How to overtake the growth hacking wave

Growth As a System | 4 mins read

Growth hacking will help you get explosive growth overnight, right?

I’ve been talking recently with few startups in Europe. I found broad misleading statements on growth hacking that could damage a startup. I feel it is time to stop the myth of growth hacking as a silver bullet, and open a conversation about growth hacking.

Growth Hacking Tells

How can we bring the talk back to growth marketing and end chasing tricks or tactics? I helped spread the word.

We need to bridge the gap between product development and marketing. Unfortunately, growth hacking has become well known for hacks. A hack is never the answer, the medium or secret weapon.

“a hack is a solution to a problem, doing a task, or fixing a system that is inefficient, inelegant or even unfathomable, but which nevertheless (more or less) works”.- Wikipedia

We need more than creativity and hacks to grow. We need quantitative modelling, data analysis, user psychology, storytelling and one strong distribution channel. Also, we need a great product.

We have a great product when we have retention. We have retention when people is coming back to use the product over and over again.

Have you heard about Paypal, StumbleUpon or AirBnB hacks? The tech industry is well known for shortcuts. PayPal piggybacked off of eBay, StumbleUpon benefited for being one of the newest plug-ins on Firefox, AirBnB piggybacking off Craigslist. This hacks were solving a distribution problem for good products.

From time to time, we may need to work harder on a distribution channel to get results. Just be aware that hacks have a short time value and isolated hacks hardly lead to success.

Success without a hockey stick growth still success. Josh Pigford resumed this concept well.

“We try to find patterns and formulas in everything to make sense of it. We think ‘well if they did those things, then I can do those things too and also succeed!’”- Josh Pigford


What if we adopt grow as a system? A system that can adapt and evolve with the startup rather than day dreaming about hacks/shortcuts.

If you are just hacks/shortcuts oriented you could miss the opportunity of finding the right distribution channel for your startup and create an effective growth system.

“A system is a set of interacting or interdependent component parts forming a complex or intricate whole”.- System - Wikipedia

The key-phrase is “set of interacting or interdependent component parts”. We need to explore distribution channels like Google Ads, Facebook Ads, affiliate marketing, SEO, content marketing, email marketing to confirm hypothesis and iterate. If a particular channel did not work in the past, the same channel might work in the future. Start small to understand what works and what does not for the market or country that you are going after.

Create experiments and make sure that everyone in the team knows the key metric (KPI). Set a metric that the business depends on and is valuable and relevant to the stage of the product. The metric can link to revenue, or it could be word-of-mouth growth. Also, we need to look at the entire funnel for reducing the customer acquisition cost(CAC).

I have seen medium and large startups building top level growth teams that focus on growth. These high-level teams create smaller growth groups to work on proved distribution channels for the startup like email marketing or SEO.

The growth team need to be flexible enough to know when to change direction if something doesn’t work. You need positive people, entrepreneurs at heart.

I feel we already have enough articles about hacks, tips and shortcuts. How about more post on growth system or growth teams. Let’s catch the next wave.

Have you wrote something about growth strategies or setting up a growth team? Send me the link.