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Six Elements to Growth Hacking

Six Elements to Growth Hacking


Geoffrey ColonGeoffrey Colon
Geoffrey Colon is Group Marketing Manager at Microsoft. Follow him at @djgeoffe

We all know that we no longer live in a traditional business model or cycle anymore or anywhere in the global economy. That runway ran out of room when we crossed 2007 and the social web and new devices ushered in a whole new landscape. Technology is disrupting the quarterly cycle and the five-year plan to the point where if a leader doesn’t have a plan for the next 30 days, they are usually left in the dust by newer, more aggressive startups and businesses with creative visions.

In fact, traditional rhythms of the business do more harm than good to legacy titans who think following the rules that made them successful five or ten years ago will make them successful now. We live in an era where all business must act and perform like a startup whether they have five or 500,000 employees and be on the lookout to solve mysteries in order to foster innovation.

More than ever the “Californication” of the world continues to encroach on traditional business models. This movement has toppled many industries, all of whom are feeling the effects: music, publishing, television, film, conferences, advertising, agencies, medicine, education, health, systems & technology, IT, marketing, currency. There is no end in sight. Not one industry with the exception of a few human-to-human services will be left unscathed.

In all of this discussion there is a need to rethink how communications and product development and delivery now operate. No longer a world where success is guaranteed when it is inhabited by classically-trained brand managers, marketing is undergoing an accelerative pace of change. Doing more with less is now taking root in larger organizations and flipping the table on what it means to provide marketing services has been altered in an era being outpaced by consumers and their technical curiosity.

In this new era, some marketers from the traditional school of thought are embracing the techniques of growth hacking to remain relevant. Yet what are those elements and how should they be used? It’s not a one-sized fits all solution and all of these elements may be irrelevant to your business, but there has to be at least one or a few in which you encounter or embrace. Which one is it for you and how do you plan to use it to outpace the competition, launch a business or challenge incumbents?

  1. Extreme Uncertainty / Sense of Urgency– All businesses face this now. We need to embrace the turbulence instead of trying to defend against it. Pro-activity wins over reaction-oriented action in this day and age especially if it resonates with customers.
  2. Astronomical Growth (x1000)– If you don’t grow you don’t survive. Even established businesses need new markets and products and customers for them. The more creative the better. For example, Rolex should develop an Apple Watch application and Nike should develop a skateboard line of clothing. Don’t rest on your laurels.
  3. Resource scarcity– If you’re a startup, this one’s easy. How if you are an established brand? That means little with so much consumer choice. Established businesses should adopt culture shifts where they recommend office staff meet more with customers or work remote to get out of the bubble and stay rooted in the weeds. Businesses that fail are those where leadership doesn’t understand the pain points of its customers (lack of adoption of new two-way communications doesn’t help either) or tries to live behind the brand illusion.
  4. Gaming algorithms / Building on the back of established networks– New communication networks are about content and algorithms that serve that content. How you game them using organic and paid to get more audience mindshare is key to setting the trajectory. Every network is a possibility to connect with potential customers, even those perceived as your competition.
  5. Tools & Tactics:Viral Acquisition, Paid Acquisition, CRM, Content Marketing, SEO, A/B Testing, Social Sign In, Social listening and Analytics, APIs – Use them all, test them all, work them all to your advantage. There are no best practices or ways to imitate what others do to scale for your own benefit. This is why you hire the best people who can execute beyond simply developing strategy. There is no content marketing without distribution science, there is no product improvement without social listening and there is no strategy that comes to life without execution.
  6. Creativity – Easier said than done, we no longer live in an information economy. Everything I ever want to know except the answers to the most complex issues is at my fingertips. This is why right brained marketers still matter in the overall equation.
Note: The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views held by Inc42, its creators or employees. Inc42 is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by guest bloggers.

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