So, why do we loathe this term so much?
By definition, the word “hacking” is an ugly one, conjuring up images of stealthy programmers breaking into computers (and breaking the law!), stealing data, and intellectual property.
“Hacking” devalues the very real and very challenging work it takes to grow a business.
Growth hacking implies that anyone can make a product or service an overnight success. It doesn’t take into account factors such as product-market fit (are you really solving a problem?), quality, and customer retention.
Too often, growth hacking is used as a Band-Aid for a lack of tried and true marketing strategy and processes. Sure, experimentation is absolutely something marketers should do, but searching for instant gratification and quick fixes to your growth are rarely sustainable. No amount of experimenting with red buttons versus green buttons can overcome a product that sucks. Expect to see a temporary spike in website traffic, or likes on social media. Businesses built for long-term success are built on solid foundations — not Band-Aids.
Growth hacking’s tactics focus on outputs, not outcomes. At the end of the day, simply focusing on vanity metrics, or how you “10X” or “100X” something doesn’t really matter unless it’s revenue.
The term has become synonymous with what are, at their core, inbound and outbound marketing tactics (content marketing, landing pages, legitimate SEO, analytics, conversion optimization, blogging, PPC). News flash: that’s just marketing! And marketing, when done in a highly strategic, thoughtful way leads to growth — no hacking required.