What is Growth Hacking & Do You Need a Machete?

growth hacking

If you’re an executive at a tech startup offering SaaS and want to grow your customer base rapidly with limited marketing dollars, then growth hacking could be right for you. A person who commits to this form of hacking is an aggressive individual who sees the startup’s potential to grow exponentially in a short time with targeted outreach efforts.


A Quick Growth Hacking Definition

A growth hacking definition depends on who is doing the work. Growth hacking occurs when a person within the organization becomes hyper-focused on growing the customer base rapidly using advertising and marketing techniques. This occurs after the development team has tested a key product or service in the market and everyone is certain how to present its value to the potential buyers.


4 Growth Hacking Tactics


Content Marketing


Content marketing uses search engine optimization (SEO) to build traffic to the brand’s website or blog. You could start with a topic based on a primary keyword that you’re targeting, such as “growth hacker marketing,” and build website content and blog posts around it. Each content piece will be linked to other pieces under the same topic, or primary keyword.


Potential Risks

  • There is a misalignment of content and the specific needs of the target audience
  • The content posted on the website or blog is inconsistent with your brand (if you even have such guidelines)
  • The majority of content is irrelevant to each predefined buyer’s journey



  • Engage in multi-channel marketing by joining a platform and broadcasting messages across different channels
  • Create a way customers can customize a product or service, such as when Coca-Cola encouraged people to search for 250 common first names on a retro-style bottle
  • Post a short video on the firm’s Facebook page that quickly goes viral



Product Marketing


In this type of marketing, the firm will communicate the specific benefits of a product or service to each audience. The goal is to build a loyal brand following, keeping first-time buyers coming back to your brand in the future. Concurrently, you increase awareness of your product or service through consistent messaging, so targets think of your brand name down the road.


Potential Risks

  • Your company pays for marketing messages that fall short because they don’t convert consumers into buyers
  • Customers are not inclined to try a new product, which means the company doesn’t bring in enough sales after entering the market
  • Your company cannot consistently deliver on its claims about a product or service
  • Unhappy customers post negative reviews of the product or service online or on social media networks, which damage the company brand



  • Become a challenger brand like New Balance (which isn’t a niche brand or a market leader) and keep operating the business based on the company’s historical performance
  • Build a loyal following of customers who upgrade to the next version of a product, such as the Apple iPhone
  • Help customers support a new product by phasing out an old service, such as ClassPass, which allows users to sign up for classes at different gyms and yoga studios



Multi-Channel Advertising


For growth hackers, there are often too many companies offering the form of advertising needed. It’s hard to sort through the numerous options, and they end up getting a recommendation from someone else or focusing on price alone. In the world of advertising, you might choose a partner company or platform that provides a multi-channel approach.

For example, you could sign up on one platform and target ads to different segments of users. The client business (that’s yours) secures an acceptable economy of scale because the advertising partner offers a mix of channels, such as a small business advertising on business TV, print media, and Facebook.

Growth hackers must determine in advance which combination of channels will return the most prospects, who can become integrated into the sales funnel, such as contacts who are willing to provide their email address or phone number to your company.


Potential Risks

  • Your organization faces unnecessary legal expenses and loss exposures, such as getting sued for misleading product or service claims
  • Your company pays for ads with a good response rate, but they don’t convert to a significant increase in revenue
  • You can diminish your brand by choosing the wrong type of advertising



  • Your company purchases radio ads that target consumers based on their geographical location, such as a business advertising to local users on Pandora
  • The company’s advertising aligns with content marketing because messaging targets consumers seeking information on a niche topic, such as purchasing online banner ads to reach pet owners



Social Media Marketing


A company seeks to establish a social media presence on one or more platforms, such as Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest. You can choose a creative person to write regular posts. In some cases, a creative develops messaging around a niche topic, such as coffee beans grown on sustainable farms around the world.

In other cases, a creative shares product or service offers and helps customers resolve issues with that same offering. Some businesses use many types of messaging on social media campaigns, but they must always have a purpose — striving to align messages to specific goals.


Potential Risks

  • Your company outsources social media marketing to an outside company, but they don’t get the messaging right, which hurts your brand and could lead to legal issues
  • Your firm’s marketers don’t appreciate the generational differences among users of social media and target the wrong platforms due to a lack of research
  • Your company gives internal employees too much leeway when posting on social media, and competitors discover insider information about your product or service delivery model



  • Your firm posts a coupon for a special price or discount on Groupon
  • Your CEO issues a Facebook statement related to the COVID-19 crisis, sharing how the company will adapt product or service delivery models to help consumers now working at home



Become a Growth Hacker in 2020

Honestly, a tech firm must successfully target buyers (B2B or B2C), feed them sufficient messaging to create a need, and then close the deal. In 2020, there are new challenges to businesses seeking a higher market share. You may wish to target more online and app-based marketing campaigns this year to fit the times.

If you are growth-minded and want to start hacking on behalf of a startup, we encourage you to register for the Ascent Conference.



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