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Growth hacking is the new normal

Technology & Data

Growth hacking is the new normal


Jaci Burns finds out what American Apparel head marketer and author Ryan Holiday has to say about growth hacker marketing at BMA15, the Business Marketing Association’s conference in Chicago, which wrapped up last week. 


What do Airbnb, Spotify, Dropbox, Uber and Snapchat have in common?

They’re all ‘unicorns’ (companies that have soured to a $1 billion valuation or higher, based on fundraising) that have predominantly been built by growth hacker marketing.

Not familiar with the term? Neither was I, prior to this week’s BMA15 in Chicago. Wikipedia defines growth hacking as a “technique which uses creativity, analytical thinking, and social metrics to sell products and gain exposure”.

Growth hacking is low cost and lean – the antithesis of traditional advertising – and executed via tools and techniques which are testable, trackable and scalable.

Techniques like social media and viral marketing.

Ryan Holiday, author of Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising, believes growth hacking is already the new normal.

Disagree? Run a search of your LinkedIn universe. You might be surprised how many growth hackers it surfaces (in my universe, 2106). These professionals, many former mainstream marketers, have turned their backs on press releases, public relations and Madison Avenue. Despite that, they are explosively growing some of the modern world’s most disruptive, most admired brands and businesses.

“While marketers chase vague notions like branding and mind share, growth hackers relentlessly pursue users and growth. When they do it right, those users beget more users who beget more users”, explains Holiday.

When they do it right, growth hacking becomes self-sustaining and self-propagating. It gives the term ‘marketing automation’ a whole new meaning.


Marketing spoke to Ryan Holiday ahead of his presentation at last year’s Vivid Ideas festival.

READ: ‘Marketing is based on assumptions that don’t ring true anymore’ – Q&A with Ryan Holiday »



Jacqueline Burns

Jacqueline (Jaci) Burns is managing director of Market Expertise, a B2B agency which specialises in the marketing of services, solutions and intangible products. Based in Sydney, Market Expertise works with ‘smart companies’, both Australian and international, from the financial services, professional services, technology and knowledge sectors.

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