What Is the Difference Between Marketing and Growth Hacking?

In Marketing & Sales by Sébastien FluryLeave a Comment

(Guest post written by Vincent Cassar)

Many people do marketing for startups, and like most of them the term ‘growth hacker’ is a term I both love and loathe.

Of course the words ‘growth hacker’ has given startup marketers the ability to separate themselves from their brothers in Corporate America, however those two words still bother me a lot.  Anyway, it looks like the term is here to stay, so we should now decipher what this term ‘growth hacking’ really means.  Once we understand it, then we can use it to our advantage.

So, What Is the Difference Between These Two Terms? A growth hacker is basically a marketer, but a marketer with different tools to work with and a different set of challenges to face.

There are some major differences between a startup and big business:

  • A startup is a business with a lot of uncertainty.  You probably have very little idea who your main customer base is, if anyone is going to buy your product, and if they do buy, why?  You also have almost no idea what marketing strategies to try, and what will ultimately work for you.  On the other hand, a big business will already have this all worked out.
  • A startup is created for huge growth.  A startup will usually grow at about twenty percent each month, while big business is quite happy with their five percent each year.  So the difference between corporate marketers and startup marketers is that corporate marketers have an established business to work with, and they’re trying to gain just that little bit more in order to keep the business flowing and growing, while hand startup marketers have to find a way to multiply their numbers quickly, starting from almost nothing.
  • A startup often has minimal money to work with, they’re not well-known, and they have few resources.  The startup has to locate their customer base, educate them, and acquire their business whilst working within a small budget.

What Does ‘Growth Hacker’ Mean? Basically a growth hacker‘s aim is to promote and encourage rapid ‘growth’. This is different to their corporate counterparts because a startup’s growth must be upwards and onwards at a quite rapid rate – starting from nothing to (hopefully) millions of users in just a few years.  A ‘hacker’ is someone who thinks nothing of disregarding rules: they think outside the box and end up discovering new and different ways of problem solving.  Of course a hacker is also a programmer, a person who creates features to promote a business’s product in order to experience huge growth.  Therefore, a growth hacker should be analytical as well as extremely creative.

What Are a Growth Hacker’s Tools? Their tools, or tactics, can be any or all of the following:

  1. Paid and Viral Attainment: Viral attainment, or acquisition, means using your in-built product features to promote the sharing of your products by existing users, with new users. With paid attainment, there are various search engine marketing options, such as Facebook advertisements, Google AdWords, mobile ads, and display ads.  There’s also the use of affiliates, or offering financial incentives to third-party marketers, who will promote and sell your products, taking a share of the revenue.
  2. Content Marketing: This means using blog posts, viral videos and infographics to increase site traffic and improve brand awareness – the aim is to convert visitors into users.
  3. Sales Teams: We have a new trend today whereby low cost labour is outsourced in order to promote the efforts of a startup – they are often college students – and these workers can do massive email-outs to prospective clients, or build lots of SEO-friendly pages.
  4. Email Marketing: Part of a growth hacker’s job is to engage new and existing customers and to encourage them to buy your product or service.
  5. SEO: Search Engine Optimization can be very effectively used to create scalable infrastructure that can apply to thousands and thousands of pages.
  6. Analytics: A/B testing and heavy data analytics definitely assist a growth hacker improve their conversion and acquisition funnels.

Vincent Cassar is a Geneva-based entrepreneur (founder of Keeping, a helpdesk service working inside Gmail). He is sharing his growth hacking experiments on on his blog.