Growth Hacker Marketing – a Real time Book Review

I finished reading a book about marketing and 24 hours later implemented one of the new strategies I learned. Is this too slow to call real time? I’m old enough to remember black and white TV commercials, so it seems fast to me.

The book, by Ryan Holiday, is simply titled Growth Hacker Marketing, after a business strategy that is often applied in high-growth, emerging tech companies and is as an iterative approach to incorporating customer feedback to promote the product. The hacking aspect comes alive as an immediate, just do it and amend on the fly mentality, rather than through traditional, highly planned marketing approaches which employ much testing such as with focus groups before launch.

The author describes the concept elegantly in these two excerpts from the book’s Glossary:

‘the growth hackers’ main task is to build great marketing ideas into the product’
‘growth hacking… customer acquisition techniques that are testable, trackable, and scalable’

Not too far into Growth Hacker Marketing, Eric Reis’ ‘Lean Startup’ philosophy came to my mind, which was fine because in another few pages, it was mentioned by the author. Similar ideas underpin the two – get lots of customer feedback. Get a product out into the hands of users, see what they think and modify the product accordingly to suit their needs. In Growth Hacker Marketing, this goes a little further, to incorporate features into the product so that the users themselves will build awareness of the product and recruit additional users. From here, it’s easy to see how this kind of strategy can lead to a ‘viral’ market campaign – the penultimate goal of many marketing folks.

Ryan Holiday provides may examples in Growth Hacker Marketing of familiar companies that have used growth hacking and even his own experience with promoting a book launch. As he states, this approach to marketing can be applied to anything. I’ve seen examples too. Wattpad is platform to bring readers and writers together. The writers like it because they have access to a number of readers to raise awareness of their product and the readers benefit by finding new fiction. Readers provide feedback to the writers on their stories. Since the writers find benefit in Wattpad, they talk to their writer colleagues who then join, providing more material for the readers.

A related example is Inkitt, an organization (not sure of its structure) which, like Wattpad, is based on a social platform where writers submit their stories and get feedback from each other. The editors at Inkitt then select the best stories to publish on their website, where readers can consume for free. The philosophy espoused by Inkitt is that better reading material can be created as a communal effort, with many eyes on the early stage product, that is adapted and amended based on user (reader) feedback. I became aware of Inkitt because a fellow writer sent a link to me.

How did I use the principles I learned about in Growth Hacker Marketing? I am working on building the membership in a not-for-profit organization. It’s easy enough to articulate who the target audience is but the most efficient way to reach them is less clear. After reading Growth Hacker Marketing, it came to me: the existing members are likely to know who would be interested in joining. Let the existing users draw in other users. And we’ll make it easy for them to do so by sending messages they can simply push out to their friends.

This is an odd sort of a book review, maybe a good example of Growth Hacker Marketing. I’m not sharing a critique of the book so much as my enthusiasm about how I see the book’s message in practice. Perhaps if you read my review, you will be inspired to read the book because this user had a good experience with it, and you’d like to have that sort of experience too.

Well designed and marketed, Ryan Holiday.

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