“People think that I have a book of magic tricks. Often, it is quite basic and simple to begin with.” - Jesse Farmer
Today, its cool to be a growth hacker. Startups are wide-eyed and mystified at any opportunity to chat with a growth hacker (hopefully, to add them to their ranks). Founders expect growth hackers to bring a bag of tricks and disclose a secret black book of hacks to make them rich. While well intentioned, I have to burst this illusion. Growth hackers don’t have secret tricks or hidden mystic knowledge for growth. Growth hackers aren’t magicians.
Growth hackers understand that startups face a universal acquisition challenge: it is super hard to grow. Michael Birch, co-founder of Bebo, said, “If you want to start growing, you should probably hire a growth hacker.” Thus, a growth hacker is a quite attractive hire to startups at all stages. A growth hacker appears like an “easy fix” to a startup’s problems; however, growth is far more complicated than filling a single position.
The truth that growth hackers understand is that product decisions are usually based on intuition and vanity metrics, without significant consideration for growth. Startups regularly look to growth hackers to have brilliant new product ideas but fail to see improving what a startup does now has a higher ROI. They are often surprised when a growth hacker suggests quite well-known methods to capture low hanging fruit. The reality is startups passover the most basic elements of growth: trigger emails, personalization, data analysis, funnel analysis, etc. A growth hacker usually starts here and moves up in the value change. While this seems logical, it is very hard to implement and practice on day-to-day basis at a fast-moving startup.
However, if you REALLY, REALLY want to know the secret of growth hacking, here it is:
Do something but be smart about it.
Growth hackers are not magicians. They are just methodical and clever. For example, product is never built in a vacuum and everything is measured and actionable. To the press and outsiders, the prestige of incredible growth is awe inspiring but don’t be fooled like Robert was with Alfred’s transported man trick. A growth hack is often simple and right in front of you. It is never overnight. A growth hacker knows the intimate and boring details: how long it took to build, to test, and to engineer a growth curve. Its never as glamorous as what the audience thinks.
Pictures pulled from the movie Prestige