The controversial title of Growth Hacker is making its rounds in the startup community, but is still misunderstood by many, even with the thorough explanations by accomplished marketers like Sean Ellis, Andrew Chen, and Gagan Biyani. As Gagan Biyani stated, Growth Hackers are marketers first, only with a unique set of startup product challenges that force them to prioritize and strategize differently than traditional marketers.
But all marketing – Growth Hacking included – begins with a focus on “The Marketing Mix,” also known as “The 4 P’s of Marketing.” The concept was first introduced in 1960 by Michigan State marketing professor E. Jerome McCarthy, and advocates for a focus on “putting the right Product in the right Place, at the right Price, and (with Promotion) at the right time.”
These same guidelines are considered best practices for a reason – they speak to the marketers’ understanding of the customer. Knowing that you have the right customer (targeting, segmenting) with the right intent (need, timing) is crucial, and generally leads to high-performing marketing campaigns with product/customer fit, targeted value proposition, and targeted distribution.
Where a growth hacker differs from a traditional marketer is the focus on “The 5th P” – a systematic recurring Process that leads strategy and budget allocation. This process involves analyzing data, running experiments, discovering new opportunities, and most importantly – learning quickly and acting. To be clear, the creativity that is associated with a marketer never leaves growth hackers…instead, that creativity is guided by the data analysis and experiment learnings.