Not everyone is convinced of the power of growth hacking. Some bloggers even speak of “bullshit.” They are wrong. Below I will explain why.

Some two years ago, a captain of industry telephoned me. He was in distress. Each year the earnings were lower. But he didn’t know what he did wrong. His manufacturing company sold a top line product, employed the brightest engineers, and the marketing department was top of the bill.

“What in the world am I doing wrong?” the C-level executive asked me.

I decided to help him because at RevelX we want businesses to grow.

At first, I was a little surprised. After analyzing the organization’s product and the market, I couldn’t find anything that was amiss. The product was of high quality, and the demand for this kind of product was high. All the other requirements for great companies were in place too: great engineers, great marketers, etc.…

What was I missing?

Growth Hacking Works

Then I delved further into the company data and uncovered something unsettling: some high-level customers – among them potential distributors of the product – were discouraged after trying to contact one of the managers through his secretary. For this article’s sake, let’s call her “Yvonne.”

Yvonne was a lovely lady. She was sharp-minded, always dressed well, articulate, and punctual.

The data told another story: customers were dissatisfied after talking to her.

What transpired was that she was a little bit too punctual. Hence, when you telephoned Yvonne at 16.55, she would say: “The office is preparing to close. Please call back tomorrow.”

And Yvonne saw thinks in a binary mode. If the biggest distributor on Earth said over the telephone, “You don’t have to leave a message for your boss that I have called,” she didn’t think further about it. So, she didn’t leave a message, and a valuable business lead was being lost.

Yvonne’s assessment interviews with her manager always went perfectly, but the data-based reality was less bright.

So, the solution was simple: Yvonne had to go.

Another person was hired to represent the company to outsiders.

A year later, the business was booming again.

True story…

It is a perfect example of why growth hacking works. It is all about learning from data. In other words, if you want to grow or reverse a possible decline of your earnings, it can be valuable to embrace the method of growth hacking.

People Who Hate Growth Hacking

I was reminiscing about this successful case study when one of our clients forwarded me a blog with the following title:

“Growth Hacking” Is a Long Con that Will only Lose You Millions

It was not very hard to laugh about this article (sorry, I don’t link to items that are behind a log-in screen), because it is not about the work we do at RevelX. Still, this blog triggered my curiosity. I did a quick Google search for “growth hacking criticism,” and I saw results such as:

Is Growth Hacking as Stupid as It Sounds?

Why “Growth Hacking” Is a Bullshit Fad

6 Reasons You Shouldn’t Hire a Growth Hacker

I hadn’t expected this: it is a little bit disheartening to see how many bloggers think growth hacking has no redeeming value at all.

Why They Are Wrong

Happily, in many instances the critics are dead wrong, because of two reasons:

  • Instead of criticizing the whole growth-hacking phenomenon, they turn the full focus of their attention only on aspects of growth hacking, such as A/B testing or other specific methods of experimentation. In reality, growth hacking should be a holistic approach in which every experiment supports the broader strategy.
  • Some bloggers don’t like the sound of the words “growth hacking” thinking it to be a buzzword without substance. Though some publicity people can’t stop using the hip phrase “growth hacking” whether relevant or not, this does not diminish the value of growth hacking per se.

A No-bullshit Growth-Hacking Approach

Despite its detractors, I see growth hacking as an almost scientific method to help businesses to grow. If the bloggers cited above prove one thing, it is that you have to do it the right way: you should know what you are doing, be rigorous in your methodology, and follow strict rules. So, if you want to hack growth without the BS, try this:

  • Register every detail of the growth-hacking process. This is important because insights can arise from data that seemed unimportant at first. Furthermore, this data will form a useful knowledge base which other teams can reference and learn from.
  • Carefully assembled data is the key to the process. It may be nice to have a gut feeling about a chosen approach, but you need hard figures that prove that it really works. Based on these numbers, a CEO can bring in investors.
  • Establish what you are going to measure: determine your North Star Metric and key performance indicators. Concerning KPIs, it is vital that it is not about vanity metrics, but actionable metrics.

Of course, you don’t have to do this solely by yourself. It is wise to form a growth team that is comprised of skilled co-workers in which you will work according to the Scrum/Agile methodology. And I, as an experienced growth hacker, would be happy to help you too!

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