A Wake Up Call For Traditional Marketers

By Kim Hagner | @kimberlyhagner | kimhagner@gmail.com

That’s what I call Ryan Holiday’s book, Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer On The Future of PR, Marketing, And Advertising. It is ideal for those who are working in traditional marketing roles, such as in brand management, for those working in large marketing departments isolated by channel, or for those new to growth hacking. You don’t know it yet, but this is your belated wake up call.

Growth hackers are a hybrid of marketer and coder, one who looks at the traditional marketing question and answers it with A/B tests, landing pages, viral factor, email deliverability, and Open Graph…” -Andrew Chen

As the former Director of Marketing for American Apparel, Ryan Holiday is the perfect person to criticize the traditional marketing method where big marketing launches are common before you know what resonates with your users. As a former B2B marketer in a large global corporation, I fully agree with Holiday and the new growth mindset.

The first printed version of Holiday’s book, Growth Hacker Marketing, was written in 2013. However, it started as a MVP-in this case a short, one-thousand-word article. Prior to the launch date, Holiday created an e-book for $2.99, and even gave away a free audio version. To many marketers, this may seem too generous. But, these kinds of experiments are crucial to understanding your user and what resonates with them so you can then go back and refine your product. In fact, the most interesting part of the book is when Holiday recounts the specific market tests he ran before publishing the printed version of this book and others, such as Tim Ferriss’, author of “The 4-hour Workweek”. Holiday shows how to apply the growth concepts discussed in previous chapters to his very own product and business.

If growth marketing becomes more mainstream and makes its way into corporate America and more established companies, there will be a few key advantages here. One advantage is that larger companies have more resources versus startups, and their growth teams will be more diverse. Having engineers, product managers, marketers, and product designers on one team is a huge benefit because cross-functional teams will be able to iterate the product more easily. Instead of having to ask “favors” of the engineering team, growth teams will have all the skills, resources, and the data they need to put the insights from their experiments into immediate action to create impact.

Some of the most successful companies of our time, Facebook, Pinterest, and Uber, have growth teams made up of people who normally work under completely different departments. It seems like a no brainer, but very few large established companies are effectively and intentionally creating cross-functional “marketing” teams. I use the term marketing here as the main purpose of a growth team is to market the product and acquire converted users. Although the ways in which these kinds of changes are accomplished is fundamentally through design and engineering, the main purpose of the team is to grow the product, and hence marketing.

It will be a whole new world if large companies can adopt a growth mindset. I encourage all marketers to educate themselves on growth marketing and learn how well known growth teams run experiments and effectively run their teams. Particularly for marketing leaders, I see it as your responsibility to be the growth marketing advocate in your organizations and structure the team accordingly.

Next I will discuss ways you can adopt a growth mindset. Feel free to get in touch with me at kimhagner@gmail.com or @kimberlyhagner. As always, I welcome your feedback, comments, and inquiries.

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