is direct while data derived from someone else’s observations is indirect. A growth hacker prefers to have direct data at all times and then derive indirect data from that set at his own pace and leisure.
This means a growth hacker does not believe foregone conclusions and always examines underlying data to make his own mind.
Once the data starts pouring in, individual pieces of information give context to everything else, meaning that as the data accumulates it becomes more and more capable of producing insights. In other words, you need a lot of data and you need to look at data all day long to find growth levelers.
Behavior patterns become obvious and allow the growth hacker to test the underlying assumptions that led to stagnation. Does the term invisible asymptote ring a bell to you?
At the end of initial data gathering process, the growth hacker engages his creativity to find novel avenues of approach and deliver functional solutions.
Data & Growth Hacking
Part artist, part scientist, growth hacker is a creative problem-solver who relies on data to keep his creativity in check and vice versa. The two complement each other, allowing the growth hacker to see the beauty and sublime principles in data.
Marketing and coding skills come in handy as well, producing exquisite landing pages, A/B tests and viral content.
Creating a superb product or service requires a synergy between as many different skillsets as can be put in one place, so a growth hacker considers them all and leaves nothing to chance.
No choice is routine and all decisions are ultimately meaningful. Every element of a website, from landing page load time to navigation layout, is considered the ultimate weapon in grabbing the attention of visitors and having them return, over and over, until they convert into paying customers.
A growth hacker would want to optimize everything in the shortest time possible.
More than ever before, startups can go from zero to billion in just a couple years, just like what happened with Zynga, Dropbox and Pinterest.
How did they do it?
How does it feel to use these websites and their products?
Can you discover their methods and use them to become a growth hacker?
Using websites, programs and services with growth hacking in mind feels exciting, like trying to reverse-engineer a method that a team of experts came up with.
They had growth hackers on their side, who might not have called themselves by that name, but they still used the same growth hacking principles outlined in this article: data, creativity and curiosity.
At this very moment, more than 2 billion people are online and more are slated to show up in the coming years.
There’s enough traffic, clicks and revenue for everyone, but only if you can discover the unyielding principles of growth hacking that will guarantee steady success.
Be warned, as fortune is fleeting and consumers are more finicky than ever before, communicating between themselves and moving over as soon as a slick new competitor emerges.
Providing temporary value or seeking just any kind of engagement is not enough, as those customers can leave us at any moment to find greener pastures.
Mere 20 years ago, radio, newspapers and TV were the main ways to advertise your product or service. This meant you had to have big bucks to buy that glossy centerfold space and hope enough people don’t just flip over to the next page.
Today, the playing field is level unlike anything else and we don’t need the middlemen to advertise – we can code our own marketing solution, integrate it into existing websites and platforms for our customers and let the word of mouth take over.
We can also become growth hackers, the ultimate middlemen that use their innate skills to bring value to the market practically for free compared to the costs 40 years ago.
Creativity & Growth Hacking
A growth hacker is infinitely fascinated with users and wants to understand them.
What is it that makes people click on this button instead of that one? What makes a product go viral? By wanting to understand deep, unconscious trends and behavior patterns, a growth hacker constantly looks at the most fundamental elements of what makes us human and builds on top of that.
Growth hacking is human-oriented geekiness that dives deep into the murky pools of subconscious to fish out pearls of wisdom that fetch a marvelous price.
Everything that lives is curious and wants to grow, primarily by finding food.
Even a slime mold put in a maze where at the center there is a piece of food will solve the maze; sunflowers will turn their heads towards the sun because to them sun represents value.
Besides finding good food, humans want to grow emotionally and spiritually, meaning they are obsessed with finding valuable information. We want to hear trivia, jokes, news, fiction and whatever else we can find and then we want to share that with everyone else.
By providing value that satiates curiosity, initial customers are inspired to
become willing advertisers of the product and they’ll happily do it for free.
A growth hacker will acknowledge the curiosity inherent in all of us and bring together companies who are curious how to find customers and customers who are curious how to find companies providing value.
By simply acting as a facilitator of this exchange of value, the growth hacker provides a win-win for both sides and embraces the basic lessons of human psychology.
At the core, all value exchange comes down to this – everyone wants to end up in a genuinely better position than they were just a minute ago.
How can a growth hacker help the greatest number of people accomplish that?
The starting point for a growth hacker would be to grasp the product: what is that the product is offering of value? What kind of value are the customers after? Don’t just ask them, observe them.
We don’t notice our own behavior or if we do, we explain it to ourselves and others incorrectly, which would be the difference between direct and indirect data mentioned earlier.
This behavior data is everywhere in the form of metrics – time spent, products purchased, content interacted with and so on.
Where are people spending their time? Why? Answering this question unlocks the secret to growth hacking.
Alongside curiosity, people possess a small dose of skepticism, which is a natural defense against someone wasting their time.
A growth hacker understands that people are at first skeptical of new things and cherishes their right to act that way, so a new product must immediately offer value or they’ll just go someplace else.
It can be a piece of trivia or just a pleasant picture but some value must be there, with no strings attached, from the very first moment the customer arrives and lays eyes on the product.
The value must be provided without nagging, pleading or hanging on to the customer or they’ll leave with a vengeance and tell everyone how awful the experience was.
There’s no way to trick people into staying or loving the product just the same as there’s no way to trick someone into having a fruitful, long-term personal relationship with us; the connection must be genuine.
Methods and insights gained by observing customers provide the growth hacker with replicable methods on how to recognize value and distill it for every customer to take.
Bit by bit, data point by data point, the growth hacker learns how to accumulate and concentrate value in one place to achieve gravity wells of value that generate instant, long-term, sustainable and fruitful growth.
This process keeps evolving thereafter, steadily building up value, which stimulates early adoption.
It’s not simply about customers coming by and going through the motions, it’s about giving them such value that they’re joyous for being there, at which point they will want to share the moment with everyone else and invite them to participate.
Growth hackers study human nature to find out what makes us tick. There is no glass ceiling because the only thing that matters are the results and they’re indisputable either way.
A growth hacker doesn’t need a multi-million budget but she does need an insatiable curiosity to dig until he unearths the secrets of human psychology and with them incredible value for everyone.
Curiosity & Growth Hacking
Let's face it: a growth hacker is most likely to encounter an environment of stagnation, which means a tightly-knit community of people who, despite knowing each other closely, feel unwilling to speak out about obvious problems they’re facing.
Certain topics are taboo and not broached at all because the discussion inevitably descends into assigning blame. Every failure at resolving the issue breeds more resentment, anguish and isolation – why bother bringing it up if it’s causing us pain? Yet the problem keeps festering and won’t go away unless it’s dealt with head-on.
A growth hacker gives constructive feedback to everyone, meaning forward-looking statements based on data, produced by sound logic and accompanied by creative solutions.
Simply providing feedback means to give an opinion, which is always tinted by emotions; data is useful but doesn’t always show the solution and creativity on its own can give small improvements but they never last.
Constructive feedback provided by the growth hacker combines data and creativity to help everyone involved overcome the obstacle they’re facing, no matter how it was caused or when.
Being an impartial observer, a growth hacker delivers a solution everyone agrees on and the community finally starts working together as a team, which brings them closer together.
This doesn’t come without radical experimentation.
The word ‘radical’ comes from the Latin “radix”, which means “root”, and ‘experimentation’ means “trial or test”. So, a growth hacker will want to look at the root assumption in any given environment and have everyone involved verbalize their opinion on it to test them against reality.
By looking at different perspectives and then assessing the problem at hand, a growth hacker can test the assumption to reach an objective conclusion and present it to everyone involved.
This is where the scientific part of the equation comes in for the growth hacker – his conclusion will at first be challenged so he must remain undisturbed, unyielding and steadfast.
By having the community try out the radical change in a small way, the growth hacker can show them the exhilaration that comes through using ordinary methods in extraordinary ways.
Every tool we have can be used in countless ways as long as we’re willing to try it out and follow the results, wherever they might take us.
From one step to the next, growth hacker doesn’t try to imagine the future; he simply works towards building it.
Traits of a good growth hacker
Most growth hacker start out on their own. Like pirates. Once they achieved sustainable, long-term growth, they mostly move on to other companies and new products in dire need of growth hacking.
Or, the growth hacker is charged with establish growth teams, which are task forces dedicated to expanding value and customer bases of already existing products and services.
By simplifying lessons learned from overcoming that initial stagnation, the growth hacker can create a simple checklist or step-by-step guide to be forwarded to dedicated teams of people who will implement the solution on a daily basis.
The beauty is that growth teams can be created on the spot and anyone who can follow the procedure can also participate in growth hacking.
Simple, actionable steps lead to customer acquisition, which can be done through established platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Youtube.
Unlike everybody else who’s already on these platforms but doesn’t know how to make money using them, the growth hacker provides a set of useful, workable skills that don’t take a degree or 10 years of training, like for a doctor or lawyer.
A growth hacker gets paid by business owners to bring them customers but his mission is much more rewarding than that since he’s actually helping bring people together and clear frustrating obstacles to progress, wealth and maturity.
It’s not about making money or pushing products with self-aggrandizing attitude, but a sustainable and straightforward kind of humility that keeps on going no matter what.
Training to become a growth hacker is free and there’s no need for any kind of certificate or diploma as long as you have the willpower to keep going and insatiable urge to discover all the secrets at the root of most commonly encountered problems.
All that matters are results stemming from observable data and molded into useful principles that touch on the essentials of human psychology.
We all need a growth hacker in our lives and perhaps someday we will actually encounter one. Until that happens, we should all work to become growth hackers to make that tiny part of the world we’re interacting with at least a slightly better place.
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