I’m just going to say it: Marketers should be Growth Hackers, and growth hacking is just neomarketing.
There’s been a lot of talk about Growth Hackers as of late, and their undeniable benefit to startups. As a marketer that has been replaced by Growth Hackers on projects, I became curious about this phenomenon that was suddenly edging out my skills. In a small debate on Twitter recently, one person noted that growth hackers are “marketers that use data”. Now, I’ve only been in the industry for a few years, but they even teach you in school that decisions, strategic or otherwise, should be based on research and data. So what’s the big freakin’ deal?
Digital marketing has upped the ante
Marketers are valuable people. I was taught, in fact, that marketing is the sole function of a business that generates revenue (keep in mind that Sales falls under Marketing). This is why we create strategies and plans, and adapt as we go. Traditional marketing roles aren’t cutting it anymore.
To be one of the best, we must have a full understanding of digital, and more importantly how people use digital tech. This doesn’t mean being able to define bounce rates and identify the top five social networks. This means knowing how data affects your decisions. It means being able to integrate a microsite with a social network, mobile advertising, and an email campaign…and knowing how to optimize every step for a flawless campaign. Optimizing isn’t just choosing what your committee thinks is the best option, but finding out what IS the best option through testing. There is a new understanding that virtually every campaign will have some aspect of digital in it, which means…
There is no such thing as a one-trick pony
I have frequently seen Growth Hackers referred to as “marketers who can code”. I also know of a lot of startups that require their employees to be able to do more than one thing well. It doesn’t matter if you’re the best in the biz at ‘X’, because you have to do ‘X’ and ‘Y’, where ‘Y’ is typically programming/coding/hacking. Marketing has also fell prey to this trend, and it has been deemed ‘growth hacking’. Aaron Ginn outlined these, among others, as realities of defining growth hacking:
- The “secret” is the mindset, not the toolset
- Growth hacking has marketing goals but different tactics
These points lead me to believe that in fact marketing and growth hacking are not two separate things, but instead growth hacking is what marketing SHOULD be, had us marketers been able to adapt to what being digital truly requires. So while the next generation of neomarketers are getting insane results on their complex campaigns, we’re left to handle social media and content creation. I refuse to be another Social Media Marketing Guru in a sea of ninjas, mavens, and maniacs.
Don’t get me wrong, marketing is not endangered, so I’m not worried. It will always be a necessary investment for companies of all sizes. However, unless we want to end up like all the Flash designers still trying to make it cool, we need to get a better handle on growth. When it comes down to it, growth is really just a byproduct of good marketing.