Six Growth Hacking Myths
As a consultant, and a former P&Ger, I faced few dreadful situations in which the client told me: “let’s build a plan the P&G way. Let’s use the P&G model”. Those situations are appalling because, I know already that the client is going to be disappointed with me trying to talk them out of such an idea. The truth is that many of you can’t even begin to imagine, how disappointed became my customers, when they hear my answer:
“You can’t. Because you are not P&G. You don’t have enough facts (about your consumers, your customers, your products), neither the same media purchasing power of P&G, to be able to replicate the P&G model….”.
Debunking the “P&G Model” Myth is one of my favorites, although is quickly losing ground to the “Growth Hacking myth”, which is far more complex – it is in fact made of multiple different myths – and requires way more explanation than comparing GRPs costs and so on.
In a nutshell, I have encountered many fundamental misunderstandings about Growth Hacking, and by far the top 6 are:
- Growth Hacking is ultimately a blueprint
GH is a process, at strategic level, which relies on understanding behavior and defining an action to tap on behavior (while testing the outcome and fine tuning the actions). GH is not a if/then/else blueprint which can be coded automatically. While GH is often discussed in terms of tactics (e.g. “the trick that doubled the conversion of this or that unicorn….”), GH is not about sharing cheat-sheets for your favorite video games: it is about embracing a way of being focused on growth, built around certain guiding principles.
- Organic does not solve all problems
Many think of GH because they have an expectation of something cost-effective, or even close to a zero marketing spending. While that might have been true in certain cases early on, it is enough to assess how Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google have changed in the past two-three years, to come to the conclusion that GH requires marketing investment for acquisition purposes.
- Focus on acquisition, not retention
Speaking of acquisition, the focus seems to always be on recruiting more and more visitors. The truth to the matter is that retention is key to scalability. If you have a zero retention business, you have a non-scalable business. GH companies focus on retaining customers, starting with the first one. Also let’s not forget the law of diminishing returns, which is so very true in any marketing context.
- Growth Hacking before you have a product
Because of successful GHackers have listen to the customers, and evolved their products and service offering accordingly, many believe that you can start GH before you have a product. GH can only be successful when your positioning, pricing, and retention strategies are fully ready and operational.
- We hired a Growth Hacker, ergo we are Growth Hacking
GH is an organizational mindset. It’s cultural. A GH organization is a machine where all the pieces are moving forward the GH. It’s not about one expert, in a basement or a corner office. It’s like innovation. You need a culture for innovation, promoting innovation, embracing risk taking and rewarding failure. Hiring one person to “deliver GH” sounds like the shortcut of someone purchasing a Hasselblad camera because they think it will make them take photos like David LaChappelle, or assuming that by hiring a Black Belt their organization would transform in a Lean one.
- Growth Hacking is a quick fix
Nope. It isn’t. It’s a strategic and cultural approach. In the same way you can’t pretend you have a little bit of purpose in your brand, or a little bit of Six Sigma in your operations.
On the other end it is also fair to say that when we talk about Growth Hacking, most people describe quick short cuts to increase their awareness or subscription base. If you are interested in the topic, you should look at this article from Entrepreneur.com, or visiting http://growthhackers.com/welcome