Today I’m going to muse on the work of building, laying foundation and growing organically. There are two schools of thought around marketing, and I’m looking to see if they actually work together, or whether they are diametrically opposed to each other. After reading this post tell me what you think.
Growth hacking is a nebulous term, and it describes the work people do tied to insider knowledge of a business. For marketers the general term speaks to the various ways to build audiences, build demand and generate sales that are sort of outside the tried and true methods. Some people would call these shortcuts, and others would call shortcuts the exact antithesis of what it means to build a structurally sound business for the long term. I’ll give you two examples of growth hacking.
Build Social Following
It may be incredibly important for your business to have a strong social following. This helps with social proof, it drives clicks to your site, and if you do it right, leaves you with a rich audience of people who are interested in your message.
Create A Purchase Funnel
There are a multitude of ways to create a strong purchase funnel. Some of these methods have to do with paid media, cold emails and lead forms that convert. Some of these funnels use live video, value offering, persuasive messaging and persuasive pricing to ensure a customer goes from a consideration to purchase, even if that initial purchase is a small amount. In some cases, it’s important that even a small purchase relieves a massive barrier from the consumer, changing their thinking about themselves from a shopper to a purchaser.
Give Everything Away
This is a very different approach. When I listen to podcasts, hear really smart people talk about business growth, take personal development courses, and even read books on the topics of influencer and persuasion there is a common theme to be heard. The theme is give everything away. The concept is simple. The better your content and the more valuable information you give away the more people will view you as an authority. Great content will be shared, word will spread that you are an expert in your field, and more business will come your way. Those people who want direct one to one help will reach out and pay you for your time, your products and your expertise. This way you sell by giving your best information away, and you have an entire marketplace soliciting you for help.
Comparing Approaches: Growth Hacking and Give Everything Away
This thinking works for me too. I mean, no matter how much information I write in this blog it won’t compare to the highly customized information that marketers and advertisers will get when they work with BrillMedia.co directly.
The question in my head, is then, whether these two terms are diametrically opposed, or whether they work together in the same framework.
When I work with clients I tell them upfront that there is no silver bullet unless they are dramatically behind the curve. If they haven’t performed a very simple Google search that would give them the top solutions providers to solve for their challenges then, yes, I can hand them a silver bullet. Want to follow people on Twitter? Use Crowdfire. Fantastic app. Want to get Instagram analytics? Great. Use Instrack. Want to reach a very targeted audience of like 10,000 people? Great. Use Facebook ads. Want to work with content creators? No problem. Check out Izea.
Usually, the challenges are more nuanced. My current customers want to connect to a very specific type of business decision maker, or appeal to a younger customer base. They want to influence a very small set of business decision makers (like 20 people), and capture connections to people who are particularly sensitive to the plight of animals. There is no silver bullet solutions, but there are a series of solutions that, together, make a noticeable impact to the business.
Growth hacking is nowhere near a silver bullet. It’s a combination of smart thinking, entrepreneurial tendencies, marketplace awareness, and ability to execute. Growth hacking practitioners are “in the know” people who read a lot, pull in information from expert sources, and who have particular areas of expertise (say, advertising, marketing, SEO, SEM, email marketing, writing, etc). The work of giving everything away is really the providing of value to attract consumers. It’s the immediate exchange of value for attention, and ultimately if the exchange of value is strong enough the content gets shared.
My opinion is that both types of work – growth hacking and the give everything away approach – work on the same continuum. Depending on who you are, what you do, and the state of your business you’ll lean more towards one than the other, but your business is probably going to benefit from both strategies.