Marketing on Acid
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Marketing on Acid

Making your product easy to crack as a Growth strategy ? This company did it.

I’m a Growth hacker. Helped many startups scale their business from scratch to thousands of paid customers.

So dont take me wrong: on a day-to-day basis, Growth Hacking is not about finding THE magical hack that will detonate your startup. That’s what I thought at the beginning, honestly.

But reality is different.

A product grows by testing and iterating constantly. By building that traction machine patiently, mistake after mistake, discovery after discovery.

That said, growth hacks are not a legend.

They do exist. Some startups out there got propulsed thanks to a particular, smart move, at the right moment. Think about the famous examples of Airbnb, Dropbox or more recently, ClubHouse.

So I’ve been reading on a regular basis every kind of hack that I could find, for years. To get inspired. And always wondered if ever, a company organized its own vulnerability. In order to grow faster, to take some advance in its market.

This is where I found out this clever one. A company actually did it. And guess what, we all know it. Its name is Adobe.

There is no way the company isn’t aware of it. I mean, come on. It must be one of the most cracked products on earth. So I investigated a bit, and recently got my answer.

Jump on your time travelling machine and follow me.

Once upon a time, in the early 90'. there was a small design startup named Adobe. Adobe was still a small player in its market, dominated by the giants Corel, Aldus or even Fractal Design (ever heard about them ? Me neither).

But the market, the whole internet world, was growing quickly. I mean, very quickly. As quick as the crypto world today, creating its own bubble. The players knew they were into something.

That they had to take the lead now, or die.

So Adobe’s team started brainstorming. How to make more people get our product ? How to position ourself in the market, when we compete against “whales” ?

The common point between all this software was that they were all considered too expensive.

Well, I don’t know exactly how it happened but, in 1993, people starting magically receiving unprotected copies of Adobe Photoshop 3.

And interestingly, they were also invited to share it with friends. With the particular mention that if asked, Adobe would claim no knowledge. Does it remind you something ?

The rest is History.

This is what Photoshop looked like at that time (1994)

In september 1994, Adobe ended up buying Aldus. Pretty quickly, Adobe Photoshop became the standard photo editing app.

Mostly because they got people hooked early. If Adobe didn’t make copies of its software widely available for free early on, they would not be here today.

The only reason they aren’t squawking their heads off, claiming that folks are stealing their software today is because somewhere in their history they know that the free distribution of Adobe software was largely responsible for their success.

To conclude i’d say, Growth Hacking may have been invented in 2009. But cleverness is as old as humanity. Hope you liked the story.

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