Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday

Here are my extensive notes on the book Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday which I can highly recommend to any entrepreneur. These notes are for the most part directly taken from the book.
What is Growth Marketing?

It is a illusion that we need a huge budget to market effectivly.

Growth Hacking is a Mindset!

“A growth hacker is someone who has thrown out the playbook of traditional marketing and replaced it with only what is testable, trackable, and scalable. Their tools are e-mails, pay-per-click ads, blogs, and platform APIs instead of commercials, publicity, and money. While their marketing brethren chase vague notions like “branding” and “mind share,” growth hackers relentlessly pursue users and growth—and when they do it right, those users beget more users, who beget more users. They are the inventors, operators, and mechanics of their own self-sustaining and self-propagating growth machine that can take a start-up from nothing to something.”

What growth hackers do is focus on the “who” and “where” (Customers) more scientifically, in a more measurable way. Whereas marketing was once brand based, with growth hacking it becomes metric and ROI driven. Growth hackers trace their roots back to programmers—and that’s how they see themselves. They are data scientists meets design fiends meets marketers.

The new marketing mind-set begins not a few weeks before launch but, in fact, during the development and design phase.

Step 1: It Begins with the Product Market Fit

Product Market Fit (PMF). That is, the product and its customers are in perfect sync with each other. Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup , explains that the best way to get to Product Market Fit is by starting with a “minimum viable product” and improving it based on feedback—as opposed to what most of us do, which is to try to launch with what we think is our final product.

Socratic method: We must simply and repeatedly question every assumption. Who is this product for? Why would they use it? Why do I use it?

Example: Authors
Writing about in the book on their blog and when they speak in front of groups. They ask readers what they’d like to see in the book. They judge topic ideas by how many comments a given post generates, by how many Facebook “shares” an article gets. They put potential title and cover ideas up online to test and receive feedback. They look to see what hot topics other influential bloggers are riding and find ways of addressing them in their book.

Step 2: Finding Your Growth Hack

How to pull Customers;
“We’re trying to hit a few hundred or a thousand key people—not millions. That’s a relief, right? Better still, it actually works. In other words, launching does not need to be an enormous campaign we’re expected (too often) to produce out of thin air so much as an initial boost or a shot in the arm. Not a blowout grand opening, but a strategic opening or a stunt that catches the attention of our core audience.”

Not All People—the Right People
Growth hackers resist this temptation (or, more appropriately, this delusion). They opt, deliberately, to attract only the early adopters who make or break new tech services and seek to do it as cheaply as possible. Ignoring the urge to appeal to the mass market, at least to start with.

Methods:

  1. You can reach out to the sites you know your potential customers read with a pitch e-mail: “This is who we are, this is what we’re doing, and this is why you should write about us.
  2. You can upload a post to Hacker News, Quora, or Reddit yourself.
  3. You can start writing blog posts about popular topics that get traffic and indirectly pimp your product.
  4. You can use the Kickstarter platform for exposure and bribe your first users with cool prizes (and get some online chatter at the same time).
  5. You can use a service like Help a Reporter Out (www.helpareporter.com) to find reporters who are looking for people to include in stories they are already writing about your space.
  6. You can literally find your potential customers one by one and invite them to your service for free or with some special incentive (that’s how small we’re talking).
Strategies;
  1. You can create the aura of exclusivity with an invite-only feature (as Mailbox did).
  2. You can create hundreds of fake profiles to make your service look more popular and active than it actually is—nothing draws a crowd like a crowd (as Reddit did in its early days).
  3. You can target a single service or platform and cater to it exclusively—essentially piggybacking off or even stealing someone else’s growth (as PayPal did with eBay).
  4. You can host cool events and drive your first users through the system manually (as Myspace, Yelp, and Udemy all did).
  5. You can bring on influential advisers and investors for their valuable audience and fame rather than their money (as About.me and Trippy did—a move that many startups have emulated).
  6. You can try to name a Planned Parenthood clinic after your client or pay D-list celebrities to say offensive things about themselves to promote your book.
“Instead, we are intensely focused on driving an initial set of new user sign-ups and customers, right now. It doesn’t matter how many people know about you or how they find out about you. It matters how many sign up. If handing out flyers on the street corner accomplishes that, then consider it growth hacking.”

The most insidious part of the traditional marketing model is that “big blowout launch” mythology and “build it and they will come” assumption that too many people associate with the web. Both are too simple and rarely effective.

STEP 3: Turn 1 into 2 and 2 into 4—Going Viral

Vitality needs to be build into the product.

Vitality at its core is asking someone spend their social capital recommending or linking or posting about you for free. The best way to get people to do this enormous favor for you? Make it seem like it isn’t a favor. Make it the kind of thing that is worth spreading and, of course, conducive to spreading.
If you want to go viral, it must be baked into your product. There must be a reason to share it and the means to do so.

Build in Vitality Examples:
Dropbox, for instance, offered its customers a 150 megabyte storage bonus if they linked their Dropbox account to their Facebook or Twitter account. Think of Hotmail, whose early attempts at growth hacking we looked at earlier. It turned every e-mail its users sent into a pitch to new customers. Think of Apple and BlackBerry, which turned their devices into advertising engines by adding “Sent from my iPhone” or “Sent from my BlackBerry” to every message sent.

STEP 4 Close the Loop: Retention and Optimization

Forget the conventional wisdom that says if a company lacks growth, it should invest more in sales and marketing. Instead, it should invest in refining and improving the service itself until users are so happy that they can’t stop using the service (and their friends come along with them).

Getting the most out of the leads we were already generation. Follow Up.

Growth hacking is about maximizing ROI—about expending our energies and efforts where they will be most effective. Well, the facts are in. You’re better off rolling out new features that get more out of your customer base, that turn potential users into active users, than going out and pounding the pavement for more potentials. You’re better off teaching your customers how to use your product—spending time, as services like Facebook and Amazon do, to get users to supply more personal information and make them more engaged—than chasing some new person who doesn’t really care.

“One Bird in the Hand is worth more then two in the bush”

The Future of Marketing;
Tactics that no one would have previously described as “marketing” turned out to be the marketing steroids behind their business growth.

Putting it into practice; Four Hour Body:
We had to be creative. We had to be analytical. We had to think outside the box. We had to use our relatively limited resources extremely carefully.
Data-driven approach, however, meant we actually looked at what worked and what didn’t.