The Don Draper Era is Over : Develop a Brain for Growth Hacking

During a recent Future CMO Club Digital Roundtable, titled What the Heck is Growth Hacking and Why Should Marketers Care? I led a discussion questioning the Don Draper form of advertising that too often dominates marketing mindsets. With the Mad Men era of advertising long behind us, it’s time to embrace a more modern form of marketing optimization.

This is where growth hacking comes in.

But first, let’s address the idea of growth hacking. What is it and why is it important? To start, growth hacking is not a get rich quick scheme. It does not entail a need for rapid experimentation of many different tactics. Instead, mastering rapid growth requires slowing down in order to see the larger picture and dig deeper into understanding consumers’ needs.

My definition of growth hacking entails the use of a scientific approach for finding and improving aspects that affect brand growth. This doesn’t mean embracing the newest trends but, rather, honing a necessary skill for today’s marketers to be familiar with.

Here’s how to do it:  

1. Involve your Team

I’m a supporter of the mindset that, if you want to truly master a concept, you and your whole team have to be invested in the collective goal. Mastering growth hacking is no exception. Making sure that your whole company is on the same page, looking at the same finish line and the same means of getting there, is the best and only way to start the process.

On that note, remember the importance of putting together the right team, including a great marketer, web designer, analyst and product or sales person. With this in place, you can effectively move forward in attaining useful data.

2. Uncover your Magic Numbers

A large part of growth hacking effectiveness lies in knowing every detail of your company’s customer attainment and retention. Accomplishing this means employing a variety of important strategies, including conversion rate optimization, persuasive design, web scraping, agile scrum and analytics analysis.

That is, find ways to hack your own information to find buried customer desires. Knowing these desires inside and out is the best foundation to base growth hacking on.

3. Apply Sparingly (and Strategically)

What use is all of this information if you don’t know where to employ it?

When applying the growth hacking mentality, remember to do so in areas that allow for creativity and innovation. A couple of great starting points are distribution and tech. Ask yourself where can you be most inventive with the concept and then dive in.

Malcolm Gladwell’s collection of data on all of the wars throughout time showed that, usually, 28% of smaller armies were able to defeat larger armies. But when these smaller armies used unconventional tactics, that number increased to 69%. As a marketer, you have the power to use unconventional means to create competitive content. In fact, it is your responsibility to do more with less, delivering strategies that make a big impact and really move the dial when it comes to retention, acquisition and the bottom line.

At its core, growth hacking is a simple concept. It’s about casting aside dated Mad Men-esque versions of advertising and using more scientific means of finding unconventional solutions to solve customers’ problems. It’s a mentality that takes time and requires work on the part of each team member, but you’ll soon find its benefits are immeasurable.